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Mobility in Manufacturing Offers New Opportunities on the Shop Floor

November 21, 2017

The days of documenting inventory or production data on paper, collecting it, and manually collating it are over—at least they should be. Unfortunately, many manufacturers still rely on manual processes, when the combination of mobility and cloud provide a better alternative.

Many of our customers, however, are taking advantage of a few important trends. First, mobile devices are becoming very inexpensive. Second, they’re getting very powerful. Third, they’re more versatile and connected than ever. And these factors come together with the help of the cloud to help manufacturers innovate and increase efficiency on the shop floor.

The combination of cloud and mobile devices enable new levels of flexibility and freedom. One manufacturer, PKC Group, has moved to an almost entirely mobile plant floor. Workers use Microsoft Surface tablets to access cloud ERP using nothing more than a Web browser, because with true, SaaS-based cloud ERP there is no client ERP software to install. PKC then determined it could pair the tablets with inexpensive Bluetooth hand scanners for shop floor scanning, for example inventory could be scanned directly to the cloud real time.

Contrast this with the old way of doing this, which would require workers to logon to a terminal to retrieve inventory data, to scan inventory with a separate scan gun (which may or may not be directly connected to the ERP system), and may require a bulk upload or printout at the end of a shift requiring system data input. Instead, PKC put the ERP system in the user’s hand with the tablet and enabled inventory to be entered immediately from the scanner on the shop floor to ERP via the scanner/tablet combination.

Another manufacturer, EG Industries, uses consumer technology to devise a very low-cost method for shop floor scanning and tracking. The company uses inexpensive Apple iPod Touches coupled with a Bluetooth case that has a built-in scanner. They access cloud ERP on the iPod (via the Plex Mobile app), connect the scanner to the iPod via Bluetooth and for very little money have a scanning device that inputs information directly into Plex via the iPod. 

These customers saw the opportunity to take advantage of the flexibility of a browser-based cloud ERP system coupled with lightweight, inexpensive consumer mobile devices to create a simple yet powerful solution.

With cloud ERP as the backbone to innovation, ideas can quickly become reality on the shop floor. Find out how mobility can enhance your operations. Download The Definitive Guide to Connected Manufacturing.

About the Author

Dave Morfas Director of Product Marketing, Plex Systems

Dave Morfas has worked in the high-tech industry for more than 20 years with customers in Europe, Asia Pac, Latin America and North America in a variety of group management, product marketing, and product management roles. Currently Dave serves as Director of Product Marketing for Plex overseeing strategic product direction, competitive intelligence, and content marketing and creation.