3 ways to engage production operators and improve OEE

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 suggestion on how to increase it on your shop floor using an OEE software.

Why engagement of production workers matters?
How to engage production operators?
Monitor your production machines and OEE in real-time
Have meaningful conversations based on collected production data
Make shift meetings with machine operators a routine

Why engagement of production workers matters?

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.

Consider the following example 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. That means 600 minutes lost per day, in the factory. For the year, that would total to 260 x 600 = 156 000 minutes or 2 600 hours. Let’s go a step further and divide that by 8 (the time of one shift). And what we get is about 325 shifts lost during one year. But if your operators are engaged in the work, you have the potential to halve this or remove it completely.

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 realise that most individuals have their own motives to come 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 an important 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 us explore how you can achieve this.

engage factory employees to increase OEE

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. Monitor your production machines and OEE in real-time

Manufacturers often overlook an 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 to 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 work shifts. By taking a lead role, it 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 behaviours.
  • Give feedback to operators about their performance with emotions. In Lineview, the primary tool that operators use in Evocon, Mr Evocon either smiles, is neutral or unhappy. Based on the current OEE level and the target that is set for shifts. Why does this matter? We are social creatures, and the best way to have an impact on people is through the emotions that we display with 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 change in behaviour, then there is a great TED talk by Rory Sutherland that you can find here.
  • Display positive feedback to operators once they complete the desired task. In Evocon operators receive animated, encouraging feedback from Mr Evocon when they enter reasons for production downtime or when they finish a production order, plus many other. It is essential because similarly to emotions, we as humans are always looking for praise and appreciation from others. And by introducing positive feedback to the shop floor, it helps bring meaning to what operators do.

engaged production workers

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 Lineview (picture above), which is a visual summary of the whole shift, is perfect for this.

By having a visualised picture of the whole shift and a clear understanding of what has happened you can start having meaningful conversations with your operators. Discussions on what are 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. Make shift meetings with machine operators 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 go over the results of the shift collectively 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 Lineview pictures to have regular meetings at the end (or start) of shifts with machine operators. 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 discussion 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 analyse the production processes in their leisure time and even at home.

Conclusion

The tactics described above are ones that we see are 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 factory.

If you happen to have your own insights on the topic or tactics that you have effectively used, then please feel free to share them with our team. And if you want to implement OEE monitoring in your factory, then you can register for the free trial of Evocon.