No one has to tell you that the role of paper is quickly declining in both your personal and professional lives. Today, there’s a good chance that you’re reading your newspaper or favorite magazine by logging in online instead of waiting for the mail or newspaper carrier to deliver it. And even if you have a preference for paper, it’s almost certain that your subscription contains a digital component that allows you to access the same content with your tablet or smartphone.
At work, the move from paper can be even more dramatic. The cost of a paper-based work environment is responsible for much of the change, and it’s rapidly making paper obsolete in the workplace. Manufacturers have been joining the paperless revolution for the past several years, and for good reasons.
Considering all the moving parts in a typical manufacturing operation, the advantages of going paperless extend to so many operational areas and can bring transformations to all of them. But first, maybe it’s best to step back and look at the basics.
What is paperless manufacturing?
What it is not is some add-on to an existing system that was originally designed for a paper environment. Rather, paperless operations rely exclusively on automated data capture, such as from an automation layer, scanner, or touchscreen. The information can be viewed on desktop display units, screens in the plant, or mobile devices.
There are direct connections between systems to avoid redundant handling and data entry. The paperless environment continues across all functions of the organization, including all departments and various locations, and even out across the supply chain.
A paperless program must be organized and comprehensive to be effective. Platform-based solutions that support all devices and connections offer faster response times because all data has been standardized and unified, which results in optimized paperless performance.
Here are just some of the benefits that can be derived from moving to a paperless shop floor in even the smallest manufacturing organizations.
Higher quality at a lower cost
Quality is dependent on accurate and timely information. While the data itself is critical, quick access to it is every bit as important. For instance, the sooner you can identify an out-of-spec purchased part, the more costs can be avoided by quarantining it quickly for further review, to scrap it, or to return it to the supplier.
A paperless manufacturing system has the advantage of being designed to have quality inserted and enforced at each step of the manufacturing process. Automated responses that are activated by valid testing, usually without human intervention, offer the opportunity for better quality at a lower cost.
Improved environment for innovation
While no single factor contributes to innovation, there is no doubt that a simple process for sharing and collaborating on new ideas is a major contributor to it. And the ease with which a paperless system allows for that sharing and collaboration is impossible to ignore.
Think about a platform for employees that spans functions, departments, and locations, allowing them to access data in real-time and also giving them the ability to revise, edit, and share ideas so they can be nurtured and grown. Now contrast that to having several versions of documents that must be physically passed around. It’s not nearly as conducive to the process of innovation.
Reduced response time
You probably already know we work within a rigid regulatory environment that isn’t going to loosen up anytime soon. Fast information that can be acted upon quickly will translate into savings, while slower receipt of data will do the opposite.
Consider the example of a product recall. If your company has real-time traceability on the product thanks to integrated displays available to every area of the organization, you will be able to quickly isolate the faulty batch or lot or identify a quality issue from a supplier.
Only with a paperless system would it be possible to minimize the amount of lost product or keep the recall to a minimum.
Increased productivity and efficiency
Planning for the next work shift is simpler when those doing the planning don’t have to research the progress of an active job to make a plan. Status reports are automated and immediate; there is no more sifting through reams of paper to find the document you need.
Displays are always up-to-date and available to workers in the shop in real time. Production information is revealed without the time-consuming annoyance of paper log books. All the maintenance, planning, and production steps that were part of the paper-based system have been eliminated, freeing up workers to spend time on more important activities.
Eliminate the costs and nuisance of paper
While reducing the amount of paper that your business uses might not sound like such a big deal, when you stop and think about it, it does add up. There are reports, routing sheets, orders, schedules, instructions, and the list goes on. It doesn’t take long until the piles of paper get out of hand, and then there’s the cost of storing it, getting rid of it, and buying more paper to make new piles.
If your business can eliminate all but the essential papers, your plant will look and feel more organized, and you’ll have the satisfaction of reducing energy consumption.
We are always here to assist you
Let us help you make the most of your paperless manufacturing efforts. MRPEasy has the products to bring your employees, equipment, and data together in one place. And we have the expertise to show you how to streamline your manufacturing resource planning with one of our easy-to-use and affordable MPR systems. It is the perfect choice for your growing enterprise!