In a previous post, we looked at what happens if you need to operate your plant with fewer people in the workplace, and in another, we considered how manufacturing can provide more work-from-home options.

Looking at the emerging reality, it seems that success is most likely from using a variety of tools.

Remote workers: Use the work-from-home model in cases where employees can be as effective as if they are on the premises – this includes most office work, sales and marketing, and analyzing sensory data for patterns.

Sensors, cameras and other monitoring technologies can go a long way to alerting you to potential problems. Be sure that the data you gather actually gets monitored (see here for a previous article on this topic) and acted upon as needed.

In some cases, it’s possible for the person doing the monitoring – even from a remote location – to move a joystick, type some commands on a keyboard, or take other action to resolve the problem. Remote operation, such as manipulating a robot, has come a long way. For example, surgeons working via robots can often produce better outcomes than they could doing the work directly.

Automated robots are great for many applications, including routine production line work – their tirelessness and precision of movement can help reduce the variability that the human element can introduce.

Plant floor workers are valued particularly for their abilities to solve problems. We’ll look at that in the final article in this series.

Previous articles in this four-part series talked about the idea of the “dark factory” – no employees on the plant floor, so no need for lights; and how offering work-from-home options can help you attract and retain the best workers.