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Digital Manufacturing is the New In: The Case for Going Paperless in Manufacturing


Closed factories and supply networks due to pandemics have heightened market volatility. Political winds have upended global trade. The catastrophic West Coast firestorms were a striking example of how climate events are altering.

Aside from these serious issues, COVID-19 has exacerbated the trend toward remote working. According to Gartner, by 2024, half of the factory work will be done remotely. We will see long-term changes in how we work. 

Paperless manufacturing processes with digital tools that collaborate more efficiently and effectively from diverse places have become mission vital. 

It is the perfect time to start or accelerate your paperless manufacturing initiative.

These days, paperless manufacturing is feasible

Paperless production has never been easier. Manufacturers currently employ enterprise business and engineering solutions like ERP, CAD, and PLM. In order to stay up with the rate of change in manufacturing organizations today, seamless access to the shop floor via digitally integrated data transfer is required.

However, a Manufacturing Execution System (MES) cannot fully address the issue. Manual data input, paper approval processes, and paper-based regulatory compliance procedures hampered firms' efforts to keep up with the “new normal” speed of change

The largest stumbling block has been those institutions still striving to justify a digital system. The time and cost to deploy are believed to be too exorbitant to justify the endeavor. That equation has shifted. The cost of not migrating has risen tenfold.

Cloud-based applications are on the rise

COVID-19 may be the spark that drives the migration of manufacturing applications to the cloud. It is much easier and less expensive to install solutions that are preconfigured or available off-the-shelf (COTS) when they are preconfigured or readily available.

Pre-configured MES solutions, like LiveTracking, the FastTracked MES, can be installed in days rather than the months or years required for traditional monolithic MES applications.

Don't miss out on the benefits!

The reporting and control features will immediately offer value once your system is running. In the case of interruptions, for example, your ability to reply quickly will significantly improve. Rerouting of commodities and changing manufacturing line assignments may be done swiftly using digital information. Listed are some other  areas where you can improve quickly:

  • Focusing on supply chain management helps avoid surprises, increase quality, and reduce idle inventory.
  • Using data mining and artificial intelligence technology to better predict future challenges.
  • Lessening the expense of quality by using highly calibrated measurements that can be taken at practically any frequency or degree of magnitude.

Creating a Better Workforce for the Future

Millennials currently make about 50% of the US workforce. By 2025, they will employ 75% of the world's population. “Digital natives” are expected to operate differently and become different types of leaders. This transition in work culture will intensify when Baby Boomers retire and digital natives take on key management responsibilities.

If your production processes rely on paper audit trails or management tracking reports, how will you attract and keep new talent? Businesses lacking a digital infrastructure and digital workflows will struggle to recruit new workers and leaders.

Digital transformation improves the ability of all employees to do their jobs better, therefore increasing job satisfaction, output quality and profitability. Hyper-efficiency and tremendous agility are increasingly hallmarks of manufacturing operations. The future is now and does not include paper in operations. 

That train may have already left the station for those still considering a future digital switch. The sooner you start catching up, the better.

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