How Mobile Apps Help Manufacturing Overcome Problems


Mobile apps help the manufacturing sector achieve improved business outcomes by collecting accurate data, streamlining manufacturing processes, improving workers’ safety, addressing labor shortages, increasing employee engagement, and boosting employees’ productivity.

Historically, the manufacturing industry has not been the most agile in implementing new digital technologies. The industry has struggled with labor shortages, implementing tech solutions, and hiring experienced developers to write apps that streamline processes. However, the manufacturing industry is embracing change, undergoing a digital transformation, and moving to Industry 4.0.

Industry 4.0 incorporates the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence, big data, machine learning, mobile technologies, smart factories, analytics, and other technological advancements.

Mobile applications are a part of the Industry 4.0 revolution. Many modern manufacturing companies are already using mobile applications to collect, share, and access critical manufacturing data and gain continuous development.

Manufacturing employees can collect more precise/accurate production and quality data with connected mobile devices, share it across different groups rapidly, and analyze it instantly. Not only will they collect more accurate data, but analysis of that data can better identify or predict production issues.

Manufacturers can accelerate their move to Industry 4.0 through low-code and no-code app development platforms that capture, analyze, and share data in new ways faster than ever before. Low-code/no-code allows the development of apps without needing any code. For years, the manufacturing industry has struggled to hire enough experienced developers to write and develop mobile apps. Low-code solves this problem by letting citizen developers and professionals on the factory floor build their own business apps. Often, they work in coordination with the IT team to do that.

See also: 6 Rules for Energizing the Data Behind Industrial AI

Here are some ways mobile apps can solve the most significant problems plaguing the manufacturing sector.

1) Streamlining Manufacturing Processes

Mobile applications help manufacturers share massive amounts of data instantly. Mobile applications in critical areas of the organization can avoid unnecessary delays in access to crucial information by facilitating real-time access to large amounts of data. By easing the capture of information, such as automatically collecting time, data, or location information, these apps can significantly reduce errors in data entry. Faster analysis of accurate, complete data improves the manufacturing process and enables continuous improvement and development. Better data helps manufacturers make better equipment maintenance, corrective action, and material inventory decisions.

2) Improved Worker Productivity

Mobile applications can improve communication and collaboration between employees and supervisors. In addition to tracking schedules and checklists, manufacturers can digitize data collection to automate processes and save employees time and energy. Mobile apps reduce the burden on employees to record routine information and allow them to focus on more pressing issues or improvements.

Some applications capture the knowledge of experienced workers to craft intelligent processes that can be used to train newer members. For example, apps can show visuals, videos, inspection processes, and easy-to-use manuals to help onboard new employees and assist them with more complex tasks.

3) Addressing Manufacturing Labor Shortages

 According to a Deloitte study, the biggest challenge for the manufacturing industry is not external competition but the dramatic labor shortage. Manufacturers have not been able to fill even half of their open positions. Deloitte suggests that the manufacturing industry has to fill 46 million jobs between 2018 and 2028, but it will only be able to fill 2.2 million. The report gives several reasons for this discrepancy, including the paucity of people with a suitable skill set, retiring baby boomers, and the general perception that manufacturing jobs are dangerous or dead-end. A major problem is the lack of programming skills and the fact that people who possess such skills lack the manufacturing know-how to build apps that help production or quality teams thrive.

Low code can help manufacturers increase in-house training and equip employees with digital skills. Using low-code/no-code platforms, employees with less technical skills can write powerful applications. Low code also helps employees with manufacturing skills write applications that even advanced programmers (without manufacturing skills) do not have the domain experience to conceive and write.

4) Employee Engagement

One of the biggest problems faced by the manufacturing industry is low employee engagement levels. This affects productivity and business outcomes. It’s no secret that companies with highly engaged employees perform better and report fewer safety accidents.

A solution to low engagement levels of employees is mobile applications. They can facilitate better, timely communications between all workers, including those on the production floor, product engineers at their desks, and service repair workers interfacing directly with customers on-site. Each group can have a digital voice within the organization. Such mobile apps should facilitate information-sharing capabilities for community building, customer care, and company success. The business will deliver value, improve outcomes, and increase customer satisfaction when the entire organization can collect, communicate, and engage through such powerful mobile apps.

5) Manufacturing Workplace Safety

For any organization, their employees’ safety and overall health are non-negotiable. Although it’s not commonly known, mobile apps can have a crucial role in workplace safety. Mobile apps can identify and log factory floor hazards, document workplace safety incidents accurately and timely, and educate or notify employees of safety issues or procedures. These apps can facilitate high occupational and workplace safety standards, ultimately improving overall worker safety. They ensure that appropriate safety procedures are followed and any dangerous circumstances are dealt with before anyone gets hurt.

Mobile apps can measure sound levels to avoid exposure to sounds harmful to human ears. They can calculate dangerous heat levels and provide information about chemical hazards. Similarly, mobile apps record inventories of personal protective equipment for workers and monitor workers’ injuries to oversee compensation. Certain incident reporting apps with no-code/low-code applications allow field staff to report any issues while recording GPS locations, videos, and images from the incident.

Mobile applications built with low-code/no-code platforms can help the manufacturing industry overcome hurdles it’s faced for decades. By collecting accurate data, streamlining manufacturing processes, improving workers’ safety, addressing labor shortages, increasing employee engagement, and boosting employees’ productivity, mobile applications help the manufacturing sector achieve the best business outcomes.

Amy Groden-Morrison

About Amy Groden-Morrison

Amy Groden-Morrison is the Vice President of Sales and Marketing Operations at Alpha Software, a mobile app development company that aims to democratize the skills of the modern workplace and empower companies with low-tech experience to enhance and modernize their operations.

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