?As more and more people embrace mobile technology, manufacturers will likely have a pool of cell-phone-savvy employees, as well as a ready-made platform for enhancing communication and data transfer throughout their organizations. With technology ranging from shop floor wireless systems to sales force support, mobile devices and applications can help manufacturers embrace agile production techniques and extended organizational communication and integration.
There are three main areas in most manufacturing operations that offer the best chance to affect business outcomes by implementing mobile technology. These are areas where workers are not bound to desks but operate relatively independently. However, because these workers are not 'desk-tied,' the potential arises for communication disruptions, lost productivity, and especially for latency in the capture and reporting of real-time data. The use of mobile technology helps avert these problems, especially in the areas of latency of data capture.
• Shop Floor: Shop-floor workers and engineers manage and assemble items on the production line or monitor process specifications. They typically record production and process data manually, leading to data latency and inaccuracy. Providing these workers with mobile devices enables the real-time input of data from the shop floor.
• Warehouse: Warehouse personnel are responsible for inbound shipments, inventory tracking and traceability, and replenishment of goods. Accurate, real-time logistical and inventory data provided via mobile devices will help promote just-in-time manufacturing, efficient supply chain operations and improved quality of service.
• Field Force: Field-force personnel interact with customers, partners and suppliers directly. They require the most accurate and up-to-date data regarding products and services, that can be provided to them on their mobile devices.
Mobile technology, whether cell phones, smartphones, tablets and/or electronic pads, can effectively address these "desk-less" data requirements — but not without a well planned and well-executed mobile technology strategy. An effective manufacturing mobility strategy goes beyond implementing a few simple policy changes and a suite of mobile IT applications. Read more about developing a mobile strategy for the manufacturing industry in our article, "Mobility in Manufacturing: Optimizing Process and Productivity." However, creating an effective mobile strategy and technology isn't quick or easy. Manufacturers would do well to seek out experienced advice and support to aid in this vital, future-oriented effort.