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6 Problems Mobile Technology Can Solve for Manufacturing: Part 1

Amazon is making your job in manufacturing harder. So are Lyft and Uber. And even Netflix. How? They are changing human behavior with their instant, or nearly instant, delivery models. Everyone expects to get what they want instantaneously. That raises the bar pretty high for everyone else.

Answering clients’ demands for immediate gratification is just one of manufacturing’s challenges. Clients also want better quality, high levels of customization, personalized service – all at the absolute best cost.

On the other side, your stakeholders want higher productivity and efficiency plus fatter profit margins, all while maintaining quality and answering to compliance inspectors. Feeling the squeeze yet?

Mobile technology may be manufacturing’s secret weapon for answering these demands and staying competitive, even in today’s fast-moving, often-disrupted marketplaces.

In part one of this two-part series, let’s start by exploring the first three problems of the six problems mobile technology can solve for manufacturing.

1. Stay Ahead of Quality Control and Compliance

Why have human inspectors check out your equipment and facilities according to a mandated compliance schedule when you can now monitor your production lines 24/7, thanks to the Internet of Things (“IoT”) and mobile technology!

Of all the data being collected right now, machine data is being amassed at a faster rate and in greater quantities than human data. By equipping machinery and appliances with sensors, manufacturers are able to monitor these machines 24/7. When they then connect these machines to the Internet, they can access the data that’s being produced using mobile devices at any time, day or night.

With around-the-clock monitoring and Internet connectivity, there’s potential for:

  • Faster and less expensive repairs, because a sensor could alert you to a problem earlier than a human may have found it and possibly before any real harm has been done to products or the production line
  • Reduced downtime, since devices can conceivably be programmed to trigger self-repairs based on feedback from monitors and sensors – repairs can also be predicted and scheduled around peak production times
  • Machines and equipment to communicate with each other, which means machines could coordinate on production, supply chain needs and wants, and even repairs
  • Better tracking of equipment and production, because the sensors can track and record 24/7, which can also make it easier if you need to look back at the records to troubleshoot a problem

All these factors should make inspections, compliance and quality control easier and more consistent. Fewer last-minute scrambles to make sure everything is in order before an inspection happens – because you’ll already have been aware of the status of your production line and your facility all along.

2. Fulfill Custom Orders Faster with More Accuracy

If your production lines are already connected to the IoT, then helping customers with customized orders can be faster and easier.

Imagine being in a meeting with a client. You get the specifications of what they need. Using your phone, you check the production lines to find out what’s being produced now and how much longer that run is. Then, you look at your equipment to see if you can adjust the settings from your smartphone to meet the specifications your client needs. Without even leaving your client’s office, you can give them an accurate timeframe of when to expect their products, as well as the cost. Depending on the timing of production runs, you might even be able to change the settings and trigger their run right then and there as soon as your client signs the contract.

That’s the power of mobile technology – the power to do everything you would normally do in your own facility in your client’s office instead. That’s also another great way to beat out your competition, which brings up the next point …

3. Close More Deals – CPQ

Having all this up-to-date, real-time data at your fingertips – from inventory to production line data to order histories and cost analysis – is fabulous for feeding clients’ need to know answers. That means it’s also good for closing deals on the spot.

Being able to give a good quote and settle on a price with a prospect is a tried-and-true closing technique in the world of sales. Of course, some products and services are harder to quote on the spot than others. A configure-price-quote (“CPQ”) app can be a game changer in these kinds of situations. A good mobile CPQ app can lead to a conversion rate as high as 70%, according to numerous sources.

Having that kind of response time also makes you look good! Your organization will look tech savvy, connected and in control. Being able to deliver information quickly in the moment will make your customer service really stand out, too, for all the right reasons.

The Effects of Mobile Tech on Fulfillment, Supply Chain and Labor

In part two of “6 Problems Mobile Technology Can Solve for Manufacturing,” we’ll take a closer look at the specific effects of mobile technology on tracking clients in the sales cycle, your supply chain and reducing labor costs. Because while any of these first three solutions alone can help make you more competitive and ready to take on disruptors in your own sector, there are still more solutions out there – including ways to make your customers happy to be helping themselves, increasing customer satisfaction and reducing your labor costs.

About the Author

Matt Brady, CPA, Partner in Cherry Bekaert’s Industrial Group under THInc (Technology, Health & Life Sciences and Industrial), specializes in tax planning and compliance for multi-state C corporations, S corporations and high-net-worth individuals. When working on large corporate and pass-through entity tax compliance, he focuses on state and local tax, credits and incentives, and tax provisions (ASC 740). Prior to joining Cherry Bekaert, he spent four years at a Big Four Firm and five years with a Hampton Roads-based SEC registrant.