Technology takes over all industries in due time, whether it is advancements in hardware, artificial intelligence, or mobile technology.
In business, mobile apps have helped revolutionize payments, e-commerce, order management, and more. It's easy to see why some industries may have paved the way for the use of mobile apps while the rest catch up, given the benefits mobile technology can provide (such as the ability to connect from wherever you may be).
It can be obvious to think of how mobile applications have a strong role in some industries, such as e-commerce. Something even as simple as paying with a credit card at a kiosk wouldn't be possible without the prevalence of smartphones and mobile apps. In an industry such as manufacturing, one might not have an immediate thought of why mobiles apps may be desired.
In fact, a recent report found that overall, manufacturers were less likely to use cloud software than other industries, and 2/3rds did not rely on mobile or tablet applications. One could argue that manufacturing is an industry that is resistant to change. However, the same report found that 46% of manufacturers planned on investing more money into their technology investments in 2018 as opposed to 2017. So what reasons do manufacturers have to look toward a future led by mobile applications?
Manufacturing information in real-time
Manufacturing software is used for a variety of reasons, with some of the most vital functionalities being MRP (to manage inventory) and MES (to manage the execution of production).
Manufacturers have been using handheld devices in order to assist with inventory management for some time. But scanning and perhaps some light unit counting was really the full capability of the handheld device. Today, mobile technology allows for almost every piece of available inventory and production data can be at your fingertips via a smartphone, a tablet, or more.
For example, if a new order comes in, you'll have the ability to look at the exact inventory levels on hand at that moment, which will let you know a great deal of if you can complete the order or not. If a few raw materials are missing, a purchase order can be generated on the spot to limit any delays in production. Perhaps there was some inaccurate information on an order or something the company simply was not capable of handling. You may need to have some back and forth with your sales team to clear the air, or perhaps follow back up with the customer directly to change some details. These are all events that can be handled faster with a mobile device on the shop floor.
Increased employee productivity
We're in an age where your entire workforce likely has a smartphone as their own personal device. What this means is that opposed to even 5 years ago, everyone has familiarity with how mobile phones and tablets work (including how to operate applications within their operating systems).
In light of this, there should be no reasons why you don't have your workforce equipped to use mobile devices in the field to increase overall productivity. Having mobile devices used among your workforce allows for better tracking of your employee's actions. If you are tracking production output, or when inventory is being stocked/replenished, and require employees to make note of such at every step of the way, you allow for greater knowledge of how well your employees are using their time.
If you run a large enough manufacturing plant, it also may be important to know the location of your employees. While you don't necessarily need full GPS tracking of your employee's devices (although that option exists), you should be able to assume a location of an employee based on their last performed action (scanning inventory at a specific location, for example).
Better management visibility
Keeping track of your inventory levels, production output, and your employee productivity are already great tools for management. Shipments and deliveries (either inbound or outbound) can be better managed when you have an increased view and control the day to day tasks of your employees.
The goal of having all that information at your fingertips? Faster decision making. Managers have to make the big decisions that affect ROI. You'll want to ensure they have all the information at their disposal in order to make the best decisions that can make a company hit goals. Manufacturing mobile apps allow manufacturers the ability to increase the overall productivity of their products, leading to more products being produced and orders being fulfilled at a faster rate.
Progressing forward in manufacturing
Mobile apps will continue to be improved upon and added as available options to either operate your existing SaaS solution or to run an independent program you've fallen in love with. The answer won't be as easy as dropping your existing legacy system/methods in favor of mobile technology. In fact, the most scalable way to incorporate mobile technology will be a few tasks at a time. The technology is only improving, and it will not be waiting for you.
This is a guest post by Russ Davidson. Russ is a Digital Marketing Specialist at Software Connect, a company that provides free software and application recommendations based in Milwaukee, WI. Since 1996, we've helped thousands of companies find the best solution for their needs by understanding software requirements and pointing them in the right direction.