As manufacturers increasingly adopt technology to improve the way they manage their operations, digitizing paper-based SOPs and work instructions is often a common place to start.

For many manufacturers, digitizing work instructions can be as simple as taking paper-based SOPs, scanning them on a computer, and displaying them on a basic tablet or computer. This style of digital work instructions is commonly referred to as “paper on glass”.

While this surface-level approach to digitization does provide some benefits over traditional paper, paper on glass is an outdated method for providing work instructions to employees.

In this post, we’ll discuss the challenges with basic paper on glass work instructions, and why manufacturers need to consider a more comprehensive approach to digitizing operator workflows.

What is paper on glass?

Paper on glass refers to any production-related documents displayed in digital form, primarily on computers, tablets, or mobile devices. Paper on glass has become increasingly common in pharmaceuticals and medical device industries which involve several steps and quality checks as well as thorough documentation throughout the production process.

While these complex manufacturing industries have historically relied on paper-based documentation for things such as batch records and logbooks, paper records present a number of challenges for manufacturers.

For example, paper-based records require manual, hand-written inputs from operators which can become illegible for those responsible for reviewing them. With paper on glass, data can be entered into digital formats that are designed to reduce errors, such as drop-down menus, validation checks, and automatic calculations.

Additionally, paper on glass allows for better data management as digital records can be easily searched, sorted, and exported, which means that the data can be more easily analyzed and reported on.

While paper on glass does provide some benefits for manufacturers and shop floor operators when compared to paper and pen, there are countless additional benefits that come with a more comprehensive, dynamic work instructions solution.

Why manufacturers need more than paper on glass

Manufacturing environments produce a tremendous volume of data from machines, sensors, and IoT devices. For businesses looking to optimize their operations, this data can provide tremendously valuable insight into areas of inefficiency and bottlenecks.

One of the primary challenges that many face with paper on glass is the lack of connectivity between the digital interface and the various other systems being used across the business. This makes real-time data analysis nearly impossible, and prevents supervisors from identifying challenges that are impacting productivity until it’s too late.

Additionally, paper on glass fails to solve for the manual data input resulting in inaccuracies caused by human error. In most cases, paper on glass solutions do not enable automated data collection and require operators to enter data as they progress through their work.

In today’s competitive business environment, manufacturers need a comprehensive approach that combines inputs from other systems to provide complete a picture of their operations. Because of this, integration between shop floor tools like digital work instructions with backend systems like MES and ERP is critical.

Benefits of upgrading to digital work instructions built with Tulip

One of the primary benefits of upgrading from paper on glass to a more comprehensive digital work instruction solution is increased efficiency. Digital work instructions built with Tulip can be easily integrated with existing systems, which means that operators can access the most up-to-date information at all times. This enables supervisors to access shop floor data and respond to any shop floor issues or inefficiencies in near real-time.

Another benefit of digital work instructions is the ability to provide interactive instructions including videos, images, CAD designs, and animations, which can help to improve worker understanding and comprehension of the production process. Ultimately, this additional level of context helps to reduce quality defects and increase productivity.

Finally, Tulip work instructions can be used to streamline compliance records by automatically capturing critical details including personnel involved in production, materials or ingredients, quality measurements, environmental conditions, etc. As a result pharma and medical device manufacturers can focus more of their resources on production, and fewer resources on compliance activities.

If you’re interested in learning how Tulip’s work instructions app can help you increase productivity and efficiency, reach out to a member of our team today!

Digitize work instructions and compliance records with Tulip

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