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A digital transformation wave is sweeping across the industrial landscape. Rather than causing problems, this wave is bringing a flood of benefits. Companies adopting digital technologies enjoy more efficient operations and higher frontline worker productivity. Connected worker platforms are a recent extension of digital transformation technology. These platforms enable companies and their frontline workers to be more flexible and nimbler in data collection and problem solving.
In part one of this three-part series, we examined how data plays an ever-more important role in factories from the production floor to the warehouse. Today, we’ll take a closer look at connected worker platforms. We’ll discuss:
- What is a connected worker
- Why connected workers are important
- Benefits of connected worker solutions
What Is a Connected Worker?
“The Connected Worker is an online employee that has the ability to work from anywhere, anytime and using any device. As a result, there has been a dramatic change in the way employees perform their jobs.” — Gartner Inc.
A connected worker is any frontline employee – typically a field operator, a shop floor worker, maintenance technician or a warehouse clerk – who can work independently and remotely as a situation demands thanks to digital technology. The employee has ready access to real-time, context-specific information that is actionable. Being digitally connected empowers them to make informed decisions at the point of work – such as a repair site – ensuring utmost quality, reliability and safety.
Frontline, connected workers utilize mobile technology to accomplish their tasks faster, better, cheaper and safer than traditional paper-based processes. These can include:
Why Connected Workers Are Important
Digital transformation and connected worker technology offer great potential for asset-intensive industries, especially those trying to establish and maintain a competitive advantage.
Industrial field workers and supervisors need real-time visibility into current equipment health and performance to maximize reliability and reduce unscheduled downtime. When equipment does go down unexpectedly, frontline workers require quick access to operational and historical information to expedite repairs and complete them.
Warehouse workers need a way to accurately track inventory across the entire process, from receiving to stocking to picking to shipping. A smoother, more efficient warehouse process reduces carrying costs, lowers tax bills and helps maintenance ensure requested parts are on-hand and ready to go when a work order is issued.
Mobile, connected worker technology replaces slow, cumbersome paper-based operational data collection and sharing. For frontline workers, this means no more lugging around a clipboard, or worse, a clumsy binder back and forth. It also means no more time-consuming and labor-intensive manual data entry into a back-office ERP. Data collection and sharing becomes less of a burden.
For supervisors and decision makers, connected worker technology delivers instant, real-time information from the field. No more waiting for hours for a paper checklist to be turned in or inputted into the ERP. Instead, decision makers get an immediate update of conditions within the plant or warehouse. They can make knowledgeable choices based on what’s happening now, rather than relying on information that may already be out of date.
Benefits of Connected Worker Solutions
Connected worker solutions will be a growing part of the industrial workplace throughout the 2020s. It’s certainly easy to see why. Research shows a connected worker is 24% more productive than an unconnected worker. Thanks to the growth in technology, more asset-intensive organizations like oil and gas companies, chemical plants, mines and utilities can now afford to support and deploy mobile workforces that can perform their work on the go.
The ongoing pandemic also illustrated the value and utility of remote, connected workforces. Ditching paper forms and adopting mobile frontline worker applications and connected worker solutions have kept processes on schedule during challenging times. Companies that employed connected worker technology during the pandemic are now agile and have adapted to fast-changing situations. It has allowed them to keep workers safe while staying in business.
A connected worker solution can provide:
- Greater operational visibility throughout an enterprise
- Insight into the potential cause of a problem and its effects
- A way to assign resources and check spare part availability
- Improved collaboration to undertake recommended actions in a timely fashion
Globally, 85% of industry executives surveyed by Accenture said that they were putting their money down on getting their workers connected. Those who have done so report improvements in safety and productivity. They’ve also enjoyed a marked decrease in operating costs. Connected workers say they’re more satisfied and motivated with their jobs and workplaces.
Is a Connected Worker Solution Right for You? We Can Help
We’ve learned that connected worker solutions:
- Provide ready access to real-time, context-specific information that is actionable
- Enable frontline workers to accomplish their tasks faster, better, cheaper and safer
- Use smartphones, tablets, wearable and drones
- Replace slow, paper-based processes
- Deliver real-time information for knowledge-based decisions
Innovapptive, a digital transformation leader, specializes in SAP- and IBM Maximo-compatible connected worker solutions. These systems simplify the collection and sharing of operational data to improve technician productivity, transform warehouse processes and cut downtime costs. Schedule a free demo today of a world-class connected worker platform or call 888-464-6668. Our industry experts will be glad to explain the connected worker concept and guide you through how it can benefit your enterprise.