In recent years, managers have been the first to benefit from new digital tools deployed to facilitate and develop their missions (such as Microsoft 365 with Teams and Power BI for example). On the contrary, the players in the field, who work on the front line (also called operators or “Frontline Workers – FLW”) still seemed to be largely forgotten by this industrial transformation. Until the arrival of the 4.0 panel concept dedicated to the operator station. An evolution giving them the means to manage their activity more efficiently.
Frontline workers : forgotten by digitization
Today, in most industrial companies, the collection of information from operators is still often done in an archaic and non-automated way. A field operator (FLW) completes several documents (paper or Excel format), which he must then communicate to his manager, who in turn transmits to managers in order to circulate the information. This transmission of information is, in this case, a real waste of time and a real source of errors, which impact the responsiveness in the feedback of information and the overall performance of the company.
Certainly, since 2020, investments in business software (MES, industrial ERP) and collaboration have increased sharply. For some organizations, field data collection remains time-consuming. This is due to the fact that the operator station is lagging behind in digitization, their needs have not been sufficiently studied. Their digital expectations are very different from those of their managers. Why and how to digitize the workstation of operators?
Frontline workers digitization : towards the 4.0 panel
Whether monitoring field operations or anticipating blocking points, the Frontline Worker (FLW) is a valuable relay. To become a full-fledged player in industrial digital transformation, leaders and IT departments (CIOs) must focus their efforts on meeting their real digital expectations.
Frontline Workers need to follow the performance indicators to be able to reach them (advance/delay compared to the schedule, OEE, measurement and codification of stoppages, scrap, etc.), to remain vigilant and to report the slightest problem quickly. To do this, solutions exist for accessing relevant information and escalating difficulties (Andon system, connected wallboards, SIM ritual animations, etc.).
The 4.0 panel, on the other hand, is an easy-to-use, ergonomic tool, adapted to the needs of frontline workers. It empowers front-line teams and makes them proactive and actors in their missions. This tool must become a pillar in the company. With a wide functional scope connected to operators and production machines, the console meets the specific needs of operators and integrates different options:
|KPIs measurement & monitoring||Andon alert||Operator communications|
The advantages of panel 4.0:
Digitization at the operator station level brings rapid gains in responsiveness, performance and quality monitoring. The overall objective is to bring all the useful information as close as possible to the field teams, raise alerts in the event of anomalies to provide them with support and log all the information in a process of continuous improvement.
Here are some major gains made with 4.0 panel:
- Ensures better responsiveness in the event of deviations and incidents from the operator station thanks to simplified and connected communication
- Allows the dissemination of information between teams (anticipation, reactivity, self-organization)
- Avoids manual input therefore reduces the risk of error
- Makes the updating and feedback of information from the IS and the machines more reliable
- Improves the quality of learning for newcomers, by storing and making available the appropriate documentation
- Represents a real asset in the attractiveness of the company vis-à-vis young recruits by modernizing its image.
In order to optimize industrial processes, communication between operators, machines and the information system must become more fluid and reliable. All industry professions participate in this qualitative flow of information: from the Frontline Worker to the team leader and industrial manager. From this point of view, the 4.0 console is the new essential tool for field operators.