The manufacturing sector is in the midst of a digital revolution, embracing the likes of IoT, robotics and AI, so why is it that so many paper-based processes remain? According to a recent study, roughly 62% of manufacturers still utilise some form of paper-based system, yet those same respondents were aware that is where the greatest productivity improvement could be derived. Enter digitisation.
Shifting to digitised processes
Whilst many manufacturers haven’t dropped their pen and paper just yet, more and more manufacturers are considering digitising their processes to transition to the digital age effectively.
The past couple of years have only amplified this, with proportions of the workforce working remotely, there was a greater need for employees to be able to access relevant information remotely and with paper records, this just isn’t possible. Digitising paper processes is the first step on the digital road, there is no point in having a manufacturing facility with IoT sensors connected to assets to conduct predictive maintenance if that same maintenance procedure is being documented on paper. You have to digitise before you digitalise.
The potential of digitising
The manufacturing sector is evolving and paper-based processes are holding manufacturers back from their true productivity potential. So, what exactly can be gained from digitising these processes?
If we take inspections as an example, a record of every inspection has to be collected, however filling in paper-based forms is an arduous task and often leads to a lot of unnecessary repeats and the information sometimes has to be manually inputted into a central system. Digitising this process means inspections can be logged digitally and automatically stored in a central location. Also, pre-generated forms can be developed with certain aspects automatically filled-in to reduce unnecessary repetitions. IDC research states the manufacturers could gain a 50% increase in productivity by going paperless.
2. Minimising Errors
Everybody makes mistakes, we’re human at the end of the day. However, paper-based systems only increase the probability of mistakes appearing in records. It gives way to incorrect entries or inconsistent records, leading to a lack of data integrity. The ability to replicate forms means less data entry is required, and less chance of an incorrect data entry.
3. Actioning Data
As paper-based systems are more time intensive, the route to action is longer. For example, when workers are registering deviations or maintenance issues these are done so on paper, which then must be manually inputted and flagged with relevant members via email or in-person, which could be days later. Whereas a digital platform can instantly highlight any recorded deviations on a shared interactive dashboard, so issues are resolved faster.
4. Sourcing Data
Due to the compliance nature of the manufacturing industry, records are constantly being kept throughout the production processes but once they are done, they are simply stored away and never seen again until an audit, where there’s often a scramble to source critical information. Digitising these documents will mean each record, in various formats can be stored in one location, where it will be accessible for other applicable colleagues. Utilising software means the required information is easier to source through filters and refined searches, reaching records in a few simple clicks. Valuable data is now made accessible.
5. Conduct Analysis
Not only is filling in paper documentation time-consuming, it also loses any opportunity to derive value from the results and data is the new oil! Documents are being filled in purely from a compliance perspective, whereas digitising could allow the stored data to be analysed to give greater insight into operational performance. Data becomes more centralised when the processes are digitised, meaning production, inspection and financial data could be stored in one central location. And when utilising a digital platform that incorporates business intelligence the data can be analysed to detect trends and patterns that can drive more valuable decisions and continuous improvement. For example, the analysis may show that one particular component is failing inspections at a higher rate, which could indicate a design flaw or a problem on the production line.
Many manufacturers have set sustainability agendas for their businesses to reduce their environmental impact and printing thousands of sheets of paper won’t help achieve a carbon neutral goal. In addition, the potential for analysis means failed inspections and wastage figures can be analysed and detect areas for concern, so that production waste can be limited in the future.
Digitisation is the next step for manufacturers, the move can deliver end-to-end data visibility for continuous improvement and elevated quality control.
As much as the benefits of digitising processes are clear to see, transitioning to an electronic format is no small feat. Our DigiOps solution is designed to replicate and replace paper and spreadsheet systems, with smooth integration in mind and tailored to your specific needs.
Built on our OverSeer framework, DigiOps has the capacity to create digital replicas of your paper forms and the ability to create and revise form templates to be distributed to shop floor team members. These forms from then can be completed digitally from several devices and be shareable with other colleagues. DigiOps comes with business intelligence built in, so data is easily viewable via interactive visualisations and simple filtering systems, and data analysis to develop key insight, delivering actionable information.
Futureproof your data management with DigiOps. Speak to our experts to find out more.