Did you know that mobile technology is one of the top priorities among today’s manufacturing and distribution companies? The popularity of smartphones and tablets has spurred on mobile adoption across all business areas – from the office to the sales and service field to the warehouse and manufacturing floor. Just as with any technology addition, adopting mobile technology into the business has its fair share of challenges, but the benefits far outweigh any challenges manufacturers and distributors may experience.
Mobility is impacting all areas of the manufacturing and distribution 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 and warehouse floor collecting, transmitting and using data.
The Benefits of Mobile Technology on the Manufacturing and Warehouse Floor
Adopting mobile technology in your manufacturing or distribution operation can bring significant benefits to your business, including:
- Better Business Intelligence: Using mobile devices to capture real-time data in the manufacturing plant or distribution center 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).
- Saving Costs and Improving Efficiency: More accurate information can lead directly to improved efficiencies and lower costs of lean automation. 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 Resource 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.
Going Mobile with Your Manufacturing and Distribution Operations
Implementing mobile technology involves more than bringing a smartphone and tablet into the manufacturing plant or warehouse. Here are some tips to help you go mobile:
- Choose an application that will support your business goals and integrate easily with your existing solutions. Remember, mobile should not be a hefty investment. You are implementing the technology to save costs – not add to your costs.
- Choose the right device and implement a company policy about the devices that can and cannot be used. Will you allow employees to bring their own device (BYOD), or will you be providing the device? Will you use smartphones, tablets, or something else?
- Create a mobile business strategy. What are you hoping to obtain by going mobile? Write down your goals and a realistic outline for accomplishing them.
- Find an educated mobile software provider. Not all mobile applications are the same, and you are going to want to find a vendor who can guide you to the right solution and help you create the right strategy.
Mobile technology can change the way manufacturers and distributors operate, but only if you take the time to plan for its selection and implementation. For more information on how to choose the right software for your business, download our whitepaper, “A 5 Point Plan to Manufacturing ERP Selection Success.”