When employees leave a company, it is not only regrettable, but also highly risky. Because with every skilled employee who leaves, a lot of knowledge also leaves. The much-cited shortage of skilled workers, which is extremely high in the mechanical engineering sector, does not make things any better. Even if replacements are found, the successors first have to be trained at great expense to be able to continue working at anywhere near the same level as before. This has a massive impact on productivity and requires high investments). Thus, digital knowledge management helps you to bundle and retain knowledge in the company.
Fluctuation is part of business. Engineers and other skilled workers in mechanical engineering today can almost choose where they want to work. If the salary and working conditions are right, employees are sometimes gone faster than you think. There is also the demographic aspect. The baby boomers are gradually retiring, and the following generations are simply much smaller.
But long-serving employees in particular are a valuable asset, because they have often made the knowledge so much their own that they no longer consciously access it. This makes it all the more important to start documenting knowledge as early as possible. Only then will what routine employees have in their heads remain in the company and lead to “brain gain”, i.e. the gaining of knowledge, instead of its outflow (“brain drain”).
Knowledge management: why digital solutions are best suited for this purpose
Constantly saving new learnings and experience is the key to never losing knowledge. A common way to bundle knowledge is to store instructions and manuals. Often this is done in a kind of real library, accessible for example in a common room or in the boss’s office. However, it makes much more sense to set up a digital knowledge database that can be accessed from different end devices. This is especially true if the business is spread over different buildings or even several locations. Keywording is helpful here, so that employees can search for specific terms instead of spending hours looking for the right information.
Challenge of knowledge bases: too much theory
However, manuals are often very general. The best way to learn is from practical experience, not from a book. But where do you get practical experience when your team has just formed and there is no one available to share their knowledge?
The solution for practical user knowledge: Makula
Mechanical engineering usually involves complex topics. Both in the operation of the machines and in their maintenance and troubleshooting. How would it be if employees could look up at a glance when which spare parts were installed and changed? When they notice a strange noise in the machine operation that they cannot assess?
We have developed Makula for exactly such purposes. With it, you set up a digital profile for every machine. Everything that happens to it in the course of its life cycle is stored in it – from the serial number to the inspection cycle and problem solutions that have already taken place to all the knowledge exchange generated between the OEM service engineers and the facility machine operators through the chat function.
This is largely automated. Let’s take the example of a defect: the moment one occurs, it is reported. This automatically creates a ticket that is updated throughout the entire remediation process and then stored in the history of the machine.
This means that both machine manufacturers and users have a complete overview at all times – even when the machine has long been running again. This is an immense advantage, especially in the case of minor malfunctions. Because if only a small trick is actually required, the service department doesn’t even have to come.
Why well-functioning knowledge management is also a powerful sales tool
Machine manufacturers and suppliers also benefit from digital features that make internal knowledge available independently of people. After all, customers today no longer just buy a product. They buy services. And knowledge management as part of comprehensive machine resource management is just such a service. In Germany alone, a full 72 percent of manufacturing companies see the lack of skilled workers as their biggest obstacle to growth, according to the pwc mechanical engineering barometer. Maintaining knowledge is therefore indispensable in order to further secure their quality.