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A Guide to Inventory Control for Manufacturing

In a recent post, we dug into Industry 4.0 and how manufacturing leaders can leverage their workers to inspire digital transformation in their organizations. Now, let’s explore how the principles behind Industry 4.0 are already contributing to one central aspect of manufacturing: inventory control. In the simplest terms, inventory control in manufacturing maintains the equilibrium of parts, equipment, and raw materials which go into the production of final products. Effective inventory control reduces manufacturing carrying costs, eliminates waste and delays, and increases worker and plant productivity. The practice also extends to the transportation of materials and final products between vendors, warehouse, and final customers. Clearly, inventory control makes up the nuts and bolts of manufacturing. Considering the vast number of moving parts and processes involved, precise inventory control requires superhuman attention to detail. Enter smart technology. Digital transformation and inventory control Digital transformation has already impacted key areas of manufacturing inventory management. Let’s explore how technology can help professionals optimize and control three central types of manufacturing inventory: direct materials, works-in-progress, and finished goods. Direct materials Also known as raw materials, direct materials are everything that goes into the manufacturing of a product. A textile manufacturer, for example, uses wool, cotton, or hemp fibers to produce a final product. Before computers, manufacturers relied on periodic inventory methods, which required workers to track materials by hand. Needless to say, this approach was error-prone and time-consuming. Nowadays, perpetual inventory tracking systems handle this work on a — you guessed it — perpetual basis. Inventory tracking apps and software integrate with barcode and optical character recognition (OCR) scanners (often available through a field worker’s mobile phone), cloud databases, and data visualization to track raw materials in real-time. This way, managers and workers alike can always know exact inventory levels on hand, information that’s invaluable when it comes to order planning, maintenance, budgeting, and revenue projections. Copy and customize AppSheet’s Manufacturing Inventory sample app which tracks raw materials and auto-calculates inventory levels to reflect sales and production data. Works-in-progress There are numerous points in any manufacturing process where a product remains incomplete. The tracking of these work-in-progress assets is crucial for successful manufacturing inventory control. Aside from keeping track of a company’s physical assets and capital at a given moment, work-in-progress inventory control provides valuable information on the efficacy of processes and managers. Use inventory control software that's compatible with barcode scanners to record work-in-progress inventory over time. The accumulated data can be used for cost-benefit analyses, workforce optimization, and people management. Try out AppSheet’s barcode scanning feature for yourself with our Scan and Search sample app. Finished goods Final goods and products are ready for sale or distribution, but still count as inventory to the manufacturing company. Tons of nuance applies to finished good inventory. Various considerations apply to inventory that’s yet to be sold to customers, as opposed to inventory that’s already been sold. For example, some customers only own goods once they have been delivered. Other goods are owned as soon as they leave the manufacturer’s loading dock. It’s unwise — or even impossible — to track finished goods inventory without the help of dynamic delivery tracking. Explore and customize AppSheet’s Package Delivery Management app to fit your inventory needs. Conclusion All the factors that go into manufacturing inventory control can make a person’s head spin. In addition, no two manufacturing companies have the same processes or use the same materials. Thankfully, technology is rising to meet these complexities. This push includes the resounding progress in the arena of apps in the workplace, which are both customizable and powerful. Let us know your questions and strategies around inventory control in the comments. We’re excited to hear from you.

What is Industry 4.0?

The Industrial Revolution conjures images of smoggy London skies and Dickensian toil. A lot has changed since the 18th century and the initial transition of manufacturing from hand methods to mass production. In fact, there have been two additional industrial revolutions in the meantime. The Second Industrial Revolution occurred around the turn of the 20th century thanks to technological advancements such as the railroad, electrical power, and the widespread use of machinery. Then came the Third Industrial Revolution, or the Digital Revolution, which kicked off in the middle of the 20th century. This stage marked a shift from production via analogue machines to a digital infrastructure including computers, microprocessors, and the Internet. Now that our history lesson’s out of the way, let’s talk about today. We stand at the very beginning of the Fourth Industrial Revolution in which new technologies promise to bridge the physical and the digital. The world is in for rapid, disruptive change thanks to artificial intelligence, the democratization of mobile technology, quantum computing, the Internet of Things, and myriad other advances. These fast-paced changes inspire equal parts excitement and fear. On one hand, new efficiencies in supply chain, transportation, and communications promise to improve the quality of life around the globe. Meanwhile, many people fear that their livelihoods will be replaced by automation. This leads us to the concept of Manufacturing 4.0, a movement which zeros in on how these technologies impact the manufacturing industry.  The principles behind Manufacturing 4.0 We’re optimistic for an increase in safe and rewarding jobs spurred by concrete technological improvements in manufacturing. Done right, Manufacturing 4.0 will be realized through four central methods: Interconnection. People will be able to communicate with machinery and tools via the Internet of Things. Importantly, machines and devices are also able to share data with one another. Information transparency. Expect a huge influx of data enabled by these interconnected technologies and people. Improved information has the potential to touch every point in the manufacturing processes. Operators, managers, and workers will be able to make data-driven decisions when it comes to improving processes, training, factory layouts, and more. Technical assistance. Humans will not have to parse through this information alone. New systems will aid leaders and teams to make informed decisions based on the quick and systematic aggregation of the data collected with the help of information transparency. Computers can detect trends and produce visualizations so that managers and workers can make data-driven choices and plan ahead. Aside from helping people think and reason better, cyber physical systems aka smart machines, will also be there to perform or support physical tasks that are too difficult or unsafe for humans. Decentralized decisions. In some cases, systems will make decisions on their own. This is automation. The promise of automation relies on the imagination of people performing manufacturing processes today. These folks know their work best and can provide the best insights into how technology can amplify and standardize their hard work. People-powered innovation While the principles behind Manufacturing 4.0 are promising, you might be apprehensive about how you can implement these lofty ideas in your industry. After all, manufacturing touches a wide variety of industries from automobiles to clothing, specialty chemicals to aerospace equipment, and everything else produced on planet Earth. How can you make business decisions about technology that will produce specific, yet ongoing, impact? Start small. Ask around. The people who work in your manufacturing plants and facilities are the experts at the work they do every day. Seek the input of manufacturing workers and managers on how their jobs could be made easier. Does paperwork keep foremen working late into the night? Think about ways that smart technology could streamline this work, such as replacing pen and paper with tablets that store data in a centralized, cloud database. Explore optical character recognition (OCR) solutions that detect handwriting to convert scattered, paper-based information into digital files. Voila! The beginnings of interconnection and information transparency at your organization. There are countless examples of how manufacturing processes can be improved today. And given the volume and complexity of work done on any manufacturing site, it’s inevitable that one small improvement will cascade into others until eventually, your organization will become a lean, mean Manufacturing 4.0 machine.  Check out our recent post on inventory control for manufacturing to gain more insight into current applications of industry 4.0 in the industry.

What is HACCP? 7 Key Principles and Process Management Explained

What is HACCP? 7 Key Principles and Process Management Explained Get the HACCP Inspections template What is HACCP? | Principles and Process Management HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) is a globally recognized food safety management standard that requires businesses to apply guidelines, procedures, and principles to ensure food safety from raw material manufacturing right up to consumption. The U.S Food and Drug Administration organization (FDA) has outlined the HACCP protocol to be applied on all vital food process checkpoints to analyze and eliminate threats of any biological, chemical, or physical hazards at all times.   What makes a HACCP plan successful? Before delving into HACCP’s seven principles, it is crucial to understand the foundations of a successful HACCP implementation. The first step is to have the support and commitment from upper management which then translates into a greater focus and priority on food safety down-the-line to employees. Furthermore, employees may be required to undergo a series of prerequisite programs such as current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMPs) and several others. Other program line-ups can include areas such as: Individual cleanliness Establishment of facilities Verification of qualified suppliers Material labeling guidelines Management of manufacturing equipment Cleaning standards and schedules Employee roles in the HACCP program Managing chemicals to prevent contamination Proper storage, transportation and handling of materials Tracing and recovery of products Prevention of pests After accomplishing this, the company needs to settle five preparatory assignments before applying the seven principles to a HACCP plan. Preparatory assignment one — Build the HACCP core team The HACCP core team should be comprised of stakeholders with specialized experience related to the manufacturing system and the final edible product. Employees from fields such as operations, engineering, manufacturing, hygiene, science, quality assurance, and safety can be part of this team. At times, this team may require external experts to step in for domain-specific knowledge. Even when this happens, the core members are require to work closely and take ownership of the HACCP plan. Preparatory assignment two — Create a clear description on the food product and delivery The food product is to be clearly detailed by the HACCP core team. Details can contain manufacturing procedures, ingredients, and types of food involved. The food delivery technique should inform whether the needs to be distributed at room temperature, chilled, or frozen. Preparatory assignment three — Elaborate on the food product usage and its consumers The HACCP team will need to make known the type of consumers involved: children, adults, patients, and so on. Also, they will need to mention how the product is to be consumed.  Preparatory assignment four — Construct a flow diagram that explains the procedures The intention of this flow diagram is to offer a brief idea on the stages to manage the HACCP plan process. The team is to include the areas where checkpoints are to be observed and handled. The simple graphical map can include the pre, during, and after production areas.    Preparatory assignment five — Validate the flow diagram. It is essential for the HACCP team to validate what is assembled in the flow diagram. This ensures the correctness of what is written. When amendments are required, the team can better jot down and manage changes that arise. The Seven Principles of HACCP Once the obligatory prerequisite programs and five preparatory assignments are completed, a firm is ready to administer a HACCP plan. As articulated by FDA, HACCP’s orderly approach is grounded by seven principles. These standards govern the identification, assessment, and management of food safety dangers. Principle one: Put into action a hazard and risk analysis plan Here is where the HACCP team assesses the manufacturing processes and circles out the risks as well as hazards. These threats can include chemical, metal, toxins and even biological contamination. It is very important that the team leverage top-notch expertise to identify these risks. This hazard and risk assessment is finalized in two stages. First, the team must identify what can cause such hazards. Next, the team must determine the level of threat of the hazard. Once these two stages are completed, they can proceed to circle out the critical control points to be managed. Principle two: Ascertain the critical control points (CCPs) CCPs involve identification of areas in the production process in order to deter hazards from occurring. Hence, these are known as critical control points. The HACCP team must list ways to place deterrents to prevent risks from occurring.  Principle three: Identify critical limits After the CCPs are identified, the team must identify critical limits for maintaining healthy environments (e.g. chlorine, salt, acidity levels). If anything goes beyond what is the set normal levels, corrective actions will need to be implemented immediately. Principle four: Put monitoring processes in place This step contributes to the effectiveness of the HACCP program set. Monitoring processes can consist of automated or human observations in set time frames. Proper monitoring enables the team to act quickly when hazardous limits are reached.  Principle five: Begin remedial arrangements. For every CCP identified, the team needs to plan remedial steps. Corrective steps involve determining and solving the root cause of the issue. Strong preparation allows for rapid crisis management when hazardous contamination occurs. Principle six: Establish verification procedures After remedial arrangements are set up, the HACCP team can verify whatever has been set. This helps to ensure that the plan is in adherence to the HACCP system. With this principle, impartial independent authorities can step in to determine if the HACCP plan meets standards.  Principle seven: Begin tracking and documenting steps Finally, all processes and CCPs need to be tracked, stored, and easily traced in order to meet regulatory criteria. The team will need to determine what details are to be recorded.  To find out what is required to be included in this step, visit here. How to Digitize HACCP Processes If you've been tasked with implementing HACCP programs at your company, you want to explore digitizing your management processes. Once you have clarity on the processes you are running, you can incorporate different applications to run those processes more efficiently.  Food manufacturers and distributors around the world are using AppSheet to build their own web and mobile apps without code to to keep their operations safe, efficient, and productive.  We created a sample application for HACCP tracking. You can copy this HACCP app and get the underlying data and modify it to fit your process. If you're interested in building your own HACCP management app, get started creating your app by starting directly from your own data using a standard spreadsheet (e.g. Google Sheet, Excel on O365/Dropbox/Box, or Smartsheet). You can build your own functional app within just a few hours. Watch the video below for additional ideas on how to make an app!      

The Top 2020 Conferences for the Manufacturing Industry

Interested in attending the top manufacturing industry conference & events in 2020? We created an app with a curated shortlist of the top events this year. If you are starting to plan which events to participate in next year, this list will come in handy. Click on the Details tab to copy the app and you'll also have access to the data that's powering the app. You can create your own web or mobile app for your manufacturing needs with AppSheet.  If you're interested in building your own custom mobile and web apps for processes like equipment inspections, inventory management, and field service, explore how to create your own app and discover how other manufacturing leaders are leveraging AppSheet to empower their field teams.   MODEX 2020 Mon, Mar 09, 2020 - Thu, Mar 12, 2020 World Congress Center, Atlanta Georgia Learn from the industry’s best minds how key industry trends and innovations can transform your manufacturing and supply chain operations through 100+ free education sessions and four powerful keynotes. IMTS 2020 Mon, Sep 14, 2020 - Sat, Sep 19, 2020 McCormick Place, Chicago, IL, USA IMTS 2020 will be the 33rd edition of the Premier Manufacturing Technology show in North America. Industry professionals from all over the world visit IMTS to see and experience more than 15,000 new machine tools, controls, computers, software, components, systems and processes designed to help solve their manufacturing challenges and improve their efficiency. Hannover Messe USA 2020 Mon, Sep 14, 2020 - Sat, Sep 19, 2020 McCormick Place 2301 S. King Drive Chicago, Illinois 60616 HANNOVER MESSE USA (HMUSA) is where manufacturers come to discover the world-leading technologies they need to win amid industry disruption and transformation. It is the most comprehensive industrial technology tradeshow in North America showcasing the latest in IIoT, Industry 4.0, smart manufacturing, artificial intelligence and more. International Conference on Manufacturing Technologies (ICMT) 2020 Fri, Jan 17, 2020 - Mon, Jan 20, 2020 University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA The aim of ICMT 2020 is to present the latest research and results of scientists related to Manufacturing Technologies topics. This conference provides opportunities for delegates from different areas to exchange new ideas and application experiences face to face, establish business or research relations, and find global partners for future collaboration. North American Manufacturing Excellence Summit 2020 Tue, Apr 07, 2020 - Wed, Apr 08, 2020 The Westin Chicago North Shore, Buffalo Grove, USA The North American Manufacturing Excellence Summit will cover many topic like building competitive advantage, lean, opex and CI programs, leadership as the engine of change, technology as the deference maker, supply chain strategies, and workforce development. Power Analytics: Data in Smart Manufacturing Conference (MAPI) Wed, Feb 12, 2020 - Th, Feb 13, 2020 Loews Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando, Orlando, FL As the volume, velocity and variety of data in smart factories continues to surge, learn how savvy plant managers are applying advanced analytics – in predictive maintenance and other use cases – to unlock value from the IT/OT data explosion by enabling business decisions that reduce cost and grow revenue. In addition to hearing from expert speakers, the Data in Smart Manufacturing Conference will focus on interactive discussions with peer attendees to share challenges, best practices, and ideas for future initiatives." Manufacturing Matters Wed, Feb 26, 2020 - Thu, Feb 27, 2020 Hyatt Regency Milwaukee, Milwaukee, USA Manufacturing Matters aims to optimize stakeholder value for Wisconsin Manufacturers by expanding their capabilities to grow, be innovative, and achieve operational success. AmCon Cincinnati Advanced Design & Manufacturing Expo Wed, Mar 18, 2020 - Thu, Mar 19, 2020 Duke Energy Convention Center, Cincinnati, USA AmCon Cincinnati Advanced Design & Manufacturing Expo will feature products like 3D Printing, robotics, assemblies, electronics, machining, packaging, prototypes, metal, finishing, coatings, tube bending fabricating, and much more. AmCon regional expos are a cost-effective way to find suppliers of contract manufacturing and job shop services. Find suppliers of hundreds of services under one roof. Experience free admission, free attendee parking, and free seminars. Meet face-to-face with some of the finest job shops and contract manufacturers from throughout the United States. American Manufacturing Summit Tue, Mar 24, 2020 - Wed, Mar 25, 2020 The Westin Lombard Yorktown Center, Chicago, USA The American Manufacturing Summit is a leadership-focused meeting designed around improving plant floor operations and manufacturing strategy across the globe. The Manufacturing Summit serves as an annual platform to exchange ideas around the impact of market dynamics and new technologies for current and future manufacturing, operations and supply chain leaders. This year’s Summit creates an opportunity to examine key case studies around how workforce management, lean manufacturing, process improvement and automation are being rolled out in the world’s best facilities. Join the in-depth discussions to build your roadmap to achieve innovation, maximize manufacturing profitability, optimize plant floor operations, and establish standardization across multiple manufacturing facilities. Additive Manufacturing Users Group Conference Sun, Mar 22, 2020 - Thu, Mar 26, 2020 Hilton Chicago, Chicago, USA Additive Manufacturing Users Group Conference is an all-encompassing technology users group dedicated to the advancement of additive manufacturing technology. It brings together engineers, designers, managers, and educators from around the world to share expertise, best practices, challenges, and application developments in additive manufacturing. Design & Manufacturing New England Wed, Apr 22, 2020 - Thu, Apr 23, 2020 Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, Boston, USA "International Exhibition for Design & Manufacturing Industry." Design & Manufacturing New England showcase will cover up-to-the-minute innovations in design software, motion control components, rapid prototyping, 3D printing, wearables, sensors, and more. Explore the full spectrum of cutting-edge solutions you need to make faster, cheaper, and smarter products at the most comprehensive industry event in the region. Atlantic Design & Manufacturing Tue, Jun 09, 2020 - Thu, Jun 11, 2020 Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, New York, USA Atlantic Design & Manufacturing — part of the region's largest industry event — connects professionals from companies such as FedEx, GE Appliances, and Procter & Gamble with the latest design engineering technologies in 3D printing, automation/motion control, CAD/CAM software, and more. Join 8,000 industry professionals at Atlantic Design & Manufacturing this June. Medical Design and Manufacturing Tue, Jun 09, 2020 - Thu, Jun 11, 2020 Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, New York, USA Medical Design & Manufacturing (MD&M) East is the east coast's largest medtech event offering professionals from companies including Abbott, Boston Scientific, and Johnson & Johnson a chance to see the latest technologies and solutions in biocompatible materials, components, assembly, contract manufacturing, and more. Join 8,000 advanced manufacturing professionals at MD&M East this June. CIO Manufacturing Summit Wed, Jul 15, 2020 - Wed, Jul 15, 2020 Convene, New York, USA The CIO Manufacturing Summit brings together C-level executives, innovative solution providers and analyst thought leaders to discuss the critical technology issues affecting today's manufacturing organizations. The summit is an opportunity for participants to share successes, failures and new ideas in a comfortable, yet focused business setting. International Conference and Exhibition on Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering Thu, Aug 13, 2020 - Fri, Aug 14, 2020 Atlanta, USA The International Conference and Exhibition on Industrial and Manufacturing ENgineering brings together leading academic scientists, researchers and research scholars to exchange and share their experiences and research results on all aspects of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering. It also provides a premier interdisciplinary platform for researchers, practitioners and educators to present and discuss the most recent innovations, trends, and concerns as well as practical challenges encountered and solutions adopted in the fields of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering American Boiler Manufacturers Association Meeting Fri, Jan 17, 2020 - Mon, Jan 20, 2020 Park Hyatt Aviara Resort Golf Club & Spa, Carlsbad, USA The American Boiler Manufacturers Association Meeting aims to lead and unite the boiler industry through advocacy, education, awareness, and the commitment to provide solutions to the members. It intends to advocate for the safe production and operation of boilers, facilitated advances in energy efficiency, and provide solutions for the member companies. IISF Trade Show Wed, Feb 05, 2020 - Sat, Feb 08, 2020 International Independent Showmens Foundation, Riverview, USA IISF Trade Show includes Ride Manufacturers, Concession Trailer Manufacturers, Game Manufacturers & Suppliers, Living Quarter Manufacturers, Plush, Novelty, & Food Suppliers, Lighting, Electrical, & Part Suppliers, Industry Organizations, Vinyl & Sign, Companies, Tourist Attractions and much more. Additive Manufacturing Strategies Tue, Feb 11, 2020 - Wed, Feb 12, 2020 Boston, USA The Additive Manufacturing Strategies aims to guide managers, entrepreneurs and investors to the most profitable opportunities in 3D printed medical and dental applications. It covers 3D printed prosthetics, implants, medical models and personalized medicine, as well as dental devices sectors. The National Association of Trailer Manufacturers Convention and Tradeshow Tue, Feb 11, 2020 - Thu, Feb 13, 2020 South Point Hotel, Casino & Spa, Las Vegas, USA The NATM Convention and Tradeshow aim to promote trailer safety and the success of the trailer manufacturing industry through education and advocacy. It represents manufacturers that produce light and medium-duty trailers and suppliers of products and services to the industry. Manufacturer and Distributor Innovation Conference Tue, Mar 03, 2020 - Fri, Mar 06, 2020 Indiana Convention Center, Indianapolis, USA Manufacturer and Distributor Innovation Conference helps commercial truck manufacturers, upfitters, distributors and body builders learn how to improve manufacturing efficiency and business results using the latest techniques and technology. Attendees will discover the most innovative tools, processes and resources available and how all of these solutions are scalable and customizable to operations of all sizes AmCon Seattle Advanced Design & Manufacturers Expo Tue, Apr 28, 2020 - Wed, Apr 29, 2020 Greater Tacoma Convention & Trade Center, Tacoma, USA AmCon Seattle Advanced Design & Manufacturers Expo provide to learn about the latest in cutting edge manufacturing technologies & innovations. See, touch, interact with new products & processes. Meet face-to-face with the experts of suppliers of hundreds of custom parts and components all in one day. SEMI Advanced Semiconductor Manufacturing Conference Mon, May 04, 2020 - Thu, May 07, 2020 Saratoga Springs, New York, New York, USA SEMI Advanced Semiconductor Manufacturing Conference is the leading international technical conference for discussing solutions that improve the collective manufacturing expertise of the semiconductor industry. Solving the challenges presented by semiconductor manufacturing has been a combined effort by device makers, equipment and materials suppliers, and academics. It provides an unparalleled platform for semiconductor professionals to network and learn the latest in the practical application of advanced manufacturing strategies and methodologies. Impact Smart Manufacturing Summit Sun, May 17, 2020 - Tue, May 19, 2020 Red Rock Casino Resort & Spa, Las Vegas, USA The Impact Smart Manufacturing Summit focuses on the themes such as leadership and manufacturing innovation strategies, effective continuous improvement, implementing digital manufacturing, and workforce and talent management.  

What is 5S? [Lean Manufacturing Guide]

What is 5S? Sort, Set, Shine, Standardize, Sustain [Lean Manufacturing Guide] Get and test templates for 5S Audits There’s a good chance you’ve come across the term 5S at some point or another. We've created this short guide to help you better understand the basic aspects of 5S principles. Learn how to implement these practices by using mobile and web apps that work directly with your spreadsheet and databases.  The 5S Methodology The 5S methodology originated from the manufacturing technique developed through the Toyota Production System. The heads of the Toyota Motor Company created a clear and distinct set of actions that would improve the quality of products and services offered to the public.  5S is closely related to the Toyota Production System. Both models work to create positive outcomes from untidiness, chaos, and disorganization in the workplace. By training employees to follow a more productive routine and utilizing the right equipment for the job, factories can substantially reduce unnecessary waste. The primary aim of 5S is to generate these minor positive changes throughout the company’s everyday procedures. 5S Elements Explained 5S is a methodology more commonly known in western cultures as “Lean Manufacturing” or just “Lean." Technically, however, 5S is slightly different from Lean Manufacturing. 5S is a way of coordinating the workspace so that employees not only produce better results, but also practice and maintain safer working conditions. Businesses large and small from every industry can adopt the 5S method to optimize their operations, do away with clutter, and promote better cleanliness and organization. Let’s look at each element of the 5S approach in more detail. 1: Sort (Seiri) The purpose of Sort is to help categorize resources by priority. Think of it as a super-detailed stock audit where front-line workers find, identify, and sort machinery, supplies, and even basic office stationery. After organizing each set of items, employees must answer key questions for each item in question including: access/security for an item, importance of a particular business operation, and whether or not the item could be upgraded to something more fitting. Once the usefulness of each item has been calculated, there are several options regarding which action should be taken. The item could either be transferred to a more appropriate division, stripped down for parts, placed in storage for later use, or put up for sale. In a situation where certain articles of company resources can’t be clearly defined as useful or useless, the item can be “red-tagged." Place an informative note on the item with details such as when it was categorized, who evaluated it, where it was situated, and any other relevant information. After a designated amount of time has passed, items from the “red tag area” can be re-evaluated to determine whether or not they should be kept. 2: Set in Order (Seiton) Now, it will be a lot simpler to begin the process of organizing everything that employees have at their disposal. Each person’s requirements should clearly delineate which items they’ll need in order to do their job. A logical pattern of where and how to store resources should begin to surface. Better organization will help create less waste. Prime examples of avoidable waste include product imperfections, excessive time expenditure, surplus resource management, unnecessary movement, unsuitable employee skill allocation, and excess inventory. Much like an athlete stays lean and only carries the body fat they require to function adequately, this part of lean manufacturing can be thought of as the process of optimally storing and utilizing a company’s resources. 3: Shine (Seiso) This is one of simplest, yet often most underestimated aspects of a high-functioning operation. A fundamental component of a well-oiled machine is making sure that everything is neat and tidy. Keeping a clean working environment is crucial for running a smooth workflow, as well as strengthening employee morale. Repairing and looking after machinery, tools, and other equipment is also a part of this stage. In addition to having good cleaning staff, each and every employee should also pay attention to how they manage their work station. If every person helps make their surroundings a little bit cleaner and safer, there will be less waste and a lower potential for injuries and hazardous accidents. 4: Standardize (Seiketsu) In the standardize phase, employees must turn these new practices into a consistent mindset and repeated actions. Without consistent reinforcement of these principles, it is easy for factory conditions to devolve. These patterns of maintenance and cleanup need to be ingrained into the everyday behavior of every employee. It can be helpful to set up schedules, diagrams, notes, charts, reminders, and checklists to assert the importance of a functional and well-structured system. Setting high standards and holding yourself and employees to them is the mark of any significantly successful endeavor. 5: Sustain (Shitzuke) A quality business model has to be based on a long-term vision. Reaching the company objectives means looking ahead and doing whatever it takes to achieve those goals. The standard of how the business is run doesn’t just need to be managed, it needs to be updated regularly as well. Every employee has to be driven to conscientiously put their best foot forward on a daily basis. As the rate of change in the business world continues to accelerate, executives and employees alike must stay vigilant of changes and adopt a healthy growth mindset. How 5S Fits Within The Kaizen Philosophy 5S is an approach that falls within a bigger philosophy called Kaizen, which is a Japanese term that translates to “continuous improvement”. It’s a principle adopted in the business world that is designed to maximize the efficiency of the workplace, as well as the overall morale of the employees.  Kaizen a concept that encourages white-collar and blue-collar employees alike to adopt ownership mindsets toward the company’s mission. It involves establishing a team-oriented way of thinking, evolving methods of daily operations, improving employee fulfillment, and ensuring a safe working environment.  5S is a very important component within this philosophy because it helps achieve the primary objectives of Kaizen such as: Teamwork: Every employee should be dedicated to helping each other successfully complete their tasks. Each individual should think of themselves as part of a larger unit that requires cooperation and dedication to put forth the best results possible. Discipline: Instill a sense of responsibility in each employee so that they are committed to doing their job in a timely and accurately manner. Everyone must accept accountability for their role in the company so that order can be established and weak links can be fortified wherever necessary. Morale: Management should construct positive reinforcement techniques to inspire employees to work harder and smarter. This could include forming a more comfortable work environment, more frequent opportunities for promotions, medical aid, end-of-year bonuses, or even gym memberships. Quality circles: Setting up meetings where employees can collaborate with one another and discuss pertinent concepts, methods, or skill sets will help each person better assess each individual’s abilities, strengths, and shortcomings. 5S and Six Sigma 5S and Six Sigma are often linked to each other, even though there a few differences between them. However, both can be used to achieve improved productivity in the workplace. Six Sigma is a controlled, methodical tactic designed to form an ongoing improvement strategy to minimize waste and imperfection, and maximize efficiency and productivity. These methods aim to advance the standard operating procedure to limit faults in the manufacturing system, and increase the caliber of the end product as well as the tasks that are performed in the process. While Lean Manufacturing focuses more on enhancing the organization of a company, Six Sigma is more oriented towards getting rid of product defects by following a thorough business plan.  In comparison to the 5S system, Six Sigma supports another very similar approach: Recognize, Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control, Standardize, and Integrate. Digitize 5S processes.  If you've been tasked with implementing 5S or 5S audits at your company, consider digitizing your management processes. Manufacturers around the world are use AppSheet to build their own web and mobile apps without code to to keep their operations safe, efficient, and productive.  Check out the manufacturing audits app below to learn more:  Our sample Job Site Safety app is another app that can help you achieve your 5S methodology. The app was originally designed for construction companies, but can be customized to help track accidents and near-misses at manufacturing sites as well.

Tutti Gourmet Apps Help Gluten-Free Food Distributor Scale with Ease

Over the last decade, the gluten-free trend has grown from a niche market into a global industry.  The market is especially strong in North America. Since 2009, the number of Amercians who have gone gluten-free has tripled—and looking forward, more are expected to follow. In 2018, North America was the dominant consumer market for gluten-free products, with an overall market share of 53 percent. On a global scale, analysts predict the gluten-free sector will boast a 9.1% CAGR through 2025, when it will reach $32.39 billion. This growth has been both a blessing and a challenge for gluten-free food manufacturers. Many companies, like Tutti Gourmet, started doing business before the gluten-free explosion. A decade ago, nobody could have predicted how big the market would get. As a result, companies like Tutti have had to scale their operations to meet the growing needs of their customers. The Challenge: Digitizing Tutti Gourmet  Tutti Gourmet manufactures a variety of gluten-free and allergy-free snacks and cookies from a highly regulated facility in Quebec. The company is rapidly growing, and now serves a loyal customer base that extends across Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. Tutti Gourmet has experienced significant growth in recent years, which has forced the company to change its underlying management system—a task that was spearheaded by Operations Director Elijah Magrane.  Like most AppSheet developers, Magrane does not have a technical background. His area of expertise is in food science and biological and statistical research.  “I consider myself a moderate to advanced Excel user,” says Magrane. “When I came here, everything was done manually by hand—either with paper or by physically entering data into a spreadsheet. So, my first order of business when I started was to overhaul the process.”  Originally, Magrane attempted to automate several processes by entering various formulas into an Excel spreadsheet. Tutti Gourmet was using a data entry tool called Canvas, a leading program for designing mobile business apps.  This, Magrane says, was his first introduction to low-code and no-code app development. “I thought Canvas was interesting but, for what we were doing, it didn't meet our needs,” Magrane says. “It was clunky and awkward. The customization just wasn't there. I knew there had to be a better way.” Solution: AppSheet’s No-Code Platform  Seeking a better way forward, the Tutti team decided to explore their options. “We looked into several solutions, such as Microsoft Power BI, and finally came across AppSheet,” says Magrane. “AppSheet was amazing. We were able to use the same Excel sheets we had already been using. It even accepted the formulas I had been using, which was a big deal.”  After selecting AppSheet, Magrane went to work. “The first thing I did was make a timesheet app for employees to track their hours; next was production logs and summaries,” Magrane explains.“It just spiraled from there.” To date, Magrane’s created roughly 40 apps to handle all kinds of processes: ordering, dealing with suppliers, shipping and receiving, quality control, scheduling audits, project management, password management, and more. Here’s a breakdown of the three most popular apps Magrane’s team uses:  Production: In a fast-paced food manufacturing environment, staying on top of production metrics is critical for success. Small errors can lead to delayed shipments, lost profits, and unhappy customers.  This process has been simplified with an app. Now, after a shift, a production employee can use an app to describe how production went—entering data for quality control and verifying figures for raw materials. Once that data is entered, a workflow is automatically filed and sent to team members via PDF. The app also includes a dashboard that tracks benchmarks—like how many cases the company generates for specific flavors. The team can then sort through the data using filters. If any area is lacking, Magrane will know to dig deeper and find the root cause.  Inventory: Tutti Gourmet had been using a simple account program to manage inventory.  “It was a very basic accounting software,” Magrane says. “It just told us what we had on hand. There was no barcode scanner or anything like that. This made traceability an issue. We knew moving forward we’d have to use barcode scanning and get our inventory management on track.” Magrane fixed this problem by designing an app with a barcode scanner, specifically for keeping inventory. At the end of a production day, employees can simply scan QR codes, enter how many cases they made for a particular item, and enter it into a finished inventory database. Now, each case has a QR code that’s linked to AppSheet, which now serves as the company’s complete inventory management system. Documentation: When managing a gluten-free facility, there’s little room for error. It’s critical to document every ingredient—for safety and auditing.  “I also double as a Food Safety Coordinator at Tutti Gourmet,” Magrane continues. “For me, one of the best parts of using AppSheet is that it’s helped us manage our approved supplier program. We’re a gluten-free facility, so our suppliers are central to our business. We don’t allow any gluten in the facility. Every ingredient goes through a rigorous approval process before it enters the building.”  Last year, Magrane made a special supplier management app that acts as a document management and notification system. This app has specific forms, with check boxes for items like gluten-free statements and kosher certifications.  From a safety and operational standpoint, this is probably Tutti’s most important app.  “If we’re not up on our documentation, we could get a recall, which would probably put us out of business,” says Magrane. “Now, I receive notifications when expiration dates are approaching. This way, I can stay on top of all our documentation for our suppliers. This has been really really helpful.” Results  AppSheet is more than just a tool for Tutti Gourmet. The platform now serves as the underlying engine powering most of the company’s backend management processes.  “AppSheet is very scalable,” Magrane says. “And whenever there’s something that we need to add, it’s very easy to update our apps. At the same time, there’s almost no implementation cost. It costs almost nothing when I introduce a new app. And our employees already know how to use them, so they are able to hit the ground running with no training.” Tutti Gourmet’s apps, Magrane says, are used by workers of all backgrounds, from 17 year-olds who have been using phones their whole lives to older employees who aren’t as technically savvy.  Like any new technology, there was a bit of a learning curve when Magrane starting using AppSheet. But he was determined. After a few passes, it came easy.  “The biggest challenge was designing the user interface (UI) components,” Magrane says. “But I really enjoyed learning and I thought it was a positive experience. The great part about using AppSheet, too, is that everything is so customizable.” In fact, Magrane has become the go-to person for creating custom solutions.  “If someone has a problem they need to solve with an app, I can come back to them and say, ‘ Not a problem, I’ll have that for you in no time at all!’” Magrane says.  Tutti Gourmet has had such a positive experience with AppSheet that—even as they scale—they have no intention of switching to an enterprise resource management (ERP) solution.  “Moving forward, even though we are expanding, we’re still not in a position where we can go out and get a $10k ERP or anything like that,” Magrane says. “In fact, even if we had a blank check, I don't know if we’d transfer over to an ERP. We’d just continue using AppSheet.” This, Magrane says, is because AppSheet helps his team move with agility. “Depending on priority (and scope), I can create an app with AppSheet in a day or so,”  Magrane continues. “This is one of the main differentiators for AppSheet over an ERP. It comes down to time and flexibility.”  Looking ahead, AppSheet will play a critical role in Tutti Gourmet’s next growth phase. “I’m starting to do more with document management within AppSheet,” says Magrane. “I find it very helpful to upload documents, track workflows, and set permissions. This way, we can ensure things are traceable and protected by tiered access. AppSheet does that really well, and it will be very important as we prepare to move into a new facility and receive a high-end food safety certification. I can use AppSheet for everything.”                                                                                                                             Courtesy Tutti Gourmet Magrane offered the following advice for developers.  “With AppSheet you get what you put into it,” says Magrane. “If you take the time, participate in user forums, and look at their documentation, you can create something that’s very customizable and something that is really suited to meet whatever needs you may have. You can also create a very basic app in no time at all.”  For Tutti Gourmet, AppSheet is more than just a great tool. “The community and support around AppSheet are great,” Magrane concludes. “There’s been many times where I’ve banged my head against the wall, took a deep breath and went back to look over documentation or browse through their forums—and I always find what I’m looking for. You can really do almost anything with AppSheet.”  To build apps like the ones Tutti Gourmet uses, we encourage you to check out AppSheet’s sample inventory management app.  To learn more about AppSheet’s approach to manufacturing, click here. 

Aerospace Startup Boom Technology Builds Its Own Quality Management App

Commercial supersonic transport may soon become available again, thanks to Boom Technology—a Colorado-based aerospace startup working to develop a Mach 2.2 airliner called Overture, which is scheduled to take flight in 2023.  In order for Overture to become a reality, the team must first complete a viable prototype. Right now, Boom is moving full speed ahead to develop the XB-1—a subscale model of the Overture, which shares the same technological composites and features. The XB-1 is a massive project, with around 150 employees working together to design and manufacture the craft.  More than 3,700 parts will need to be manufactured and assembled, with fabrication occurring in-house and through third-party suppliers. Challenge: performance issue documentation At this stage of the project, it’s critical to identify and resolve performance issues in a timely manner. Faulty parts need to be entered as records into a non-conformance report (NCR); each record needs to be closed before the aircraft can be completed. “We will not fly this aircraft if there are any open records,” says Ryan Bocook, Boom’s manufacturing engineer lead and app creator. “They all have to be closed before we can fly.” Right now, there are around 50 open records—a figure that may balloon into thousands by the end of the project. If the team is not careful about closing open NCRs, they will pile up thereby delaying the launch. Bocook, an industry veteran, was well aware of this pitfall at the beginning of the project. He knew that relying on a traditional paper-based inspection process would not work in this type of fast-paced environment. Instead, the team decided that building a custom app would be the best way to manage its workflow. “There are a lot of off-the-shelf manufacturing quality management solutions like TIPQA, but they are all fairly complex and time-consuming,” adds Bocook. “They are also very expensive, with some leading platforms costing tens of thousands of dollars annually. We are trying to run a nimble operation and needed to be able to change things on the fly and customize our app as we go along.” Solution: AppSheet’s no-code platform Bocook wanted something that could interface directly with his data in Google Sheets, which is what led him to AppSheet. “I liked that I could go under the hood and piece together together a relatively simple platform on my own, making it more complex as I learn how to use it,” says Bocook. “I found the user community to be very informative.”  Bocook also liked the fact that AppSheet allows his team to control user access, ensuring that only authorized individuals can enter data into specific fields. “We wanted to set it up so that anyone in our company could log in, create a record and say ‘I have a problem.’ However, we didn’t want everyone to be able to say how to handle that problem. AppSheet’s ability for us to set permissions was huge.” The App Bocook hit the ground running with AppSheet, and successfully built a functioning app in just one week’s time—as opposed to waiting several months or longer if he had decided to outsource the project to a third-party development agency. Bocook built an app that his team could use to create, manage and close NCRs. The app includes a main dashboard, with different pages for open and closed NCRs. Each NCR is assigned a unique number and an “owner” who is in charge of seeing it through to completion. The app also contains additional fields including correlating systems, NCR descriptions, process order data, engineering disposition, signature sign offs, and more. In the app, employees can attach pictures to NCRs. Plus, the app includes a “tag you’re it” feature which notifies employees when approvals are needed. When someone is tagged, he or she receives an email explaining the problem and outlining the next steps that need to be taken. “The email chain will fire out an email to the originator and tagged team members whenever a message goes out,” Bocook says. “Whoever is in the NCR Owner ‘tag you’re it box’—we call it the hot potato—is the person who owns that record for that time being.” Results So far, the project is working out as planned. The team has avoided many of the complications that come with a paper-based management system and is on track to complete the prototype on schedule. The NCR management process has been completely digitized thanks to AppSheet, resulting in a much safer and more efficient operation. “We’ve all experienced the challenges of dealing with paper management systems,” Bocook says. “Not only do you waste a lot of time running around chasing paper, but you can lose items or think an item is closed when it hasn’t been addressed. With AppSheet, you can attach a formal analysis to an NCR to officially close it with no guesswork. It’s much nicer than stapling a PDF together.” According to Bocook, the team has embraced the idea of using AppSheet and was able to get started with minimal training. “AppSheet is a one-stop shop for configuring a high-performance aircraft,” Bocook says.  

Smart Inspections – A Safe Bet for Manufacturing

Inspections are an important aspect of manufacturing. The inspection process helps manufacturers ensure the quality of their processes, products, and production line resources. Businesses can work to improve the work-related health and safety of their employees and environments through inspections. Plus inspections are an important means through which companies demonstrate compliance. Traditionally manufacturing operations have relied on paper-based processes to record and share inspection information. To a large extent they still do. The problem is that physical documents and paper-based processes are prone to data loss, human error, and information-sharing delay. That can increase the risk both of manufacturing operations and businesses in general. Collecting and disseminating inspection information via mobile apps can address these problems by: Decreasing errors. Improving productivity. Increasing data accessibility. Allowing for faster decision making and action. Attracting and retaining top talent. Improving Productivity & Decreasing Errors The adoption of mobile apps frees workers from the cumbersome processes of carrying, stacking, and sorting inspection forms and records. On the front end, that eliminates the problem of lost paperwork. On the back end, it eliminates the need for secondary data entry into a computer. Entering data on a mobile app also eliminates data recording duplication efforts. Secondary data entry personnel don’t have to guess when handwriting on inspection forms and notes is difficult to read. And there’s less lag between the time an inspector enters data and others can review it. Increasing Data Accessibility Mobile apps also make data available to the parties that need it in real time. That’s helpful for organizations of all sizes. But it’s particularly valuable for large organizations with multiple manufacturing operations spread across the world. Mobile apps make it easy for people to collect, share, and review inspection data from across the company and from wherever they are. “Unlike geographically enclosed businesses with only a few locations to monitor, multinational operations can’t employ a lone health and safety officer to safeguard working conditions,” writes Saving Advice. “Organizations with far-flung field operations must prioritize health and safety, collaborating between teams and across sites to meet company and legal regulations. “To conquer these obstacles, global enterprises have begun to disrupt the traditional ways of tracking health and safety standards by adopting mobile forms,” the media outlet adds. “Platforms like these offer flexibility and freedom of movement that give managers a bird’s-eye view regardless of the scale of operations.” Allowing for Faster Decision Making & Action Providing people with the information they need when and where they need it allows them to make better decisions faster. That’s particularly important when it comes to manufacturing inspections. Inspection data varies based on the organization and initiative. But it may include information about: Accidents or faulty processes resulting in the injury or death of employees. Events that led to non-worker injuries. Fire exits or other information related to evacuation accessibility. Occupational diseases. Site-specific conditions that may be dangerous. That said, you can see how taking action sooner rather than later on such data can mean the difference between health and harm – or even life and death. Real-time access to data via mobile apps, and related analytics and notifications, also can help manufacturing operations ensure compliance with regulations, drive continual improvement, and be more competitive. Attracting & Retaining Top Talent Of course, an important part of being competitive in today’s business environment involves hiring and retaining the right people to get the job done and move into the future. Adopting connected technology like mobile apps can serve as a tool to attract talent to an organization. The use of mobile apps shows millennial job candidates that manufacturers are forward-thinking businesses. “There is no easier way to attract the millennial workforce than by adopting and utilizing technology,” notes Manufacturing.NET. “Millennials grew up as digital natives. Not only are they adept at using technology, but they find comfort in it, and are attracted to companies that utilize it fully.” It may not seem particularly high tech to move away from paper-based processes through the use of mobile apps. But leveraging connected technology to improve productivity and business outcomes is what digital transformation is all about. And mobile apps can be an important part of driving productivity, gathering and acting on current data, driving new value, and lowering an organization’s risk. Bonus: AppSheet has a lot of inspection app templates for manufacturers, home inspections, and IT inventory managers. Primary functions included in the following Equipment Inspection App include: Location-based items with pre-filled fields. Tabbed inspection forms, with barcode, signature and photo fields. Historical inspections associated with items. Employee directory with related locations and inspection history. Charts with a quick overview of percentage values of Passed and Failed inspections.

Top 5 Manufacturing Apps — Manufacturing & Warehouse Management Tools for iOS & Android

The manufacturing industry is highly automated, and the right technology is essential for safety and efficiency within manufacturing businesses. Many businesses in the industry credit their success to the use of state-of-the-art manufacturing apps, which keep employees accountable, efficient, and mobile. Ranging from universal CRM software to real-time equipment monitoring, manufacturing apps are incredibly fine-tuned for key tracking and record-keeping. Like a well-oiled machine, these apps make day-to-day operations flow seamlessly, wasting less time, and more importantly, promoting safety and organization. According to a recent survey, up to 48% of all inspection tasks today are done via mobile apps. Manufacturing apps are a low-cost technology to integrate into your business—and pretty soon, you'll be boosting your ROIs. Our team at AppSheet has curated a list of our favorite manufacturing apps—ones that'll get you more productive and agile. Our List Our list is sorted by usability, flexibility, easy management, and other factors we find important. I'm starting with the best of the best (although we might be just a little biased). 1. AppSheet's Equipment Inspection App                                                          Equipment Inspection Sample App   Although we might be a little biased, thousands of professionals in the manufacturing industry use AppSheet to automate processes, record inspections, flag items, and assign tasks. AppSheet isn't an app in itself; it's an app development platform. If you don't know how to code but would love a custom app for your business, you've come to the right place. All you have to do to create your first app is to upload a spreadsheet, doc, or form (from Google Sheets, Excel, Dropbox, Salesforce, or some other data collection system) and let AppSheet do the rest. You can even choose from a sample app like an equipment inspection app or an inspection checklist app, and AppSheet will convert your data into that particular format. You can easily customize the features, data, logic, and UI of your app. It's completely free to prototype and you could get your first app up and running in minutes. Primary functions included in the Equipment Inspection app: Location-based items with pre-filled fields. Tabbed inspection forms, with barcode, signature and photo fields. Historical inspections associated with items. Employee directory with related locations and inspection history. Charts with a quick overview of percentage values of Passed and Failed inspections.   2. 5S Audit App This simple app makes it easy to conduct and report audits in particular areas. 5S Audit is the best way to benchmark your 5S programs and systems. Ideal for manufacturing areas, offices, and work sites, this app comes preloaded with a great template to begin improvement activities in your organization. Although this app is fairly simple, it's extremely easy and effective—a pretty nifty tool to document audits on-the-go.  3. MRPeasy Brought to you by Intuit Quickbooks, MRPeasy is a product planning software for manufacturers. This handy app lets you create manufacturing orders, schedule and assign tasks within a production schedule, and much more. The app's smooth interface allows comprehensive viewing of key metrics for your manufacturing processes and any information that is needed to improve your efficiency. Managerial statistics, sales statistics, cost control, critical on-hand reporting, and equipment utilization reporting are all available.  4. Manufacturing 360 Created by automation superstar Siemens, Manufacturing 360 is a comprehensive app that lets you experience digital manufacturing in an interactive factory environment. With this app, you can learn how to compete more effectively with next generation manufacturing technology, including advanced robotics and logistics simulation, closed-loop quality solutions, and the latest CAD/CAM software. This app is meant to inspire and innovate, helping users streamline their own operations and strategy. 5. ManageTeamz Delivery Tracking   ManageTeamz offers a robust delivery tracking system, especially helpful for those who are looking to track material delivery and warehouse receiving. This software is available both on desktop and as a mobile app for iOS and Android. The ManageTeamz Delivery Tracking app helps keep your team on track, and makes it easy to manage employees, orders, and timelines. AppSheet also has a delivery tracking app (see below). This app tracks packages from pickup to delivery. The package is tracked by updating the record when it is picked up, when it is delivered to the site, and when the driver returns to base. The app has a dashboard view, map views, and table views. Overview, the dashboard view, shows all vendors and construction sites on a map, active and complete packages in table and deck views. Click on a construction site icon on the map, you will see brief information about this site and all relevant packages. A Final Note Choosing a manufacturing app can be difficult. If you're having trouble determining what mobile solutions would work best for your business in the manufacturing industry, check out our Manufacturing Solutions page for some great app ideas and templates. It's important to equip your business with the right resources, and our team at AppSheet is dedicated to helping individuals and businesses achieve their goals. Need more ideas for apps for your business? Checkout the AppSheet blog for useful tips, free templates, and more.