6 Hidden (or not-so hidden) Benefits of Paperless Manufacturing

Many Manufacturers turn to paperless manufacturing to solve a specific shop floor challenge, only to be surprised by a host of other production benefits.

The other day I visited my grandma. We decided to order pizza for dinner. “Go find the number in the phone book,” she told me.  You remember phone books – massive bound documents with thin yellow paper and ink that left fingers black with every touch. She couldn’t remember the number and insisted I use the phone book. I spent 15 minutes searching for the number she wanted before finding it under Restaurant – Italian.  The number wasn’t even in service. I was so frustrated, I ended up driving out to get the pizza just to get away.

How many of us have a shop floor document management system similar to a phone book? How many of us search a document for a piece of data, only to find it’s out of date? Ever think about the amount of data lost or misreported in paper-based systems? Do you dread audits? How long does it take to get accurate information from the shop floor?

Learn more about Paperless Manufacturing and what it can do for your shop floor.

Learn more about Paperless Manufacturing and what it can do for your shop floor. Photo: www.colourbox.com.

Yeah, life on a paper-based shop floor reminds me of life with phone books. Finding a phone number online is much easier than searching through a phone book. Verifying a phone number takes seconds, and I’m much more confident in the data I find. The amount of data that can be stored and found online is simply astounding compared to the tiny text you comb through in a phone book.

So, if we can make phone books paperless, why are we insisting on a paper-based shop floor?  The good news is there are more benefits to going paperless than just taking piles and piles of paper off the shop floor, including:

Revision control helps ensure the shop floor is using only the latest, most accurate plans. With the right system, the shop floor has access to only the correct plans.

Accurate records are easy to keep. The system will automatically update the records as needed. Workflow events can be created to collect data in real time. It’s a seamless part of the work procedure.

Simplified audits are the norm when you have accurate record keeping  You can be confident in the results before you go into an audit, and have easy access to necessary information.  Would a two hour audit with full compliance save you time and money?  Think of the waste you accumulate with audits that take weeks to complete.

Shop floor visibility means you have real time access to data, and aren’t forced to make business or production decisions based on outdated information.

Faster change management gives you assurance that when change happens, it reaches the right people at the right time.  Engineering changes that are available to all who need to know 5 minutes after approval saves rework and scrap.

Document control easily manages the documents needed in production. An effective paperless manufacturing system automatically collects data and archives it, making it easier to find in the future.

Companies usually seek a solution to a single problem, but the best solutions will not only solve that problem, but offer other benefits.  Solving shop floor document management (getting rid of those giant, phonebook-like production plans) offers additional benefits because it is a symptom of a larger problem – information mismanagement. Paperless manufacturing moves from document management to information management and control, delivering additional benefits such as increased efficiency and profitability.

As for the phone book, you still see them around, and we all feel better having one on hand in case we need it.  But, like shops that are still clinging to paper, we can’t help but wonder why those people flipping pages in a phone book are still clinging to relics of the past.

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