On the Road to More Efficient Manufacturing: A Digital Solution

This article was originally published by SeerPharma's business partner MasterControl and is republished in-part here with their permission.

Global Positioning System (GPS). The now seemingly ubiquitous smartphone app or vehicle-installed device even has a nice high-tech ring to it, with technological infrastructure that to this day is still bankrolled by Uncle Sam.1 Developed by the U.S. Department of Defense in 1978 and originally restricted to military use, the technology was made available to the public in 1983. In the past 20 years, GPS technology has exploded in the commercial sector in virtually every industry and is used by everyone from the UPS deliveryman to your family member trying to find their orthopedic specialist.


Maps as Mementos, Not Tools

Much like the way your cherished backpacking line map of Switzerland in ’87 is no longer useful to you from a navigational standpoint, neither are the half dozen road maps stuffed in the glove compartment of your car. They’re relics of a bygone era or, at the very best, manual backups in case the zombie apocalypse hits and all our electronic technologies go dark.

It’s a similar situation in the manufacturing world where the rapid pace of technological innovations is fundamentally changing the way production floors operate. Instead of outmoded paper-based production record systems that are slow, inefficient and prone to human error, manufacturing executives, to lower costs and stay competitive, are turning to digital solutions. In a new white paper titled “21st Century Manufacturing: An Investment in Digital Data and Operational Efficiency” manufacturing executive and industry veteran Dave Edwards makes the case that manufacturers can substantially improve quality and efficiency on their shop floors through intelligent automation.

Though a wide cross section of manufacturers continues to rely on paper-based production record systems, the quantity of errors these antiquated systems introduce during all phases of the manufacturing process result in costly delays and lost revenue. A 2017 study by Vanson Bourne found that nearly 20 percent of unexpected manufacturing downtime was the result of human error.3 Cumulative human errors turn into poor data that then snowballs into deviations and delays. The net impact is that more revenue must be earmarked to quality control instead of value-added activities such as a company’s lean programs or product improvement. This uncontrolled (and unnecessary) bleeding of time and money due to poor quality data fouling up manufacturing processes is underscored by the fact that, in 2016, poor quality data resulting from shop floor errors cost manufacturers $3.1 trillion in the U.S. alone.4 And in regulatory circles, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration stated that data integrity issues resulted in 86 percent of the 483 warning letters sent to pharmaceutical manufacturers between 2014-2018.5

Simply put, paper-based systems in today’s competitive manufacturing environment are analogous to the printed road navigation of the past: they’re more prone to human error, they’re bound to waste precious time and they’ll cumulatively end up costing more money than they’re worth.


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