Paperless Manufacturing: A Cost-Effective Way to Improve Production

A national snack company installed a single-system electronic platform that enabled the simultaneous management of five critical areas of quality control. The new system eliminated a paper trail and resulted in a savings of more than $1 million dollars in overfill costs, while also generating a 30% decrease in customer complaint rates during the first year, according to Infinity US.

In addition, another North American company translated a waste reduction effort into a $2.1 million savings—a monetary advantage the company expects to see every year by employing paper-free operations, according to Quality Digest.

“$1 million dollars: savings in overfill costs; 30%: the decrease in customer complaint rates.”

Like these firms above, going paperless aids in improvement of quality and identification of manufacturing hiccups that may result in production down-time.

Even the pharmaceutical industry has seen the benefits of implementing an electronic documentation system. A recent Pharmaceutical Online article states that one particular manufacturing execution system “enables pharmaceutical facilities to run manufacturing processes completely paperless at the highest level and to be compliant with international GMP guidelines and FDA regulations.”

And Quality Digest reports that decreasing the paper burden “[increases] accuracy and productivity” and facilitates the ability to monitor and analyze relevant data in real time. The real-time access to production-related information, the publication says, facilitates the ability of employees to analyze results and take action to resolve or eliminate potential issues.

While the environmental impact of paperless manufacturing is obvious, removing hard-copy documentation from the production process also has a multitude of benefits: Reducing paper lessens clutter and storage space. Additionally, electronic systems can make it easier to more quickly retrieve, integrate and process data than hard-copy filing systems, allowing access from any location at any time.

While the potential advantages of implementing such a system are appealing, decision makers should be aware that such software applications do not fare well as add-ons. Implementation of an electronic process requires that a system be completely “natïve” or have what Industry Week refers to as a “native-paperless infrastructure and platform” to ensure optimal functioning.”

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