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Throw away the last ink pen on the shop floor

“Automation in Overdrive” was a recent SAPRadio series highlighting the accelerating rate of the role robotics and automation plays on the manufacturing shop floor.  This highlighted many of the challenges manufacturers will face as automation and robotics become more pervasive.  We normally think of complex or delicate manual assembly being the greatest challenge to full automation of manufacturing processes.  However, teaching a robot to fill out paper forms is certainly more challenging. 

We can dismiss this as ridiculous in this high tech age, but much like telecommunication companies talk about how the greatest challenge is wiring up “the last mile” to connect the individual homes.  Manufacturers have a similar challenge getting rid of the last ink pen.  We could never achieve a fully efficient digital manufacturing process until we can digitize the last manufacturing processes that are not part of enterprise resource planning (ERP) and manufacturing execution systems (MES).  No matter what shop floor systems we put in place, there seems to always be little pieces of data that are not really owned by formal systems like ERP and MES, but are still important steps in shop floor execution.  Getting rid of that last pen on the shop floor is a real challenge. 

The winner of this year’s SAP Manufacturing Mobility contest (here) directly targets these work processes that do not fall nicely into enterprise or formal manufacturing systems.  OpsTrakker by Electronics Information Systems provides a mobile application focus on specific use cases to provides high value Manufacturing functionality in a cost-effective manner.  OpsTrakker helps convert paper or spreadsheet based manufacturing solutions to Electronic Logbooks, Records, and Forms to:

Enable Electronic Records

  • Eliminate paper based forms & logbooks
  • Assemble electronic forms using prebuilt building blocks

Enable Compliance

  • Enforce activity sequencing and completion
  • Eliminate data entry errors
  • Perform calculations automatically
  • Ensure signatures are legible and authorized
  • Enforce equipment status checks and hold times
  • Real-time integration with SAP

Enable Quantifiable Business Results

  • Improved operator efficiencies using system vs. paper tickets
  • Reduced time for preparation and post-execution review using the system
  • Potential for reduced execution errors and omissions 

Enable Analysis

  • All data available for advanced analysis
  • Search, scan and analyze vessels with any common characteristics
  • Save time during investigations

For the manufacturing mobility contest, EIS, Inc. demonstrated OpsTrakker showing the electronic logbook module capturing information for an operations maintenance log of the calibration of a weigh scale demonstrating the efficiency from which manufacturing shop floor workers can digitally track manufacturing execution at the point of work instead of utilizing paper. The demonstration utilized the mobile device to scan barcode identifying the device.  The application then checks the operations status of the equipment, guides the maintenance worker through the individual maintenance steps, capturing information including electronic signatures verifying completion of the work.

  See OpsTrakker in action: 

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      Author's profile photo Patrick Maroney
      Patrick Maroney

      Nice blog Chuck.  The links are fantastic. 

      Have you seen

      Business Trends driving CEOs (Part 1 of Series on Big Data - IoT - M2M)

      It's a few levels up from the shop floor, but certainly complimentary topics.  Also it links to a video that shows examples of big data used in paperless world enabled through mobile.

      Author's profile photo Steve Stubbs
      Steve Stubbs

      Great Article, Chuck!