There are a wide variety of connected worker solutions currently on the market.
Determining which is right for you can be challenging. In the previous section, we looked at some of the ways Tulip customers are connecting their workforce. While Tulip works for most manufacturers, it’s not necessarily the right tool for everyone.
In this section we’ll help make the vetting process a little easier by sharing 7 questions to help you narrow your search.
1. Who are you connecting?
This may seem simple, but it’s so important. Who, precisely, do you want to connect? Your answers will lead you down different paths. Are you looking to connect operators on complex assemblies? Field workers who need support from remote sites? Are you an OEM who needs to equip your technicians with maintenance info? Engineers charged with improving industrial processes? Management who need better data to make more informed business decisions? All of the above? None of the above?
Better yet, can you think of a specific individual in your operation who could benefit from connection?
Identifying who you’re connecting sets a foundation for the solution review process. It helps you access needs, desired outcomes, and potential roadblocks early.
Your answer will obviously depend on your operations. But the better you can answer “who?” the easier time you’ll have identifying “what next?”
2. What are they doing?
Another seemingly trivial question that’s anything but. You can think of it as an extension of the previous question.
What, exactly are your workers doing? What will connectivity enable them to do better? Here it helps to go beyond the generalities of “assembly” or “machine maintenance” and consider what happens during an assembly or repair. Will they need their hands for their work (useful for ruling out solutions that require constantly interacting with a screen)? What tools are necessary? What materials need to be at every station? What would prevent them from doing that work?
If you can provide a granular inventory of every human process and its constituent tasks, the easier it will
3. What information do they need to do their job?
This requires taking stock of processes and outcomes. It can also be asked in the negative to equal effect: What information, if lacking, will prevent a worker from doing their job?
Do operators need ready-to-hand access to manuals and schematics? Would it help them to see videos of particularly tricky procedures? Or are you looking to connect engineers with higher-level process data to empower their initiatives?
Identifying the information workers need can help you pick the right platform for providing it.
4. What systems do they interact with? What systems are they embedded in?
This question can help you see the ways that workers are part of larger processes. It’s useful for thinking about the extent to which workers need to be connected to be effective. What software do they interact with? What sensors and IoT devices are involved? Which machines are involved? Where are there contingencies in the processes?
Connected workers are always a part of manufacturing systems. Clarifying the role they play can simplify which new technologies you introduce.
5. How do their actions influence the work that gets done?
This cuts to the heart of worker contributions to manufacturing processes.
(And this still comes back to the fundamental question, “Who?”).
What is the result of human action on your manufacturing lines? Machine changeovers? Assembled products? Quality assurance? I could keep going but you get the idea.
If you can identify the contributions of humans, you can pick a connected worker solution that optimizes human performance.
6. How prone are they to error? What kinds of errors?
Human error isn’t reducible to human performance. It’s a consequence of poor system design.
So it helps to ask, “Where are workers making mistakes?” What kinds of mistakes are they making? What’s the root cause?
A little goes a long way in identifying places where you protect your workers against the most common forms of human error.
7. What data will make a difference for you?
Remember that connected worker solutions aren’t just about making humans more efficient. They’re also important for creating a record of human action.
For this reason, you should ask which data will make a difference in your operations. What do you want to know? What do you currently know? What data is difficult to take with your current technology?
Data is power, and connected worker solutions are a crucial tool for collecting the data that matters most to you.