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Why is there a need for gamification in Manufacturing?

A lot of positive hype has built up around Industry 4.0 over the last few years, creating awareness of the digitalisation within many companies. Many Industry leaders are uncertain about what requires implementation in Industry 4.0. Many are still struggling to even get started. It is important to focus on valuable, business-specific applications that generate true value. Gamification has grown in popularity among a wide range of industries but is especially pertinent for manufacturing companies. Gamification is a process that fights against tasks that can easily become routine and prevents employees from zooming out, a potentially dangerous occurrence, even more so in the manufacturing industry. An unengaged employee is more likely to contribute to errors and mistakes.

What is gamification in Manufacturing?

Gamification is successful because it offers direct, anticipated rewards to high performers through things like incentive pay, affirmation among peers and recognition from superiors. While this is easy to tie to metrics like employee productivity or on-time shipment, it becomes a little harder to quantify in the realm of quality, which relies at least partially on subjective judgment. Good quality metrics are necessary to drive the right behaviours. To achieve this, assign numerical values to certain quality activities, such as assigning quality bonus points for completing tasks like the number of error-free line changeovers or an associate’s DPMO rate. Training retention, error rate reduction, and process adherence are all examples of activities that can be performed smarter — and can be added to gamification models with just a little innovation.

Gamification vs other systems in Manufacturing?

Gamification is still most common in the domain of education. A good general overview of educational games and the use of gamification in the educational domain is already well researched and used. A meta-analysis on the effectiveness of game-based learning provides strong empirical evidence for their usefulness. Most of the studies show positive results. Gamification is often used in serious games for professional education, often connected to different Universities. Virtual Reality (VR) environments are good examples used in manufacturing where factories are scanned and used to develop and train factory staff to increase productivity. With gamification, the level of staff motivation in onboarding and re-training programmes will increase significantly. But also in security programmes to create a safe working environment.

Gamification and brand engagement

Manufacturing jobs have been on the decline over the past few decades. This puts a strain on new and existing employees, because not only are they expected to do more and put out more with fewer people to help, but they also must ensure they aren’t sacrificing an imperative part of the business: quality. Getting the product out the door quickly is important, yes, but it also must be undamaged and error-free. To avoid that, gamification adds a cognitive workload to a worker already challenged by high workload demands. Studies show that if workers are feeling they will become observed or controlled, gamification might not succeed, even if requirements are met. In spite of these special requirements, studies still show that instructors are positive and show a strong interest in adding gamification to increase brand engagement. In manufacturing, employment rights are traditionally handled with care, so changes have to be made carefully and with the right research and set-up when it comes to gamification design.

Some Gamification examples and success stories from Manufacturing

As the capabilities of technology continue to grow and technology, in general, becomes smarter, gamification will undoubtedly continue to grow in popularity. When it comes to gamification and quality, it won’t be a question whether or not the technology can support it, but if your leadership teams feel the quality is valuable enough to invest in.

Gamification can be used for the onboarding of new employees and re-training of existing staff. A car manufacturer added gamification to a VR environment, in order to train staff in the factory, to increase efficiency and safety. Teams were rewarded based on their effort level in the training environment.

Another success case from the car manufacturing business is when gamification was added in the infotainment system in cars, through which drivers were rewarded for driving responsibly and in a sustainable manner.

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