Paperless Manufacturing: Make Your Production Data Fast, Accurate and Traceable
Many Food & Beverage, Consumer Packaged Goods, and Pharmaceutical manufacturers are still operating in a paper-based environment for information collection and reporting. Compared to digital data collection and reporting, the biggest sacrifices are speed, accuracy, and traceability.
The crucial step is to digitally transform your manufacturing operations to create a paperless environment, and IIoT solutions can help.
Digitization Works for our Customers
At GE, we’ve experienced first-hand the complexities of paper. At one of our factories in Germany, moving from a paper-based process to digitized reduced an operator task from 25 minutes to 6 minutes. There were no errors, and the data could be shared and analyzed to find further productivity and quality gains for the future.
One of our customers, a consumer goods manufacturer, experienced slow resolution of quality issues due to a lack of efficiency with manual/paper processes. Operators were doing quality checks manually with a paper grid. The team implemented our Proficy software to improve efficiency by automating the quality checks and initiating corrective action— as an addition to the company’s existing GE Digital HMI/SCADA systems.
Regulated companies often manufacture more documentation than product, which was the case for this pharmaceutical manufacturer. This North American-based company used GE Digital’s Proficy Workflow to reduce paper consumption and operator errors by digitizing their standard operating procedures and creating an electronic master batch record. Data is automatically populated into the forms from the plant SCADA system. Operators use E-Signature to sign off on every step, but the real value is a replicable solution that can be reused across the site with minimal retest.
Lastly, a food manufacturer in Denmark wanted to optimize production but found that to be a challenge in a paper-based environment. The introduction of Proficy Plant Applications had a positive impact at the process line level as well as an administrative and organizational impact on the factory’s management. The time savings was obvious.
Improve your Speed, Accuracy, and Traceability
As seen in our customer examples above, traditional paper-based operating systems suffer from a number of issues, the biggest being speed, accuracy, and traceability. Paper record management is inherently slow, with plant workers typically having to move between workstations — each time checking off boxes, filling out forms, or copying down numbers.
An increased number of manual processes often leads to human error. No matter how experienced people are, they will inevitably make mistakes. This situation can be exacerbated when working across a range of equipment types within 24/7 operations, with multiple employees from different shifts potentially affecting the process over the course of a day.
Paper-based information also exists in silos – what’s written on the paper exists only on the paper. But information within manufacturing plants typically needs to be archived, shared, or analyzed. And if analysis is needed on data that only exists in huge reams of paper it can be an impossible task just to gather all the information needed in one place.
All these factors create a complex working environment for manufacturers—not just on the shop floor but through all support and strategic levels, right up to senior management. Whether it’s real-time tracking or monthly reporting, managing the paper trail can be inefficient, time-consuming, and simply overwhelming. This results in lower quality, longer lead times, and higher costs.
Make the Paper Trail a Thing of the Past
Managing data from diverse equipment and multiple suppliers is another challenge that manufacturers have to solve. When looking for a solution to help move from paper to data, look for manufacturing and supply chain solutions that can interface with a wide range of industrial equipment and protocols, either directly or through relevant standards like OPC. Our Proficy portfolio of applications – MES, HMI/SCADA, Historian, CSense, and Operations Hub software – is open, layered and “asset agnostic,” meaning it interfaces with all asset types regardless of supplier.
Remember to consider all the pieces of the “data value chain” so you have a solution for acquisition, storage, processing and security of all the data.
Once you have moved from paper to digital, you can move all those “25-minute tasks” to “6-minute tasks” and you will be on the road to gaining speed, accuracy and traceability.