Most employees within an organization spend considerable time searching for solutions to problems that have already been solved, which can waste time and introduce inconsistencies. Without proper documentation, information can be unorganized, difficult to find, mishandled, or lost.
This is the effect of poor knowledge management. Knowledge is the foundation of any business, especially in manufacturing. When it is not harnessed effectively, this leads to a significant loss in time and effort, which could translate into massive losses.
So, how do you combat this? Knowledge management in manufacturing is essential. This article gives you an insight into what a knowledge management system is about, including benefits, challenges, and how you can adequately utilize knowledge management to streamline manufacturing processes.
- What is Knowledge Management?
- Benefits of Knowledge Management in Manufacturing Processes
- Defining the Problem
- Developing a Solution
- Enhancing Customer Experiences with Knowledge Management Systems
- Use cases of KM by Manufacturers
- Tips for a good KM
- Choose the correct KM for the manufacturing process
What is Knowledge Management?
Ensuring that knowledge on subject matters is properly shared within an organization is one of the best ways to foster business growth. Therefore, knowledge management for manufacturing businesses refers to gathering information, sharing this in an easy-to-access way, and helping employees constructively apply this knowledge to boost organizational success.
A key aspect of knowledge management involves keeping documentation of daily duties and experiences to ensure that it can be referred to if similar issues arise.
Knowledge management can be handled seamlessly using a knowledge management system. This tool helps organizations manage company-wide information and mitigate issues that may arise due to gaps in knowledge within the organization. With a practical knowledge management tool, businesses can enhance knowledge circulation by accumulating important information from various sources, including archives.
The two major types of knowledge management are internal and external knowledge management. With internal knowledge management, there is more focus on knowledge obtained through research and past experience of employees through approaches such as employee onboarding, policy documents, standard operating procedures (SOPs) in manufacturing, and blog posts.
Unlike internal knowledge management, external knowledge management involves interactions with people outside the company, such as customers or prospective product users. The relevant knowledge is gathered and disseminated to this class of people through informative videos, articles, and FAQ pages to enhance their customer experience and improve the organization’s visibility.
Benefits of Knowledge Management in Manufacturing Processes
Centralized knowledge management
Manufacturers face the unique challenge of tracking their tools, processes, products, and materials across multiple locations. This can make it difficult for employees to locate helpful information when needed.
Centralized knowledge management for manufacturing businesses helps combat this. This ensures all team members can quickly access the latest information with a few clicks. They will also stay informed about updates necessary to solve new problems that may arise. This boosts overall efficiency.
With less time spent searching for solutions to specific problems, there’s no doubt that productivity will significantly improve in manufacturing processes. This is possible because proper knowledge management software reduces the time needed to search for solutions to reoccurring problems.
All it takes is for an employee to pull up a document or resource with the solution captured over time by experts, and the company will be able to handle knowledge loss.
Reduced training time
A knowledge management system comes in different forms. This could be onboarding videos, FAQs, blog posts, how-to guides, manuals, and other materials containing detailed information for employees at every stage. The direct effect of this is that it significantly reduces training time as less time is spent onboarding new employees. Instead, they can easily access a diverse knowledge base to answer all questions seamlessly and integrate them into manufacturing processes.
Improved decision making
Knowledge loss is less likely as employees retire, especially if their expert views have been appropriately documented in a knowledge management system. Subsequently, employees, managers, and other critical stakeholders in the manufacturing company can make better decisions as they are adequately guided with insights by knowledgeable professionals who have walked that path.
Innovation and product development
It’s wise to pay attention to product development in manufacturing processes, as this keeps the company competitive and appealing to customers. Knowledge management in manufacturing plays a vital role, as there is sufficient information about past projects. This can bring new products onto the market with minimal risks, as they would have been appropriately identified. The company can also stay innovative through a knowledge management system that keeps track of market trends and updates products in line with this to satisfy customers.
Multi-location Information Sharing
What happens when employees are in locations that are not within accessible distances? A knowledge management system is an excellent tool for remote information sharing without stepping out of the factory. With this system, manufacturers can share real-time information, and all team members and suppliers can instantly view content and updates from different locations.
Manufacturing processes become seamless when there is adequate information sharing. This means that employees are fully aware of the implications of their decisions, as there is a detailed knowledge base that caters to all inquiries. Therefore, there’s no need to take unnecessary risks during the manufacturing process.
Implementation of standard processes
Knowledge management in manufacturing helps implement standard processes as it provides a central and accessible location for knowledge storing and sharing. This is great for manufacturers who would like to improve the overall quality and efficiency of their processes. Standardized processes also make it easier to identify key areas that need improvement and implement them swiftly.
Defining the Problem
Challenges in Streamlining Manufacturing Processes
Knowledge management for manufacturing businesses is necessary to streamline manufacturing processes. This is needed to enhance productivity, reduce operating costs, and improve efficiency. However, the challenges here include capturing and updating knowledge in complex manufacturing operations, especially when dealing with an evolving sector that requires rapidly changing technological advancements. Therefore, combating this challenge requires a detailed approach using an adaptable knowledge management system.
Identifying Unnecessary Tasks and Knowledge Gaps
Knowledge management systems are also faced with unnecessary tasks and knowledge gaps where organizations may need help identifying and assessing knowledge that is genuinely relevant to the growth and efficiency of the organization. This can eventually slow down organizational performance as employees need more knowledge in critical areas. These can be combated through data analytics and knowledge audits to identify unnecessary tasks and include essential information to close knowledge gaps.
Assessing the Current State of the Organization’s Knowledge Management System
Regularly assessing the current state of knowledge management for manufacturing businesses makes it easier to identify strengths and weaknesses within the knowledge management system. Therefore, this can help pinpoint areas for improvement, but this becomes challenging when there are no clear metrics to assess this knowledge management system. There’s a need for key performance indicators and the use of feedback to conduct comprehensive assessments.
Also, Check out our blog on Knowledge management in Finance
Developing a Solution
Establishing Business Goals for Manufacturing Processes
Manufacturing businesses should establish clear business goals for their manufacturing processes before setting up a knowledge management system. This involves identifying innovative and efficient aspects of the organization’s objectives and aligning the knowledge management system. When business goals are correctly outlined, it’s easier for organizations to streamline efforts toward organizing and sharing knowledge that contributes directly to this.
Creating a Knowledge Management Strategy to Achieve Those Goals
Your knowledge management strategy should be in line with the goals that have been established. Therefore, this strategy should outline the resources needed, the methodologies to employ, and the best approach to making the process seamless. Overall, the right knowledge management strategy will ensure that all efforts toward creating a knowledge management system align with organizational goals.
Implementing a Knowledge Management System and Tools to Support the Strategy
Once you have established goals and defined your knowledge management strategy, the next step is implementing the right knowledge management system and tools to support this strategy. Ideally, this should be a system like Document360 that has the necessary functionalities to support features such as collaboration, search, knowledge sharing, and integration with other productivity tools. Picking the right knowledge management system is a crucial step.
Optimizing Internal Knowledge Sharing Between Teams and Employees
A factor crucial to the success of your knowledge management system is how easy it is to share knowledge across teams and employees. Effective knowledge-sharing promotes a collaborative environment that makes it easy to harness the expertise of professionals within the organization and tap into the collective intelligence of the workforce. This optimization can be done through knowledge-sharing sessions and by encouraging social collaboration tools.
Ensuring Continuous Improvement of Operational Processes
Knowledge is dynamic, meaning no knowledge management approach should be static. You can make this continuously effective and in line with the evolving needs of the manufacturing industry by continuously improving operational processes. Therefore, organizations should carry out regular data analytics and metrics monitoring to identify bottlenecks and areas for improvement within their operational processes.
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Enhancing Customer Experiences with Knowledge Management Systems
Enhancing Employee Satisfaction Through Effective Solutions
Happy employees often translate to satisfied customers. When employees are unsatisfied with the effort to access crucial information at the workplace, this will lead to a decline in employee satisfaction. However, the right knowledge management system provides a working tool to help employees develop more effective solutions to customer issues. This enhances employee satisfaction, which automatically boosts customer experiences.
Incorporating Sales Teams into the Knowledge Management System
Another way to enhance customer experiences is to incorporate sales teams into the knowledge management system. This starts with implementing a robust knowledge management system that serves as a repository for important information such as customer profiles, FAQs, product details, and every other relevant information relevant to sales teams.
Therefore, this comprehensive knowledge base will contain all the valuable content necessary to address customer queries without waiting for a customer support team member. Of course, this knowledge base needs to be constantly updated. It works even better when it fosters an air of collaboration among all sales team members to continue sharing their successful strategies and insights.
Use cases of KM by Manufacturers
Supply Chain Management
In supply chain management, manufacturers can enhance decision-making and overall efficiency by properly utilizing knowledge management. This includes developing a supplier knowledge base that contains all the necessary information about suppliers, which improves supplier selection, relationship management, and evaluation.
The knowledge management system can also create a repository of standard operating procedures in manufacturing relevant to various stages of the supply chain process, including logistics, inventory management, and procurement.
Risk Management and Compliance
Knowledge management in manufacturing is excellent for centralizing information on potential disruptions and how to mitigate them. With a centralized database, it’s easier to proactively identify and respond to risks, which minimizes their eventual impact on overall operations. This knowledge base can also store and disseminate information on compliance standards, ensuring that all relevant stakeholders can access updated compliance knowledge. Other use cases in risk management and compliance include compliance monitoring and reporting, documentation audits, and real-time updates on changes to compliance requirements.
Employee Training and development
Manufacturers can also use knowledge management in employee training and development by providing training manuals and e-learning content to create a centralized database for training resources.
With this, employees can quickly access the relevant document for continuous training over time. This also reduces the high cost of onboarding programs, as new employees can directly access company information and training materials without the need to attend numerous programs.
This ensures consistency across the board with employee training and development while fostering a culture of knowledge sharing among employees within the organization.
Research and Development
Knowledge management in manufacturing ensures that manufacturers can adequately store research and development information over time, which captures everything from successes and mistakes to failures and solutions.
This knowledge forms the groundwork for future research and development efforts, encouraging continuous improvement and preventing time-wasting on solved issues. With knowledge management, there is also a higher chance of collaboration among diverse research and development teams, as they can seamlessly share their research resources and expertise, speeding up the process of developing innovative solutions. KM also serves as a secure environment to manage sensitive documents like patents and inventions, maintaining confidentiality and protecting intellectual property assets.
Tips for a good KM
Accessible and easy to use
A good knowledge management system should be accessible to employees and other key stakeholders within the organization. This ensures that handy information is available whenever it is needed, which aids decision-making processes.
This can be achieved using a digital database as a centralized repository where users can log in to access information from one source rather than searching multiple locations. The ease of use relies significantly on the interface, which should be intuitive and user-friendly.
A simple design works best with the necessary functionalities, such as integrating popular productivity tools to enhance usability. An easy-to-use knowledge management system makes searching for training materials seamless. No one wants to spend more than a few minutes searching for relevant information, especially in emergencies.
An adaptable KM effectively supports an organization’s needs within a rapidly changing business environment. The manufacturing industry constantly evolves, with new regulations and changing market conditions emerging regularly.
Therefore, the knowledge management system should allow for updates with new information to ensure that outdated information is replaced promptly. It should also be integrated with other existing systems within the company to provide a seamless exchange of information and improve the workflow. Adaptability also includes flexibility with permissions, where an administrator defines various user roles without negatively impacting the system’s security.
A good knowledge management system should include interactive features such as gamified elements, chatbots, and discussion forums to encourage users to share knowledge and use the platform actively.
Interactive elements make it easier to identify certain helpful features. This facilitates collaboration and discussions around specific topics while fostering a sense of community among users.
An interactive knowledge management system is also easy to customize to enhance employee satisfaction by targeting their specific needs. It also keeps the platform open for feedback that will improve its overall functionality.
Automating specific processes within the knowledge management system streamlines the process of capturing, organizing, and distributing knowledge within the organization. Automation increases efficiency by saving employees time and effort in accessing the knowledge base.
This also reflects in workflows, as a notification can be sent to the relevant teams as soon as the knowledge management system is updated with new information. Meanwhile, manufacturers can leverage automation to properly categorize documents, reducing the time spent handling this manually while significantly improving accuracy.
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Choose the correct KM for the manufacturing process
Document360 is a powerful knowledge management tool that can help you streamline manufacturing processes. How do you know you have the correct KM for the manufacturing process?
It should help you build an efficient internal knowledge base that seamlessly collects information company-wide and makes it available for employees at the tap of a few buttons.
You can also build standard operating procedures, like employee handbooks, without breaking a sweat. A comprehensive solution like Document360 can help you do this and more. Request a demo to get started with better knowledge management today.
An intuitive knowledge base software to easily add your content and integrate it with any application. Give Document360 a tryGET STARTED