Assembly instructions vs. Work instructions - Are they the same?


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Are assembly instructions and work instructions the same? Is it depends on how we define them? Just like the same arguments with control plan vs quality plan? :confused:


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sardonyx said:
Are assembly instructions and work instructions the same? Is it depends on how we define them? Just like the same arguments with control plan vs quality plan? :confused:
Simple answer....yes.
But work instructions can cover many other areas, such as, what to do when a defect is found, how parts are packaged to send to next operation, etc.


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I've used assembly instructions to define design specific instructions when it is not practicle to list them in drawing notes. the assembly instruction is assigned a design document number and released as part of the BOM as a zero quantity reference item.

The work instruction is used as the tool to define implementation of the design in Production along with the other areas mentioned by CarolX.

Wes Bucey

In my opinion, assembly instructions may or may not be "work instructions."

"Work instructions" to me implies being part of an entire "process" or "system" with the concommitant checks and balances. It means there is an element of training and evaluation on following the instructions.

"Assembly Instructions" imply something done on an ad hoc basis (bad English instructions on assembling toys or furniture on Christmas Eve) with no consideration for whether the proper tools and training are supplied to do the job correctly.

Further, "assembly instructions" imply only the process of putting finished components together. Whereas "work instruction" encompasses all processes from digging ore out of the ground to packaging a finished product for sale to a retail customer.

Bottom line:

Assembly instructions may be a special type of work instruction if the workplace, tools, and training are supplied by management.
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I think from what you all have stated, I need to categorize documents separately between assembly and work instructions since I'm organizing our document by prefixes as type of documents.

From what I had experienced before, I encountered the term "assembly instructions" on manufacturing and my first time to encounter the term "work instructions" here in our company who's just starting up creating documents and looks like it pertains to design and process of a product.

Thanks, that enlightens me now!! :rolleyes:

Cari Spears

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We make and repair machine details. Sometimes the item is just one detail (one piece), but sometimes it is an assembly (such as lead screws and ballscrews) - our assembly instructions are work instructions that the assembler uses. We also have inspection instructions - they are work instructions that the inspector uses.

Don't overthink it. If it tells someone how to do something it is instructional - our most common work instruction is the engineering drawing and router.


Does you company have a definition sheet to describe what these documents are for and where they are typically used? At work, we have had problems with understanding procedures and work instructions and what is the different between the two? I have create a Document Type Definition sheet that explains all of the documents that R&D creates and maintains. I would suggest to you to create a definition sheet to help explain the difference between all of the documents that you maintain. We have quite a few so I have to have it at least for me so I can keep them straight.

Cari Spears

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I think that would be overkill in a 15-20 person organization. sardonyx - I think you're making much to much out of this.


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now growing....

We're just a start-up company and now growing. I'm thinking ahead of what will happen in the future, definitely whatever the part numbering system I create now will be used 5-10 yrs from now or even more. We're only 20 in R&D since we don't have yet people in manufacturing, we're sub-contracting right now for our prototype and later we'll do our own manufacturing. I'll fix this prefix matrix to avoid confusion later which what had happened to me. Prefix: AI for assembly instruction (mostly in manufacturing) and WI (for quality system and manufacturing process, etc).

:agree1: Thanks all for your ideas