They call it “industry 4.0,” or the next evolution of the manufacturing industry, where manufacturing processes hop online, starting depending more than ever on analytics, and switch to automation that promises to revolution the industry. Some parts of Industry 4.0 are worrying, and some are exciting, but we wanted to focus on one particular issue that many manufacturers are wrestling with: How to use the latest mobile technology in the best ways possible. Let’s take a look.
Transportation and Supply Chain Management
Does your business involve transportation, loading, or other important supply chain tasks? Then you need to be using mobile data and communication to make these processes more efficient. The days of RFID tags are behind us: Now mobile systems are using more complex automation to chart loading times, transportation routes, supply costs, delivery times, and much more. Track transportation data to save money, uncover flaws and make sure that the key stages at either end of production aren’t the places where you drop the ball.
Analytics and Data on the Factory Floor
This is a lengthy subject, but we’ll try to sum it up: If you are still walking over to a computer hub on the factory floor to check up on operations, you should be changing that. Mobile devices can replace these old hubs, save time, and provide slick new interfaces that all supervisors and others to find information or make decisions far more quickly. Put a good rubberized case on the screen to protect it from accidental falls, and you’re good to go. Don’t let a computer be the unpleasant block in smooth operations.
To take mobile a step further, when the time comes to updating your equipment, you should take a serious look at app-based controls and operation. Where applicable, mobile controls can offer notable advantages: They can make safety standards much easier to meet, provide faster, more accurate ways of controlling equipment, and give people a way to customize tasks. Even if your equipment isn’t the best choice for mobile apps, we suggest you look into managing security, supply orders, and other important processes with today’s latest software…which you can use on the go.
Condition Based Maintenance Via App
Condition based maintenance refers to maintenance based on the information provided by active sensors within machinery and devices. Expect the newest equipment to come equipped with these sensors, and for good reasons: When properly used, they can vastly lower downtime and increase repair or maintenance efficiency. Mobile updates and reminders about equipment maintenance are the paths to the future, so get ready!
Mobile Scheduling and Employee Management
If your employee scheduling software isn’t already on mobile, see if an app is available or if you can move to a system that provides mobile apps. This is especially useful if your business has strict shifts and scheduling: Older scheduling options are not working well these days, especially among younger employees. A mobile system that allows for on-the-go updates, alerts, and immediate contacts for replacements or changes can prove invaluable during a busy day.
More open platform mobile devices like Android are offering more and more modules that allow manufacturers to piece together their own systems, based on exactly what they need from notifications, workflow, measurements, equipment management, and orders. Is your current ERP not working? Consider a more modular, mobile approach that allows you to build your own solution instead.
Do you consult with partners or send out/receive data as part of the production process? It’s not unusual – and it’s a part of the industry due for a revolution thanks to what Microsoft calls “mobile people.” This means, basically, that when everyone is empowered with mobile devices, workflow itself becomes mobile. Designers, suppliers, and engineers can sign off on the next step, offer advice, or take on new work wherever – or whenever they are.