Why gamification matters for manufacturing - and how it can work

Posted by Martin Karlowitsch on Jun 8, 2020 11:28:28 AM

Paul Hogendoorn was my guest for the 12th episode of the Business Central Manufacturing Show. Paul is an incurable entrepreneur from Canada and has founded, co-founded, or helped launch numerous ventures over his 30+ year career, including most recently, FreePoint Technologies. FreePoint's unique technology captures and delivers real-time productivity information, connecting plant floor manufacturing processes directly to managers and operators in innovative, practical, and cost-effective ways. I picked up one of his recent likes on LinkedIn and started the conversation with a question on gamification. This let to a vital discussion on why gamification matters for manufacturing companies. (spoiler: among other benefits, it can yield a 25% uptick in productivity for high-mix low-volume manufacturers). The good news is: we didn't stop with the why, but also looked at a hands-on recipe how it can get implemented, and what metrics can help with gamification.  

Business Central Manufacturing Show - Episode 12 - Paul Hogendoorn


Paul opens the podcast with the strong statement that gamification can help manufacturing companies to solve one of their most imminent problems: attract young people to take over jobs on the shop-floor. 

Gamification brings elements to their jobs that they have been enjoying throughout their lives (e.g. while playing video games). With gamification, operators and shop-floor workers get immediate feedback, an immediate sense of accomplishment, and hence - potentially - also immediate rewards.

As such, the two most important aspects of gamification are: on the one hand feedback being meaningful and on the other hand feedback being real-time. An example of meaningful feedback is the number of hours workers achieved a regular rhythm and cadence. Concerning real-time, it is important that this is not meant in the way that operators produce real-time data, but that they receive real-time feedback on their progress.

However, gamification also is about finding the right balance between collaboration and competition. Operators and shop-floor workers should see themselves as part of one team (e.g. shift or cell) with a common goal that they pursue "against" other teams.

As complex as this sounds. Paul also shares a hands-on recipe on how to introduce something like gamification into a manufacturing company. The results of this are striking: steady-state production companies can yield 10%+ productivity gains, whereas the uptick for HMLV (high-mix low-volume) often is more than 25%.

The conversation closes with some thoughts about the role of a modern ERP system such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central in making shop-floor jobs more attractive.


You can tune in below 👇 on Apple PodcastSpotifyStitcherTuneIn, or anywhere you get your podcasts.



On this episode, you'll learn:

  • What gamification is, and why it matters for manufacturing companies.
  • That gamification equals making things real in real-time.
  • That maintaining a regular rhythm and cadence is the most significant driver of shopfloor productivity.
  • To which extent leaderboards and comparisons with other shifts or cells (and their KPIs) can help (and not).
  • Why information systems always should be made to help people make the right decisions.
  • That giving operators and people on the shop-floor real-time data will help them modify their behavior.
  • Actual results that you can achieve with gamification of the shopfloor: steady-state production --> 10% productivity gains; HMLV --> 25% uptick.
  • Why "value-adding activity" is a great metric to track.
  • The role of an ERP system, and a modern system like Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central within the gamification process.


What to listen for:

  • [01.47] Why gamification can be an important mechanism to attract young people to shop-floor jobs.
  • [03.55] The importance of meaningful feedback for operators, and why this oftentimes misses in today's measurement systems.
  • [04.55] An example of a meaningful KPI to help operators with their day-to-day work.
  • [06.31] That a great gamification approach combines both competition and collaboration (achieve a common goal with each other against other teams).
  • [10.08] The different time horizons that different information systems are made for ... and why a "system" misses "how I am doing now" information that helps shop-floor workers to make the right decisions in real-time. 
  • [13.36] How you can introduce some kind of gamification through the backdoor, e.g. as part of an IoT project --> very hands-on recipe.
  • [15.45] Tangible results from introducing gamification into different types of manufacturing companies.
  • [18.06] Differences in technology adoptions in different areas of the world.
  • [21:05] That gamification can help to enrich jobs at the shop-floor level (and hence they become attractive to young people again, and do not need to get taken over by robots).


Links to love ❤️:

Topics: Business Central Production Scheduling, Visual Scheduling Fundamentals, Business Central Visual Scheduling Extensions, Podcast