Manufacturing is an exciting and rewarding industry – employees work with cutting edge-technologies to create tangible products that boost economies by directly generating wealth. The manufacturing sector has a proud history, but it's always been innovative and is now embracing a new kid on the block: BYOD.
Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) – the practice of allowing staff to use their own devices, such as tablets, smartphones or laptops to do company work – is often an ideal solution for manufacturing businesses.
Mobility is Essential in Manufacturing
The modern manufacturing business relies on mobility. Leading information
services company, IHS Markit provides the following summary of how BYOD is used in manufacturing, which illustrates just how much today's employees rely on mobile devices:
- Personal smartphones and tablets are being used to control and monitor industrial equipment remotely. This allows manufacturing processes to be observed while workers are on the move or in a different part of the facility.
- Leading industrial automation companies have developed apps for iOS and Android.
Other analysis has shown that, as the manufacturing environment is often noisy, employees are making use of messaging to communicate when a telephone or face-to-face conversation would prove too difficult.
Customer service and sales teams are also leveraging BYOD to improve customer experience.
Really, the use of mobile apps in manufacturing is only set to increase; a quick scan of app stores reveals a wealth of mobile-inspection, maintenance work order, inventory tracking apps and many more.
It's clear that mobility is transforming manufacturing environments, but why is it worth implementing a BYOD policy?
Why BYOD in Manufacturing?
There are three key reasons as to why BYOD is great for manufacturing companies: it reduces spend, suits the typical manufacturing employer and environment well, and attracts the soon-to-be-lifeblood of the industry – millennials.
1. Reducing Spend
Manufacturers, often heavily-reliant on data services providers, usually have a comparatively high telecoms spend. It's also true that the manufacturing industry, with its precise and methodical culture and working practices, tends to scrutinize costs and spending even more than most.
IT professionals in the industry are constantly being challenged to reduce spend – to do more with less and find lower-cost solutions that don’t sacrifice the level of data integrity and the level of performance their systems rely on.
2. Manufacturing Personnel and Environment
The technical nature of manufacturing work tends to attract people who are interested and skilled in technology in their personal lives. With many staff in manufacturing possessing high-end personal devices, it’s a smart move to capitalize on this by enabling personal device-use at work.
As for the work environment, a large proportion is not desk-based. BYOD programs increase the use of mobiles and tablets at work – while many employees will not be issued a company-owned device, the majority will own a personal device that can be leveraged. And these personal devices really can be leveraged – a small, instantly accessible, handheld device is a perfect match for the environment.
Just as the keyboard and mouse are ideal for desk-work, the apps and form-factor of mobiles and tablets make them great for on-the-go or standing use. The same user-friendly design principles that mean someone can book train tickets or buy something on Amazon — with one hand while walking through a busy shopping mall — are used in many devices and apps.
Finally, manufacturing workplaces can be huge, sprawling environments, so for those that do have a desk, quickly popping back to it, when needed, is not always practical.
With baby boomers retiring at a rate of 10,000 a day, there is a large void to be filled. This is an issue for many sectors, but, in some circles, an unrepresentative and inaccurate picture of manufacturing as outdated, unsafe, and slightly dull has intensified the problem. It's an industry that’s working hard to overcome a talent shortage.
When a millennial shows up for their first day at work, they will most likely have a personal smartphone with them. They may nonetheless be given company-owned equipment and proceed to carry around two different devices.
Often they won't really like the corporate device but “will answer if it rings”. What they do like is their personal, often more powerful and high-end, device, which has a set-up that suits them and they can get the most out of. It's natural that they might think: “it would be great if my employer would chip in some money each month for my personal smartphone and set it up with the work things I need such as email and calendar”.
Manufacturing companies that have done this have saved substantial amounts and left millennials more satisfied and only needing to carry around (and keep up with) one device — a device that they like and want to use.
As stated by CIO:
“If you hope to attract GenY technology professionals, your IT strategy better include a bring-your-own-device plan that plays to the strengths of this tech-dependent generation... Six in 10 workers in their 20s and 30s used a personal device or app for work."
So, companies that want to draw this tech-savvy generation need to start thinking and working in new ways.
Millennials are expected to make up 75 percent of the national labor force by 2025. If manufacturers are to attract them — and in significant numbers —modern, forward-thinking strategies such as BYOD can be a powerful tool in their arsenal.
But for BYOD to be a success, it needs to be well-planned, carefully implemented, and properly managed.
The manufacturing industry of today is high-tech and mobile, and its people need to be mobile too. Cass’s BYOD programs put mobility in more people’s hands while sparing you the cost of buying devices. Accompanying managed mobility services help you ensure that mobile devices and their data is secure, wherever your employees are stationed or traveling to around the globe.
Want to know more about implementing BYOD safely, smoothly, and profitably in your organization? Download our 8-step guide today.