As consumers adopt mobile technology, the business adoption of that technology naturally follows. All of the benefits of having a mobile device for personal use can be, and should be, directly applied to the workplace. The fact is that most workers today are adept at operating technology where, 10 or 20 years ago most of the manufacturing workforce would have been intimidated by the complexity of tablets and smartphones.
The world is changing, and as the consumer mobility movement grows, and the masses adopt newer technologies, working those devices and technologies into business processes is essential to success. Still, many manufacturing companies are operating with outdated technology, which has been passed by, by both consumers and tech innovators.
Mobile Apps for Manufacturing
According to one article, the average office worker, in a manufacturing company today, goes through 10,000 sheets of paper a year. At $40 per case, businesses are spending $80 a year on paper per worker. That same study noted that it takes 18 minutes, on average, to locate a paper document. And 70% of businesses would completely fail inside of 3 weeks if they lost their papers to fire or flood.
Yet, this age-old technology of ink on paper is still being used by a staggering number of businesses in the manufacturing industry. Not only are they losing precious productivity from their workers, and assuming unnecessary risks of loss of information, but they are incurring millions in unnecessary costs every year.
You can trace this dependence on outdated technologies and business processes through many manufacturing companies. However, slowly manufacturers are starting to adopt this new wave of mobile tech for two reasons:
1. Consumers understand the operation of mobile apps and devices.
2. Creating mobile apps for popular devices is much cheaper than it was to create devices and machinery, to accomplish the same goals, in the past.
Canvas performed a survey of manufacturing business and found many are adopting mobile app technology to replace previously paper-oriented tasks. Here is what they found:
- 48% use mobile inspection apps.
- 36% use mobile work order apps.
- 23% use mobile survey apps.
- 21% use mobile apps for invoicing.
- 18% use mobile checklist apps.
- 6% use mobile inventory apps.
- 23% use mobile apps for other processes.
The Benefits of Mobile Apps for Manufacturers
1. Greater Employee Visibility
Manufacturing is one industry in particular that receives a substantial benefit from being able to track employees. With mobile apps, employees can be tracked on a daily or hourly basis, and GPS technology allows management and safety officials to know where they are in a plant, and how long they have been there. In the event of an emergency, knowing where an employee is in a factory or manufacturing plant can mean the difference between life and death.
Time stamps and date stamps show to-the-second- accurate timing of when a work order was process, when the work occurred, and where the worker was when the work order was completed. GPS allows employees to be tracked to the correct plant, worksite, or customer location ensuring they perform the correct work at the correct location.
2. Greater Accuracy of Information
Traditional employee productivity tracking was very cumbersome before the proliferation of mobile technology. Tracking how many jobs an employee completed in a given amount of time meant pouring through a ton of paperwork, stressing over illegible handwriting, incorrectly filled, or completely missing, fields and faulty mathematics made companies not only inefficient, but mostly ineffective.
Mobile apps, on the other hand, create a reliable system of accurate data accessible in real-time, on-demand. Business Processes can be simplified with pre-filled forms, required fields, and computer generated mathematics – virtually rendering human error a non-issue in most instances. All of this data is immediately available and any and all other employees, regardless of where they are at the time.
3. Real-Time Shipment and Vehicle Tracking
Dispatching workers, shipments, and or service vehicles to field sites and customer locations is simple and fast. GPS location capture on nearly all new devices allows businesses to visualize routes on a map view, calculate date and time of arrival, and even consolidate multiple routes on the fly.
For companies who have to manage supply chains or shipments of goods or assets from one location to the next, being able to manage and review routes can not only increase the speed of deliveries, but can also save millions spent on fuel, vehicles, and time.
4. Ensuring Quality, Quality Control
Some of our clients require inspectors to perform quality checks of goods, plant safety, and even OSHA compliance at work sites and remote locations. Being able to implement the checks and balances into a mobile app increases accuracy of the data, and assurance that each location or shipment has been thoroughly inspected and approved.
With GPS and time/date stamps, inspections are simple to manage, keeping entire companies in compliance with regulations, safety standards, and quality of goods produced.
5. Mobilization of On-Demand Data
According to the Canvas Study, more than half of manufacturing businesses are using file storage apps, 51% use Dropbox. 23% are utilizing a notes taking and sharing app, such as Evernote. 33% are using a CRM system, with Salesforce.com having a 41% market share. And 47% are using accounting applications, such as Quickbooks.
In short, there is a ton of data that has traditionally been regulated to on-premise workstations. Now, however, thanks to mobile technology, employees are increasingly losing their tether to the workstation. Instead, mobile apps are allowing them to not only access data remotely, but to publish data as well.
This means there is a wealth of new processes for accomplishing data updates. Inspectors can upload photos instantly of the equipment, goods, or plants they inspect – complete with GPS and time/date stamps. Sales and service professionals have immediate access to client data from the CRM, even when they’re sitting across from them in at a Starbucks. And managers can accomplish a wide array of tasks previously relegated to the office, even when they’re with their children in the emergency room.
The Modernization of Manufacturing Processes
With an enormous list of benefits, and the sheer inexpensiveness of implementing mobile technology for manufacturing companies, organizations will continue to adopt modern technology and mobile devices. As more companies move into the cloud, innovations will continue to occur, improving productivity and efficiency across the entire manufacturing industry.
The question is not “should your company adopt mobile apps for manufacturing.” The real question is: “when, and how?”