Mobility in Manufacturing
Advances in enterprise –mobile solutions – such as mobile device management, enterprise mobility middleware, mobile application development tools as well as sophisticated lower cost consumer devices– have significantly reduced the entry barrier to implement enterprise mobile applications.
Not all manufacturing organizations may see the same impact of mobility on their business. The application of mobility in manufacturing industry depends on the types of interactions as well as the type of manufacturing the business is engaged in. Manufacturing organizations experience three different types of collaboration:
Business to end customer – In these interactions, mobility in manufacturing can help improve customer service, manage reverse logistics, and provide a channel to engage with customers for product co-innovation, improved service delivery and demand forecasting.
Business to employee – In these interactions, mobility in manufacturing can improve employee productivity, encourage a self-service culture, improve collaboration and lead to faster execution.
Business to Business – Partners and suppliers can take part in the manufacturing process by mobile enabled information access thereby improving quality of decisions.
Mobility in manufacturing industry finds its application across the manufacturing value chain of plan-source-make-sell. Some of the benefits of adopting mobile manufacturing practices are:
- Mobility solutions can offer manufacturers the means to achieve ‘6-sigma’ data-capture accuracy. This can help reduce some of the ‘7 wastes’ in manufacturing and eliminate the “hidden barriers to Lean manufacturing”
- Even a 10 minute reduction in process – for example, by eliminating manual data entry –results in a productivity gain of 2.5%
- Mobility solutions can make decision-ready data from SCADA/ MES systems – typically housed in a “control room” – available to key stakeholders on the factory floor. For example, an engineer calibrating a sensor or a technician adjusting the process can access real-time data on a mobile device
- Mobile error-proofing solutions such as ‘context aware checklists’ can help reduce errors and defects
- ‘Mobile forms’ reduce the ‘data gap’ (typically around 30% due to manual collection of data) and can significantly improve SPC/SQC results
- Mobility solutions can help create real time compliance reports – such as ISO 9000. Mobility solutions can also help achieve real-time end-to-end traceability for safety-critical manufacturing such as Aerospace
- Mobile devices can ensure verification of material at the point of assembly/consumption for vendor-managed inventory to support JIT manufacturing.
- Mobile labor costing and tracking applications can help accurately monitor/manage a labor pool including the ability to sign-up temp-labor on the spot.
Companies need to make informed choices on mobile app deployment related to key dimensions of
- Choice of middleware
- Native vs hybrid apps
- Impact on customer experience
- Agility of deployment
Mobility needs multiple flavors of understanding including user experience and user design to be complete and comprehensive. Instead of a narrow focus on platforms, companies must look at a holistic picture – IT, tools & platforms, process transformation, user experience. User experience is the key component that differentiates a mobile implementation from a standard IT implementation.