Mobile Devices as Manufacturing Productivity Enhancers

The best CEOs and manufacturing managers are looking for ways to leverage the power of mobile devices to improve communication and collaboration in the manufacturing process and make better products for their customers. At ChicagoTronics we and our partners are using mobile devices for a variety of instructive process improvements.  A few standout observations in leveraging mobile devices have come recently in the areas production scheduling, inventory control and QC.

Production scheduling is a linchpin of successful manufacturing organizations. New scheduling software allows schedule planners to move from manual static schedules created on excel or minitab  to dynamic schedules that build on the increasing amount of data available from the manufacturing floor and automatically take into account factors like maintenance downtime and known supply chain delays.  These tools guide planners with data and comments incorporated from different areas of the shop floor which helps management see what caused production delays. Instead of schedules being created manually with error-prone handmade spreadsheets, schedules are now created in consistent formats and pushed to smart phones, tablets and laptops via google calendars and outlook.  Formats adjust automatically for mobile platforms so users can see what they need to see, when they need to see it.  Everyone has access to the data in real time.  And common errors are reduced or eliminated.

In 2015, one of our auto industry customers implemented a new cloud- and mobile-based inventory management solution that improved the turnover of their input parts inventory by 15% while reducing production delays due to stocking problems.  The technology uses mobile phones and tablet computers at critical points along the manufacturing process to feed a cloud database and generate automatic alerts.  Stakeholders in management, purchasing and quality have real time data access without having to visit or call disparate manufacturing facilities or walk factory floors.  The system has replaced error-prone manual spreadsheets, paper forms and emails and assures employee accountability.  The use of mobile devices makes it easy and efficient for the supervisors involved, who spend less time emailing and building spreadsheets and more time supervising production and providing input on-the-go with handsets and tablets. We’ve seen the benefits first hand and the payback on the up-front cost will be short.

At ChicagoTronics, we implemented a new quality control inspection software last year that standardizes QC reports and automatically populates them with with photos from the smart phones of individual inspectors.  The photos are automatically re-sized for the report and the reporting software will not allow filing of the final draft without a minimum number of photos supporting each part of the quality evaluation.  Original large format photos are saved separately and can be sent individually to constituents if they need a closer look.  Sometimes inspectors have had to spend some time learning the best ways to photograph goods in different light environments, make sure the right components are in focus or use editing tools to improve sharpness or clarity.  But their filing speed is greatly improved and report standards are significantly better.  When not every inspection in Asia can be handled by a U.S. employee directly, such tools are essential to great product quality and avoiding surprises when containers arrive stateside.

To learn more, just contact us.  We will be happy to share more details on the above illustrations regardless of your current need for outsourced manufacturing or product development services.

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