Work instructions are the “How to do” in the industry
Work instructions play an essential role in the functioning of a structure. Heavy industrial sites, such as service companies, are used by all companies. After the processes, which frame the entire production sequence, and in the wake of the processes, which define the roles of each person in the process, come the operating modes. They detail through the menu the nature of each task to be performed and the steps involved in its completion.
Work instructions are therefore the first markers of a company’s productivity, efficiency and quality.
The importance of work instructions
Work instructions answer a fundamental question in a customer satisfaction process: How will the product or service provided to the customer be produced? In this, they highlight an equally important challenge for the company: document and analyze each task to make the entire structure productive and profitable while producing at a high level of quality. In this sense, work instructions are an integral part of knowledge management. The aim here is to document in a synoptic (diagrams) or textual way (step-by-step instructions) the skills and knowledge of each operator in order to best accomplish each task.
The transmission of knowledge is one of the results of the work instructions, continuous improvement is another.
Work instructions: a quality management tool
Work instructions are an integral part of the Quality Management System (QMS). They document the tasks to be performed by position. However, they can also extend transversely. In this case, they manage, for example, a workflow of tasks performed on different workstations. This is called a range. Integrated within the framework of a Kaizen approach, work instructions then become continuous improvement tools that allow each operator:
- To accomplish its task effectively;
- To identify the relevance of each step defined in the work instructions;
- To propose improvements;
- To document these improvements.
This continuous improvement and revision of work instructions, which are necessary for the company, must nevertheless be carried out in a methodical manner. Failure to do so could lead to counterproductive results. Indeed, the weakness of any QMS lies in poor control of the different versions of the same document. It is therefore essential that each document be unique and identified by a revision system that allows everyone to ensure that they are working on the latest revision.
Better document work instructions
Even if nowadays, thanks to the advent of digital technology, versioning is more easily managed, the problem of bad versions of documents in circulation is far from being solved. Indeed, digital technology does not prevent operators from printing work instructions and forgetting to destroy them when a new version is available. This increases the risk of using an obsolete or more suitable version. Not to mention the inevitable annotations that employees make on their work instructions. They remain confined to their jobs while some could be beneficial to the entire structure… To overcome this, companies must be able to equip themselves with effective operating mode management solutions. Solutions that make it easy to carry out work instructions, manage updates while ensuring that only the latest revisions are in circulation…
Faced with the importance of work instructions for the company, the stakes are clear: they require the implementation of solutions that make it easy to create and manage them. Thus mastered, the work instructions will allow companies to better document the knowledge within them but also to increase their productivity and competitiveness.