How to use work instructions to improve productivity in manufacturing

If you’re looking for a way to improve production quality and efficiency, then you may want to consider implementing a work instruction system. Work instructions are documents that describe the steps of a process and are used as guidelines for workers. Work instructions improve manufacturing productivity by reducing defects and errors, training new employees, and improving quality control. Manufacturing work instructions are a great way to achieve high levels of production and quality in your factory. If you’ve ever wondered what they are, how they’re used, or why they matter, then this article is for you.

Group of people working on work instructions to improve factory productivity

What are work instructions

If you look at the documents like a pyramid, then Standard Operating Procedures are the top layer. These are often shared with customer and rarely hold confidential data.

Procedures describe the process. They are more detailed and often contain both a narrative (i.e. text description of the steps) and visuals, usually in the form of use cases and workflow diagrams. These documents will be examined during audits.

Work instructions describe the work to be performed. As the name implies they are instructions to perform a specific piece of work. Some are less than one page – just a list of bullet points – and some are very long.

How are work instructions used to increase productivity

The work instructions are mainly focused on explaining how a specific activity is going to be carried out, and they are mandatory. The work instructions are used to describe a specific operation, usually associated with a job. If they are not mandatory, we would be talking about a Work Guide or a Job Aid.

Digital manufacturing work instructions collect information from multiple production sources and provide it in one simple, unified view so your operators can quickly make data-driven decisions. If maintenance is needed, the details of what was done are also recorded in the data ecosystem through connected data capture—ensuring the next operator to work on that machine has complete visibility into overall machine health and maintenance history.

From unifying work instructions and process data to eliminating instruction latency and increasing overall workforce flexibility and productivity—digital manufacturing work instructions can optimize your workforce.


Work instructions are an important part of implementing lean manufacturing and increasing productivity. However, work instructions have many other benefits beyond just helping a company become more efficient in their manufacturing processes. They can also help employees learn new skills, improve quality, and drive efficiency. Work instructions play a key role in several different aspects of the manufacturing process for many companies.