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  • Manufacturing   |  Barcoding   |  Data Collection   |  Digital Transformation   |  Industry 4.0 / IIoT
  • Why Mobile Barcoding is the Foundation of Digital Manufacturing

    Written by Michael Clark
    Wed, Aug 19, 2020

    Overview

    • The manufacturing industry faces a historic fight for its survival.
    • Prior hesitancy to digitize inventory and data collection processes plague an already stressed industry.
    • Automating data collection with mobile barcoding is a crucial step toward digital transformation in manufacturing and pandemic survival.

    Mobile barcoding serves as the foundation of the modern digital manufacturing operation and helps companies respond to pandemic-related challenges.
    Mobile barcoding serves as the foundation of the modern digital manufacturing operation and helps companies respond to pandemic-related challenges.

    The manufacturing industry is facing a crisis like none other in recent history. Labor shortages, economic challenges and safety issues have all been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Those who failed to make digitization and automation a priority before the pandemic are struggling with cost overruns, staff shortages, planning and predictability. Social distancing requirements and an erratic market present additional challenges.

    Overcoming these challenges requires cost-effective means to maximize accuracy, agility and resiliency.

    Digitizing manual inventory processes with AIDC technologies like mobile barcoding have proven effective in building a foundation for digital manufacturing—and post pandemic success.

    Manufacturer Challenges: COVID-19, Visibility, Accuracy

    COVID-19 presents the greatest challenge facing manufacturing today. Now, manufacturers face more hurdles than ever before. An unprecedented burden weighs upon the supply chain.

    Finding cost-effective means to remain operational while providing social distancing for worker safety is paramount. But with the COVID-19 pandemic, barriers faced by manufacturers have not evaporated. If anything, they have compounded.

    Inventory visibility, especially during production processes, is more essential than ever. Yet, accurate, real-time visibility remains a major challenge—a particularly salient concern for process manufacturers.

    Data collection lies at the heart of material handling workflows. It continues to be a challenge as well. Manual data collection’s inefficiency creates operational bottlenecks. Lack of automation also leads to opaque, outdated inventory data.

    Digital Transformation in Manufacturing Starts with Data Collection

    Mobile solutions are emerging as next-gen PPE in the era of social distancing.
    Mobile solutions are emerging as next-gen PPE in the era of social distancing.

    A digital enterprise is the modern standard for supply chain. Transformation is required for manufacturers not yet using digital. Through these advanced applications, manufacturing processes are becoming more efficient and precise.

    To leverage their effectiveness, manufacturers must first capture flawless inventory data for their ERP. Barcode solutions automate the data collection process through automated identification and data capture (ADC or AIDC).

    Data collection is not limited to barcode scanning. Mobile solutions extend digital process automation to any location where inventory is transacted. This combination of barcode software and machine-level integration enables high quality data collection at point-of-work.

    In this way, mobile barcoding and data collection serve as the foundation of the digital manufacturing enterprise.

    Read More: What you Need to Know About Digital Manufacturing »

    Sustainable Social Distancing with Mobile

    Adjusting to new social distancing and sanitation requirements is no small undertaking.

    Enterprise mobility solutions were becoming increasingly commonplace in the warehouse and shop floor setting prior to COVID-19. The use of mobile devices in the workplace is widespread. Introducing enterprise mobile solutions to handle barcode scanning and material movements is a natural next step. It is both intuitive and cost-effective solution.

    Many leading manufacturers are discovering that mobile hardware and software solutions are ideal to help surmount pandemic challenges. In some sectors, mobile phones, tablets and barcode scanners are emerging as next-generation PPE.

    The result is new demand for mobile supply chain solutions.

    Mitigating the Impact of COVID-19

    Mobile barcoding for ERPs is optimally situated to help manufacturers recover, adjust and improve. RFgen’s manufacturing customers have been seeing significant results, such as:

    • Increased capacity to meet production demand
    • Optimized operating capacity from reduced workforces
    • Enhanced inventory visibility and efficiency
    • Raised confidence and resilience in the face of supply chain uncertainty
    • Technological support for social distancing, sanitation and CDC/OSHA compliance

    Also Read: Using Mobility to Adjust to the Supply Chain’s New Normal »

    Real-time Inventory Visibility Adds Multifactor Value

    Mobile barcoding automatically creates traceability paths for all types of manufacturing inventory, including raw materials, spare parts, equipment and scrap.
    Mobile barcoding automatically creates traceability paths for all types of manufacturing inventory, including raw materials, spare parts, equipment and scrap.

    Achieving end-to-end material transparency remains a top priority across manufacturing and logistics operations.

    Traditional inventory tracking leaves significant visibility gaps. Some shop floor workflows still track materials using paper processes, or by manually recording data into spreadsheets. Still other operations have no means to track materials throughout the manufacturing cycle.

    Introducing a solution that creates truly accurate, real-time material tracking is paramount to streamline inefficiencies and displace bottlenecks. To achieve this, manufacturers must replace paper and manual processes with digital automation. Automation creates faster, more efficient and highly accurate workflows with machine-level integration. It also makes tracking granular and multi-dimensional data possible.

    Mobile barcoding and data collection is a cost effective, cutting-edge technology perfectly situated to help manufacturers create material visibility from multiple data sources in multiple locations, countries and languages.

    RFgen Mobile Manufacturing Solutions

    RFgen Mobile Foundations software equips manufacturers with ERP-integration technology solutions built on data collection best practices for the supply chain. Mobility adds an additional layer of flexibility and efficiency, enabling workers to safely collect data and transact materials at point-of-work.

    With RFgen, you can:

    • Extend continuity of operations with warehouse and production automation.
    • Capture and transact inventory at critical checkpoints.
    • Bridge gaps between data latency and accuracy of data in ERP, WMS, and other enterprise systems.
    • Gain real-time oversight and control of materials.

    RFgen’s Mobile Unity Platform™ is a highly flexible mobile framework that easily slots into your existing architecture, extending your ERP and harmonizing disparate data silos in your environment. RFgen enables real-time data exchange between your ERP, mobile devices and other enterprise business systems. Its reliable, robust functionalities can be easily modified or expanded using RFgen’s built-in Mobile Development Studio, a low-code mobile app development platform included with the framework.

    Highlights include:

    • Reliable, low burden solution to maintain
    • Architected for high-volume throughput
    • Leverages ERP database, security and business rules
    • Includes suite of pre-built, pre-validated mobile apps
    • Runs cross-platform on Android, iOS and Windows
    • Device agnostic: one app works for any device
    • Integrates with RFID, PLCs, IoT/IIoT, co-bots, etc.
    • Endlessly extensible and scalable

    Conclusion

    Manufacturing is at a crossroads. The COVID-19 pandemic placed unprecedented stress on the manufacturing supply chain already under pressure from economic and political uncertainty. Digital automation is required to successfully adapt.

    Whether you are automating inefficient manual processes or building a leading-edge “factory of the future,” optimizing data collection practices is a vital innovation available to any enterprise. Digital manufacturing is built on this premise. Enhancing the data collection process with flexible mobile technology enables manufacturers to extend ERP transactions to employee point-of-work with built-in best practices.

    It’s time to accelerate your inventory process with real-time monitoring. Only then can your operation successfully evolve into a state-of-art digital manufacturing enterprise.

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