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Improving Manufacturing Operations Through Video Training & Communications

How is video being used to improve manufacturing operations today? Here's a look at a few examples.

The principles of Six Sigma, LEAN and Kaizen have changed the face of modern manufacturing. Today’s factory floor wastes not a machine, movement or moment.

This unrelenting focus on efficiency is also what’s behind a growing trend among today’s manufacturers: video. Among organizations of all sizes and types — whether old or new, local or global — video adoption rates are skyrocketing. And it’s easy to see why.

Today’s manufacturers are in a state of constant evolution, challenged to meet demanding standards without slowing for even a second. It’s an environment that relies on eyesight and expertise as much as raw data, and that’s where video has become a welcome ally.

As the former head of Shell Oil’s strategic planning group, Arie de Geus, argued, “The ability to learn faster than your competitors may be the only sustainable competitive advantage.” Video helps modern manufacturing facilities learn more about their operations in a way spreadsheets can’t, providing not only an objective view that can spotlight opportunities, but also a more visual, engaging way to connect and inform both management and workforce.

So how is video being used to improve manufacturing operations today? Let’s take a look at a few examples:

Capturing and Reviewing Production Processes

Documenting a complete production process at most facilities today is nearly impossible. The detail required to create a comprehensive overview often results instruction manuals that look more like textbooks — and which go out of date every time a step is changed or production standard revised.

Video offers a more sustainable option, enabling businesses making virtually anything to easily record every step with multiple camera angles and observe production processes in full. And whereas a few years ago that kind of documentation would have been a huge investment, new tools like the enterprise video platform can make it affordable to record any process anywhere with any camera —  even a smartphone — and instantly upload the resulting recordings to a central video library.

Retaining the Knowledge of Expert Employees

As a generation of veteran employees nears retirement, businesses are at risk of losing massive amounts of institutional knowledge. Here, video has risen as an efficient means of preserving and sharing employee subject matter expertise.

As employees prepare to leave their positions, whether to retire or simply move on in their careers, asking each to record a walkthrough of the key functions of their day to day work can be a quick way to create an invaluable training resource for incoming employees.

All together, these recordings will help your business build a comprehensive library covering every part of how your business operates — a library that, thanks to improvements in inside-video content search, can be searched by keyword for any word spoken or shown on-screen. This ensures that employees can quickly find the information they need even if your in-house expert team member has moved on.

Identifying Opportunities for Continuous Improvement

Faced with the challenge of continuous improvement, many manufacturers are on constant lookout for opportunities to make their processes more efficient. Yet as virtually every production cycle remains a step-by-step process moving from person to person, building to building, and often country to country, it’s nearly impossible for a single viewer to understand where opportunities for improvement lie.

Manufacturers with documented processes are often able to spot opportunities by watching videos of each process in sequence. Other organizations, meanwhile, find opportunities not in the video content itself, but in the volume of recordings produced — if, for instance, a how-to video for working with a specific machine becomes popular, that alone could be a sign that there is an opportunity to improve training on that machine.

Enhancing Safety, Compliance, and Skills Training

As processes become more intricate and roles more complicated, regular training has become essential for most manufacturing organizations. In order to succeed, employees need access to as deep a library of training instructions and information as you can provide.

Video makes it easy to build and share just such a library. Using no more than PowerPoint and a standard laptop webcam, you can quickly and easily record new, expanded, or updated training materials which can then be uploaded to your video platform and shared with employees.

Live Streaming Company Events — Internally or Externally

Especially for larger organizations, events can be one of the most valuable communication tools in your arsenal. Events, however, have one serious limitation — they’re really only valuable to those who can attend.

Most video platforms enable businesses to webcast events and announcements live online, allowing an audience of any size to attend events virtually. Likewise, recording company events and sharing them on a central video library enables anyone inside your organization to get the experience of attending.

Supporting Sales and Marketing Efforts

When it comes to making a sale, most manufacturers operate within a labyrinth of partners, distributors, sales channels, and direct customers. And just about the only thing they all have in common is that it’s getting harder to get their attention.

Video helps manufacturers amplify their messages. Because video is a visually rich format, a simple video recording can often better demonstrate what sets your products and processes apart better than the best brochures. The data is hard to ignore — up to 85 percent of people are more likely to buy a product if they saw an explainer video first.

In today’s manufacturing industry, learning faster and better leveraging existing knowledge is crucial to not only operating more efficiently, but also building a more sustainable competitive advantage. By making expertise easier to capture, easier to search, and easier to share, video — and the video platform — can be an effective tool that helps you improve operations in your facilities.

Steve Rozillis is Head of Customer Evangelism at Panopto.

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