Guidebooks (Work Instructions)

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What is a Guidebook?

The definition of a guidebook can be hard to pin down for multiple reasons. Is it a work instruction….yes. Is it a standardized process….yes. Is it a training document…yes. Is it preventative maintenance….yes. Is it an advanced system that engages workers while gathering data and connecting to other systems and tools… YES!

A simple definition might be: guidebooks are instructions that guide workers on the best way to perform a task in a step-by-step format. They guide workers through their tasks and responsibilities.

But we’ll need more than this to get a complete picture of what a guidebook is and what it does for various industries

Guidebooks go beyond just a step-by-step process. They are the next evolutionary step to standardizing and managing your operation. With an intelligent digital interface that provides quick and easy information, connects with other systems/tools, and monitors valuable production data, guidebooks provide strong methods for empowering your workers and optimizing your operation.

In situations where processes and procedures are at risk of damage if workers deviate from the established procedure, work instructions provide stability and security on the shop floor.


Guidebooks are digital work instructions that guide workers through their tasks and responsibilities.

By capturing the tribal knowledge of the most experienced employees, guidebooks place years of experience at every worker’s fingertips.

Guidebooks need to reflect the process on the shop floor.

Guidebooks are a key function over every level of – Lite, Pro, and Enterprise.

Guidebooks Tackle the “How” of Any Process

Work teams within an operation understand the core elements of their job.

They know what needs to be done. They know who will perform the job. And they know when it needs to be done.

What they’re explicitly missing is HOW their job needs to be performed.

And if an operation relies on mixed-model assembly or anything resembling MTO/ATO environments, then workers may not consistently be performing the same work, leading to confusion between processes.

Guidebooks solve this problem by giving operators clear instructions that lead them through each task.

On top of this, guidebooks also gather data every time they are used. Either through autonomously gathering production data in the background or through direct employee engagement, guidebooks provide complete visibility into every process on a shop floor.

2 Guidebook Examples

Guidebooks are used to instruct workers through any process, making them a versatile tool within any industry. From providing detailed instructions on how to create, fabricate, assemble, and clean, to training new employees and troubleshooting advanced issues, VKS guidebooks enable companies to take control of their processes, repeat success, and mitigate errors.

We won’t be able to go through a complete list of use cases but we can present some key characteristics using 2 examples.

Example 1: Dynamic Toy Assembly

Put yourself in the shoes of an operator for a custom toy car manufacturer. Every day you receive numerous work orders for different toy cars to be assembled. The cars use relatively the same components but there are some differences between each custom car based on the demands of the customers.

Here lies the problem: You need to keep track of each order and build the right car according to specifications and demand. But as the procedure and components change for every car, it can be hard to keep track of which specifications to apply to each product.

Luckily, you have a dynamic Guidebook that has been written for this process.

As each specific work order is assigned to your station, the Guidebook displays the right instructions for each build. No matter if the customer wants a custom cherry red hood or a banana yellow chassis, the right work instructions are displayed every time.

This means that with detailed instructions that change based on product demand, you and your team members always perform the right job at the right time.

Plus, while you are working, the guidebooks are capturing valuable production data autonomously in the background.

Example 2: Optimization and Quality Control

Aside from standardizing your manufacturing operation, guidebooks enable you to gain greater control of your entire operation through advanced knowledge channels. Let me explain.

Let’s go back to our toy car example, but we’ll situate you as manager on the shop floor this time. Productivity is up, thanks in part to the dynamic standardization of guidebooks. But now you want to optimize your operation even further by boosting production times.

For this, you need to look at the data collected from your guidebooks. You’ve already connected VKS to your other manufacturing systems so valuable data is pouring in every time a Guidebook is used.

Adding to this, your workers are also able to provide their unique feedback when they are working through the interactive Guidebook interface and smart forms.

Guidebooks are the foundation of the worker-centric MES. They enable manufacturers to gain key information that can only be captured by people performing the process. At the same time, they are also driving visibility from your other systems.

Coming back to our scenario, with the immense source of data coming from the guidebooks, you are able to see which factors aid your productivity and which ones don’t. This enables you to optimize and gain better control of your production processes.

Who Writes the Guidebooks?

You do! Well, maybe not you in particular, but people within your company do. Often engineers, experienced operators, and even sometimes managers will be responsible for creating standardized processes with digital guidebooks.

But there is one important thing to remember: Guidebooks and standardization are not always established by one person. You want the combined experience and knowledge of all your employees.

This is a Guidebook’s greatest asset.

Every company has accumulated tribal knowledge within its workforce. The problem is that this knowledge is often walking out your door. VKS guidebooks allow you to gather the best practices of your most experienced employees and distribute them to all of your employees. This creates an environment where every worker has access to years of experience and knowledge.

VKS guidebooks enable manufacturers to digitally enhance by combining intelligent software and the knowledge of their employees. When companies effectively put these two resources together, the possibilities are limitless.

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