New technology and new methodologies make it easier than ever to achieve paperless manufacturing.
By David Oeters, Corporate Communications at CIMx Software
Face it, our world is going digital. This is the electronic age. Today, you could literally live your life on a cell phone. There are apps for waking up, exercising, eating right, finding recipes, finding friends, finding dates, praying and more. QR codes link reward programs and bank accounts in one simple step. Don’t believe me? YouTube has more than 4 billion videos viewed each day, and more than 60 hours of video are downloaded every minute. In 2012, 87% of American adults owned a cell phone, 2.27 trillion text messages were sent worldwide. With so many people and businesses being connected electronically, our infrastructure is adapting to serve a new world order.
There are advantages to going digital and adopting paperless manufacturing for your shop floor. According to a recent study of document-driven business owners by IDC (International Data Corporation), 75.9% of the respondents faced serious business risks and compliance issues due to ineffective document processes, including paper-based documents. Another report by Oracle and the Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM) found companies, “… spend $20 in labor to file a document, $120 in labor to find a misfiled document, and $220 in labor to reproduce a lost document,” (www.aiim.org).
For manufacturing, a paperless shop floor will improve speed (instantaneous communication and collaboration), provide revision control, deliver cost savings, and improve quality and accuracy. Paperless manufacturing is the basis of mobile manufacturing, and delivers a higher degree of process control, which many manufacturers seek.
As appealing as the prospect of paperless manufacturing may be, many companies are reluctant to consider moving to a paperless shop floor. They perceive the project as high-risk, high-cost, impacting production for a long time with very little benefit. They may have other concerns, such as loss of production control, or putting critical data at risk.
Advances in technology have rendered many of these concerns obsolete. Software tools are used to convert existing paper documents into a digital, object-oriented format very quickly and for a fraction of the cost it once took. Documents converted to an object-oriented format, consisting of a collection of “objects” with individual characteristics rather than a simple pdf or text document, are searchable when archived and the data is compatible with simulations used in design and operational analysis. Once, converting documents to this format was a challenge, but technology has grown to better meet this challenge.
In our experience, a simple algorithm for converting the documents can be written and installed in less than two days. Once the process is finalized, each document can be completed in less than three minutes. With the algorithm and the program running automatically, no labor is needed and the project can be complete in little time and with no interruption to manufacturing operations.
Another fear manufacturers have regarding the transition to paperless manufacturing is the cost and risk associated with the project. A phased implementation of paperless operations will help minimize the risk and cost. Focusing on a single stage of the transition at one time, rather than the whole project, allows a gradual, controlled transition. This removes the trauma of eliminating existing processes and creating new ones, the disruption of production, and the expense of the initial investment.
The phased implementation process starts with reusing existing information. By integrating existing information into the new digital system, a gradual transition can be made to the new processes. After each phase is complete, the manufacturer can choose to implement the next phase when they are ready, never taking on more risk, cost and change than they are prepared to manage. When the organization is ready, they can enhance their digital solution and add additional capabilities, benefiting from higher quality and efficiency.
It is easier now than ever before to remove paper-based documents and inefficient processes from your operations using the latest software tools and an innovative phased implementation plan. Your shop floor will almost immediately begin saving money and improving operations. With you in control of the implementation plan, you never have to take on more risk, cost, or change than you or your shop floor can handle.
Chances are, you are one of the 2 billion cell phone user inhabiting planet Earth. You probably received a few of the 2.27 trillion text messages last year, and you may have even watched a couple of the 28 billion videos on YouTube, so the relentless allure of the digital age isn’t a surprise to you. If so, then you may understand why it is so important for your shop floor to put aside inefficient and outdated paper-based processes for the innovative and effective digital shop floor.
Interested in learning more? Contact CIMx Software today.