Last year was a challenging one for UK manufacturers as the manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) has been in a steady decline since the start of the year. However the PMI rose for the first time in eight months this February.
The driving force behind this was improved supply chain stability along with easing inflationary pressures. While signs that rising costs are starting to stabilise are promising, manufacturers are faced with a challenging road to recovery.
Supply chain disruptions might have eased in February of this year, but they are far from resolved. Manufacturers are still seeing increased supply chain costs. This has been coupled with rising energy prices and talent shortages, leading to potential bottlenecks. A Barclays report found that at the end of 2022, £23.6bn worth of goods are awaiting completion in warehouses due to supply log jams. Furthermore, the UK economy could see a shortfall of 2.6 million workers by 2030 with Manufacturing being among the top impacted sectors due to an ageing workforce.
Implementing new technologies will help manufacturers overcome these challenges to build resilience in recovery plans. Many forward-looking manufacturers have already turned to industry 4.0 technologies in the face of economic instability, to generate efficiency and lower costs. In August of 2022, 45% of manufacturers said they had already introduced digital technologies, with a further 20% intending to do so by the end of 2022.
Accelerating industry 4.0 with no-code
At the core of industry 4.0 is the aim to digitise processes and unlock operational data to drive productivity and the agility to meet changing customer demands.
According to a recent survey of manufacturing IT and business stakeholders, employee pushback is a major challenge to fulfilling the promise of industry 4.0. This is likely due to the difficulty of training and reskilling employees to work with new technologies.
However, no-code tools lower the barriers to digitisation and automation, helping manufacturing leaders achieve the benefits of industry 4.0 without needing software developers. Non-technical users can use no-code platforms to automate their daily tasks. With easy integration and lower costs than other systems, manufacturers of all sizes can use no-code solutions for smart factory transformation and zero paper shop floor operations. For example, companies like Groupe Atlantic and ARaymond have saved 700 hours of manual work per user per year by replacing tedious manual data capture with smart, connected systems powered by no-code technology.
A great way manufacturers can easily implement no-code to accelerate industry 4.0 is through digital visual management. Visual management systems can communicate key data in real-time to the right people to optimise operations across the factory floor. For manufacturers with a global presence such as ARaymond, communicating structured data to international teams sped up their ability to respond to the needs of industrial sites. No-code technology is used to power these systems and digitise manual data capture, freeing up the time of factory workers and managers to focus on meeting business objectives.
Optimising operations with no-code
Here is how manufacturing leaders can start using no-code to power digital visual management systems for greater efficiency and visibility.
Build digital, automated checklists and forms to expedite inspection processes
No-code automation functionalities allow manufacturing leaders to build their own custom forms or templates. They can convert existing paper checklists or excel sheets into smart inspection forms using drag-and-drop features. Custom digital smart forms allow frontline workers to spend significantly less time capturing data. For example, instead of describing an observation, on-site teams can take a picture and share it using a QR code in the digital visual system. Users can also assign commands and actions for each data input eliminating the need to manually input data into reports or notify process owners on updates. Groupe Atlantic found data visual management particularly useful in Gemba walks as it allowed on-site teams to create forms and facilitate data entry.
Real-time activity monitoring
Visual management systems can also help increase visibility into the activity on a factory floor by helping manufacturing leaders track all active tasks in real-time. They can assign actions or follow-up tasks to resolve a flagged item, set due dates and priority levels, and assign them to the relevant team members.
By gaining real-time visibility into everything that is going on, managers can assess the impacts of certain tasks on performance in order to save time, and improve production.
Unlock Short Interval Animations (SIM) opportunities:
SIM is a structured process for identifying and acting on opportunities to achieve effective and efficient production on the factory floor. This process relies on engaging with team members to review factory performance by reviewing data regularly throughout the day to assess areas where productivity and efficiency can be improved.
With no-code, gathering and visualising critical floor data for these SIM sessions can be automated and created seamlessly. These ensure your team can solve problems quickly in fast-paced environments. Additionally, this will significantly improve employee engagement as teams gain significant control over how the line is run.
Speed up decision-making
No-code databases can be easily integrated with digital visual management systems that feed real-time data into dashboards. This means managers can configure graphics based on the business processes they own. Additionally, existing data sources easily integrate with backend systems, allowing data to be automatically pulled and aggregated in digital visual systems. Having key information represented visually in one place can significantly speed up and improve decision-making.
The road to recovery
Manufacturers need innovative approaches to optimise their operations and ensure they are prepared for a long road to recovery. This will mean leveraging tools such as no-code to build resilience and gain a competitive edge. With accelerated no-code development, factories can quickly build new solutions that automate manual processes, improve efficiencies, reduce costs and drive higher customer and employee satisfaction. These tools lower the barriers to digitisation and can be implemented in weeks rather than years or months. Manufacturing leaders no longer have any excuses for not delivering on digital transformation.
By Olivier Maes, Co-Founder and CRO, Baserow