Going Paperless in manufacturing and logistics operations

Paperless manufacturing is revolutionising the way factories now manage, coordinate, and report various activities through the use of digital tools.

Digitalisation or digital disruption has proven to be an effective strategy for more streamlined work order management, for example, helping organisations maintain quality standards, all the while ensuring that they are on top of compliance matters.

However, despite the often glaring benefits of going paperless in manufacturing and logistics, the main method for keeping track of production activities is still paper-based documents, even though given some of its inherent drawbacks:

  • According to a McKinsey report, the data entry process may consume as much as 30% of an operator’s time.
  • The environmental impact paper production and disposal has can be best described as significant – according to this report, a forest area bigger than the size of Portugal is estimated to be cut down for the sake of paper production.
  • Data integrity, quality, and auditability can potentially be compromised easily with paper-based operations.

Understanding what paperless manufacturing is

Paperless manufacturing refers to using digital systems, apps, software, and platforms to oversee and document all the various manufacturing processes, thus, doing away with the need to rely on traditional paper-based methods.

As part of paperless manufacturing, organisations can quickly carry out quality assessment, convert compliance documents into digital formats, and streamline operations in order to improve efficiency.

What are the benefits of paperless manufacturing?

Faster data entry and reduction in errors

According to multiple case studies, paperless manufacturing systems can dramatically reduce the time operators may spend on manual data entry – an estimated 50-85%, depending on the specific tasks they are engaged in.

Moreover, this digital approach to record keeping in manufacturing can better mitigate the risk of erroneous data entry by automating calculations, and also by alerting the user to automated alerts upon incorrect data inputs, as well as auto-populating specific fields to save time.

Better regulatory compliance

Software or mobile apps designed to eliminate physical paperwork from manufacturing can noticeably enhance the tracking and management of QC processes. Through real-time identification of issues and real-time information on deviations, users can take a proactive approach rather than a reactive one by receiving timely notifications on their mobile phones, computers, wearables, or other mobile devices. Similarly, any quality control-related deviations can be addressed on the fly with minimal disruption to daily operations.

A higher level of data integrity and security

Digital manufacturing solutions can improve data integrity and security through many key features, namely:

Restricted access – Integrated capabilities in the paperless manufacturing software would allow global administrators to control and manage user permissions, deciding which users can access or enter data for specific lines and machines.

E-signatures – Electronic signature capabilities would ensure that data entries are only attributed to their true/original creators, which will enhance traceability and accountability across all operations.

Version control & document management – A bespoke software or mobile app can allow for more systematic organisation, storage and retrieval of important company documents, such as Batch Records, Forms, Logbooks, etc.

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