If you are reading this article, you are probably convinced by now of the importance of adding Collaboration software to a production factory. However, choosing is not at all easy given that the products present on the market have different features, not necessarily calibrated to one's needs.

The risk is that of undervaluing one's needs, relying on platforms not designed for the industrial sector, which will not provide real benefits in the factory and in particular will not have the desired effects on productivity. Let’s discover together which are the points on which to focus to avoid these problems.

Analyze one's needs

It goes without saying that, before buying, it is very important to be clear about which needs must the platform answer. Usually, the main objective is to simplify interactions. But how? Are there a series of specific and recurrent problems which the software could (at least in part) solve? And in this case, which features should be looked for in order to succeed? For example, it might be important to have the ability to share materials and have a dedicated repository. Or, an effective system of propagation and management of alarms may be essential.

In other cases, if the factory is already partly digitized, the software could have the purpose of promoting access to the information and man-machine interaction, not just from today’s point of view but also for a future optimization based on the data collected.

In short, a preliminary analysis must be performed on one’s internal needs.

 

Download our free OEE calculation template: a useful spreadsheet to get the  Overall Equipment Effectiveness value.

 

Basic features

What are the basic features of the collaborative platforms? Certainly, it will be an instant messaging application, characterized by extreme ease of use and an optimal User Experience. It must be possible to share files and documents in the standard formats (for example Microsoft Office) and the compliance with the security requirements required by the Enterprise organization as regards the data shared must be guaranteed.

One feature that is almost always present in the various platforms is the possibility of using it from different devices, both from fixed and mobile devices. In addition, many tools offer the possibility of creating group conversation to facilitate the exchange of information both within teams and with other departments.

Additional features

The collaborative platforms present on the market have many additional capabilities compared to those just described.  A truly advanced capability is the existence of the BOT, or tools that permit both the integration with the various operating systems (i.e. ERP, MES, WMS...) and the interaction with the machines in natural language: to ask for information regarding, for example, the status of the machine will be as simple as talking with a colleague.

Even the possibility of creating work groups should not be undervalued. Even if the features offered vary considerably among the various tools. In some platforms, the group conversation becomes an enabling element of complete and integrated management of the process. For example, in the event of problems, it is possible to collect and quickly spread the Alerts in real time and in Push mode, according to preset rules.

Professionalism and specialization of the supplier

The product offered is important, but also the relationship with the supplier should not be underestimated. How many providers are really able to offer support during the implementation of the platform? How many have the Know How to advise, guide and provide their own experience to the customer?

One way to have a sure guarantee, from this point of view, is to understand whether the provider is specialized in the development of vertical platforms for the industry. Only if this condition is verified does it become truly possible to establish a partnership of value to achieve the results expected, or simplify the interactions and, as a result, increase productivity.

High specialization in the Collaboration platform then ensures that its continuous evolution will guarantee more and more features focused on the industrial environment.

Collaborative platforms: what to look out for?

There are some aspects, such as for example the security of the information, which if they are handled badly can cause serious consequences. When a Collaboration instrument is adopted, it is necessary to make sure that the supplier guarantees the highest security in the management of the data. It is also important that the security of the data not hinder the use and access to the company information.

Another point to consider when making a choice is the possibility of conducting a pilot program to be able to have a precise idea of the features of the software and its productivity once it is operational. Buying a closed box is always a risk.

In conclusion

Perform a detailed analysis of the company needs and understand which are the features that you really need: these are the starting points to then search for platforms dedicated to production environments, which satisfy the current requirements and guarantee a constant evolution over time.

Download the OEE calculation template