Why Rapidly Growing Manufacturers Need Mobile Data Collection
Inventory is the lifeblood of manufacturing. Raw materials are required to produce components that transform into finished products. Yet, despite its importance, many manufacturers still struggle with keeping track of inventory as it flows through the production floor and warehouse.
Often, this challenge arises because manufacturing operations continue to rely on outdated manual processes for tracking and transacting inventory. These poor data collection methods yield low-quality information that is out-of-date, rarely matching the physical inventory on the shelves. Inability to track or process inventory at scale can be a debilitating issue for organizations desiring to grow, win larger government contracts, or effectively meet compliance traceability requirements. .
For manufacturers suddenly confronting rapid growth from new business, digitizing and automating manual processes with scalable technology solutions like mobile data collection will be a must to avoid disruption.
Current events find manufacturers relying on manual processes slipping further behind in meeting the needs of an uncertain market. Companies using digital automation and mobile data collection technology are experiencing a lower impact as a result of improved data and a reduction in inefficient processes.
For everyone else, modernizing data collection practices is not only a matter of remaining competitive, but a necessity for survival in the years ahead.
The Problem with Manual Data Collection
In Zebra Technology’s latest Manufacturing Vision Study, an astonishing 62% of those surveyed were still using pen and paper to track work in process (WIP) inventory, while 50% used computers on wheels with manual data entry. Manual tracking of raw materials and finished goods weren’t far behind.
Experts estimate the accuracy of manual inventory processes at only about 60%. Compare that with the world-class standard of 99.5%or higher—a level only achievable by digitally automating data collection practices.
Manual data collection processes range from data manually keyed into Costpoint, to handwritten sheets that must be interpreted and entered into a spreadsheet, or even human memory—not written down at all. These inefficient processes are slow, often inaccurate, opaque and not capable of being scaled.
A major reason manual processes continue to be used is because they are often overlooked as a choke-point of inefficiency. The traditional solution to handling inventory bottlenecks has been to simply add more labor. But in today’s climate where new labor is scarce and many existing workers are remaining at home, that is no longer a tenable approach.
More than that, however, manufacturers that rely on manual processes will find it challenging to grow, fulfill new contract prerequisites or to compete for high-volume contracts.
Mobile data collection can help businesses overcome all three.
Mobile Data Collection: A Supply Chain Foundation
At the core of these inventory challenges lies data collection. Data is the foundation for the modern digital supply chain. Therefore, how that data is collected is the critical filter ensuring that only accurate, up-to-date information enters your operation’s technical landscape. For a business running Costpoint to handle inventory, they have the benefit of being able to digitize, automate and mobilize the capture process with mobile data collection.
Mobile data collection refers to using mobile devices to collect data using automated data capture (ADC) or automated identification and data capture (AIDC) software. There are many mobile data collection solutions out there, but only one built specifically to extend the capabilities of Costpoint to wherever your people work.
One such advanced data collection technology is mobile barcoding, which integrates enterprise mobility for the supply chain with Costpoint-certified barcoding software. Mobile barcoding solutions are extensible with additional functionalities to fulfill the needs of complex and unique business processes, inside the four walls or out in the field.
Mobile barcoding and data collection are standard technologies in today’s enterprise-level warehouse, production and MRO facilities, as well as in remote and field services.
The Power of Mobilizing Data Collection for Costpoint
Mobile data collection creates the ability to process, track and transact inventory in real time, at volume and at speed, even for operations spread out over multiple facilities or countries.
Using mobile devices with built-in barcode scanners, workers can automatically capture inventory data instantly and perfectly from wherever they work. That data then transacts against Costpoint at sub-second transfer speeds, updating both the ERP and the handheld device.
If using mobile barcoding software, the solution includes built-in validation steps and also enables workers to perform other inventory activities as well, such as inquiries, transfers, issuing to manufacturing, picking, and so on. No additional walking back and forth or entering data into a computer workstation is required.
This enables the manufacturer to:
- Eliminate paper processes and manual data entry.
- Automate data capture, increasing accuracy to perfect or near-perfect levels (99.5 percent to 99.999 percent).
- Mobilize the workforce and extend inventory transactions to point-of-work.
- Create real-time visibility, traceability (“track-and-trace”) and movements for higher data quality and to meet compliance requirements
- Automate workflows to increase efficiency and productivity by 30% or more.
Leading manufacturers around the world use mobile data collection in their supply chain activities because of the exhaustive array of benefits it provides. Mobile data collection is crucial to modernizing supply chain processes in a way that is both scalable and flexible to meet the demands of growth and win bigger government contracts. Those companies that fail to evolve with the times risk falling too far behind to catch up.
Discover how to extend the value of your Deltek investment with RFGen’s Mobile Foundations for Deltek Costpoint and mobilize your supply chain.
About the Author
Tony is a senior ERP consultant with over 10-years of experience in designing and implementing E-Commerce and supply chain solutions. His expertise in implementing supply chain mobility solutions across Deltek Costpoint, SAP and JD Edwards platforms make him an asset to implementing industry best-practices for our customers. Anthony is adept at providing both the functional and technical expertise needed to deploy mobility solutions that integrate seamlessly with multiple ERP systems.