Every day manufacturers find ingenious ways to get as close to the design as possible. They discover ways to shave off seconds and drive down defects. They spearhead methods to make new things and set the standards that set them apart. They’re the unsung heroes of invention and innovation, and the builders of stronger economies in their organizations, their communities, and around the world. But they’re also under increasing pressure to rapidly build efficiencies across their end-to-end operations.
As manufacturers enhance the efficiency and profitability of their businesses, they are better equipped to grow economies outside of their organizations. Upstream suppliers, downstream distributors and retailers, and even the financial standing of end customers themselves are greatly impacted by manufacturing successes. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, 26 percent of total economic growth and 12 percent of GDP in the U.S. can be attributed to manufacturing since 2009 – higher than any other industry sector. Increasingly, technology is the backbone of any modern manufacturer’s strategy for competitive differentiation and profitable growth.
So how can manufacturers achieve intelligent production? First and foremost, employees in plants and factories need to stay connected in real-time with each other and their machines. In a report produced by the Aberdeen Group, 54 percent of US manufacturers surveyed say they lack a unified view of their plant floor information. That lack of visibility translates into operational delays, safety hazards, unplanned downtime, increased errors and lower output.
Mobile devices and solutions like two-way radios, enterprise-grade tablets, handheld computers, barcode scanners, wearable devices, vehicle-mounted computers, and industrial wireless networks in the hands of operators, technicians, and supervisors can mean getting the order right the first time and in less time. The Motorola Enterprise Mobility Manufacturer Barometer Survey in 2009 found that companies gained 42 minutes of productivity per employee once they implemented mobile solutions on the plant floor. With the right technology, manufacturers can drive intelligent production in their plants and factories.
In the warehouses and distribution centers of manufacturers, flawless fulfillment means enhanced inventory control, accurate order picking, efficient materials management and increased worker productivity. But how can manufacturers achieve that flawless goal and drive gains through the storage and distribution links of their supply chain? One way is through speeding up their operations. Capturing accurate information and mobilizing it so informed action can be taken quickly at the point of work is vital to accelerating velocity within manufacturing warehouses and distribution centers.
In our recently published Future of Warehousing Survey, we saw many industries are beginning to view their warehouses and distribution centers more a differentiator and growth driver for their businesses However, the majority of manufacturers still view them primarily as cost centers, indicating efficiency is still a primary concern. Manufacturers are striving to achieve the next level of efficiency: the survey found 66 percent of warehouses are planning on expanding their technology investments by 2018.
The final link to building efficiency within the manufacturing supply chain is to equip operations personnel in the field with the technology they require to provide dynamic service to customers. An AMR Research study cited recently by Zebra Technologies found that as much as 50-70 percent of potential service revenue is lost by manufacturers because of poor record keeping and management. Devices such as mobile computers, radios and enterprise-tablets help keep better track of records, automate tasks and support work order management on the fly.
Mobile technology during delivery to the customer can also help manufacturers better plan for future production and better inventory maintenance in their warehouse, protect their brand, respond to competitive threats, and ensure the effectiveness of product promotions. The identification of most popular items on the front end helps align back-end production to customer demand.
For some additional insight into how Motorola is partnering with manufacturers to help them achieve what will always set them apart, I invite you to watch our latest video: Manufacturing – Building Efficiency. Growing Economies.
Mike Wills is Vice President, North America Manufacturing Sales, Motorola Solutions.
For more information about how Motorola Solutions is helping Manufacturing, please visit www.MotorolaSolutions.com/Manufacturing.