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Gaining Manufacturing Agility Through Workforce Mobility

Published on: Mar 30, 2016

As mobile devices gain more capabilities and become more cost-effective, they are a driving force for change on the manufacturing floor. Mobile interfaces have enabled manufacturers to add new services and cut costs. Advancements in technology have allowed for greater innovation and efficiency.

Workforce mobility is a top priority among manufacturing companies. In fact, best-in-class manufacturers and distributors are 119% more likely to provide mobile access to their business systems than their counterparts. (See How Do Your Business Systems Compare to Best-in-Class?)

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.

Integrating mobile technology in your manufacturing solution 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). These critical data are made accessible through enterprise planning resource software like Sage EM (formerly known as Sage X3) Enterprise Intelligence.
  • Saving Costs and Improving Efficiency: More accurate information can lead directly to improved efficiencies and lower costs. 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 Relationship 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.

When implementing mobile technology for manufacturing 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 enterprise resource planning system such as Sage EM (formerly known as Sage X3) 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, like Sage EM (formerly known as Sage X3), in order to increase manufacturing automation. To learn more about the benefits of an integrated manufacturing solution, download our whitepaper, ERP: A Strategic Growth Driver for Manufacturing Firms.

Mobility is important in the warehouse as well. Follow this link to read more about warehouse mobility:  Enterprise Software with Mobile Access Promotes Agility.

IWI Consulting Group is available to help your business become more efficient through enterprise software and workforce mobility.  Contact us.