Mobile applications are now ranked as the top investment for CIOs in the manufacturing industry, according to a recent Gartner study. Mobile data collection tools have quickly caught on because these solutions empower manufacturing companies to do more with fewer resources. For example, managers at warehouses and distribution centers have more visibility into inventory, delivery and other data when these use these kinds of data collection tools. This has also positively impacted fulfillment, as manufacturers allow customers to track their own orders rather than relying on company staff to communicate about delivery schedules, explained Manufacturing Business Technology contributor Jim Somers.
"For a successful business in manufacturing to run efficiently it relies on flexible, reliable and real-time data. Business software solutions such as ERP have long been drivers of successful manufacturing processes," Paul Goepfert, marketing manager with Pronto Software, told Manufacturing Monthly, adding, "The integration of mobile technologies into manufacturing process allows employees to access data faster than ever before. From the warehouse, shopfloor and on the move through the distribution chain, data is easy to source."
Before getting started, manufacturers should consider three areas when implementing a mobility solution, advised Somers:
- Integration with existing infrastructure: Companies should seek out systems that will work with other software already being used to maximize the benefits of data gathering and analysis efforts.
- Accessibility of information: Data collection is important, but only if the information is easy to access. Companies should adopt a mobility product that allows executives to review information about warehouse management and the supply chain, even if they aren't on site.
- Data security: As critical information is collected, it's important that companies find ways to keep it from being corrupted or stolen.
Manufacturers that incorporate mobile data collection tools will realize a number of efficiency benefits and also make more informed decisions that will improve their supply chain and operations management.