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Manufacturing Tomorrow

Manufacturing Tomorrow


Psychology of Shop Floor Dashboards & Productivity

Jun 05, 2018
By: Mark Stevens

Psychology of Shop Floor Dashboards 

In today’s manufacturing landscape, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems have become ubiquitous with improved production, quality, and output. The latest systems can integrate areas such as planning, purchasing, sales, marketing, inventory, finance, human resources, and other areas of operation to tear down silos and create transparency across departments.

Visibility among coworkers helps drive performance and makes everyone feel compelled to excel and pull their own weight—a phenomenon known as the Hawthorne effect. When individuals are aware that their work is being observed and that their performance is impacting results, their productivity and the quality of their work improves. The psychological stimulus of knowing their work is shown to be important is hard-wired in their brains and motivates employees.

How motivated? The type of dashboards used in ERP systems can help achieve a 10–20 percent increase in utilization. A visual shop floor presents performance indicators on production lines, displays safety ratings, monitors shipping, and more, and this visibility empowers workers and drives changes in behavior.

Let’s take a look at some of the factors impacting performance, along with examples of the types of dashboards and visual data that can helps galvanize an entire workforce.

Focus on Accomplishments, Not Tasks

Having a sense of accomplishment is key to worker satisfaction. This is significant in an age when manufacturers are experiencing a very real skilled labor shortage. Engaged employees who see the value of their work as a contributing factor to their company’s success simply enjoy their jobs more and are less likely to seek other opportunities or be lured away by competitors.

Surveys indicate that 83 percent of workers consider recognition for their contributions to a company the most fulfilling reward. Gallup also revealed that when employees receive recognition, their productivity is boosted.

How can a visual dashboard leverage these findings? It may be assumed that a production line dashboard focuses on completed tasks at its core. However, it reveals much more as it relates to team performance by displaying worker efficiency and showing which areas are the most productive, which experience the most downtime and why, and also showing when peak performance occurs. If workers on second shift, for example, see that the previous shift’s output is routinely better than theirs—and know that others can see it as well—their innate drive to succeed and compete will likely lead to improved performance. The focus of a production dashboard is to get everyone on the same page, to work together, and to collectively improve to meet a company’s goals. Highlighting accomplishments rather than individual tasks helps drive improvement.

Empowerment Drives Innovation

Nothing dampens morale faster than feeling your voice isn’t being heard or that your work isn’t meaningful. Visual dashboards allow workers to take ownership for their jobs and determine ways to improve on their own. This type of empowerment encourages workers to seek out new and better ways of doing things—to work smarter, not harder. Employees who are allowed to use discretion to improve work processes are also more likely to innovate.

Visual dashboards allow workers to feel empowered to change a negative outcome or prevent future declines. For example, a safety dashboard can equip employees with vital data such as incident-free days, which departments rank highest and lowest, show if there have been improvements or if conditions are worsening. These insights can help empower workers to look for ways to improve safety in their areas and puts ownership on them to maintain a safe work environment.

According to research, today’s workers place a higher premium on flexibility, creativity and purpose at work, meaning that empowering employees will once again lead to higher retention.

Provide Real-time Feedback

Many employers no longer rely on annual performance reviews to provide feedback for workers. As Baby Boomers exit the workforce, younger generations are becoming more prevalent in the manufacturing sector, and they’re seeking consistent feedback on their performance.

This younger generation is also more comfortable with technology and responds well to a gamified environment that displays graphs, output, and interactive data, and provides instant results. This type of real-time feedback drives performance through intrinsic motivation.

For example, a quality performance dashboard can establish a maximum fail rate target of 2 percent. Data points can track a manufacturer’s scrap rate and indicate when a batch exceeds this threshold. When scrap rates increase, the dashboard can indicate the decline in performance in red and instantly alert workers of the situation so they can take corrective action. When things turn around, the dashboard can indicate the progress with colored graphs or other images to mark improved outcomes and provide workers with real-time results (and motivation).

Transparency is critical for every business, but even more so for manufacturers. An ERP system and the functionality of its visual dashboards help employees in every department see how their work contributes to a company’s overall success so they feel more engaged in their jobs.

Technology continues to evolve, and the ERP systems of today are more robust, intuitive, user-friendly and effective at improving workflows and efficiencies. Work with an expert that can assess your needs and customize your ERP dashboards to directly address pain points and get the results you deserve. Reach out to Wipfli for a no-cost consultation today.


Mark Stevens
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