A digitally empowered workforce is crucial for medtech manufacturers to thrive in an increasingly data-driven manufacturing environment.
By Katie Farley, MasterControl
As digital initiatives in medical device and diagnostic manufacturing continue to advance, medtech companies face a significant technology talent shortage — and it’s only expected to get more severe as technologies and their associated skills become more advanced. What’s becoming clear is that attracting and retaining top talent is increasingly difficult in manufacturing environments dominated by paper.
On average, 45% of frontline manufacturing workers across all age groups say the opportunity to work in a more modern, digital environment would be part of their decision to leave their current employer, according to research from workforce software developer Parsable.
Digital technology is an expectation of today’s workers, who are familiar and comfortable with personal technologies like smartphones and tablets and immediate access to digitized information in their daily lives. Medtech manufacturers must take steps to forge a factory floor that reflects a digitally connected workforce.
Ditch paper on the factory floor to attract tech-savvy talent
Even while manufacturers invest heavily in core enterprise and plant automation, their efforts on the factory floor are too often hampered by critical processes that remain manual. For example, consider paper-based activities such as creating, maintaining, approving, and releasing device history records (DHRs). Manual, paper-based processes don’t lend themselves to engaging and satisfying work, and aren’t inviting to a growing workforce of digital natives.
To help address the problem of attracting and retaining tech-savvy talent in an age of digital transformation, more manufacturers are forced to re-evaluate the needs and expectations of their workers. As they do, they’re looking to technology to redesign job tasks and build sustained purpose, meaning and value in their employees’ work.
Between 2021 and 2022, 57% of manufacturing executives agreed to enhance day-to-day technologies that production workers use to elevate their work experience, according to a recent analysis.
In this environment, the real benefits of digitization in manufacturing can only be achieved when it optimizes people and processes to increase efficiency and provide a more engaging, satisfying work experience.
Invest in human-centric technology to empower a digitally connected workforce
Digitization efforts that focus too much on systems and not enough on people leave the door open for human error and data integrity issues common with paper, including data input errors, poor data access, out-of-context information, slow review processes and reactive actions. Moving from a machine-centric approach to digitization to a human-centric approach in medtech manufacturing helps unleash the true productive potential of the workforce.
A modern manufacturing execution system (MES) solution with fully digitized DHRs takes a human-centric approach to digitization by focusing on such areas as:
- Error-proofing data entry;
- Automating review/traceability of changes on records;
- Facilitating data sharing and actionable insights;
- And applying advanced analytics.
Line workers can easily capture all entries on a DHR in real time with automatic data-integrity checks ensuring the data is entered completely and correctly. A modern MES solution with fully digitized DHRs provides contextualized intelligence, prompts, and risk-based recommendations to operators in real time. Ultimately, it optimizes the organization’s people and processes to reduce opportunities for human error and increase efficiencies.
Beyond improving productivity, human-centric digitization can also build a more engaging and satisfying work experience, where employees can focus less on managing paper and more on creating value.
Improve job satisfaction with digital technologies that build value and purpose
Recent analysis of manufacturing employee testimonials confirmed that having a purpose and making an impact are two influential factors contributing to job satisfaction and a sense of fulfillment. By removing paper from the manufacturing environment and elevating the staff’s occupational experience using human-centric technology, medtech manufacturers enable employees to focus less on manual, routine work and more on meaningful tasks that provide greater job satisfaction and a sense of fulfillment.
A modern MES solution digitizes, improves access to, and contextualizes data for manufacturing workers. This means that employee time previously spent on paper systems and manual data formatting and math calculations can now be spent:
- Analyzing data and making more informed decisions;
- Solving problems and streamlining processes;
- Reducing rework and waste;
- And getting medical products to market faster.
In other words, employees are able to focus on meaningful, value-added work, with space freed up to exercise uniquely human skills, such as critical thinking, creativity, and people management. And by streamlining the production process and accelerating time to market, human-centric digitization can help medtech manufacturers deliver their life-saving and life-improving products to people who need them sooner — a motivating factor that can itself help attract, engage and retain top talent.
Katie Farley, product management director at MasterControl, collaborates with medtech customers, engineering, quality, and other cross-functional teams to complete manufacturing software product roadmaps that accomplish user needs. She has been actively involved in defining and developing MasterControl’s modern MES solution, Manufacturing Excellence, and has 10 years of experience in management and recruitment positions within various industries, most with an emphasis on IT.
The opinions expressed in this blog post are the author’s only and do not necessarily reflect those of Medical Design & Outsourcing or its employees.