Real-time manufacturing data transforms production efficiency and improves scheduling accuracy and communication
When a manufacturer invests in an ERP solution, they usually have high expectations. These systems are of great value in improving customer service, enabling better planning and decision-making, controlling costs, improving processes, and mitigating risk. To deliver these and other advantages, however, the ERP needs to be chock full of data, and many manufacturers find capturing information, especially from the shop floor, to be a real challenge.
Enter mobile ERP apps. These tools provide data access, capture, and updating features on a smartphone, tablet, or even smartwatch. That way, workers can log information throughout a shift. From tracking labor for a particular job to inputting counts of finished goods, employees armed with mobile ERP provide a detailed, real-time picture of what’s happening on the shop floor, and that makes all the difference. Here’s how:
#1 TODAY’S SNAPSHOT, NOT LAST WEEK’S
One of the most important aspects of mobile ERP data is speed. When manufacturers use manual tracking methods, there is a time gap between when information is recorded and when it is entered into the ERP. As a result, the data workers, managers, and executives rely on is always dated.
A partial fix is the ERP kiosk, but that approach, too, has problems. Employees must leave their stations to log information, which wastes time and can compromise accuracy. This limits the amount of data many manufacturers are willing to record from the shop floor.
Mobile ERP apps take the handcuffs off by making it quick and easy to monitor nearly any data point.
#2 IMPROVED COMMUNICATION
When more functions are taking place within a mobile ERP, employees at all levels can get the information they need with a few clicks. No more wandering the facility or calling different extensions to get basic questions answered.
Even access to up-to-the-minute finished goods counts can prevent someone in client service from descending to the shop floor and interrupting activity to find out when an order will be ready. That’s a boon for shop floor productivity and customer satisfaction.
#3 INCREASED PRODUCTIVITY
There are additional time savings delivered with intuitive mobile interfaces. Employees can get work orders on their phones, issue materials with a few clicks, report scrap, and so on. As manufacturers increasingly diversify their product mix, mobile ERP can keep up with labor monitoring, enabling employees to log in and out of various jobs and track different work throughout the day without significant burden. Each minute saved adds to overall productivity.
#4 BETTER DECISION-MAKING
The point of all this data, of course, is to improve and optimize operations. Senior leadership benefits from having the full picture within the ERP as decisions are made. There’s no more important focus for real-time visibility than the shop floor if you’re going to meet customer demand.
#5 ENHANCED SCHEDULE ACCURACY
Understanding production times is vital for scheduling jobs and estimating delivery timeframes for customers. Scheduling had long been a rather blunt instrument within manufacturing, as it was based on averages. Real-time data brings increased granularity, so initial schedules can be monitored and refined based on what’s actually happening on the floor. Knowing that a particular job will be completed early and staging another immediately means getting more product out the door.
#6 GREATER ADAPTABILITY
No matter how hard manufacturers work to optimize every step in a process and control every variable, there are endless surprises. Machines break and jobs need to be rescheduled. Materials arrive late. Customer orders change.
Real-time data alerts managers to these issues and enables rapid and effective adaptation to avoid bottlenecks and downtime. When real-time data feeds predictive technologies, manufacturers gain even more power to see the future and react in advance to likely materials shortages, equipment maintenance needs, or other issues.
#7 SHORTER CYCLE TIMES
Increasing cycle times requires reengineering some phases of production. But how? Real-time ERP data can help identify and quantify key constraints and target the most inefficient processes, so decision-makers can craft solutions. And when revised processes are put in place, the ERP data can help leaders track the results to ensure change truly drove down cycle times.
#8 FEEDING DATA TO THE RIGHT PEOPLE
Production managers need end-to-end visibility to do their cost analysis, material planning, and scheduling tasks. Quality inspectors enjoy real-time metrics from the shop floor so they can target the root causes of scrap and rework. Machine operators can benefit from equipment information to forecast potential issues and maintenance needs.
Whatever the job function, there’s almost always real-time data that can make it more effective. Mobile ERP collects that data and makes it accessible to the right people, right when they need it.
Mobile ERP data is a powerful tool for gaining greater control over the shop floor. By maximizing production efficiency, rooting out bottlenecks and quality issues, and better understanding cost and capacity, manufacturers can maximize productivity and exceed customer expectations.
But why stop at the shop floor? There are all kinds of ways to deliver better data to decision makers. And we can you help adapt such mobile ERP best practices to the specifics of your operations. Simply contact us.