Task management

Work instructions, Notifications and Feedback from the shopfloor

Task management to make shop floor operations more flexible

The WORKERBASE workflow management software provides task management functionality to allow the efficient organization of manual work in manufacturing and logistics.  A Task typically announces a job which needs to be done. In most factories, tasks are planned on a fixed schedule derived from a well-organized planning system. But when an urgent issue finds its way to the shop floor, flexibility is needed. A core feature of the WORKERBASE platform is the task management functionality, which allows to dynamically assign tasks and to track task progress. Tasks can be enhanced with step-by-step workflows. Thus, a user gets a task announcement, accepts a tasks and then gets a detailed step-by-step instruction on how to carry out a specific job. All step-by-step workflows can be created and modified with the WORKERBASE Appbuilder tool.

Task assignment

The assignment of a task usually starts with a task announcement which the user gets on his smartwatch. Based on priority, users get prompted with the task announcement directly or receive the task announcement in “silent mode”. All announced tasks reside in the MyTasks App and can be re-opened at any time. The My Tasks app is comparable to an email Inbox or To Do List. Once a user accepts a task, it is assigned to him. Users can also refuse tasks. The WORKERBASE system then provides functions for re-announcement and escalation routines. Tasks can be assigned to individual users or user groups.

Task progress

Once a task is assigned and the user works on the tasks, all activities are stored in the WORKERBASE software for later reference. For example, the system tracks time and date of tasks announcement, task acceptance and task completion. In case needed, the data can be anonymized. By using the WORKERBASE workflow management software, the progress of all tasks can be tracked at any time, thus increasing the transparency of shop floor operations.

How does task assignment look like?

In typical industrial settings, most task assignments follow the same pattern. We have identified four different ways to assign tasks: Process driven, Collaboration driven, Asset driven or Self-driven.

  1. Process driven: Most of the times, tasks shall be carried out according to fixed production plan. Usually such a plan is defined in an ERP, MES or any other production planning system. Thus, the production process defines when and to whom a task will be assigned.
  2. Collaboration driven: In case operators need support, call for help, send of transportation orders etc., they usually interact with co-workers and most likely assign tasks to them. Typical tools for such ad-hoc requests include telephone, emails and very often paper-based forms.
  3. Asset driven: In situations where operators interact with machines and materials, unforeseen events may occur, e.g. a machine breaks down or material defects are identified. Such incidents may evoke the assignment of a task, e.g. a broken tool needs to be repaired.
  4. Self-driven: Most often, human workers apply their expertise to individual process steps in manufacturing, e.g. a quality manager has to inspect the output of a process step. To complete the workflow, the quality manager assigns several tasks to himself.

The WORKERBASE system provides functions to support all four ways of task assignments.

process driven task assignment

Process driven:

With system connectors to external business applications like e.g. SAP, tasks can be imported from the business application directly into the WORKERBASE system and can then be routed to a smartwatch.

Collaboration driven:

The role management functions of the WORKERBASE system allow to create multi-user apps, so that collaborative workflows can be initiated.

asset driven task assignment

Asset driven:

The integrated barcode scanner of the smartwatch allows the creation of asset driven tasks. For example, operators can scan barcodes of machines to trigger maintenance tasks and to send repair orders with maintenance instructions to the smartwatch of a service technician.

self-driven task assignment

Self-driven:

Self driven task assignment is what usually happens when a user starts an app on his smartwatch: he will then be prompted with an individual workflow on the device, e.g. to put in data for quality inspection routines.

The lifecycle of a task

task lifecycle

Usually, a task runs trough different lifecycle stages. It all starts with the task generation, either from the smartwatch of a user, external systems or directly from the WORKERBASE workflow management system. Based on the business logic defined in the WORKERBASE system, a task gets then announced to an individual user or a group of users. Users can accept or refuse tasks. If a task is accepted, the users start to work on it. Usually, a task is enhanced with a step-by-step workflow created by the WORKERBASE Appbuilder tool. If the user finishes the task, its status is automatically set to done. If a task is refused by a user, all other users who got the announcement can still accept the task. The first user who accepts a task can start working on it. All other users get an automatic system message that the task was assigned to a different user. If all potential user refuse a task, the task is suspended. Based on the defined business logic rule, the WORKERBASE system then re-announces the task or starts an escalation routine, e.g. announcement of the task to a different user group.

How does tracking task progress look like?

All data which gets processed on the smartwatch is directly sent back to the WORKERBASE workflow management system. Once an operator accepts a task, the task will be marked as “in progress” and is shown on a kanban-style dashboard in the workflow management system. Once the task has been finished, it will be updated immediately and will appear in the “done” column of the dashboard. Tasks which have not been accepted by the assigned users, will be shown in the “suspended” column. The system supports escalation rules for the automatic re-assignment or delegation of tasks to other users.

Task management functions

  • Automatic announcement of tasks: Tasks can be triggered from other tasks and users, from the backend system or from external systems
  • Flexible task management: Task announcements can be based on name, job role, location or skill set of the operator
  • Task delegation: Tasks can be accepted or delegated by the operator with the smartwatch.
  • Easy administration: Tasks can be easily created and modified with the WORKERBASE workflow management software
  • Step-by-step workflows: Tasks can be enhanced with step-by-step workflows

Benefits of the tasks management functions

WORKERBASE provides a range of task management functions. As a result, work coordination on the shopfloor can be improved and organisational flexibility is increased. Together with the WORKERBASE Kanban app, the task management functions allow the efficient setup of a pull production system.

Planning of work

Even best planning does not reflect all scenarios, more flexibility is needed. With the task management function, work can be decomposed in individual tasks which can be assigned very flexibly.

Traceability of assets and work steps

As all tasks and the generated data are stored in the WORKERBASE system, production relevant data such as fulfillment time of production steps, source of components, location of tools, approval steps etc. can be tracked.

Information updates

With the real-time task update function, changes to operational processes can be communicated quickly.

Communication and coordination

Fast communication between planners and workers is enabled. The coordination between distinct departments can be improved significantly.