5 Ways Mobile Technology is Revolutionizing Manufacturing

The Risks And Rewards of Adopting Mobile Into Manufacturing Operations Today

The adoption of mobile technology in manufacturing is on the rise. Mobile apps offer advanced technical features that enable greater coordination in terms of the development of new production strategies, in-time communication to manufacturing centers and enhanced CRM features.

Moreover, with its accurate reporting and analytics, mobile technology enables more effective decision-making. It helps streamline various processes from inventory management and logistics to invoicing by connecting the entire network of stakeholders efficiently.

PwC’s Global CEO survey suggests that a Manufacturing Industry CEO’s top technological priorities include:

  1. 73% mobility
  2. 72% cyber security
  3. 70% Data Mining and analysis

As mobile technologies become more affordable, their adoption rate has increased manifold. Devices like phones, tablets and smartwatches are already being used to provide technical and quality managers with all the requisite data for their day-to-day operations.

The study further indicates that advancements in technology will provide the leverage for a competitive edge.

Mobile technology: Part of the fourth manufacturing revolution

According to reports from IDC and Statistica, product life cycles have decreased by 25%. This means that manufacturers have to focus on developing and launching new products in a very short space of time. Mobile technology is employed to reorganize and track the entire process of production. Mobile technology aids manufacturers in quality auditing, as it enables them to check and ensure conformance to the official operational procedure at every stage, from the procurement of raw materials and the assimilation of the final product to the supply chain and delivery.

  1. Some of the key ways in which mobile technology is revolutionizing the manufacturing industry include:Access to Real-Time Data-Mobile platforms readily provide access to live or real-time data for on the spot analysis and decision-making. They do this with the aid of a MES or SCADA system. Manufacturing execution systems or MES are software systems that are utilized in manufacturing, to track and record the conversion of raw materials into finished products. On the other hand, supervisory control and data acquisition or SCADA is an electronic system that permits industrial organizations to regulate industrial processes across various locations. It is used to monitor, gather, and process real-time data. The availability of live data cuts down the time spent on manual data entry and this can bring about a significant improvement in the SPC/SQC results.
  2. Quality and Inventory Management — Quality management is a key process in any industry. Mobility in manufacturing, especially quality management helps in keeping track of suppliers, non-conformance to quality, corrective and preventive action and more. Using an enterprise-wide tracking and reporting system for inventory also greatly reduces the man-hours and cost involved in maintaining it manually.
  3. Dashboard Reporting — Most manufacturing processes involve multiple stages of production. At any given time, having real-time updates on the progress in production workflow and performance metrics accessible to all personnel involved, reduces a lot of production time. Furthermore, having manufacturing intelligence comes in handy when machine level compliance needs to be tracked periodically. Mobile systems can also trigger alerts when compliance levels fall to ensure production and quality is always held in compliance.
  4. Logistics and Supply Chain Coordination — Mobile systems enable better coordination when it comes to industries where the inventory turnover is very quick. In cases where production timelines are very tight and profit margins are very low, mobile systems provide effective real-time tracking and reporting to prevent losses and reduce costs.
  5. Predictive Analytics — Manufacturing intelligence such as data collection is very useful to enable predictive analytics on various cost metrics. Cost analysis, comparative financials and defective monitoring and costing analysis can help the business stay ahead and be competitive.

The Benefits of Mobility in Manufacturing

Greater Visibility, Accuracy, Real-Time tracking — Everyday data on workflow, performance, order fulfillment progress, vehicle tracking and more is easily available in real-time.

Resource Optimization — Access to data on on-going projects, current resource usage and more helps teams utilize their existing resources efficiently. It also prevents wastage and improves productivity.

Improved Response Time — Sales personnel on the field can avoid calling to check in on pricing, inventory or project progress. They can have all the information on hand in real-time. They can generate quotes on new project and compute accurate fulfillment dates based on data on hand. All stakeholders; be it the suppliers, vendors or customers benefit.

Quality Control — Mobile sensors are becoming more prevalent in machine level compliance at all times for continuous production with quality compliance.

Eliminates Redundant Activities — By enhancing the communication and collaboration between all the functional units, it speeds up manufacturing processes.

Cross Platform Synchronization — Mobile apps can be platform independent. So irrespective of the device platform of the workforce data can be accessed and synchronized easily.

Risks of Not getting on board with the Future of Manufacturing

The use of mobile technology in manufacturing is purported to be at least part of the 21st century’s version of the industrial revolution, those who are laggard will be left behind. Let us take a look at the risks involved in ignoring the technologies ingrained in the adoption of digitization and mobile.

Difficulty in keeping up with real-time responsiveness- The use of mobile technology in manufacturing enables quick assimilation and analysis of data. This enables the manufacturing units to restructure or reformulate their products according to the market faster. And this effect will be amplified over time in an order of magnitude. Operations that lag in adoption stand the risk of losing to their more agile competitors.

Loss of competitive leverage due to high costs- Mobile technology is making the process of production more efficient and transparent via real-time tracking. As a result, any redundant or loss-incurring practices are promptly dispensed with. This helps to reduce wastage and lower the production costs, which in turn leads to more competitively priced products. Failure to introduce these innovative and cost-cutting technologies will lead to loss of ability to effectively compete with industry rivals.

Too little too late, the time is now- Incorporating mobile into manufacturing processes involves considerable investment in terms of both operational capital and calendar time. Manufacturers need trained staff that is able to both utilize and analyze the collated data. Operations that don’t start incorporating mobility into their manufacturing processes now will find it almost impossible to catch up with their competitors in the near future.

  1. “18th Annual Global CEO Survey: A marketplace without boundaries? Responding to disruption” — PwC
  2. “20th CEO Survey” — PwC
  3. “20 years inside the mind of the CEO… What’s next?” — PwC
  4. “Mobility in Manufacturing: Enhancing Productivity and Driving Transformation” — Rapid Value
  5. “Mobility, Wearables, and the Manufacturing Enterprise” — CIO Magazine
  6. “Smart manufacturing will push the industry forward” — Jean Stephens [Global Manufacturing]
  7. “Manufacturing Growth Expected in 2016” — Institute for Supply Management [PR Newswire]
  8. “Future of manufacturing: Digitalization as an opportunity” — Siemens
  9. “The next manufacturing revolution is here” — Olivier Scalabre [TED]
  10. “Mobility in manufacturing” — Gordon Benzie [Manufacturing Transformation]
  11. “Mobility in manufacturing — Infographic” — Industry Week