Work Instructions

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Work Instructions Definition

What are work instructions? Work Instructions are job aids that help the employees execute specific tasks consistently. The written work instruction details the step actions required to complete a job or task. Usually, the work instruction is made readily available as a document or online quick reference (digital work instruction) at the time the specific procedure is being executed. The procedure step action table may include step details, graphic representation, sub-procedures, and checklist. The purpose of the work instruction is to provide sufficient information in the appropriate level of detail to allow any trained employee to perform the task properly.

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How to Write Standard Work Instructions

When writing Work Instructions, the author should be the most experienced person closest to actual procedure being defined. Authoring a well-structured standard work instruction includes defining where the procedure fits into the overall process, what the necessary conditions must be to execute the work, what tools and materials are essential to the task, what environmental health and safety requirements need to be employed and what the expected outcome to be generated is and where that product or knowledge fits into the overall process.

Using clearly defined and easy to follow topic headings for the essential components, like, purpose/scope, general requirements, terms and definitions, contact, and references will help the user understand the content and find the information more quickly. The core of the work instruction is the procedure elaboration with high level description and representation, step action table of critical steps in the execution of the procedure, detailed content for each step in terms of description, graphic image, tables, screens, and step output results is where the investment in work instructions will be best.

Developing Effective Standard Work Instructions

To write effective work instructions you should try to follow a structured procedure development process.

  1. Tour the plant or facility of operation. If necessary, begin the procedure development process by briefly touring the area where the process will occur.
  2. Review current documentation and have discussions with subject matter experts. Try to identify major employee roles, task steps and sequence, potential pictures, and questions.
  3. Observe tasks and have the experts review initial drafts. Ask questions of the SME and watch for any automatic actions and take notes.
  4. Collect data and incorporate edits into the work step instruction. If additional information is needed or other requirements, determine the source and take any pictures or capture screens as needed.
  5. Review the final draft and test with the procedure before submitting for approval. Select a quality operator to perform the task using the work instruction and note any missing information.
  6. Once approved, save the digital work instruction for factory use and Training resources.
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Manufacturing Work Instructions Examples

A typical manufacturing work instruction will focus on the major stages of the product production process. In an environment where equipment is being used on a large scale and continuous basis, the major equipment operational phases each warrant a work instruction.  The operator needs to have training in each phase, including:

  1.  Equipment set up and calibration. Make sure the equipment is using the approved measurements and settings, and that the operator is properly using specified personal protection equipment (PPE).
  2.  Equipment operation procedures and tasks. Identify the sequence of operator tasks involving, switching flows, turning on or off valves, starting or stopping stages of production, opening, or closing drainage, checking on product levels, and purging systems.
  3.  Normal shutdown procedures. Once the production process is complete the operator needs to shut down the equipment in the designated sequence.
  4. Abnormal shutdown and hazardous mitigation. When operations are compromised, the operator needs to know the various abnormal shutdown protocols for emergency action, environmental controls, product integrity, and personal safety resources.
  5. Clean and Move procedures. Most devices need to be cleaned after a given production run, before a second run or product change over can be performed. When the device needs to be moved to a different location or storage area, the operator needs to follow the approved manufacturing work instruction.
  6. Downtime maintenance protocols. All equipment needs regular downtime maintenance to stay in compliance with ongoing production. Best maintenance practices should follow.

Using Work Instructions within SOP Express Software

The ExpressTrain Transformation Suite (With SOP Express) is designed to support a number of important types of documentation. Work Instructions is one of the five types of documents, in addition to Polices, SOPs, Protocols and Process Maps.

The Work Instruction Model within SOP Express, allows the writer to define the important components of standard work, including:

  1. The purpose of the Work Instruction within the overall manufacturing process
  2. The scope of the work identifying the level of user and area of operation.
  3. The Tools, Equipment, Materials and Safety items necessary to complete the standard work.
  4. The Procedure(s) with step instructions to be executed in a sequential manner for the task.
  5. Additional relevant information, including References, and Contact information
  6. Revision History for tracking updates and improvements over time.
  7. Assessment items for task qualification

Once the Standard Work Instruction has been written and posted for employees, the SOP Express software system automatically creates the formal Work Instruction document, the user guide, a task qualification standard for supervisory observation, procedure checklists quick reference cards, and training modules in PowerPoint and Web-based Tutorial screens with online testing.

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