Workforce mobility is the number one technology priority among manufacturing companies. Driven by the explosion of personal handheld devices, the usage of mobile devices is on the rise on the manufacturing floor and across all spheres of business. There are tremendous benefits in implementing mobility, connected to an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, as a part of your manufacturing automation. At the same time, mobility raises challenges that need to be addressed.
Mobility is impacting all areas of the manufacturing process including order management, inventory management, material and asset tracking, labor tracking, and field sales and service. Mobility is a key enabler of lean automation by increasing productivity, accuracy and communication. It enables mobile business intelligence through more devices on the factory floor collecting, transmitting and using data.
Using mobile technology in your manufacturing automation plans will bring significant benefits to your business.
- Better Business Intelligence: Using mobile devices to capture real-time data on the manufacturing floor enables business managers to make better decisions with more accurate data.They are able to manage any process from any location making decision-making more agile as managers are not tied to an office but can be out where the decisions are made. With a mobile device, managers can access data to determine Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). This critical data is made accessible through ERP software like Sage 300.
- Saving Costs and Improving Efficiency: More accurate information can lead directly to improved efficiencies and lower costs of lean automation. Real-time data enables managers, both on the shop floor and in the front office, to react and change inefficient or broken processes more quickly. Using mobile technology can help reduce costs by eliminating paper processes, automating manual processes and leading to immediate solutions of problems
- Increased Sales and Competitiveness: Putting information into the field enables greater responsiveness to customer needs. Using mobile devices and a Customer Resource Management (CRM) system, sales staff can check inventory and pricing, submit orders and take payment while at the customer site. This greatly increases order accuracy and reduces sales cycle time. Field service can receive work orders, access service history and more while eliminating paper-based processes. Being more responsive to the customer increases customer satisfaction, the company’s competitiveness and sales.
In implementing mobile technology in a move toward lean automation, you will need to address a number of challenges.
- Manufacturers must choose an application that will support their business goals keeping in mind that employees may need new skill sets and learn to use new tools. The apps should be integrated with an ERP system such as Sage 300 that supports mobile technology
- You will need to choose the right device for the right process. Each business process in a manufacturing facility may need to be accessed differently. There are conflicting opinions on whether to only use industrial grade mobile devices or enable BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). If you choose BYOD, you will need to address security, scalability and support. In some cases, it may make more sense to standardize on industrial-grade mobile devices made for manufacturing environments
- Manufacturing systems are often information silos. Data is not connected or inaccessible making it difficult to leverage into knowledge. In a mobile business strategy, data needs to be accessible and transparent. Information can be made accessible through data capture by a mobile device and the use of an ERP system that enables manufacturing automation
- It is essential to find, implement, and use ERP software in order to improve manufacturing automation. To learn more about the benefits of manufacturing automation, visit here.
As we discussed in a blog last May, being an early adopter of technology such as mobile ERP offers many benefits. (See ERP Selection that Fosters Growth.) Contact us to learn how you can be a leader in manufacturing technology innovation and separate yourself from the pack of followers. For further details on the benefits of using mobile technology and ERP systems to promote profitability, download our whitepaper, “Supporting Workforce Mobility with ERP”.