Sep 15 2011

Print this Post

Five Key Shop Floor Technologies

After reading Derek Singleton’s manufacturing blog post on “5 Technologies Driving Job Shop Competitiveness,” I came to the realization that my thinking is in complete alignment. In fact, there are other repercussions to Singleton’s list that I thought should be mentioned. So, for this blog entry, I will offer additional perspectives on each of these 5 key technologies, as a way of expanding this story.

  1.  3D Product Modeling Streamlines Design Process – significant technology advances have occurred in both the manufacturing and engineering fields, resulting in streamlined design and production processes for highly complex products. In order to capture all of these benefits, it is critical that each of your shop floor and design systems is seamlessly integrated. The concept of “siloed” operations is no longer a viable systems strategy, nor will it help with global continuous improvement initiatives.
  2. Laser Cutting Tools Create Precision Parts – new technologies are inevitable, creating opportunities for new product designs and production processes. When evaluating your current and future systems requirements, be sure to keep this “constant” in mind and consider how flexible your current IT system is … when the next technology breakthrough occurs you really don’t want to have to install a new IT system to support it.
  3. Shop Floor Software Improves Efficiency – what more can I say? You simply can’t expect to optimize your operations with a paper-based tracking system. Based on customer feedback I have heard, few disagree. The only question is will you implement your systems on a plant-by-plant basis, limiting your flexibility and performance upside potential, or will you embrace an “enterprise approach,” and build a highly agile system that operates as a platform for manufacturing operations that supports a suite of applications addressing your manufacturing operation’s needs.
  4. iPads Enable Workers to Be Mobile – the iPad is one of the most interesting technology breakthroughs I have seen in the past decade. Not only is the hardware revolutionary, but so too is the concept of adding apps to perform specific functions within an easy to use interface. Add to that the mobility technology factor, and it is clear that every software vendor must now have an iOS strategy.
  5. Outsource Marketing Muscle to Attract More Buyers – in the context of Derek’s article, his point is that you should really stick to what you do best, be it the designing or building of products. Other professionals should do other tasks, such as sales or marketing, as either a dedicated employee or an outsourced firm. This concept also applies to your supply chain. It isn’t necessarily the best strategy to build everything. Sometimes it makes perfect sense to outsource part of your production or assembly processes. The challenge to then overcome is how to best manage and incorporate this information into your overall IT system, while still retaining the necessary flexibility to adjust as your outsourcing partner’s technologies change.

In closing, manufacturers rely heavily on technology today. As a result, more processes have become automated and optimized through the use of IT software systems, driving reduced costs, higher quality and greater efficiency. In the end, consumers now have incredible choices and options when selecting new products, which is not a bad byproduct for all the work it took to get there!

Permanent link to this article: http://www.apriso.com/blog/2011/09/five-key-shop-floor-technologies/


1 ping

  1. James Mok

    On top of what John mentioned, we are seeing 2 mega trends that demand support for mobility.

    First one is the consumerization of IT. Many people now are used to the fancy gadgets that they have at home and still using old PCs and dumb terminals at work. It is getting more common for individuals to purchase their own devices instead of waiting for capital approval by business.

    Second is the increasing importance of connecting shopfloor to topfloor. Executives now are insterested in the min. by min. visibility of the critical operations in their global supply chain. Manufacturing operation is only longer a black box to meet monthly quota.

    Apriso applications take MES beyond the 4 walls to support the need of global manufacturing executives, who in many cases have their own preferred mobile devices.


    I’ve only personally used the iPad for entertainment but would love to know more of how it’s used on the manufacturing floor. I think for my workplace in automotive the hardest part would be convincing management that the captital invested would be worth it. What apps are you using on your floor?

    1. John Fishell

      No question iPads are great for entertainment, but they are also well suited for the shop floor. Combining their low price with their large screen and highly interactive experience make them ideal for mobile shop floor workers. From our customers in automotive, complex discrete and consumer goods industries, there is a demand to outfit Maintenance and QA personnel with the ability to interface with operational systems with the same rich interface they have with the desk top but on a mobile tablet. We even have a few customer considering Tablets for their shop floor stations as a low cost, low foot print option. In many cases customer are looking to non-iPad tablets so they are able to get support for their own in-house built applications which leverage technologies such as Silverlight and Flash not supported on Apple products.

      For Apriso, we see a variety of tablet uses. As mentioned, the most sought after are Quality and Maintenance personnel who tend to be deployed throughout the shop floor versus at a stationary work station. In addition, Process Engineers who tour the shop floor addressing / initiating ECO also find tablets to be a benefit. Really anyone who moves about to do their job; Supervisors monitoring production levels, bottlenecks or other activities requiring visibility to make timely decisions and influence change are also strong candidates.

      I believe as their popularity grows you will see more and more adoption and demand for shop floor applications made available as apps for use on tablets.

  1. Real-time Operation Optimization: A New Reality? | MT Blog

    […] Five Key Shop Floor Technologies […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.