If you have a smartphone, you likely use apps to get directions, play games, engage on social media, check your email, even using a manufacturing app to understand how a factory is performing, the list goes on and on. In fact, “an average mobile app user in the United States has over 100 apps installed on their device. A typical mobile user will check their smartphone 63 times a day. And not surprisingly, by 2021, almost 7 billion people worldwide will be using mobile devices.”
There’s no question – mobile devices provide ease of use for whatever task is at hand. So, we asked ourselves, “Could a SensrTrx manufacturing app provide the same ease of use and availability for our users?”
The answer was yes. As you continue reading, you’ll learn about:
Do I Need a Manufacturing App?
What really prompted the mobile app was the need for real-time alerts anywhere in the world, meaning you weren’t limited to sitting at your desk with SensrTrx pulled up on your computer.
From the start, we’ve had alerts inside the system that, based on certain conditions, sends email notifications or pop-ups in the browser of the device you’re using. This is how it was originally designed – to provide notice of an issue on the floor.
The problem with this was the time it took to deliver the notification, potentially up to a minute, or if the person was not at their desk, they weren’t seeing that pop up on the browser.
There were limitations.
The Starting Point
In response, a lot of people requested text message alerts so they would be alerted anywhere, anytime. While that is very easy to do, there is one problem with texts. You’re limited to the amount of text you can put in the message, which would limit our ability to provide context. All we could really do in a text message was tell the person an alert tripped, but we couldn’t provide any extra detail until they were able to either access their email or log on to a browser to read the alert notification
As a software company, our goal is to provide context into operations so providing context in alerts is crucial.
Text messages just didn’t provide the level of detail we want to provide to our customers so they can identify the cause of the problem. All they’d know is if there was extra downtime or a specific alarm was tripped on a particular machine, not why it was happening. Maybe that person is away from their computer and they want to know more information about that, but they aren’t able to do that right now.
It defeats the purpose of being a real-time software.
In an email, the context could be included, but in a text message, it can’t. So we were back to square one. What could we create that would provide the user with the ease of use they needed, but also included the details of the problem?
Using a Manufacturing App to Provide More Visibility
With the idea of text messages in mind, but knowing the limitations, we decided to build a mobile app.
Now what you get, in addition to the email and a browser notification, is a push notification on your phone. Then, you can open the SensrTrx app where you can look at the current production run. What’s going on? Why is there an alert? Basically all of the associated context and information about that particular alarm, on your phone.
Ease of use, timeliness, all in one mobile application. The initial driving factor behind it was just simply, more timely alerts.
The other thing was the ability to look, at a glance, anywhere in the world, how the plant is performing at any given time. As any Plant Manager or VP of Ops knows, it’s important to be aware of the plant’s progress, maybe before going to bed or traveling to see a customer.
Regardless of the location, you’re able to check and see how things are running. You can pull the information up very easily, very quickly on your phone. All with the click of a button.
It gives you the ability to understand, in real-time, what’s running well and what’s not.
The manufacturing app provides the visibility SensrTrx promises, anywhere you go. Most importantly, we still follow the design strategy guidelines we’ve established from the start by concentrating on ease of use over ultimate flexibility.
No, it’s true, you can’t do everything in the app because we stick by our initial belief that our software, and the manufacturing app, in particular, needs to be simple, easy to use, and easy to understand so anyone can get it and use it. This strategy is what gives the user ability to find what they need, without being overcomplicated.
The best example of this is the VP of Operations role as we mentioned above. We’ve had customers tell us they were visiting customers across the globe and were able to pull up the mobile app while traveling and they could tell how the plant was running, on a train or in an Uber. It’s that intuitive.
But, the use case for the mobile app goes beyond just alerts and seeing plant performance in the palm of your hand, anywhere.
It gives the factory, and those who work there, more flexibility in the way their jobs operate. If you’re a manufacturer who allows phones on the floor, and nowadays, most do, albeit as long as the phones are used for work purposes only, it provides better access to SensrTrx.
All of your operators and supervisors can have access to the software and can also get alerts, too.
Looking to the Future for an Operator App
In the future, we see this app growing, exponentially. While we recently added a full-featured iPad app to our repertoire, there are additional features needed on the manufacturig app to collect more data to help operators out on the floor.
For example, to a certain extent, you should be able to record production on your phone. You should be able to respond to downtime prompts, enter scrap reasons, those basic things that, in certain types of manufacturing, you’re not always close enough to a computer to do.
The same idea applies to adding the ability to call for help. If an operator needs help from someone, whether that’s a supervisor or the maintenance team, they should be able to call for help from the phone application.
The best example to demonstrate what this could do for the plant is with the maintenance team. Companies often have horns, lights, or buttons for operators to push to indicate they need help from maintenance. Maintenance will hear the horn, see the light, whatever it is, and assist the person.
But, a lot of times, they don’t see or hear the indicators, and without alerts, they don’t know that someone needs help on the floor. This way, with the features we want to add in the future, maintenance could receive an alert, directly on their phone, based on what’s happening on the machine that indicates something needs to be fixed.
What suggestions do you have for the mobile manufacturing app? Let us know in the chat button to your right. We love hearing new ideas!