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6 Attributes of Mobile Data Collection Enabling Tech-driven Manufacturing

Written by Michael Clark
July 24, 2014

Outmoded data collection solutions are holding manufacturers back from innovating and improved processes

The manufacturing renaissance currently underway in the U.S. is due in large part to the nation’s robust information technology and software that helps factories achieve more accurate inventory management and data visibility. In an interview with Mark Muro, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute, The Wall Street Journal highlighted the fact that manufacturing in particular is undergoing a significant change because of innovation.

Technology Driving Efficiency

Muro went on to explain how robotics are helping to reduce labor costs in many sectors, and the “industrial Internet” driven by mobile data collection and communication helps manufacturers get a clear view of the way their equipment is working, among a variety of other metrics. As a result, companies can keep a slimmer workforce and can prevent work stoppages resulting from faulty machinery. The policy analyst further explains that the drive for high-tech solutions in computing and other industries is inextricably linked to the gains U.S. manufacturers have made in increasing their competitive value among the world leaders in production and distribution of goods.

What Should Manufacturers Look for in a Data Collection Software Solution?

At the same time, not all supply chain solutions are equal. “The Data Collection Software Buyer’s Guide,” a recent white paper distributed by RFgen, speaks to the strengths of automated data collection and software solutions in creating a more nimble and efficient manufacturing organization, helping to identify essential attributes that companies should look for when selecting a data collection solution.

1. Real-time Performance

This functionality provides manufacturers with accurate metrics that are accessible at all levels, from floor managers to the CEO. Companies experience reduced error rates, creating a more robust workflow. They no longer have to wait to verify data through laborious manual processes.

2. Mobile and Wireless Technology

In support of real-time data collection, mobile technology is an indelible part of manufacturing information technology and operational infrastructure. Wireless barcode readers save businesses from being held back by manual processes that frequently lead to data entry errors. This can effectively cripple an organization’s performance.

3. Multiple Host System Integration

Most businesses in the manufacturing sector depend on an ERP system as their primary operating platform. Therefore, a data collection system needs to be able to communicate with an ERP system, so that the vast amount of processed and managed data can efficiently be shared with other internal departments like accounting and finance. Other tools, including database management systems, mainframes and servers should all pair with a mobile data collection system to ensure the integrity of the information.

4. Notification or Warning System

In response to any event, manufacturers need to stay on top of their workflow and supply chain management. The most progressive organizations have invested in automated systems that provide employees with real-time notifications through multiple channels, including email, voice mail and SMS text messages. These alerts can be sent via virtually any device to give all key staff prior warning.

5. Scalability

Given the upward trend in the U.S. manufacturing industry, it’s important to integrate a mobile data collection solution that can adapt to an increased number of transactions, production and distribution.

6. Paper Elimination

Paper-based processes are a perennial source of ire for manufacturers because of the delays and errors they cause. Data collection solutions should remove this burden by creating a structured, repeatable and automated system that leverages the strengths of electronic storage.

When manufacturers incorporate mobile data solutions that integrate all six elements, they routinely see the highest return on investment for every dollar spend on implementation. Without question, the resurgence of American manufacturing is being driven by technology that creates more streamlined practices and unleashes the power of data visibility.