Digital checklists for efficient data collection and standard work in manufacturing

Manufacturers investing in digitized shop floor management experience unlimited opportunities to continuously improve manufacturing excellence. The availability of digital checklists is one option to ensure quality for repetitive tasks and to collect data for continuous improvement measures. This article explains why digital checklists in manufacturing are necessary and provides guidance of how to implement digital checklists. The WORKERBASE Connected Worker platform enables digital manufacturing by providing digital checklists and SOPs (standardized operational procedures) for operators to support real-time data collection.

Digital checklists to improve manufacturing excellence 

Every manufacturing site is striving for continuous improvement to pursue manufacturing excellence. This includes efficient safety and quality processes, the optimization of the OEE and the removal of waste from all production processes. As all improvement activities shall be based on facts, it is important to implement efficient data collection processes. Especially for manual and human-driven work processes, it is important to move away from paper-based data collection and implement efficient digital workflows for data collection.

The WORKERBASE Connected Worker Platform is a toolbox that allows manufacturers to move from paper to digital checklists for standard work without huge investments. With the WORKERBASE AppBuilder tool, digital checklists can be built in a very short time. In fact, by customizing pre-configured checklist templates, an individual set of checklists can be created in only a few minutes. The digital checklists can then be used on different mobile devices, be it a smartphone, a tablet or a smartwatch. There is no additional effort to create checklists for the different devices - once configured, it simply works.

Digital checklists for standard work in manufacturing

Examples for digital checklists

Typical application areas for digital checklists include:

Shopfloor meeting protocols: to collect the most important information and bring all team members on the same level. 

Standard workflows: to establish standard operational procedures and guarantee timely execution of routine jobs with precision e.g. for equipment control, machine setups, gemba walks.

Safety checklists: to create safe work routines for all employees e.g. 5S/6S checks, safety observations, safety/forklift inspections, COVID-19 health plan.

Continuous improvement submissions: to allow employees file improvement ideas in standardized formats.

Handover protocols: to ensure shift handovers are done in a complete way so employees have all information at hand they need to perform their jobs.

Quality control: to detect issues in real-time and trigger immediate action.

Inspection protocols to ensure standardized inspections and collect results for traceability.

Maintenance protocols: to establish standards for regular maintenance jobs and to collect data for further analysis.

What are the benefits of digital checklists

Compared to paper-based checklists, digital checklists have many advantages:

  • Real-time data collection
  • Easy usage on mobile devices
  • Complete and correct data with automatic consistency checks
  • Never outdated: automatic updates ensure that employees always use the latest version
  • Saving time as integrated in daily workflows and instantly reported 
  • Overcoming barriers of teams, departments, sites, shifts, plants
  • Collaborative data collection: especially for time-intensive data collection or longer checklists, tasks can be distributed across many people 

How to create a digital checklist for manufacturing

1. Easily create and manage digital checklists

With WORKERBASE you can easily create checklists in the web browser using a drag & drop interface. Our preconfigured function blocks allow checklists to be created flexibly in a very short time. The system automatically creates checklists apps for smartphones, tablets and smartwatches and uploads the checklists to the devices. You don’t have to involve your IT department to create your own checklist app for your smartphone!

You can use different functions such as e.g. confirmation fields, text comments, numerical value checks or multi-checks. You can flexibly combine all functions with one another and enriche the checklist with image, audio or video recording. In this way, all relevant situations in production (problems, issues, quality defects etc.) can be easily documented and forwarded directly to the relevant people or systems.

Workerbase digital checklist creation

2. Call up checklist via QR code or flexibly assign checklists to employees

All WORKERBASE checklists can be started by scanning a QR code or barcode. You can e.g. attach checklists to individual machines or order types. Once a person scans the QR-code of e.g. a machine, the connected checklist will be shown on the smartphone of this person. In addition, checklists can be triggered by many other events: e.g. if a colleagues has finished a respective workflow or if an email was received by the system or if a specific data field was set in the ERP system. The WORKERBASE system can be configured with customized rules that trigger checklists on the devices of employees and assign the respective data collection tasks. That speeds up data collection processes. You avoid unnecessary searches for paper folders and ensure that the latest information is always accessed.

Rule engine for digital checklists
Rule condition for digital checklists

3. Digital workflows to increase productivity

With the help of the digital checklists on mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets, your employees can tick off checkpoints on site. The activity is logged immediately and, if required, entered directly in reports. There is no need for time-consuming manual post-processing and the creation of additional documents. All WORKERBASE checklists can be flexibly combined into multi-user and multi-devices data  collection workflows. The WORKERBASE rule engine is a very powerful tool that can be configured to suit your individual data collection requirements.

4. Automated data processing

With the WORKERASE system you can define in detail which follow-up activities should be carried out after completing a checklist. For example, you can forward messages directly to quality assurance if certain data values ​​are exceeded. You can flexibly create test functions and expand AI-based software components for the deviations between target and actual values ​​or to detect irregularities in the process. For example, you can automatically classify the defect images created with a smartphone from an inspection workflow and import the results into a company-wide knowledge database as part of a continuous improvement process.

App for collecting data in manufacturing

The WORKERBASE system allows a simple connection to your existing IT landscape through powerful connectors. For example, you can save the recorded values ​​directly in your quality system or automatically send PDF reports as proof of activity by email.

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How to use the digital checklists for improving manufacturing excellence

The connected worker platform is a digital support system for the entire shop floor which puts operators in the centre and focuses on the flexible organization of human work. With digital checklist apps, you connect all human workers with each other, but also with machines, material and IT systems. Operators being equipped with mobile devices can reduce time to complete forms and checklists significantly. We at WORKERBASE have learned that implementing a digital support system for the connected worker can generate tremendous value, e.g. 5% improvement of Overall Equipment Efficiency (OEE) or 20% productivity increases for manual activities in batch production. Please contact us if you have any questions!

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