By Tad Dyduch
A paperless workplace is no longer just a pipe dream; it is turning into reality for businesses across multiple sectors and they are reaping the benefits. Notoriously paper-based industries are coming to terms with the ineffectiveness of relying on a paper trail. This is in favour of a real-time evolving, digital ecosystem encapsulating the whole supply chain and plant floor.
Businesses must now embark on the transition and start revolutionising processes that have been in place for the past 50 plus years. Individuals gradually have to wean themselves off the comfort of being able to visualise their jobs in a stack of paper, and immerse themselves within the digital workplace. It is no mean feat, but it is the recipe to remaining competitive, becoming more efficient and reactive to dynamic, global business environments.
The paperless mission can be implemented in stages, but ultimately should eliminate paper from every process or at least completely from some processes. Implementing an all-encompassing software solution can be a catalyst to a unified global manufacturing operations platform, equipping all employees with the digital solutions and outlets to better manage the complexities of plant floor operations. The functionality of a business is no longer threatened by something as simple as losing a piece of paper, or a messy desk.
This is best understood if we zoom in on the everyday activities of an employee in manufacturing. Start with the ordering of materials, which now must be done from a computer and later tracked in your digital systems. Then, each step of your production process must be monitored by the system that automatically validates its completeness, integrity and quality. Approvals are then performed as part of a digital process whereby a digital interface offers managers the opportunity to perform the necessary inspection and review prior to a process being completed and products being shipped.
Going paperless is a mandatory element that businesses operating in a turbulent economic environment need in order to grow. Across the board, global enterprises need to manage operations on a more holistic basis at the process level. Employees must take immediate decisions, understanding all the business implications. The automation of processes helps make this strategy a reality.
The integrated nature of today’s operations is dependent on an accompanying IT system that can support it, without paper reinforcements. In this case, a software platform can pay serious dividends and act as a springboard to numerous business benefits including:
- Reducing inventory buffers by instant visibility into shop floor demand
- Being able to seamlessly track time and labour activities
- Shortening time of New Product Introductions by providing access to the most current design
- Improving On-Time-In-Full ratios by proper monitoring of orders in progress and queuing of rush orders
- Accurate and easily accessible ‘as built’ histories to better support recall, warranty or regulatory audits
- Extend paperless processes beyond production-based activities to manage suppliers and subcontractors operations with the same traceability levels
In a market where seeking a competitive advantage is tantamount to ensuring a healthy bottom line, going paperless is increasingly being looked at as part of a winning strategy. It is no longer just a ‘good idea’ – it is determining what the next generation of enterprises will look like. With all transactions being processed, tracked and stored from within a single system, the potential to go paperless is a whole lot easier. A true paperless strategy is not only possible today, but is a viable option with benefits to the bottom line and business function around the globe.