Lately, I have been discussing with several manufacturing companies the Roadmap they have for mobilizing their manufacturing plants. It is very common even today, when we find mobility ubiquitous, that manufacturing plants are still using paper and manual processes. There is a tremendous opportunity to build mobile applications that will give worker in the plant or the warehouse access to real-time information to increase their productivity. Here are some ideas:
Maintenance: Plants have lots of equipment that needs to be kept running to ensure plant uptime and production. There are also regulations and compliance needs that call for preventive maintenance. And, yes, when a part is broken, it needs to be fixed. One Use Case that is Perfect for mobile apps is Inspections.
Inspections: Workers have to inspect equipment sometimes, daily, weekly, monthly etc. They need to record the measuring points. If measurements are out of range, alerts need to be sent. Trends need to be captured and charts viewed to detect problems before the equipment breaks down. If repairs are needed, notifications need to be created. Data needs to be exchanged with backend systems like SAP Plant Maintenance, Maximo, Oracle, and others.
Repair: When the worker is out there in the plant doing repairs, he or she needs to check the Bill of Material, identify and locate spare parts, look up Operating Procedures, and enter their time and material so that the costs can be captured against the work order or equipment. All this is a perfect scenario to introduce mobile applications to empower the maintenance worker.
In the past, plants have used technology for mobile data entry. They have used scanners with small screens that are very user unfriendly. The presence of tablets that can be ruggedized present another opportunity for manufacturing companies to refresh their mobile initiatives, and benefit from this golden era of mobility.