We live in a very connected world, and we all get more connected every day, many times without even knowing it. This happens through texting, instant messaging or social networks via our mobile phones, tablets and laptop computers. So are we benefitting from all this connectivity? Absolutely! We get to make decisions with the latest up to date information like buying the next trending thing at the best price based on intelligent searches. We make after work or weekend plans based upon up to the minute information like whose in town, whose getting together, and where the latest hot spots are. So the benefit is we get to make better decisions because we have the latest data at our fingertips that we personally requested or that someone provided to us based on our historical preferences.
But can we say the same thing about decisions being made at work, specifically in our manufacturing and warehouse operations? Are they being made with the best data we have? In many cases better data exists but a lack of connectivity to and from that data doesn’t exist at the time the decision is made. An organization’s human resources are their most valuable asset so why wouldn’t we connect them to the best data we have to that helps support their decision making or even helps make decisions for them to prevent errors? Technology exists that not only collects and connects us to the data but also allows us to build a set of business rules and user profiles, monitor events or the absence of expected events and then automatically creates exception notifications for management and activities or tasks for our workers.
If all you are doing with barcoding technology is scanning barcodes to automate data input then you are way under-utilizing this technology, that’s old school. Modern mobile computers with imagers and Wi-Fi help form part of the technology backbone for connectivity, data sharing and task delivery and execution. If you haven’t already connected your machinery to your network, you need to. All this connectivity enables us to collect and maintain detailed traceability data to meet industry, regulatory or customer requirements and to use for deeper data analysis of our operations.
As we implement this technology and connect management and workers to more data and exception conditions, something starts naturally to happen. Our work force becomes more productive as tasks are sent to them that are of higher priority for the organization and we know when they are ready for the next task. Your workforce spends less time recovering from errors and exceptions. Errors and exceptions that do occur are made visible to management immediately allowing action to be taken more quickly, and because we have more data we can act more decisively and confidently. Inventory accuracy goes up, shipping accuracy goes up, expediting becomes an exception rather than the rule. Our ERP system becomes more powerful as it gets populated with better data from more sources providing better long term decision support for managers. All of this together brings greater results in operational performance, higher customer satisfaction and a better chance at winning future business from current and net-new customers.
David Barks, Sr. Vice President
Radley Manufacturing & Warehouse Division, Grand Rapids, Michigan
David has been in the business of consulting, implementing and serving technology to companies all over the world for more than 2 decades. As the Sr. Vice President of Manufacturing & Warehouse division of Radley; he utilizes this experience to lead the Grand Rapids, Michigan group and remain at the forefront of its initiatives.