Data-driven industry and supply chain management is pushing the drive toward greater connectivity in computers on shop floors, from industrial PDAs and control panels to CNC machines. The ability to comprehensively collect real time data and analyze it, whether it’s on a single shop floor or worldwide, means that factories, warehouses, and transportation companies can operate more efficiently, reduce errors, and improve profits. However, it also means that the technology used on the shop floor and in the hands of drivers, packers, and inventory controllers has to keep up. Industrial PDAs without WiFi or that act as data silos are no longer acceptable as inventory management systems require real time updates.
Connectivity is giving industry and SCM renewed competitiveness as foreign competition puts pressure on already slim margins. Take for example this story in The Telegraph about a manufacturer of plumbing parts that regularly struggled with the daily fluctuations of metal prices. Their material costs were always unpredictable and price adjustments happened regularly. The switch to a new IT technology that would help them better manage their supply required the introduction of touch screen PDAs and all-in-one PCs that could communicate seamlessly between inventory and accounts.