One of the most critical steps to increase the efficiency of your production process and OEE is to engage production operators with their work. But how do you drive engagement, and how does real-time monitoring of production machines fit into the picture? This article gives you an overview of why engagement matters and three suggestions for increasing it on your shop floor using OEE software.

Why Does Engagement of Production Workers Matter?

Reports on the productivity and payback of employee engagement show that workers who are invested in their roles are more productive than those who aren’t. What is more, according to a Gallup poll, engaged employees are 21% more productive than their less engaged counterparts. In a factory, this becomes even more important because engaged employees are the ones who discover opportunities for improvements.

benefits employee engagement visualisation

Example scenario to understand why engagement matters

A company with 10 production machines, each running an 8h shift during the morning and evening, 5 days a week. Each shift on each of the machines has 30 minutes of unplanned, unknown production stops. This equals 600 minutes lost per day in the factory.

For the year, that would total 260 x 600 = 156 000 minutes or 2 600 lost hours. If we divide this by 8 (the time of one shift), we get about 325 shifts lost in one year.

But if your operators are engaged in the work, you have the potential to halve this or remove it altogether.

Based on the example, it’s easy to understand how every improvement in the factory matters and how engaged operators bring value. But it’s also important to realize that most individuals have their own motives for coming to work. They have their personal goals, ambitions, and reasons that won’t always align with yours.

Thus finding ways to engage your production operators becomes a key challenge. Whether that means giving them a significant challenge to tackle or more responsibilities. Or just simply giving them recognition and positive feedback. At the end of the day, your operators need to feel that they are the heroes in your factory.

Let’s explore how you can achieve this.

factory collaboration

How to Engage Production Operators?

Here are three ways you can use Evocon to drive engagement of your production operators. And get your production lines running like well-oiled machines.

1. Create daily habits that drive improvements and change

Manufacturers often overlook OEE software as an opportunity to increase engagement in the factory.

By implementing an OEE system in your factory, you are giving your operators a new tool which they will interact with every day. And if this tool reminds them to complete certain activities, encourages to be proactive and achieve set goals, then this is a perfect way to form new habits.

At Evocon, we have incorporated numerous interactions into the system that are built just for this. These interactions help increase the engagement and productivity of your production workers.

Here are a few examples:

  • A reminder to operators to register for shifts. Our system reminds operators to register themselves as lead operators for shifts. Taking a lead role intrinsically creates ownership and accountability in operators. And accountability matters because it eliminates the time and effort you spend on distracting activities and other unproductive behaviors.
  • Give feedback to operators about their performance with emotions. In Shift View, the primary tool operators use in Evocon, Mr. Evocon either smiles, is neutral, or is unhappy based on the current OEE level versus the target. Why does this matter? We are social creatures, and the best way to impact people is through the emotions we display on our faces. And the experience from our clients is that operators want to finish their shifts with Mr. Evocon smiling. Thus doing their best to achieve set goals. If you want to learn more about emotional triggers and how they bring about behavior change, then there is a great TED talk by Rory Sutherland.
  • Display positive feedback to operators once they complete the desired task. In the Evocon system, operators receive animated feedback from Mr. Evocon when they enter reasons for production downtime or when they finish a production order, plus many others. It is essential because, similarly to emotions, we as humans are always looking for praise and appreciation from others, and introducing positive feedback to the shop floor helps bring meaning to what operators do.
evocon shift view
Evocon Shift View that gives hour-by-hour overview of shift performance

2. Have meaningful conversations based on collected production data

When you implement OEE monitoring in your factory, you may feel that there is no need to talk to your operators anymore. But this is actually very far from the truth. Because knowing what is going on in your production does not replace human interaction.

Therefore we recommend our clients to further drive operator engagement by having meaningful conversations with them. And to use the OEE software as a tool to conduct these conversations. If you use Evocon in your factory, then Shift View, which is a visual summary of the whole shift, is perfect for this.

You can start having meaningful conversations with your operators by having a visualized picture of the whole shift and a clear understanding of what has happened – discuss the actual problems on the shop floor, what is causing unnecessary downtime, what to improve, and much more.

To paraphrase one factory manager who is using Evocon.

Now everyone knows how the factory is performing and what the problems are. And we have eliminated unproductive, emotional feedback from our meetings. Instead, we can focus on what is really important – how can we improve our production process?

3. Implement shift meetings with machine operators and make it a routine

In our experience, the best way to combine the two points above to increase engagement further is to use Evocon as a tool during shift meetings or shift handovers. It provides an opportunity to collectively go over the shift’s results with machine operators. And the primary purpose of this activity is to make machine operators the owners of the collected data.

There are a few ways you can use Evocon as part of your shift meetings and engage production operators with their work more effectively. We encourage you to consider these steps in your production as it helps increase the ROI of OEE monitoring.

Some of the options you can consider are as follows:

  • Use Evocon Shift View pictures to have regular meetings with machine operators at the end (or start) of shifts. This way, every operator’s activity, what information they enter and how accurately, becomes visible. When you begin with this, it is essential to focus your attention on captured data, not their performance. Help them see what it is they need to improve and focus on performance later. It is the best way to increase the productivity of your shifts.
  • Create a shift summary that includes all the relevant KPIs of the production shift. This custom report can be used as a shift handover template to foster structured and fact-based discussions about productivity.
  • Give access to reporting. You can always consider giving your machine operators access to the different reports available in Evocon. We have heard from our clients about examples where machine operators analyze the production processes in their leisure time and even at home.

The tactics described above are the most effective when you look for ways to increase engagement on the shop floor. And we encourage all manufacturers to try them out in their factories.

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