Digital shop floor management

Digital shop floor management in the Smart Factory is the further development of the classic concept of on-site management to control and stabilize shop floor processes in real time.

This is not about transferring analog shop floor management to a drive, visualizing key figures on a monitor or sending lists of measures via e-mail.

Rather, digital shop floor management is characterised by the following features:

  • Collection of data relevant for shop floor management at its source and its automated use (e.g. MES / ERP systems, intelligent workflows)
  • Visualization of real-time process and performance key figures through standardized calculation of source data
  • Use of digital assistance systems such as machine learning for problem solving, which support the early identification of problems and causes of problems and the definition of countermeasures
  • Structured knowledge storage and learning systems with standardized and cross-location knowledge distribution

These approaches make it possible to visualize relevant process and productivity data such as OEE, bottlenecks, cycle time deviations, process instabilities or quality problems in real time, thus creating the basis for fast and sustainable error or deviation correction (faster PDCA). 

The automated and consistently designed connectivity of plants as well as a uniform data and information model has two decisive advantages. Firstly, cross-plant benchmarks can be carried out and secondly, administrative work can be eliminated through automation and freedom to solve problems can be gained. 

Further fields of application of digital shop floor management are flexible shift and employee scheduling, reactive on-site resource control and fast reaction routines in the context of predictive quality or maintenance management.

With a key figure cascade, process key figures and target/actual deviations can be clearly and transparently recorded and measured at every company level. ©

ROI-EFESO supports companies in the holistic planning and implementation of digital shop floor management from the conception to the anchoring of a culture of continuous improvement:  

  • Creation of a big picture of the SFM elements to be digitized, including a presentation of the influences on organization, qualification and management
  • Derivation of the necessary IT modules and the functional/technical requirements, e.g. prerequisites for automated acquisition of operating and machine data (BDE / MDE), process parameters, measurement data
  • Definition of the IT architecture and selection of IT tools, e.g. for visualization and analysis, data management and aggregation, hardware (SFM boards), system-based problem solving (e.g. ROI-EFESO Tool SOLVACE -
  • Front-end setup: cross-location consolidation of data sources and user-oriented provision via shop floor boards and apps, ensuring defined standards and KPIs, real-time visualization
  • Definition or upgrade of the analog SFM requirements
  • Piloting and roll out
  • Necessary training and qualification measures as well as accompanying coaching of the implementation.


Digital shop floor management (DSFM) improves operational excellence, productivity, on-time delivery and quality and ensures better utilisation of production capacities. Smart tools that consolidate and distribute good practices, enable effective problem solving, help define and control KPIs, and support the initiation of learning processes play a central role.

A central prerequisite for the successful introduction of DSFM is therefore the choice of a software solution that fits the specific company requirements. However, solution providers focus differently on supporting one or more DSFM tasks, which makes the selection a challenging task.

The most important tasks of digital shopfloor management

  • Can we document solutions to problems in such a way that we can use the knowledge in the next problem?
  • Can we document solution-related data in such a way that it can be analysed and used for AI training?
  • Can I assign tasks directly to a meeting and work as a moderator with an automatically created list of topics?
  • Can I document the results of the meeting directly in the solution and access them later?
  • Can I see all relevant KPIs for each Hoshin Kanri level in real time?
  • Can I create reports myself, integrate machine data and calculate central KPIs such as OEE?
  • Are problem-solving techniques such as A3 reports and Ishikawa analyses digitally supported?
  • Can tasks be assigned to people or meetings and is status tracking possible through deadlines and milestones?
  • Can ideas from the shop floor be quickly captured and evaluated?
  • Can ideas be structured and distributed?
  • Is the availability of employees possible, e.g. via calendar integration, and does it allow valid shift planning?
  • Can the task-related qualification be mapped via a qualification matrix?

Top 5 requirements for a DSFM solution

  1. Process orientation
    The concrete benefit of digitisation for the focused process is decisive. For example, a function for importing 3D CAD data from the plant can be useful. However, it does not create added value if the maintenance of the CAD data is not clearly regulated from an organisational point of view and is carried out with reasonable effort. Weigh up the costs and benefits function by function! to a DSFM solution
  2. Modular software approach
    Many companies have tools such as BI dashboards, SharePoint lists in use that are to be integrated into a DSFM solution. Make sure that the DSFM solution can be implemented modularly and can integrate existing solutions or connect them via API!
  3. On-premise and cloud
    Cloud-based solutions are increasingly standard. But many factories still struggle with Wi-Fi interference, unlit areas and latency. Consider a hybrid approach where key data is local but factory comparisons are enabled by historical data in the cloud!
  4. Self-service and customising​​​​​​​
    The requirements for meeting structures and design are dynamic and vary from plant to plant. The quick and uncomplicated change of content is therefore crucial for productivity and cost efficiency. Make sure that customising is comprehensively possible!
  5. Runability on mobile devices​​​​​​​
    A future-proof DSFM solution must continue to be optimised for desktop use. However, it must support mobile devices and the corresponding processes - for example, to enable fast and flexible documentation of machine damage and immediate assignment of work orders. Check whether mobile use is possible without restrictions!

DSFM providers: Structure of the market

The market for DSFM solutions is confusing. Specialists who cover individual elements, MES experts who offer DSFM functionalities as add-ons, full DSFM providers, or platform operators who provide tools for developing their own solutions compete with each other. The following overview shows some high-profile players.

Against this background, the selection of the appropriate solution is not exclusively a question of technology and functionality, but requires a holistic, company-specific consideration. The following aspects need to be considered in particular.


Four recommendations for selecting a DSFM solution

  1. Review of the SFM in practice: Putting the SFM routines in practice to the test and improving them is the first step towards defining and weighting the requirements. The agile approach, in which the end users communicate their needs directly via user stories, has proven successful in this context.
  2. Benefit-oriented function selection: There is hardly a function for SFM that is not technically solvable. But which functions and modules really offer added value? Whether the live visualisation of key figures or knowledge management in dealing with deviations is particularly valuable must be decided on a company-specific basis.
  3. IT landscape: If the implementation is to succeed, the DSFM solution must fit into the IT strategy and architecture. It must also be defined which applications that exist today are to be retained or replaced and which scope of possibilities for in-house development is currently and prospectively sensible. Close involvement of the IT department is critical to success.
  4. Take changed competence requirements into account: Intuitive DSFM solutions also require staff to change their usual working methods. Therefore, it is advisable to start in areas with a higher affinity to IT and to react early to identified training needs. Sustainable success of DSFM depends on broad acceptance.

Case Studies

Bild einer Maschine in der Autoindustrie
Case Study

Competition like in the Bundesliga: A leading global automobile manufacturer wanted to mobilize and accelerate its entire network of nine factories in terms of costs and quality. With ROI-EFESO, the group established a completely new, soccer-inspired practice of competing for a championship lead. The project team thus dynamized rigid factory structures and work routines.

Bild einer Industrieanlage
Case Study

The ROI-EFESO OPEX model: activate the forces of excellence. You learn from mistakes. It is important that continuous improvement is the result. In industry, this is targeted as "Operational Excellence", or OPEX for short. Instead of resorting to off-the-shelf solutions, companies should develop their own strategies here - like the group from the steel industry, which successfully used the OPEX model from ROI-EFESO in its plants.

Close-up einer Maschine
Case Study

A plant and mechanical engineering company had to ensure its competitiveness. ROI-EFESO identified all the adjustment screws for the necessary changes at a production site in Germany and got the turnaround going with a multi-layered restructuring approach.

Bild eines Laborarbeiters in der Elektobranche
©ARRI Group
Case Study

The highest quality standards are an indispensable part of day-to-day business in the pharmaceutical and life sciences industry. A medical technology company wanted to reduce the number of errors in the production line of one of its top products by a factor of 10. Together with ROI-EFESO, the company identified the right starting points and ensured quality increases that can also be scaled to other product lines.

Zwei sitzende Frauen klatschen
Lean Digital Manager ©S_L/
Case Study

Shaping the factory of the future with Lean 4.0. How can lean principles be combined with the technologies and possibilities of networked digitization in value creation networks? By further qualifying employees to become decision-makers. The ROI-EFESO certification program for "Lean Digital Manager" shows how digitalization of lean production works. To do this, it combines strategies with Industry 4.0 technologies.

Case Study

Performance increase on the shop floor. Should every employee receive shift planning via smartphone? Or the plant management can compare solution proposals on a virtual dashboard in real time in the event of disruptions in the production flow? Thanks to the available IoT technologies, these and many other work simplifications of a digital shop floor management can be easily implemented today. Automobile manufacturers in particular like to take advantage of the opportunities offered by digitization and already have various systems in use, at all stages of maturity.