How a Rugged Smartphone Can Drive Lean ManufacturingHow a Rugged Smartphone Can Drive Lean Manufacturing

06/19/2016 6:540 commentsViews: 20

What lean manufacturing really needs is a phone you can drop.

In recent years, the manufacturing sector has moved increasingly toward lean philosophies, seeking ways to improve efficiency, cut waste and drive a more dynamic cycle of production overall. Smart, connected devices are an integral part of that effort, and the rapid rise of the rugged smartphone demonstrates the importance that resiliency plays in getting the most out of these devices throughout the manufacturing cycle.

What Is Lean Thinking?

Lean thinking is about adding value. It’s an effort to reduce unnecessary activity, whether in design, manufacture, distribution or customer service, which means a constant process of reviewing all aspects within the manufacturing cycle.

The importance of effective communication and real-time tracking is a critical component in lean manufacturing, where multiple personnel operate across diverse spaces, from the loading dock, to the shop floor, to administrative centers where logistics are handled. Communications across the enterprise are essential to ensure all gears mesh with minimal waste or excess effort. Within this context, it’s easy to see how mobile communication plays an important role. However, the limited durability of mobile devices has traditionally impacted their ability to survive under the rigorous conditions that exist in the manufacturing environment.

The Rise of Mobile Apps on Factory Floors

The advent of mobile data and apps presented an opportunity for manufacturing to use mobility solutions such as smartphones to dramatically simplify operations and pare back waste.

The ability to share spreadsheets, documents and other necessary business information makes the smartphone an invaluable addition to the lean toolbox. At the same time, connected accessories such as bar code scanners and RFID readers can reduce wasted time and redundant efforts.

Mobile apps help to enable a Gemba walk, or a walk that managers take around the plant floor to identify opportunities for improvement in scheduling, inventories and other key areas. Likewise, tools like a statistical process control (SPC) app can push notifications when performance starts to stray. Some 54 percent of plant supervisors and 53 percent of plant managers access this kind of real-time data on mobile devices.

Importance of Durability

All of this is great, unless your phone breaks. The factory and the warehouse are by definition physically challenging spaces, and daily work in these environments poses an inherent hazard to delicate electronics.

Dropping is the leading cause of phone breakage and an all-too-common occurrence in the manufacturing sector. Add to this a vulnerability to dust and dampness, and it becomes clear why production, transportation and other elements of manufacturing take their toll on the smartphone.

Samsung Combines Durability With Functionality

Manufacturing needs a rugged smartphone. One example can be seen in Samsung’s newly released Galaxy S7 active, a device that combines all the functionality of the most current smartphones with a durability suitable to withstand the rigors of the manufacturing environment.

Display breakage is a leading concern when it comes to smartphone survivability. To that end, the Galaxy S7 active has been designed to MIL-STD-810 specification, military-grade toughness. The device incorporates an advanced, dual-layer screen system to provide shatter resistance for the Super AMOLED display for falls of up to five feet onto flat surfaces.

The device has been hardened against dust and dampness, and has performed successfully under extensive drop testing, including a 26-drop test from 1.5 meters. It’s a long way down from the loading dock to the warehouse floor, and workers in that position need to know that even an accidental drop of their device isn’t going to cause an unnecessary break in the workflow.

Mobility has helped change the world of manufacturing, driving lean processes to new heights. Now rugged mobility is ushering in a new phase of efficiencies. With the ability to withstand drops and to operate unimpeded across a range of conditions, the latest rugged smartphones clearly demonstrate how durable technologies can help the manufacturing sector to achieve its lean ambitions

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