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.
To meet these unrelenting standards of efficiency, companies need more than good planning and copious data: They need employees who know what they’re doing.
Earned through specialized training and on-the-job learning, the expertise held by employees of today’s manufacturers is both rare and valuable. And it is instrumental to tackling the complex problems and unexpected challenges that people encounter at work every day.
Yet as important as an individual’s expertise is, most manufacturers have no formal way of capturing that institutional knowledge and preserving it so it can be shared with others throughout the organization. With few exceptions, that treasure trove of know-how exists only inside people’s heads — and walks out the door at the end of each shift.
It’s a challenge that threatens a company’s productivity. And it comes with a hefty price tag.
According to a study recently released by my company, for every 1,000 people a business employs, they can expect to lose $2.7 million in productivity every year due to inefficiencies caused by poor knowledge sharing. For the average large organization (17,700 employees, per the survey data), that’s a loss of $47 million in productivity every year.
And this is where technology—especially video technology—can become a welcome ally. Video can help employees quickly document their know-how to share with coworkers, managers, new hires, and others. And video explanations and demonstrations are often far easier to follow along, making them exceptionally useful learning resources in the busy and noisy environments common to the manufacturing industry.
When curated, institutional knowledge sharing videos can become an enormous asset for any company looking to maintain productivity and cut costs. Let’s take a look at a few examples of how today’s manufacturers are tapping into that value:
Capturing and Reviewing Production Processes
Documenting a complete production process at most facilities today is close to impossible. Instruction manuals (whether written by the manufacturer or created internally by someone at your company) are now the size of textbooks, and an employee may need to read several of them in order to understand the intricacies of how the shop moves through its production cycle from start to finish.
Worse, even when reading those manuals is a requirement, most employees will give no more than a quick skim. Many will not, or cannot, even go that far. Rare is the employee who will really pore over the details. And all that adds up to a challenge, because if an employee doesn’t understand the full scope of the production process, they won’t be able to help spot opportunities for continuous improvement.
Video offers a more approachable option. Instead of page after page of dense written documentation, every step of a manufacturing process can instead simply be recorded and shown as it really is. Employees can watch and learn how everything works together, and in certain circumstances, even follow along with a video demonstration as part of completing a process or fixing an issue.
A few years ago, using video to document production processes would have required a huge investment. But now, thanks to the general availability of professional-quality cameras on today’s smartphones and laptops, and the flexibility of the modern enterprise video platform, it’s now possible to record just about any process in any location, then securely share that footage for employees to refer to either as part of their formal training or on-demand as needed.
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.
Retaining the Knowledge of Expert Employees
As a generation of veteran employees nears retirement, businesses are at risk of losing massive amounts of expertise. Here, video has also emerged as an efficient means of preserving and sharing employees’ institutional knowledge.
Now, instead of asking tenured veterans to write down everything they know before they go, managers can simply ask them to record a walkthrough of their day-to-day responsibilities and any subject matter expertise they wish to share. This is a quick way to create an invaluable training resource for the incoming employees that will be taking on those responsibilities.
Pooled together, recordings like these will help build a comprehensive video library covering every part of how your business operates. Such a library becomes even more valuable through new capabilities like inside-video content search. With inside-video search, employees type in keywords and are directed to every moment within a video that those terms are either spoken or shown on screen. This ensures that employees can quickly find the information they need, even if your in-house expert has moved on.
Live Streaming and Recording Company Events
Especially for larger organizations, company events like town halls, executive announcements, and annual conferences can be some of the most valuable communication tools in your arsenal. However, they have one serious limitation: they’re only valuable to those who can attend.
Once again, video fills the gap. Most video platforms enable businesses to live stream events and announcements securely online, allowing an audience of any size to attend events virtually. Especially if your business operates in multiple locations, this can be a very simple and effective way to ensure your message reaches everyone consistently, no matter what.
Additionally, many of today’s video platforms will also automatically record and upload anything you live stream to your central video library. That is important, as it not only ensures that employees who could not attend live can still get the experience of attending, but also that employees will be able to find relevant information from those events quickly via inside-video search, even well into the future.
In today’s manufacturing industry, finding a better way to leverage existing knowledge is crucial to operating efficiently and building a sustainable competitive advantage.
Video can be that better way, serving as a tool that makes expertise easier to capture, easier to search, and easier to share — and saving you millions in lost productivity every year.
Steve Rozillis heads Customer Evangelism at Panopto.