How Digitization in Manufacturing Drives Scalable Efficiencies

How Digitization in Manufacturing Drives Scalable Efficiencies

Optimize logistic networks, decrease production times, and improve transparency with an effective digitization strategy.

When COVID-19 upended global supply chains across the manufacturing industry, it showed just how important technological adaptation is for maintaining the health of the global economy. Between optimizing production schedules, manufacturing costs, and logistics, if any element is out of sync, the entire chain suffers delays, leading to frustrated customers and decreased profits.

That’s why digitization is the first important step toward improving manufacturing efficiency on a global scale. Read on to learn more about how digitization in manufacturing leads to more transparent operations, faster production times, and an overall reduction in operating costs.

Want to know more about upgrading your products and services? Check out The Executive's Guide to Digitization in Business.

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What is digitization?

Digitization is the process of converting physical media — such as paper documents, books, images, blueprints, and even video and audio cassettes and discs — into digital assets. Usually, this process involves some form of physical hardware, like document scanners or DVD players, which will convert the physical media into a format usable by computers and smart devices.

Once converted, employees can access digital data via computer programs that specialize in accessing specific file types. Digitized photos or documents can be edited and enhanced with programs like Adobe Photoshop or browsed via Microsoft Word. Similarly, programs like Handbrake convert DVDs into video files that users can watch through Windows Media Player.

The biggest benefit of digitization is how easy and fast it is to share files once they become digitized. Attach files to email, upload them to cloud-based storage solutions like Dropbox, or place them on centralized intranet servers for quick access.

Did You Know?:The fi-8270’s automatic document feeder can scan up to 70 pages per minute, while its flatbed scanner offers versatility.

How can digitization in manufacturing help companies become more efficient?

According to Harvard Business Review, lack of transparency and siloed data are two of the most significant current supply-chain challenges in the global manufacturing industry. Luckily, manufacturing and digitization are an effective combination, helping organizations resolve these issues while simultaneously streamlining processing times.

Say a designer wants approval from the engineering and factory teams to move forward with production. Before digitization, the designer would print up their work and physically hand off the documentation to the factory, waiting for those teams to review and approve the designs. Each step of the process takes time — now factor in additional days or weeks if employees must mail documentation to factories in other states or countries.

Within the modern manufacturing industry, dealing with firms and plants across the globe is the norm, and the difference between meeting or missing deadlines can come down to hours — or even minutes.

To speed up approval processes, designers can convert physical copies of their drawings, images, or other design work into digital copies with the right scanner. Then, they can instantly send those copies over the internet to a factory halfway across the world, which can immediately begin reviewing and approving the work, digitally signing off on the document when completed. Teams can leave in-line comments within digital documents, which provide clear records of who made edits or requests and at what time. Once they’re uploaded into cloud storage, any authorized user can access these designs and view the full history of the work that went into making and approving them.

Thanks to the digitization of manufacturing, processes that normally took weeks can be reduced to mere hours, aiding global teams in meeting strict deadlines, reducing overhead, and preventing costly delays. Organizations can then use manufacturing digitization processes to enhance an overall digital transformation, including internet of things (IoT) enhanced manufacturing tools to track wear and tear, 3D printers to speed up iteration times, data analytics tools to improve plant efficiency, and digital twins to optimize factory layouts.

Did You Know?:PCMagazine described the fi-8270 as “a fast, accurate document scanner for midrange to high-volume loads.” Click here to read the full review and learn why it earned an “excellent” 4 out of 5 rating.

Pfizer: A digitization success story

Global pharmaceutical company Pfizer knew it needed to develop a strategy for digitization in pharma manufacturing and research to adapt to a rapidly shifting market. In the words of CEO Albert Bourla, Pfizer needed to “become a more modern company, digitizing data through every link in our value chain.”

Pfizer Senior Vice President of Advanced Analytics and Data Platforms & Learning and Development Bill Leister describes how the company created a three-pronged strategy to lead the industry:

  • Speed up research and development times through digital technologies.
  • Improve experiences for patients to improve outcomes.
  • Rely on automation to make research and development more efficient.

Then 2020 arrived, and the COVID-19 pandemic upended the world. Pfizer needed to develop a vaccine and bring it to market in record time — and it would lean on its digitization strategy to do so. Pfizer relied on virtual monitoring of test subjects, updating supply chains to produce mRNA vaccines at scale, and managing digital data for its manufacturers and scientists, many of whom were working from home to minimize contact due to the pandemic. Even the vaccine approval submission was entirely digital, relying on digital documentation and teleconferencing to gather approvals from the FDA.

The result: With digitization, manufacturing and delivering the first Pfizer-developed doses of the COVID-19 vaccine took a mere nine months, from signing the letter of development to the first dose arriving in the UK.

Our recommendation: fi-8270

Those in the market for a document scanner to aid digitization in manufacturing processes have no shortage of options. We take great pride in having spent the last 50+ years researching, designing and developing some of the most advanced and powerful electronics in the world, including our professional grade fi and SP Series scanners.

Built to purpose for the most demanding document handling jobs, fi and SP scanners are capable of processing tens-of-thousands of pages per day at the highest levels of accuracy. Their intuitive integration capabilities with all existing work suites minimize time-to-value for businesses looking to invest in tools that will pay dividends for years to come.

The fi-8270 is built to handle the demanding workloads of the manufacturing industry. Its heavy-duty design ensures scans work around the clock, with an automatic document feeder capable of holding 100 pages that can process 70 double-sided scans per minute. Plus, its letter-sized flatbed scanner provides versatility, allowing teams to scan old or fragile documentation, photos, bound notebooks, awkwardly-shaped pages, and more. Click here to learn more or shop the rest of our production scanner line.