Manually managing and tracking production processes through paper-based systems is a thing of the past. With the business landscape becoming increasingly digital, manufacturers are switching to a new approach to stay competitive and improve their bottom line: paperless manufacturing. In this article, we highlight five top benefits of paperless manufacturing. But first, let’s get into what it is.

What is Paperless Manufacturing?

Paperless manufacturing is the management, coordination, and reporting of daily manufacturing processes without the use of paper-based forms, checklists, and documents. In essence, it uses a cloud-based software that acts as a central information hub. This allows managers and frontline workers to access data and actionable insights in real-time. 

5 Benefits of Paperless Manufacturing

There are many benefits of paperless manufacturing. From waste reduction to a boost in productivity, paperless manufacturing can optimize your business processes and help you become more agile. Here are the top five benefits of paperless manufacturing:

5 Benefits of Paperless Manufacturing
1. Operate in real-time

One of the most impactful benefits of paperless manufacturing is that it allows you to operate in real-time. Traditionally, manufacturing processes were all paper-based. Even today, many manufacturers are still reliant on these old ways and it’s hurting their operational efficiency. This is because paper-based processes required you to physically search for answers or use the copy machine to transfer documents from one folder to another. However, paperless manufacturing uses a cloud-based software. This allows you to just click around your software and find what you need immediately, knowing that it is real-time information.

2. Increases productivity

Transforming into paperless manufacturing means less filling in and filing forms, less manual tracking, and more time for frontline workers to perform their work. What’s more, with an entirely digitize manufacturing operation, data can be collected from machines, systems, and people, then analyzed in the cloud. As a result, managers and frontline workers have access to actual production conditions and machine performance at their fingertips, in real-time. Consequently, allowing them to take action faster and make more informed business decisions. So, by eliminating paper entirely from your operations, this establishes a direct connection between your people, systems, and machines, enabling them to work more productively. 

3. Improves data accuracy

As humans, it is natural and inevitable that we make mistakes. And in manufacturing, there are many different forms that are collected and managed. However, by controlling versions of your data through a paper-based model, this makes you susceptible to errors due to things like inaccurate or missing data inputs. So, by using a paperless manufacturing system, this keeps your data accurate and up to date. This is possible because often, a field will be limited by the number (or type of characters) in the software so that users cannot make significant errors. Additionally, you can make certain fields a requirement so that users must complete that field in order to submit the form. Therefore, making data accuracy another one of the major benefits of paperless manufacturing.

4. Eliminates non-value-added tasks

A huge focus of lean manufacturing is the minimization of waste (or muda, as referred to in the Toyota 3M model). Therefore, lean manufacturers may see this fourth benefit as one of the most significant benefits of paperless manufacturing: the elimination of non-value-added tasks. In an increasingly digital business landscape, gone are the days when managers had to sift through stacks of paper documents to get an overview of what was happening in the company. By digitizing your manufacturing operations with a lean manufacturing software, this gives you increased visibility into things like:

  • — Who is working on what
  • — What is currently being worked on
  • — What projects are delayed
  • — When maintenance is being scheduled, and on what
  • — What is costing you a lot of money

In short, transforming into a paperless manufacturing system gives all your departments instant access to real-time information pertaining to them.

5. Improves communication and collaboration

Just like performance and productivity were traditionally limited with paper-based processes, so was communication and collaboration. In other words, because the lag in moving paper through the system was so long, there was a lot of back and forth over a prolonged period of time. So, by automating these processes digitally, communication allows for collaboration directly from the shop floor to all departments like operations, maintenance, and management. 

Paperless manufacturing also creates greater transparency allowing improved communication and collaboration across your organization. As each team member has access to the same real-time information, they can immediately see their tasks. What’s more, operations are more flexible and can still continue to operate because no one is waiting on an approved document to proceed. In short, with a cloud-based system, all information gets updated and shared in real-time, breaking down data siloes and creating a single source of truth for all your information.

Become a Paperless Factory with the LeanSuite

Paperless is the way forward and there’s no doubt about it. If you want to become more agile and better react to the ever changing market demands, you need to get on board with paperless manufacturing as soon as possible. While there are many enticing benefits of paperless manufacturing, it still may be a big step for manufacturers who are stuck in their old ways. Thankfully, good software solutions will provide manufacturers with an intuitive and easy-to-use paperless manufacturing software and will support them with this big transition.

Software is the simple and easiest answer to implementing a paperless manufacturing workflow for a manufacturer. This is because it provides them with all the solutions they need to operate in the cloud. The LeanSuite’s lean manufacturing software is an end-to-end platform with app-based solutions designed for modern manufacturers wanting to go paperless. Instead of spending hours weekly scheduling production, collecting and implementing suggestions, and performing Gemba Walks, you can allow a paperless manufacturing system like the LeanSuite to do the hard lifting for you. This way, you can focus on tasks that matter like engaging your workforce, supporting your customers, and growing your business.