Globally, digital transformation is one of the most central aspects of the development and growth of the manufacturing industry. Its role has been so important, for small and big companies alike, that it has been called the fourth industrial revolution. Manufacturing apps play a key role in this process helping both small family companies and large industrial conglomerates bring their operations to this new reality.
Thanks to digital solutions and the innovation they deliver manufacturing companies can better deal with skills shortages – one of the greatest challenges to the industry. They can also offer a better workplace, shorten and optimize production cycles, improve sales processes, conduct better maintenance and servicing of equipment, and much more.
Few areas of manufacturing are left untouched by digitalization and for each type of challenge, and on every level of manufacturing, there are different types of digital solutions and practices.
Open as App’s platform also plays a part in the digital transformation of manufacturing operations. Our automated app creation platform has been used by a number of different manufacturers, from small to mid-sized and up to large enterprises.
These companies have used the platform to enhance their operations, increase productivity, shortening the sales cycle, freeing up manpower and resources for other business purposes, and more.
Are you looking for new ways to improve the digitalization of your manufacturing business? Here’s how Open as App can help you!
Major challenges in the manufacturing industry
Globally, the manufacturing industry faces several major challenges. Since manufacturing employs almost a quarter of the global workforce, addressing these challenges is closely related to enabling workers to be more efficient and productive. Here are some of the main challenges for manufacturing.
1. Labor and skills shortage
A 2018 study by Deloitte concluded that over the next decade around 4.6 million manufacturing jobs will become available in the U.S. and another 2.4 million will go unfilled. According to K2, if applied to the EU, that could account for about 50% of manufacturing jobs remaining vacant.
This widening gap between demand and availability of skilled labor is expected to occur apart from the state of unemployment in the different countries. The main reason for it, instead, is due to the talent pool not being able to provide the skills that will be required by manufacturing.
2. New technologies
That same Deloitte report highlights the need for businesses to introduce even more technologies and automation so as to increase the value of their products while driving costs down. Equipping workers with new and different technologies to enable them to drive innovation is key in that process.
3. Data protection
Outdated security systems are a vulnerability that leaves both the operations and data of manufacturers exposed. Whether it’s hacking or data leaks and exposure, various cyber threats exist for manufacturers that can lead to significant disruptions.
4. Global competition
Competitors present a central challenge to manufacturers. To remain competitive, manufacturers are pressed to offer products and services that are ever more advanced technologically. This includes things such as “product-as-a-service” and a service-based pricing model.
5. Forecasting demand and controlling inventory
Maintaining the right inventory levels and being able to forecast demand is vital for good manufacturing operations. Too much inventory may create storage difficulties, whereas too little puts manufacturers at a disadvantage, compared to competitors who are always ready to provide. Along those lines, in order to remain competitive, manufacturers are also pressed to create operations that produce and deliver just in time.
Real-time tracking tools and advanced reporting tools are some of the solutions that manufacturers have implemented to address this challenge.
How digitalization can help the manufacturing industry and SMBs in particular
Of course, the manufacturing industry has long implemented various types of digital solutions, and many enterprises are examples of state-of-the-art digital practices. For small and mid-sized manufacturing businesses the digitalization journey is typically somewhat slower, frequently due to budget constraints. If you own a smaller manufacturing company, here are some of the ways in which your business may benefit from further digitalization:
- Better data usage – Implementing digital solutions will help your business make better use of the data it already possesses. This in turn will help you spot opportunities for innovation and improvement.
- Improved processes – Monitoring, assessing, and improving processes addresses the need to be more competitive and to offer more value. Moreover, improving processes can help you tackle at least part of the lack of labor that you may be experiencing.
- Increased innovation – New technologies enable new approaches and ways of structuring your production. They may lead to small-scale innovations on a team or process level or allow you to make a general overhaul and expand your operations in previously impossible ways.
- Customer-centricity – Digitizing your operations will also help you with becoming more customer-centric. Apart from having flawless operations, being available and more responsive to customers is an important part of driving your business, and generating more sales.
- Greater competitiveness – Small and medium businesses that digitally transform their operations also become more competitive to enterprises. This is because decision-making processes in small companies are faster. Thanks to digitalization, competence, and know-how come to the foreground, instead of being slowed down by lengthy decision-making procedures.
These are some of the ways in which digitalization can help you to grow and improve your manufacturing business. Here’s how Open as App can be part of that process.
How Open as App can help manufacturing companies on their digitalization journey
Open as App is a software solution that can help you resolve some of the pieces of the digitalization puzzle.
The app creation platform offers you a way of using existing data more productively – thus saving time, and increasing the quality of processes that have data in Excel, CSV, or databases. It also helps you create innovations both internally, within the company, as well as externally, helping customers interact with your company more easily.
How Open as App works
The Open as App platform works by creating easy-to-use mobile and web apps that are based on data provided by you in the form of a spreadsheet, a CSV file, or a database.
By analyzing and implementing the logic of your spreadsheet (but never accessing the data itself!), the platform can create an app for you within minutes.
Then it is up to you how you decide to use the app, and who you decide to share it with.
Using Open as App helps manufacturing companies address parts of the challenges of labor shortage, data security, competition, the need for new technologies, and better inventory planning. This platform can help businesses become more customer-centric, and competitive by making better use of their data.
Here are some further benefits that you can derive in your work processes from creating apps:
- Based entirely on existing know-how and data: Open as App works with the data that you already have, and no major changes are needed to implement the platform.
- Greater productivity and data availability: creating apps out of your data allows you to use it more productively as the data becomes more accessible to users. This access empowers uses, whether they are clients or employees.
- Faster data input: an app allows you to input data much faster than you would do with a spreadsheet. Moreover, apps are available and easy to use on mobile, whereas spreadsheets are desktop-oriented, and not well adapted for use on mobile.
- Protection from sharing of open data: apps created with Open as App will implement the full logic of your spreadsheet but will only show the data that you decide to make available. In other words, your formulas and what they are based on remain in the background and are not accessible by users.
- Greater agility: apps significantly increase response time during sales meetings with clients when discussing an offer or closing a deal. Apps can shorten the provision of a quote from a week to as little as 5 minutes.
- More resources available: by turning your spreadsheets into apps, you free up internal IT resources to deal with other problems or to provide more valuable input into how to design the apps. Moreover, Open as App’s simple yet effective solution also reduces the need to create custom-coded app solutions that are hard to build and frees up resources for other digitalization efforts.
- More legitimacy: bespoke apps, especially those that are customer-facing, add legitimacy to your company services, and improve the quality of your communication with clients.
Examples of how to use Open as App and create manufacturing apps
To get an even better sense of how you can use Open as App in your operations, here are some examples of how our platform has been used by other manufacturing companies so far.
Any spreadsheet-based calculations which you used during your sales process, to issue custom quotes or invoices, can be turned into an app. This also applies to complex calculations that are based on a variety of factors.
Within your sales process, you can also create dashboard and reporting apps which will allow your sales representatives to easily and clearly communicate results internally. Using an app to review the data can also help you to more easily spot issues that require attention.
Apps based on system or machine exports
Open as App can also be used for monitoring and analyzing data files, such as log files via REST. While these files are exported regularly, they are not frequently analyzed. Rather, since they are part of a lengthy manual evaluation process, data analysis is done at certain times throughout the year.
Instead, once this data is communicated in real-time through an app, it becomes more accessible and can be analyzed in an ongoing way. This saves employee time and costs. It also helps spot issues that may otherwise take months to be noticed.
Human Resources apps
Some examples of human resources (HR) apps which you can create for your manufacturing business include availability apps and feedback apps.
Availability apps enable HR to receive information about employees’ ability to attend company events – such as a skills training workshop or team building. The opposite, using an Excel sheet for the purpose, frequently tends to turn messy, especially with bigger enterprises. Instead, an app will relay the availability information of each person and feed it into a spreadsheet without overwriting or misplacing the data.
Feedback apps, on the other hand, are a simple and cost-effective way to capture internal employee feedback systematically with minimal technological difficulty. These can be tailored to address different issues within the work process.
You can also make use of Open as App within your maintenance operations. Apps can be used to assign tasks for machine maintenance or to provide background information and how-to-do-it instructions.
Any spreadsheets that you use for monitoring performance or sales management can also be turned into apps. Such an app can display the information in the form of various dashboards, as well as generate performance reports. Since the app is connected to the spreadsheet, any new data input will immediately be available in the app in real-time.
Open as App can further be used to streamline day-to-day sales management by building a database and list app to help you determine the daily tasks and priorities.
Success stories with Open as App
If you’re curious to see how other manufacturers have made use of Open as App’s platform, the following are two brief case studies.
IWIS is a leading manufacturer of high-precision chain systems for drive and conveying purposes. They used Open as App to create an app that generates financial and IT performance reports and helps the company monitor its financial performance.
Schoellershammer, a high-quality base-paper producer for corrugated board, wanted to optimize their sales process. By creating a pricing calculation app, the company was able to significantly enable their sales representatives to create complex quote calculations on the spot. These calculations included factors such as machine productivity, energy use, raw materials, and more.
How Open as App is working to offer you even more possibilities
On top of the functionalities that are already available to you when creating an app, we are continuously working on improving the platform to enable even more comfortable and intuitive app creation.
Using Open as App for your manufacturing business is part of solving the digitalization puzzle. To create apps, you only need the data which you are already using on a daily basis in a spreadsheet. At the same time, apps can help you save costs and time, enable your operations to become more effective and pave the way for further digital innovation.
Would you like to try creating an app? Go to the Open as App creation wizard and get started right away, for free!