6 Ways Paperless Manufacturing Will Skyrocket Your Business
The future is here and it’s come in the shape of paperless manufacturing. Soon enough every maker up and down the globe will be using software solutions to run their business. But what exactly are the benefits?
There’s no better feeling on this earth than holding a freshly printed, warm batch of documents in your hands.
The vaguely familiar scent is one that most of us can recall, even as we sit behind our desks, miles away from the copy machine.
But as beautiful a moment as this can be, there can also be no doubt that manufacturers are fast leaving this way of doing things behind.
Whether it be taking stock, scheduling production or writing up product recipes, many modern manufacturers have found that paperless manufacturing is the way forward.
Paperless manufacturing consists of using software-based solutions to manage production and keep track of records.
There is a multitude of factors for why it’s fast becoming the norm amongst growing manufacturers.
After all, paper is costly, slow to file, and highly prone to human error amongst other things.
Printers. They give us heavenly warm batches of documents, but they also decide to test us at every given opportunity.
Now, paperless manufacturing tackles all these issues, but it does a lot more than that. Because these software solutions are not based on the paper systems of old.
They are created to serve the needs of the modern manufacturer that wants to grow fast. One that needs to be on the ball, able to make decisions in real-time and fulfill sales orders on demand.
Which is why we are going to focus on the positives of paperless here, rather than just the negatives of paper.
There are plenty of benefits to moving your manufacturing further into the virtual world.
Benefits which could help over 80% of small to mid-sized manufacturing plants in the USA still using paper forms and manual keyboard data entry to track their inventory and manufacturing operations.
Here are just six of the most impactful advantages paperless manufacturing can bring.
1. Increase Your Productivity
Paperless manufacturing allows manufacturers, like the guys at “Heavy Mental”, to track the progress of their production schedules remotely. Which is especially ideal if your office and production floor are not physically close to each other.
Scheduling production is the bane of many a manufacturer.
Knowing which tasks need to be done when, as well as keeping track of progress, can be a headache when everything is being noted on paper.
Good paperless manufacturing systems totally overhaul this process by displaying the tasks needed for each order to your team and allowing them to update progress with the click of a button.
This way your team knows what they need to be doing at any moment, and you can see how things are coming along without the need to track logbooks or chase people up for updates.
Notes can be left on the system, which removes the need for a constant physical back and forth. It’s just a much more efficient way to run your manufacturing floor. An effortless production planning strategy of sorts.
And the benefit here is two-fold. Because not only does it streamline your manufacturing processes, it also gives everyone more time to improve them rather than being hindered by them.
2. Up your Innovation
Following on from the previous point, a paperless manufacturing environment is going to give your team the time and space to focus on improvements. This comes as a result of the immediacy with which you can track and update data through software.
It’s a way of allowing everybody to utterly focus on the vitals of their roles rather than spending half their days filling in logbooks and chasing people up. Which means your team can quickly grasp the daily details and move on to the bigger ideas instead.
Plus, this system also fosters cross-team collaboration as everyone is now eating from the same plate. You can imagine it’s a lot easier for you to coordinate large-scale marketing campaigns if you can immediately come to understand what your current lead times are.
3. Run in Real-time
The budget for paperless manufacturing system implementation totally depends on the software you decide to go with. As a rule of thumb though, aim for systems which already look user-friendly and easy to set up. Then you probably won’t have to pay anything at all.
Modern manufacturers require another element which paper does not provide: immediacy. In other words, the ability to make decisions quickly based on accurate data.
Because using paperless manufacturing software means that you can update your data in real-time, so your inventory and production schedule can always be up to date.
This total overhaul of paper-based system means that your business is basically alive. You don’t need to physically spend time searching for answers, nor spend time using the copy machine to transfer documents from one folder to another.
Instead, you can just click around your software, and find what you need immediately, knowing that it is up-to-date information.
Katana Smart Manufacturing Software, for example, takes this even further by throwing some automation in the mix.
One of its features is that you can prioritize orders by dragging and dropping them in the order you want. Then the system will automatically calculate the expected delivery times, as well the raw material availability for each order.
You know exactly when to purchase more materials and can adjust the priority of orders on your master production schedule instantly.
Now imagine trying to figure that out yourself, using paper records and a calculator. A whole other ball game, right?
4. Increase Data Accuracy
Controlling versions of your data is a struggle when using a paper-based model. In general, documents are read and updated one at a time, with a delay included for finding and writing up.
Using a paperless manufacturing system means that you can keep your data accurate and up to date. Many times, a field will be limited by the number or type characters in a software so that you cannot make significant errors.
This way you reduce the likelihood for human error, whilst also keeping records as accurate and up to date as possible.
5. Save Costs
Paper is expensive.
On average businesses spend $1500 a year on filing cabinet costs. That’s not even mentioning printer, storage and maintenance costs.
Which means that going paperless is going to eradicate this cost almost entirely. Of course, you might find it difficult to let go of the paper world completely. Invoices and reports may need printing, sometimes due to requests from agencies and customers themselves.
Plus, having things printed out in front of you can sometimes help you gain a different perspective. We’ve all felt that reading physical books has a certain magic which eBooks can’t deliver.
But we’re not reading Dante’s Inferno or the works of Shakespeare here. And by largely reducing your paper costs your business will become a lot clearer in the financial books, as well as in its focus.
Clear office, clear mind.
PRO TIP: Want to start moving paperless straight away?
Here's a free manufacturing spreadsheet template you can use to keep track of your inventory in the detail it deserves.
6. Improve Image
Nowadays, the environmental impact of manufacturing is scrutinized more than ever.
52% of consumers believe manufacturers should take responsibility for the future of the planet. And paperless manufacturing goes one step further to achieve that.
So not only can you do good for mother earth here, but also improve your brand’s image by highlighting your practices to customers. Why not let them know that most of your product-making business is run paperless, using cloud manufacturing software, where data is stored virtually.
How to Go Paperless in Manufacturing
Katana is the simple answer on how to implement a paperless work order for manufacturing business. Because it lays your sales orders out for you from start to finish: stock to material availability to production to delivery.
Paperless is the way forward. No doubt about it.
We can already see how Augmented Reality is starting to creep into the manufacturing aether, as digital headsets will soon be able to give heads-up-displays for workers on the floor.
It won’t be long before you will be able to see your stock levels and energy requirements by just looking at them using high tech glasses.
Which is why it is best to get on board with paperless manufacturing as soon as you can. Because these systems certainly won't be based on paper, and they won’t be waiting around either.
But it’s a big step for many manufacturers which have been stuck in the old ways.
And the reality is that businesses have to strategize carefully when going paperless. Making sure company culture shifts smoothly and that it is implemented in a way that means the team is on board with the whole process.
Thankfully, good software solutions will provide support to manufacturers that are setting up their paperless manufacturing software up for the first time.
So, it’s always best to just get in touch with them and talk directly, letting them know of your needs.
Katana Smart Manufacturing Software is an all-in-one solution which has been designed for modern manufacturers wanting to go paperless.
It provides you with a visual, color-coded dashboard to unify your inventory, production, and sales without having to resort to paper documents.
Alongside providing the benefits that we’ve gone through as a paperless system it also offers:
On-demand access to your manufacturing costs;
Sync accounting with your QuickBooks;
Finished goods tracking and material inventory;
Production scheduling software functionality;
Floor-level control for manufacturing;
Efficient material purchasing plans;
The opportunity to ditch inefficient excel spreadsheets forever; and
A way to keep your entire business workflow on a single dashboard.
Going paperless is about giving you the tools to run your product-making business without getting bogged down in the meaningless daily rituals.
Instead of spending hours scheduling production and managing inventory, you can allow a paperless manufacturing system like Katana to do the hard lifting for you. Which lets you make fast decisions, based on accurate data.
That way you and your team can find the time to focus on the tasks that really matter. Innovating your product, supporting customers and growing your business.