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Interactive Work Instructions Redefine What Workers Can Achieve

Digital Transformation, Document Management System
June 12, 2024

Even with the most carefully designed manufacturing processes in place, the actual outcome of your operations rests with your team on the floor. They rely on work instructions to carry out both unique and routine tasks – referencing a variety of documents and resources. But what happens when work instructions become a burden instead of a benefit?

Every team needs work instructions, but the way you manage these resources could be slowing them down. Interactive work instructions (IWI) are a new approach that puts modern technology to work, saving your team time and streamlining workflows.

Manual Work Instructions Slow Your Team Down

The need for work instructions on the plant floor long predates modern digitization efforts. Traditional methods, ranging from posted signage to bulky binders are still widely used today. While these manual work instructions solve many problems, they bring plenty of new ones with them.

Your team tackles a wide range of assembly, maintenance, startup, and other procedures. While a simple reference sheet tacked to the wall could potentially guide many routine tasks, what does your team do when something unexpected happens? They can spend minutes or even hours tracking down documentation – dragging out downtime.

Even when your team has all work instructions within arm’s reach for a given task, problems often still occur. What happens when it’s time to update your workflows for new products, compliance obligations, or best practices? Often this means physically tracking down and revising every binder, sheet, and post-it note that might include a work instruction.

Going Digital is a Start

Digitization is in full swing throughout manufacturing, and has been to some degree for decades. However, many great solutions sometimes introduce new challenges beyond the problems they solve.

Maintaining a digital database of work instructions provides redundancy, simplifies updates, and (theoretically) improves accessibility. However, you now have your floor team referencing databases to access vital documentation – and that isn’t always straightforward.

Consider – what software do you use to create documents, diagrams, and flow charts? What formats do they output, and how are files saved and managed? Can your team access every document from anywhere on site? What about in the field? Despite other improvements, your team is still likely to run into similar time losses and unexpected hurdles with digital records.

Interactive Work Instructions Can Do So Much More

Today, your team can truly overcome these challenges with interactive work instructions (IWI). Instead of simply converting manual instructions to a digital format, this method leverages modern technology to the fullest. Beyond digitalization alone, IWIs provide the context to empower your team.

Plex Manufacturing Execution System (MES) integrates IWIs from Canvas Envision, augmenting the Plex environment to streamline procedures at the operator level. Your team doesn’t just have access to a catalog of reference documents. Instead, they receive real-time guidance, visual aids, and multimedia content when and where they need it.

This approach means no more lost time tracking down physical or digital documents throughout your facilities and databases. Keeping all resources on one platform also streamlines pushing through updates and maintaining version control. Your team will always have the best work instructions available for any task they face.

What does that mean for your bottom line? Reduced downtime when your team finds and implements solutions faster. Fewer rejects, because your team always has clear instructions for accurate assembly. Saving time, money, and resources, because operators always have the work instructions they need at their fingertips.

Get an In-Depth Look at Interactive Work Instructions

Want to know more about how integrated IWIs let Plex MES drive your efficiency even further? Access a recording of our recent webinar about integrating IWI from Canvas Envision and discover the full benefits of IWIs!

About the Author

Plex DemandCaster Supply Chain Planning

Since joining forces with Plex, by Rockwell Automation, in 2016, we’ve harnessed the power of its Smart Manufacturing Platform and industry knowledge to offer a digitized supply chain planning product. It seamlessly unites your business from the plant floor to the executive suite. To learn more about how we are bringing the Connected Enterprise to life across industrial enterprises, visit

Plex DemandCaster