Manufacturing and the industrial process is incredibly infatuated with robotics, automation, and machinery like industrial grade computers. And while this can be immensely helpful in improving productivity and efficiency, it can often produce the unwanted repercussions of leaving employees as an afterthought. 

During this time, not only is the world at large suffering, but manufacturing employees in particular are unsure of where their employers are headed and whether their efforts on the floor are even helping achieve goals. With morale at a low point and ambiguity rising, there can be a lot of value found in opening the door for communication across all levels of the production process, especially those that have notoriously low levels of communication/collaboration such as desk workers and factory line workers. 

Of course, since we’re dealing with manufacturing, before we delve into manufacturing communication systems to consider for your operation, let’s jump into some numbers regarding the negative repercussions of poor communication between front-line workers, desk employees, management, and the rest of your team. 

The Importance of Manufacturing Communication Systems

A lack of communication across the production floor has been linked to deep disengagement, not just in the manufacturing plant, but across all manner of workplaces. Though that may be the case, a poll by Gallup emphasizes that these effects of disengagement impact manufacturing employees much more aggressively due to the inherently difficult, risky, and very technical nature of their jobs. According to the poll, only 1 in 4 employees reported that they were engaged and involved while they were at work. The rest regrettably reported that they were either under-stimulated or un-involved in their work. But, what does this mean as far as productivity and efficiency go? More than one might immediately think. 

It’s been repeatedly studied by Gallup and others that disengagement across the manufacturing floor results in dropped profitability and productivity. Not only that, reports claim that, in addition to these two metrics (which can drop to upwards of 20 – 22%), higher rates of absenteeism and turnover also abound when employees aren’t sufficiently involved and stimulated in their work. 

So how can manufacturing communication systems make a dent in this pain point of the modern manufacturing chain? 

What Needs to be Communicated in Manufacturing Communication?

Though it may be a little surprising to hear, in many cases, employees are interested in the same metrics and goals managers and team leads are. Many times, low engagement in the manufacturing workplace stems from a lack of proper communication of goals and how/if they’re being reached. Feeling as though they aren’t contributing can cause floor-level employees to feel burned out and lose sight in how their individual efforts are contributing to the team’s shared goals. 

All of this considered, manufacturing communication systems should aim to achieve a few key things:

  1. Accurately illustrate individual, team, and company-wide goals as well as how floor-level efforts are helping achieve these goals. 
  2. Open up communication between all levels of the manufacturing process, allowing line employees, team leaders, and desk workers to all communicate and collaborate towards shared goals.
  3. Make communication seamless, effective, and constantly available in order to minimize the possibility of miscommunications that can result in lost productivity and quality.

Communication Methods in Manufacturing

There are several methods to enhance manufacturing communication systems across the factory floor. Depending on your particular workforce and the kinds of workstations/machinery they use, some of these manufacturing communication tools can be easily implemented and resoundingly effective. 

Mobile Manufacturing Communications App

Non-desk employees, those that are operating machines and patrolling the floor, are often the most susceptible to missing out on proper communication. In many cases, these employees don’t even receive a company-provided email for important communications. Unfortunately, these common practices create a sharp division between office employees and factory staff. 

Fortunately, manufacturing communication apps exist that can help bridge this gap, making communication of new policies, goals, and metric reports much less stunted. 

Apps like redeapp, for example, provide a bevy of reporting features capable of sharing environmental health and safety updates, ensuring lower risk of manufacturing accidents. Additionally, these apps also show tasks as they’re completed, giving employees a real-time look at their progress, fulfilling their need to see how their actions are contributing to the goals of the team as a whole.

Needless to say, these applications can also allow non-desk workers to communicate with those in the office directly whom they otherwise wouldn’t be able to reach, closing the divide between these equally important halves of your workforce. The best part about applications like this is that they can also be loaded onto any employee’s smartphone, ensuring everyone has access. Better yet, they can even be downloaded onto industrial grade tablets that are carried around the factory floor as portable workstations.

Employee Dashboard

For those who aren’t working on mobile devices like a tablet, there are plenty of employee dashboard solutions that can integrate beautifully with IoT connected devices and be easily installed onto industrial workstations. 

By having these shared dashboards downloaded onto an industrial panel pc or control panel that’s connected to smart machinery across the production line, employees can play a more active role in spotting/reporting breakdowns, drop-offs in quality, and more. Across these dashboards, employees can also communicate with desk workers and managers, giving both a clearer look at how everything is being run. In this way, the simple inclusion of an interconnected dashboard creates more transparency in how everyone’s roles contribute to the bottom line, increasing efficiency and also increasing workplace engagement. 

In more recent unique applications of these dashboards, they have even been used to share updates on disinfection of factory hardware in order to improve workplace safety and infection control. 

Manufacturing Metric Displays

For more manual-labor intensive roles, both of the prior solutions might not be feasible as they would require every employee to have access to a workstation. For those groups, a manufacturing metric display can help spur on bolstered manufacturing communication. A manufacturing metric display (MMD) is essentially a digital information display posted up at a highly viewable point on the factory floor. 

These MMDs can be customized to do very much the same thing an employee dashboard does but for a larger staff that might otherwise not have access to proper communication of goals and metrics through individual workstations.

A panel PC designed to draw in KPIs from the larger supply chain and local performance metrics from on-site machines can help staff receive updates on their productivity and goals at a glance.

Proper Manufacturing Communication Boosts Morale, Productivity, Efficiency, and More

Manufacturing communication systems, as we mentioned, are about more than just efficiency; However, the improvements they can also bring to efficiency and productivity levels are nothing to sneeze at. Boosting company morale and communication can enhance production across every step and every team. For more information on how you can get started improving your factory’s manufacturing communication efforts, contact an expert from Cybernet today.