When it comes to business and entrepreneurship, every employee has a different way of doing work. Each worker offers a diverse background experience, depth of skill, and a different work process. These slight differences can be significant enough to introduce variation into a company’s workflow—something you should avoid if you want fluidity and cohesiveness within your operations.
If your NPI (new product introduction) engineers haven’t prepared a standard work instruction sheet, it’s time to write one. This article will discuss the importance of everyday work and guide you on how to write standard manufacturing work instructions for your company.
What are Standard Manufacturing Work Instructions?
Standard Manufacturing Work Instructions (SMWIs) are detailed, step-by-step guidelines that outline the procedures and best practices for carrying out specific tasks in a manufacturing environment. These instructions are designed to standardize processes, improve efficiency, ensure consistent product quality, and promote safety among workers.
SMWIs typically include:
- Purpose: A brief explanation of the task or process, its importance, and how it contributes to the overall manufacturing operation.
- Scope: The range of activities the work instruction covers, including any limitations or restrictions.
- Responsibilities: The roles and responsibilities of each team member involved in the process, from operators to supervisors.
- Tools and Equipment: A list of all tools, equipment, and materials required to perform the task, along with any necessary maintenance or calibration procedures.
- Procedure: A step-by-step task description, often accompanied by visual aids such as diagrams, photographs, or videos. This should be clear, concise, and easy to follow, with an emphasis on accuracy and consistency.
- Quality Control: Information on how to inspect and verify the quality of the completed task, including any required testing, measurements, or documentation.
- Safety Precautions: Guidelines for maintaining a safe working environment, including personal protective equipment (PPE), proper handling of hazardous materials, and adherence to relevant safety regulations.
- Documentation: A record of any relevant data or information generated during the process, such as production logs, test results, or inspection reports.
By implementing Standard Manufacturing Work Instructions, companies can reduce variability in their processes, minimize errors, increase productivity, and maintain high quality across their products.
Why are Standard Manufacturing Work Instructions Important?
Standard Manufacturing Work Instructions (SMWIs) are essential for several reasons that contribute to the overall success and efficiency of a manufacturing operation:
Consistency and Quality
SMWIs ensure that every worker follows the same procedures, leading to consistent output and maintaining high product quality standards. This helps to minimize defects, reduce waste, and ultimately enhance customer satisfaction.
Efficiency and Productivity
By providing clear and concise instructions, SMWIs streamline the manufacturing process, reducing the time spent deciphering complex tasks or correcting errors. This leads to increased efficiency and productivity while also optimizing resource utilization.
SMWIs outline safety precautions and guidelines for handling hazardous materials or operating equipment. This helps to minimize accidents, prevent injuries, and create a safer working environment for employees.
Training and Skill Development
Well-written work instructions are a valuable training resource for new employees, helping them quickly learn and adapt to the company’s processes. They also serve as a reference for experienced workers to refresh their knowledge or learn new skills.
Many industries have strict regulations and quality standards that must be followed during manufacturing. SMWIs help ensure that all procedures comply with relevant laws and industry standards, reducing the risk of non-compliance penalties or fines.
SMWIs provide a baseline for evaluating and improving processes over time. By regularly reviewing and updating work instructions, companies can identify areas for improvement, implement changes, and measure their impact on efficiency and quality.
Documenting processes in the form of SMWIs ensures that valuable knowledge is retained within the organization. This is particularly important when experienced employees retire or leave the company, as their expertise can be passed on to others through well-documented work instructions.
Standard Manufacturing Work Instructions are crucial in maintaining consistency, quality, safety, and efficiency in a manufacturing environment. They serve as a foundation for training, skill development, and continuous improvement, ultimately contributing to the organization’s overall success.
Step-by-Step Guide To Writing Manufacturing Work Instructions
Writing high-quality Standard Manufacturing Work Instructions (SMWIs) requires a systematic approach. Follow these steps to ensure that your work instructions are well-written, comprehensive, and compliant with relevant laws and regulations:
Step 1: Define the Purpose and Scope
Begin by outlining the purpose of the work instruction, explaining why the specific task is necessary and how it contributes to the overall manufacturing process. Also, define the scope of the work instruction, including any limitations or restrictions.
Step 2: Identify Roles and Responsibilities
Determine the roles and responsibilities of each team member involved in the task, from operators to supervisors. Specify who is responsible for completing each step of the process and any required supervision or oversight.
Step 3: List Tools, Equipment, and Materials
Compile a comprehensive list of all tools, equipment, and materials needed to perform the task. Include any maintenance, calibration, or setup procedures required for these items.
Step 4: Develop a Clear Procedure
Write a detailed, step-by-step description of the task, ensuring the instructions are clear, concise, and easy to follow. Use simple language and avoid jargon or technical terms that may be unfamiliar to workers. Include visual aids such as diagrams, photographs, or videos where appropriate to enhance understanding.
Step 5: Incorporate Quality Control Measures
Outline the quality control measures that should be implemented throughout the process. Specify how to inspect and verify the quality of the completed task, including any required testing, measurements, or documentation.
Step 6: Include Safety Precautions
Provide guidelines for maintaining a safe working environment during the task. Address using personal protective equipment (PPE), proper handling of hazardous materials, and adherence to relevant safety regulations.
Step 7: Add Documentation Requirements
Describe the documentation process, including any relevant data or information generated during the task, such as production logs, test results, or inspection reports. Specify how and where this information should be recorded and stored.
Step 8: Review and Revise
Review the work instruction for accuracy, clarity, and completeness. Ask for feedback from team members familiar with the task, and revise the instructions as needed. Ensure the final document is well-organized, easy to understand, and error-free.
Step 9: Implement and Train
Introduce the work instruction to the relevant team members and provide training as necessary. Use the document as a foundation for skill development and continuous improvement, monitoring its effectiveness and making updates as required.
Following these steps, you can create comprehensive and effective manufacturing work instructions that promote consistency, quality, safety, and efficiency in your organization’s production processes.
Tips to Write Manufacturing Work Instructions
To ensure that your SMWIs are effective and compliant, consider the following tips before beginning to write:
Standardize the Work
The core concept of manufacturing instructions is to follow sets of rules that will be applicable to a particular product. Thus, the first step is to standardize the work, no matter who does it, and ensure everyone follows the same procedures. This way, you can be sure that every unit produced is identical, avoiding costly mistakes or reworks.
Following the standard manufacturing process, a straightforward improvement to the work instructions identifies which tasks will be completed by whom. This small change can greatly reduce impatience, eliminating wasted time when people don’t know who has responsibility for what.
Write it With People Who Do the Work
Speaking of people not knowing their responsibilities, the instructions must be written with those who do the work in mind. You should involve them in drafting the manufacturing procedures, ensuring they can understand and follow them without problems.
Writing manufacturing work instructions for your employees is a great way to empower them by giving them access to all the information they need while working. Not only does this improve overall efficiency, but it also reduces the need for other people to answer questions, making them more productive!
Focus on Just One Task at a Time
Another crucial thing to remember when writing manufacturing work instructions is that you should focus on just one task. This can be difficult if you are writing work instructions for an entire production line, but if you need to troubleshoot a problem later, it will help immensely.
This way, when diagnosing an issue that arises in the future, you can better identify where the problem is occurring and which steps in your process are causing it. This will make identifying the source of errors or disruptions much more effective!
Make it Visual
The manufacturing work instructions you create will ensure that your procedures are visual wherever possible. However, this can only be accomplished by creating a visual process map of the production line. Or including 3D models within the document itself.
This will give workers an easy-to-understand map or virtual representation of their work processes. And can help eliminate confusion and ensure that everything is completed the same way every time.
Keep it Concise and Simple
When writing work instructions, it’s important to remember that you should keep them concise and straightforward. Avoid using long sentences with lots of clauses and use plain language that makes sense.
This way, the instructions will be easy to understand and follow without issues, allowing employees to work efficiently and produce quality products. Remember: if you’re writing instructions for power equipment like milling machines or lathes, use technical jargon sparingly! You could end up confusing your workers and making your instruction less effective.
Test Your Instructions
Finally, the last tip for writing manufacturing work instructions is to test them before using them. This can be done by getting a few of your employees or staff members together. And having them go through the entire process while you watch ensures they aren’t struggling with any steps.
This way, you can correct your instructions to ensure they are as efficient and straightforward as possible – something any company would want in their manufacturing work instructions!
Get Employee Buy-In
A common mistake that most big-name factories make is treating their low-level employees as disposable resources. By getting employee buy-in, you can increase overall efficiency like never before!
This is done by having the workers craft the procedures they will use daily. If they’re writing them with you, they will feel more responsible for completing their tasks correctly and putting in extra effort to ensure everything goes smoothly.
Track Data Regularly
Here’s another way to improve overall efficiency when writing manufacturing work instructions: track your data! This is done immediately after production. Using a checklist that workers can use to indicate whether or not they completed their task correctly.
This information is critical in allowing you to benchmark your production performance. If checks indicate that a worker constantly struggles with a particular task, you can work with them to find the source of the problem and fix it as soon as possible.
Keep Instructions Updated
As a final manufacturing work instructions tip, it’s important to remember what will sometimes happen when your product or process evolves. As a result, your instructions will need to be updated as well! Therefore, keeping track of any changes and ensuring they integrate appropriately into your procedures is essential.
This way, you can ensure that workers always have the most up-to-date information and avoid difficulties during production!
Train Your Process Engineers
Finally, as the last manufacturing work instructions tip, you must train your process engineers to write effective procedures.
These individuals must understand that they will be writing the procedures your workers will use daily. And as such, they should take their jobs very seriously. To avoid poor procedure implementation problems, ensure your process engineers know exactly what they’re writing and why it’s essential.
Create a Standard Manufacturing Work Instructions Template Using a Low-code Platform
Now you know the essential tips and tricks for writing effective manufacturing work instructions. You’re probably wondering how you can put them all into action efficiently. The answer is simple: use a low-code platform!
Using a low-code platform like DATAMYTE, you can create a standard template for your manufacturing work instructions that employees can use to understand your processes. Your process engineers will be able to quickly add in their information while also being able to customize the instructions as needed.
DATAMYTE is a quality management platform with low-code capabilities. The DataMyte Digital Clipboard, in particular, is a low-code workflow automation software that features a checklist and smart form builder. This tool lets you create a comprehensive standard manufacturing work instructions template to use and share with your team.
To create a checklist or form template using DATAMYTE, follow these steps:
- Log in to the DATAMYTE software and navigate to the ‘Checklist’ module.
- Click “Create Checklist.”
- Add a title to your template; select the category where it belongs.
- Start adding items to the template by clicking “Add Item.”
- Define the description of each item, what type of answer it requires, and other relevant specifications (e.g., reference documents, acceptance criteria, limits).
- Assign a team member responsible for conducting the inspection using the template.
- Add signature fields for approvals (e.g., supervisors, quality assurance personnel).
- Save the template—you can now access it anywhere, and it will be available on any device.
DATAMYTE also lets you conduct layered process audits, a high-frequency evaluation of critical process steps, focusing on areas with the highest failure risk or non-compliance. Conducting LPA with DATAMYTE lets you effectively identify and correct potential defects before they become major quality issues.
With DATAMYTE, you have an all-in-one solution for creating and implementing standard manufacturing work instructions templates. Book a demo now to learn how DATAMYTE can help you create and deploy effective work instructions for your production team.
As a manufacturing company, having standard work instructions is essential for ensuring compliance and quality control in production. Writing effective manufacturing work instructions will ensure your workers have the most up-to-date information and reduce the risk of problems during production.
Use the information in this article as a guide to creating effective manufacturing work instructions for your team. And make sure you use a low-code platform like DATAMYTE when creating your templates—get started today!