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Christine Kern
 |  July 15, 2016


As the U.S. manufacturing sector faces an expansion of at least 4.1 percent in 2016, the adoption of mobile apps to replace paper workflow can help improve ROI and increase efficiency. PwC’s Global CEO Survey in 2015 found that mobility was a top technology priority for manufacturing organizations, transforming from an option into a necessity to remain competitive and lean in the manufacturing marketplace.

Using mobile apps allows industries to take manual paper-based processes that are prone to human error and make them digital, reducing errors and increasing efficiency. The average office worker consumes 10,000 sheets of paper each year, at a cost of $80 annually per worker.  Replacing manual paper tracking with mobile apps can help reduce expenditures and increase productivity levels across the board.

The Benefits of Going Mobile

From increasing ROI to helping simplify tracking and processing, here are some of the benefits of going mobile:

Mobile time cards enhance workforce visibility

While paper forms can take hours or even days to reveal what workers are completing, mobile time cards allow manufacturing businesses with mobile workforces to see in real-time what their employees are doing on a daily and even hourly basis. Cloud-based mobile apps provide greater accuracy, resulting in fewer issues, allowing manufacturers to spend less time tracking employees and more time actually evaluating their work performance.

Mobile apps increase Field Worker capabilities

Untethering your field workers allows them to increase productivity and turnaround time while placing orders and performing services. By completely unchaining field workers from the office, mobile tools can help boost their capabilities.

Mobile work orders improve workforce productivity.

Completing paper tracking forms can be tedious and cumbersome, and business owners often spend a great deal of time determining which employees are productive and which ones aren’t. Adopting mobile work orders can create a reliable, accurate, and accessible option to track workers in real-time. GPS capabilities can confirm that a worker was on a particular site, and time and date stamps provide an accurate timing of when jobs take place. Mobile work orders can also be customized to meet the specific requirements of manufacturers, including pre-populated pricing for parts and the ability to transmit the information directly to the main office via the cloud.

Mobile GPS capabilities streamline vehicle routing 

Just as mobile GPS capabilities allow businesses to locate their workers to track their jobs, it also allows greater efficiency in dispatching workers to job sites by visualizing routes on a map, consolidating routes, or calculating date and time. These capabilities can help manufacturers realize significant savings in gas, wear and tear on service vehicles, time, and errors.

Mobile apps also allow for cross-platform synchronization

Using the right inventory management software, companies can sync information across devices automatically, allowing data to be entered at the source, reducing human error and improving outcomes.

Mobile inspections improve quality control.

While paper forms often result in human error and oversights when it comes to quality control, safety, and compliance issues, mobile apps allow businesses to build in time and date stamps and GPS location information to ensure that inspections are being carried out in accordance with all required regulations. The addition of multimedia capabilities like photos also allows for more complete and clear reports by providing visual proof of any issues.

Mobile apps transfer data collection and storage

According to a 2015 Canvas Mobile App survey, businesses are now adopting mobile apps for a number of processes that used to be manual and paper-intensive, including file storage applications, note taking, CRM systems, and accounting applications.

How Organizations Are Using Mobile Apps

The Canvas survey found that organizations are not only using multiple apps, but are also building and deploying them to their workforces faster than ever before, representing the shift from expensive, resource-intensive custom builds to cloud-based mobile business app solutions. And while mobile apps are still used most heavily for inspections and work orders, mobile apps have the potential to transform industries across the board.

And organizations are saving money by converting their manual processes to mobile apps. Of those who actively tracked their cost savings, 17 percent reported that they saved between $25,000 and $100,000 a year just by switching to mobile apps, while 81 percent said their savings were between $1,000 and $25,000.

And while mobile apps are still used most prominently for inspections (52 percent) and work orders (35 percent), checklists (20 percent) and surveys (20 percent) also are gaining ground. And image capture (56 percent), signature capture (52 percent), workflow (23 percent), and GPS (22 percent) were the most popular features organizations have used on mobile apps in the past year.

The Potential of Mobile Apps for Manufacturing

As U.S. manufacturers face a potential 4.1 percent increase in production this year, according to a report from The Institute for Supply Management, manufacturers will need mobility to provide a real-time, 360-degree view of production, supply, and inventory levels to remain competitive and effective. Manufacturing and small businesses that develop mobile productivity apps can improve their operations management and create paperless employees, thus raising their efficiency and boosting ROI.

Cloud mobile business app solutions are now simple and powerful to use, and lead to significant and immediate productivity gains and cost savings for manufacturing businesses with mobile workers that are reliant on paper forms.

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Christine Kern

Christine Kern is an AppSheet contributor and freelance writer, editor, and educator based in Erie, Pennsylvania who writes on a wide range of topics, including all things IT, from healthcare to retail to government/education and beyond.

[Mobile Apps, Manufacturing Apps]