Four Ways to Leverage Manufacturing Technology for Growth
There are four types of technologies that a large portion of the manufacturing industry is adopting. In this article, we take a look at these manufacturing technologies and examine how they unlock the efficiency and productivity to meet customer demands, ensure quality, and drive significant growth.
According to the 2017 Manufacturing Vision Study by our partners at Zebra Technologies, 62% of the manufacturing industry is still using pen and paper to track vital manufacturing processes and 50% are using spreadsheets or computers on wheels.
But those numbers are about to change in a hurry. By 2021, only 21% of manufacturers still expect to be using these outdated systems for tracking.
This significant shift in tracking systems will occur because 65% of manufacturers are planning to expand their use of mobile technologies between now and 2021, with many turning to handheld mobile computers and rugged enterprise tablets.
These devices allow manufacturers to put access to business-critical applications and information at their workers’ fingertips. They also enable seamless and reliable barcode capture, which automates material, parts, and process tracking.
The end result is dramatic improvement in tracking accuracy and workflow efficiency, which helps produce products faster, meet customer requirements, and fulfill additional order opportunities.
Real-Time Location Systems (RTLS)
For many manufacturers, customer expectations and quality requirements are demanding greater traceability of materials, components, and finished goods.
As a result, according to Zebra’s study, 50% of the industry expects to implement real-time location systems (RTLS) over the next five years.
RTLS is typically powered by radio frequency identification (RFID) and enables a host of benefits. For example, manufacturers can collect critical data about anything that moves through the supply chain, including the location, stage, status, and condition of virtually any asset.
This visibility provides actionable data that managers can use to make smarter decisions, schedule and stage production, reduce the need for excess inventory, and implement improvements in supply chain efficiency that lead to better order fulfillment and greater customer satisfaction.
Such visibility is also crucial for quality assurance, since RTLS makes it easy to track, locate, and quarantine materials, parts, or products in the event of a defect or a recall.
Wearable Manufacturing Technology
Wearable technology offers many opportunities to increase productivity on the plant floor or in the warehouse; accordingly, 55% of the industry plans to expand its use of wearables over the next five years.
For example, wearable mobile computers and ring scanners enable hands-free scanning of pallets, cases, and products. This makes it easier for workers to pick, verify, and move products in the warehouse.
The same solutions can also be used at the packing stage to verify correct order picking and error-proof the packing process.
Ultimately, these improvements in picking and packing enable faster, more efficient, and more accurate order fulfillment.
Voice Direction and Recognition
Fifty-one percent of companies are planning to expand the use of voice technology in the next five years.
This includes Zebra’s multi-modal speech-directed picking software, Tekspeech Pro. It provides warehouse workers with audible picking instructions and notifications of correct and incorrect picks, while enabling additional voice-directed workflows and automation.
Voice recognition will also play a role in automation; these technologies can recognize workers’ voices and allow workers to use vocal commands to trigger automated processes and interact with business applications.
Looking for the Technologies to Boost Your Manufacturing Operations?
At Strategic Systems, we’re experts in mobile, wearable, RFID, and voice technologies for manufacturers of all sizes.
We’d be happy to help you learn more about the latest technology solutions and how they can benefit your business, so contact us now to request a free consultation.