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Last Mile of the Production Process

March 1, 2020 by Matt M. Lowe

The smart factory has been a top manufacturing initiative for years as shop floors continue to become digital, automated, and intelligent. Today, companies are investing heavily in smart manufacturing, intelligent automation, and advanced robotics. A 2019 report from PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Manufacturing Institute found that 73 percent of manufacturers planned to increase their investment in smart factory technology over the next year.

Even as Industry 4.0 and its underlying technologies increase in various areas of manufacturing, many manufacturers still struggle to digitize the “last mile” of their factory floor, where operators typically still use paper-based device history records (DHRs), or production records. No matter what other investments in plant digitization have been made — enterprise resource planning (ERP), manufacturing execution systems (MES), material requirements planning (MRP), learning management systems (LMS), the list goes on — the investments are too often impeded by critical processes such as DHR execution and review that remain manual, disconnected, and often paper-based activities.

Paper may seem like a cost-effective option for managing DHRs, but even a small amount of it on the factory floor carries high costs associated with quality alone. For manufacturers, risks of relying on paper-based processes in a data-driven world include disconnected and inefficient DHR processes, inaccurate information on the DHRs, poor data tracking throughout the production life cycle, preventable quality issues and costly delays. In a survey of senior executives from medical device, contract manufacturing, and pharmaceutical companies, Accenture found that quality testing and batch release accounts for upwards of 70 percent of manufacturing lead time mainly due to manual processes, disconnected instruments, and nonstandard paper-based documentation and control procedures.

Read the full article here: Last Mile of the Production Process