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Mobile Applications Bring Flexibility for Manufacturing

Supply chains are increasingly feeling pressure to improve their efficiency, effectiveness, productivity, and profitability to create a more agile supply chain. Increasing fast-paced global competition, as well as the need to automate processes and information flow, are spurring the adoption of mobile technology that automates business processes.

According to a Ventana Research paper (PDF), the need for faster information and just-in-time processes that leads to automating business processes using mobile technology improves both manufacturing and customer service. OEMs are using mobile technologies to achieve a variety of benefits and activities including:

  • Speeding up order processes by moving them closer to the actual interactions.
  • Enabling quicker response to post-delivery customer requests for changes and streamlining fulfillment to enable faster billing.
  • Making it possible for service personnel to update customer and product information while in field.
  • Enabling easier compliance with industry-specific compliance requirements such as security validation of when and by whom specific actions were taken.
  • Reducing waste and improving efficiency by automating notifications of failure found in inspections.
  • Accessing information on material handling and inventory.
  • Queuing up materials for timeliest use and replenishing low stocks efficiently.
  • Tracking location of materials, in-process goods and inventory at every point and identifying demand signals as they occur in service interactions, or in the field.

Taking advantage of the latest mobile technology

BYOD has become popular, thus, populating organizations. Although some handheld devices have been used for years in warehouse management, the organization, rather than the workers, owned this equipment. Now, it is common to see employees deploying their own mobile devices. The benefit is clear: people prefer using familiar devices.

Through their mobile devices they can interact with suppliers, partners, and customers, and get information right at their fingertips. Using a variety of dedicated mobile applications and tools, employees save valuable time and are more effective. For example, they might be notified about inventory that is falling short of plan right on the spot so they can quickly act accordingly.

Mobile devices and applications also improve accuracy in communication across the warehouse management systems distribution and delivery. Applications can sharpen resource planning, scheduling, logistics, and transportation while offering mobile tracking which is valuable for increasing customer satisfaction when providing immediate information about the status of orders. 

Choosing and investing in mobile supply chain applications

The market is packed with many good –and not so good– mobile supply chain applications. It is important to carefully plan, evaluate and choose not only the most adequate applications but also which operating system and mobile devices are the best for your needs and the needs of your organization. This, obviously, differs from organization to organization. As a first step, perform an internal poll directed to potential users in order to gather information about what functions and features would help them most.

Another important consideration is whether the new mobile applications software will integrate with existing key enterprise applications and systems. Also double-check the learning curve of deployment and user friendliness.    

Finally, for customer centric supply chain, meeting customer demand and market pressure are more important for your business than saving a few dollars. The lowest cost application may not be the most cost effective. The cost of deployment and maintenance of mobile devices should be carefully understood.

Choosing the right mobile solution will ensure speedy processes, the delivery of information to the right person at the right time, and communication with better outcomes both internally and with customers and partners.

What path has your organization taken in adopting mobile applications? Let us know your success stories or horror tales in the comments section below.

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