“Going green” is a priority for many businesses today, no matter what industry you are in. Within manufacturing, it is an especially relevant issue, as matters of waste and efficiency are part and parcel of daily operations. Pursuing proactive strategies for reducing environmental impact is not only relevant from a public perspective, it is also good business and policy.
Digitizing document management is an often overlooked but powerful choice that can make big and ‘green’ changes happen in manufacturing. Automation eliminates the administrative burden and takes over routine tasks. And, integrating your document management with Quality Control, SPC and QESH Management can bring additional benefits.
Every small action counts
Despite innovative tools and technologies that make sustainability achievable, there are many manufacturers who could be more mindful about the ways in which they use resources. Every small action is an important step in the right direction. Here are four important ways in which document management software alone can make a huge change in your business:
- It eliminates paper.
This one is obvious, but you might not realize just how significant a change this is. When the average quality manual typically contains anywhere from 500 to 1000 documents. Not pages, documents. That’s a lot of paper. In fact, in the most extreme examples, printouts of documentation can take up entire warehouses. Again, that’s a lot of paper and a lot of waste. By transitioning to a digital solution for document management, companies can significantly improve their environmental impact when it comes to paper.
- It increases efficiency.
Staying green isn’t only about staying on top of paper. It also means increasing efficiency in-house. According to Gartner ‘Paper-based and spreadsheet-based approaches are increasingly viewed as fundamentally insufficient and sources of risk, and often seen as obsolete even by those who use them.’
Inefficient processes translate into wasted work hours, which in turn translate into wasted energy and money. Working with document management software streamlines internal operations to limit time waste and lower a company’s operational carbon footprint.
- It streamlines revisions and supports collaboration.
What is an issue folded into both paper waste and efficiency? Revisions on documents as well as the collaborative process involved in generating the original documents. At even smaller companies, a QM/QC document can go through multiple iterations. In the old-school, analog way of doing things, each version might generate tens if not hundreds of paper printouts, seriously compounding waste. By digitizing the process, both the collaborative stage and any subsequent updates or revisions go more quickly, reducing labor waste, this, of course, involves far less paper waste.
- It reduces yield losses on the plant floor.
Efficiency increased experience via effective document management is not limited to documentation. When document management software is implemented effectively and in tandem with overarching quality management software, it can result in sizeable reductions in yield losses across the production floor. The QC/QM enhancements that result from this type of comprehensive automation mean fewer equipment failures, less idling, fewer planned stops, and faster production with fewer defects. That all means less waste and less impact on the environment.
Going green with an integrated QMS
One manufacturing company that switched from pen and paper to an integrated QMS is NelfKoopmans. Producing 900+ recipes for paints and coatings, NelfKoopmans collects a vast amount of data. When most of their administration was done on paper, it was hard to perform statistics, maintain clear overviews for product specifications, and even just to imagine a connection with their ERP. The switch to digital helped them to eliminate paper, work more efficiently, and improve their First Time Right by 35%.
From a self-developed system consisting of a large number of Excel documents to a single system in which all quality data are electronically recorded. The implementation of a quality management system has also helped Bison International to become greener. The leading adhesive manufacturer has noted improved access to data, a boost in overall quality, and significant time savings.
There are many ways in which manufacturers can limit their footprint on the environment. Whether it’s reducing paper waste, green packaging, recycling materials, automating their processes, or using renewable energy – every action is important.
Let’s make manufacturing green and keep a keen eye on tomorrow.