Digitisation and collaboration – the power of connected worker solutions

Collaboration in the manufacturing industry is undergoing a disruptive transition. Analogue is fast being replaced by digital, anything manual or repeatable is being automated – and, at the same time, we have a new multigenerational workforce in factories.

All of this leaves manufacturers asking questions. How can we harness data to drive collaboration when some of our information sits in systems and some exists as knowledge? How can manually skilled workers with decades of experience work seamlessly alongside automated equipment? How do generations of workers with vastly different skills and knowledge, collaborate, share knowledge and work towards a shared goal?

The answer lies in the digitalisation of frontline workers. Connected worker solutions harness knowledge from across the business – learning, evolving and improving from digital and human inputs. This means you can optimise workflows, maximise productivity and digitise the time-earned expertise of your longest-serving engineers while harnessing the digital skills of career entrants.

The benefits of connected worker tools extend way beyond people, skills and productivity – come with us as we highlight how they can transform your business.

EMPOWER people with data

Digitisation spans all phases of the manufacturing process from design to inspection. However, digitisation is rarely complete; challenges such as data gaps, legacy technology issues and analogue processes are prevalent.

Perhaps the biggest digital gap of all is the human element – particularly our shop floor experiences, the jobs we complete and the decision-making process that surrounds task prioritisation.

While humans have shaped the world around us like no other species, our ability to work in total harmony is not as proficient as that of ants and bees. By comparison, these insects orchestrate. Every individual knows, with certainty, their exact role within the big picture.

By using production planning data and knowledge, it is possible to digitise our work to drive us to the levels of Mother Nature’s very greatest.

Historically, vocal command and paper were the only tools we had to guide processes and plan manufacturing. While spoken instructions leave no trace, it is a painstakingly slow process for any single person or technology to mine paper records for insights. Handling extensive sets of paper-based data can make this process extremely challenging and difficult to manage. Using digital tools to orchestrate and deploy workflows, however, gives us the agile traceability and digital insight that we need.

On the factory floor, this digitisation can help to generate insight that does everything from optimising shift patterns and improving worker safety to minimising machine outage by helping identify output or maintenance trends.

More so, by digitising the way we work – we can improve, engage across teams and use the insight gathered to improve quality, performance, manufacturability and design. All data – manuals, tribal knowledge – is fuel for transformation.

ENGAGE workers for their collective safety

Safety has always been a priority at factories, but in the modern era, facilities can be vast. It is not uncommon for individuals or small teams to be responsible for an extremely large production area. This essentially makes them remote workers – an added challenge.

Active engagement is the best strategy in such settings. Technology can help with remote monitoring and automated detection. Workers however are another important line of defence. Connected workers can digitally flag issues, sharing images or detailed information about the hazard with the entire workforce. Not only do people know to stay away – they know why to stay away.

Technology even allows us to set a digital cordon or firewall to alert us if somebody ventures into a risk zone unwittingly. Digital tools can be used to remove the risks and even mitigate similar situations from occurring in the future through the setting of digital parameters.

Digital workflows and the accurate pinpointing of staff enabled by smartphones means workers can always be located and assistance can always be dispatched if they need it. Modern handsets equipped with tilt-sensing technology can be programmed to raise the alert if there is a man-down situation, the alert can be raised even if the worker is injured or incapable.

In the event of an incident, the connected worker system can be used to alert the nearest first responder to attend the scene with precise details of the incident and the location. In an emergency, every second counts.

BOOST uptime and productivity

It is the primary focus for every manufacturer, particularly in the face of wage, energy and material inflation. The good news is that uptime can be optimised through the synergy of people and data.

On a day-to-day basis, connected workers can flag issues that may result in downtime. Rather than pressing a button or raising an alarm, workers can take photos or describe issues in detail, meaning maintenance technicians come to the job prepared with the right parts, spares, tools, or supplies.

Using workflow orchestration, teams can be reminded to conduct checks, confirm the status of equipment, and make recommendations that keep machinery running at optimum levels.

More than this, by using the right digital tools, keeping digital records of past maintenance, and tracking machine performance in real-time, manufacturers can generate the tacit information needed to digitally alert teams when parts or equipment are likely to fail. Being proactive with maintenance plans means repairs can be done at a time that minimises cost and disruption.

As much as it is possible to minimise unplanned downtime, it is still inevitable. Getting machines back online is the first priority. This is helped hugely by connected worker tools. By digitising the workflow process, manufacturers can ensure people with the necessary skills are dispatched to resolve any issues. Once at the scene, fault checks can be digitised eliminating human error and fast-tracking workers to the source of the problem.

Being equipped with smart devices means technicians always have the answer in the palm of their hands. They can view repair guides or instructional videos and if necessary, get the help they need from equipment manufacturers.

DIGITISE quality and transform performance across the value chain

Quality was typically viewed as a room at the end of the building, disconnected from the wider manufacturing process. Data is changing this perception, and our sector is beginning to understand that if data spans the process from start to finish, quality can too.

Connected workers are a big part of the quality puzzle. Metrology and inspection are areas of manufacturing where people and data-generating technology work together well – however, the people upholding the quality processes at factories can achieve so much more as connected workers.

Imagine you’re manufacturing a vehicle composed of thousands of parts. While each part or subsystem is quality checked – the assembled, showroom-ready model also needs to undergo final quality inspection. In many settings, this remains a job completed with a pen and clipboard, open to human error and reliant on workers themselves to spot patterns in product quality.

Pen and paper are also slow and hard to maintain traceability. When the makers of the iconic Airstream recreational vehicle transitioned to a digital inspection process for all manufactured vehicles, the simplified inspection workflow. This enabled the company to reduce quality reporting time from one week to one day and report quality data for 100% of its products.

Having quality data that spans the value chain is the key. It can be used to push the boundaries of quality in future production runs or design updates.

Nexus connected worker solutions – your competitive advantage

The ability to correct course using guidance from shopfloor data is an advantage for manufacturers who struggle to remain competitive in an evolving industry. Far more than a command and receive flow, connected worker systems are a way of engaging workers to build a real-time digital picture of operations from the ground up.

Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division has created the Nexus Connected Worker suite of manufacturing software solutions to connect workers to real-time data for actionable insights and reporting on operations, maintenance, quality and audits.

These solutions are designed to transform users’ ability to leverage digital technologies and connectivity to enhance productivity, safety, and efficiency in industrial and manufacturing settings. The suite offers powerful enterprise-system integration and together with Nexus, provides a central orchestration layer for digital representations of assets, processes, and production facilities to support real-time decision-making.

Nexus Connected Worker includes software solutions for manufacturing operations, maintenance, and quality activities, as well as for the performance of audits. It offers operational agility and the IoT connectivity essential for a responsive workforce to address immediate needs and extract insights from accumulated data over time. The mobile-first applications can be easily accessed from the shop floor and the workflows can be tailored to meet specific needs across industries.

Now available as software-as-a-service (SaaS) through Hexagon’s Nexus platform, Nexus Connected Worker will continue to enhance its offering to meet the future needs of the connected worker. New use cases will benefit from connectivity with other relevant applications and sources of truth connected to Nexus, including Hexagon’s apps for metrology reporting and asset management.


  • Abhishek Sengupta

    Abhishek Sengupta is the Vice President of Strategy & Portfolio at Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division. After beginning his career as a software engineer, Abhishek now has around 20 years global technology leadership experience across multiple industries, functions and geographies. He is passionate about technology business and looks to bring his diverse experience to unlock the full potential of manufacturing industries and empower the customers through digital transformation and full lifecycle optimisation. Abhishek joined Hexagon in March 2022 following 11 years at Siemens in Germany and USA where in his most recent role, he was responsible for Corporate Development at Siemens Industries Software

  • Dr. Asif Rana

    Dr. Asif Rana serves as the President of Nexus Connected Worker within Hexagon's Manufacturing Intelligence division. In this role, he is responsible for leading and growing a dynamic and agile organization delivering scalable, enterprise-grade SaaS products tailored for the smart manufacturing market. Asif played a pivotal role in laying the groundwork for Hexagon's digital transformation platform, now recognized as Xalt. With a career spanning over two decades, Asif has been at the forefront of leading a multitude of technology and business initiatives in precision metrology, IoT sensors, enterprise integration, and the implementation of mission-critical digital solutions for frontline workers. Asif holds a Ph.D. in electrical engineering and an MBA. He’s been with Hexagon since 2007.

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