10 April 2018
2018, a unique mix of new technology, strategies and processes is offering opportunities
to manufacturers that can significantly help to improve their operations.
is driving improvements across the board, from warehouses and distribution
centres to back offices and shop floors. In many cases, time-consuming
processes can be streamlined and accuracy dramatically improved, meaning a
higher standard of operation in a shorter amount of time.
order to realise these benefits and more, many manufacturers will turn to the
latest mobile technology. Getting the right devices into the hands of the right
people can often be the difference between a good strategy and a great strategy,
so careful consideration of any implementation of new technology is critical.
latest smart, connected devices should be at the heart of any strategy aimed at
improving manufacturing operations. But they have to be able to handle the
rigours of the environment they are used in.
rise of rugged devices shows the critical role resiliency plays as
manufacturing seeks to get the most out of these versatile devices. Newer
strategies, like ‘lean’ manufacturing which aims to remove unnecessary
processes, requires devices that can not only deliver the latest productivity
tools but are also robust and can be depended on in different situations.
it’s not just a rugged exterior that sets these devices apart. They are
tailored to the situations they are used in, with long- or short-range
scanners, different methods for data entry and even different form factors with
tablets and wearables joining traditional handheld devices.
that in mind, here’s four of the key challenges that manufacturers face and the
solutions that the latest rugged mobile devices can provide.
Challenge one: Enabling a
smart technology environment
productivity goals and moving towards new strategies like lean manufacturing
requires high levels of communication and real-time tracking. This means
multiple staff in multiple locations from the floor to the administrative
offices, all connected and working as one.
most managers, being well-connected and having visibility into all assets,
people, and processes at all times is crucial to having an integrated,
productive, profitable and compliant operation. It requires the right
infrastructure in place to ensure connectivity, as well as the correct blend of
devices depending on who will be using them and how they will be used.
across the business is essential to ensure all gears mesh with minimal waste or
excess effort. It sounds simple, and it’s easy to see how mobile communication
plays an important role. However, the limited durability of mobile devices has
traditionally impacted their ability to survive under the rigorous conditions
that exist in the manufacturing environment.
a smart operation with the latest technology can be tricky in an environment
where delicate devices are susceptible to accidental damage. Rugged devices can
solve this issue as they are just as powerful as their high-end consumer
counterparts but built to withstand challenging environments.
ability to synchronise scanning data, spreadsheets, documents and other
necessary business information can make a huge difference, but you need to know
you can rely on the devices being used in your business.
doesn’t just mean accidental drop either, but vulnerability to dust and
dampness or even extreme temperatures.
you’re unsure about the best device for your requirements or need advice on the
latest technology, a trusted advisor can help to ensure that you invest in the
right technology for your business and that it is set up correctly and
functioning properly to maximise the return on your investment.
Challenge two: Identifying
and eliminating wasteful processes
To create a more dynamic
production cycle, a key target for many manufacturers is to improve efficiency
by cutting down wasteful processes. Mobile, rugged smart devices offer the versatility
required to tick all the boxes needed for this evolution.
In many ways it’s like the
theory of marginal gains used by the British cycling team in 2012. They
believed that if the team broke down everything they could think of that goes
into competing on a bike, and then improved each element by just 1%, they would
achieve a significant increase in overall performance.
That strategy led to Team
GB taking seven out of ten available gold medals at the 2012 Olympic Games!
So, think of that strategy
in a manufacturing operation. Every process that isn’t optimised could potentially be multiplied hundreds of times
every day, slowing down staff and restricting capacity.
you can identify where time is wasted and make improvements, even if they appear
only marginal, the overall outcome could be a significant boost for your whole
good news is that modern technology can not only help to speed up many
warehouse processes, but it can also help identify where further gains can be
made that may have initially been overlooked.
staff with the rugged devices that they can depend on to get the job done also ensures
better levels of accuracy and reduces the chances of downtime which can affect
any drives towards efficiency.
Minimising the cost of returns
untidy returns area is often considered a necessary evil by many manufacturers.
It’s an area full of a mix of open and closed items that need to be identified
and sorted and then repackaged or reworked to maximise the value of the
complexity of this process and low priority typically means little attention is
given to improving the returns procedure. But a consistent application of
identification technology and reorganisation of processes can make dealing with
returns a simple task.
all, returns management is an important area that really shouldn’t be
overlooked. It can make or break customer satisfaction and loyalty, as well as
the bottom line if the products are not put back on the shelf fast enough or
mobile devices can make the difference by using scanning technology to quickly
identify the returned product and then relay information back to a warehouse
management system (WMS) to enable real-time inventory control and allocation.
In some cases, it may be possible to enable instant picking from the returns
area if an item is able to be sent back out.
devices are a perfect match for this process as they can be customised and
enhanced with pistol grips, holsters and long-range scanners to enable quicker
identification and relocation.
Challenge four: Preparing
for life after Windows
Microsoft is winding down
support for legacy operating systems, so 2018 will see many manufacturers
considering their next mobile strategy move with an eye on Android devices.
In some ways it’s little
surprise that Android has emerged as a contender for an operating system
compatible with the rugged environment. The ability to include custom security
APIs, hardware integration APIs and more robust mobile device management
features is a must for many enterprises.
Staff members will also
likely be familiar with the OS from their consumer devices, meaning increased
speed due to familiarity and less training time.
Rugged devices are well-known
for their long shelf life. It’s not uncommon for rugged devices to be used up
to three times longer than their consumer counterparts.
But while many rugged
devices still have years left in them, the lack of support from Microsoft and
the evolving needs of manufacturers will make them increasingly difficult and
expensive to maintain.
Security is also a huge
factor when it comes to maintaining devices on older operating systems.
their options around migrating to new hardware will find their decision is
complicated by the investments required for updating mobile device management
systems and implementing new support processes.
A trusted advisor can help
to weigh the costs of these efforts against the cost of supporting a legacy
fleet of mobile devices. But, eventually, it is likely there will be a tipping
point when it becomes clear that a transition needs to be made.
As manufacturers look towards
implementing new strategies to boost efficiency, increase productivity and
improve accuracy, many will turn to the latest technology and handheld devices
to empower their staff.
Powerful rugged devices will be critical
to achieving these aims throughout the business, helping staff to complete
tasks easier and more accurately whilst seamlessly updating management systems
to make the whole operation flow.
Even saving just a few seconds per task
can translate into meaningful efficiency gains and can go a long way towards achieving
new strategies such as lean manufacturing.
But they have to be able to rely on their
devices if new processes are to be successful. It’s vital that any investment
in new technology will consistently help drive innovation and increase
trusted technology partner can advise on these issues and provide bespoke solutions for an innovative and
tailored approach to implementing real-time mobile computing solutions into any
There’s no substitute for a
partner taking you through the steps to create the ‘best fit’ mobile computing
solution that will deliver real competitive advantage to your operational
Choosing the right partner
A trusted support partner can be the key
to implementing new technology in a way that will benefit your business going
As well as advising on the best
technology fit for your operation, a great partner will provide the on-going
support needed to deal with any issues.
A partner should offer a number of
support services, such as next day ‘hot swapping’ of damaged devices as part of
a standard support so you don’t have the stress of replacing a device. They
should also ensure any device swapped will come pre-configured for your needs.
On site problem solving during the life
of the system should also be part of a standard support package, so users can
rest assured that recently launched models will be supported for 10 years as a
Managers should look for UK-based support
services with dedicated mobile engineering teams to ensure quality repairs and
effective support. A partner should provide a range of support services to back
the optimised running of your business operation, including 24/7 UK-based
support helpdesks, E-portal online booking systems for instant, online support
and rapid response call out from a team of qualified mobile engineers.
If you would like to discuss your current
technology setup or if you are worried about how downtime may affect your
business, don’t hesitate to call us on 01274 741860 or email to take advantage of our expert advice.