As trends in business wax and wane, the call for lean manufacturing continues to rise above the rest as one that is here to stay. And the innocuous, sleek-looking Apple iPad has burst upon the manufacturing scene as a game-changer.
Manufacturers who have long relied on proprietary barcode scanners to track inventory, or Windows-based platforms to manage shipping and transport, would be well-served to look at the possibilities that the iPad has opened up for operational efficiency.
iPads do break, but the data collected and analyzed by the iPad user doesn’t have to be lost. Despite not being “ruggedized” in ways that protect the device from damage or data loss, iPads have the advantage of working in “the cloud,” provided that a facility has the bandwidth and wireless capabilities to support it.
No longer does a business have to rely on a patchwork quilt of applications to run its operations. The visual interface on which the iOS (operating system) runs shares the core Apple philosophies of being functional, friendly and fun for the user. Contrast that to the complicated, decidedly unfriendly systems used by some to manage their networks and inventory, and it’s no surprise that Apple’s market share among non-consumer markets keeps expanding.
iPads get information to decision-makers at the executive level without any filter at all. Those in the C-suite would then have a 30,000-foot view of the situation, aided in part by iPad apps that gather and interpret all available data, not just what might be available from a particular plant.
Savvy businesses might also consider creating, or funding the development, of industry-specific apps that solve specific business problems. Think back to a little application called Instagram, and how it was bought by Facebook for a cool one million dollars in 2012. With the iPad, anyone can become a software developer.
Those who are thinking that the Apple iPad is simply one in a string of trendy technological toys are already steps behind manufacturers who have accepted that the iPad has caused a shift in the way they need to operate. Real-time data and its twin, real-time analysis, are the new rules, not the exceptions, and the iPad makes that possible from start to finish in the business life cycle.