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Mobility on The Shop Floor

As the world moves on day after day in every walk of life, an interesting phenomenon is settling itself into enterprise computing space as well. Mobile solutions are storming into enterprise application space. And it’s happening quickly as well.

Progressive enterprises want to deliver goods and services quicker, lest they risk losing out to competition. The ever increasing pressure to reduce costs and to expand into global markets further enhances the need for speed to stay ahead of competition. Mobility offers a win-win solution and holds huge potential for cost savings. Mobility moves them to accelerate with their business processes, especially because customers insist on instant answers and solutions in many business situations. This requires efficiency, at its best!

While sales and field personnel were the early adopters of enterprise mobility, and operational and executive management followed soon as it helps them to stay in touch with the business constantly and make informed decisions, it is now catching up within shop floors as well. No more is it a domain of white collared workers keenly glued to their tablet PCs and smart phones, it is time the blue collared workers joined this trend too. Thus, the pervading effect of mobile solutions is seen in the shop floor space.

The earlier trend in shop floors was to adopt laptops, emails and alert based technologies. Shop floor functionalities in enterprises are now catching up with the “felt need” for going wireless and adopting the present global trend in mobility. While wireless based solutions like RFID and RF systems have been in existence for quite a few years, it did take manufacturing industries some time to take notice and adopt such technologies. But in the case of mobility solutions, the adaptation is faster and the time to benefit is almost instant, thanks to the consumerization of IT.

Some typical examples of shop floor adaptation for managers are WIP tracking, production review, supplier/customer alerts, and inventory availability checks. At the worker level, entries of completed production items, QC accepted / rejected quantities, urgent need for critical raw material, stock items etc… are just a touch away. This helps raise the efficiency of the shop floors with constantly raising benchmarks

A manager sitting in his or her office or moving about, can review stock availability through Tablet PCs and Smart phones and get alerts by email or text messages directly from the shop floor. Other examples could be on critical stock outs that may potentially disrupt production. QC staff on the shop floor can enter, based on their testing criteria, details of acceptance or rejection as they go around the shop floor to inspect thus saving time and do away with paper work and subsequent entries into a stationary PC. Finishing area staff can alert warehouses to move finished goods ready to leave the plant for dispatch.

Blog By: Vijayan Aravamudhan, Principal Consultant, Ramco Systems