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Part 1: Role of Printed Documents in Manufacturing Workflow

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4 min read

manufacturing document workflow

Many of the tools, gadgets, household items, food, medicine and other products that people use on a daily basis are made by manufacturers. The disruption bombarding this industry in recent years has been unprecedented, yet manufacturing businesses continually push back, undeterred by labor and supply chain challenges.

Many Documents Drive Manufacturing and Distribution Workflow

What’s the current role of printed documents in this manufacturing landscape? As a process- and labor-intensive industry, manufacturing depends on extensive documentation to keep operations on track. That includes invoices, operating manuals, financial records, regulatory paperwork, and other documents like these:

  • Bills of Material (BOM)
  • Product Requirements Documents (PRD)
  • Manufacturing Build Package (MBP)
  • Technical Files: CAD, Gerber
  • Comprehensive inspection guidelines
  • Specifications
  • Testing criteria
  • Quality agreements

To keep everything on track and up to speed, solid print management practices make manufacturing documentation easily accessible and accounted for.

Printers and Copiers as Part of Manufacturing Document Workflow

In more recent years, document management has largely become automated and digitized, providing significant benefits to manufacturers. That’s positive for many reasons, including security and sustainability.

While fewer docs to print, the ones you do are some of the most critical for process and workflow. It’s not a time to slack off on security, quality or reliability.

While you may need to print fewer documents to print, the ones you do are some of the most critical for process and workflow and business operations. Smart multifunction printers and copiers keep manufacturing documents safe and only available for controlled printing at secure printer endpoints.

As you assess best-in-class sourcing for your production equipment, don’t ignore printers and copiers. Managed print has more potential than you may realize. Manufacturers see results from more connected, reliable, efficient, and predictive processes, and that includes their document workflows and endpoints.

Digital Doesn’t Mean No Printed Documents, Just Fewer

Even with the adoption of “Industry 4.0” and its digital efficiencies, access to print or scan documents is still needed at many points:

  • Multiple locations in the plant
  • Nationwide sales offices
  • Loading dock and shipping/receiving
  • Departments inside headquarters

That adds up to a LOT of printers and copiers.

Document-Related Problems in Manufacturing and Distribution

Workforce shortages and supply chain instability still threaten operational efficiency and profit margins. Printers and copiers won’t solve these problems, but they shouldn’t make them worse either. Even attention to basic things like copiers and printers can eliminate obstacles like these:

– Consolidating Office Assets During Mergers and Acquisitions

About one in five small-to-medium manufacturers plan to expand by joining with another business through  acquisition or merger. Growth through mergers and acquisitions creates positive synergy, but also throws operations and processes into disruption. Without a good plan and a partner, consolidating copier and printer fleets across multiple locations and companies can be unnecessarily hard. Business agility can be critical for organizations seeking to operate through these opportunities with minimal friction and downtime.

– Maintaining Document Security and Availability

Cybersecurity has the attention of many company boards and executives. Rising threats have pushed manufacturing leaders to new levels of prevention and response. This preparedness should include your printed documents.

– Employee Frustrations with Workplace Technology

Manufacturing hasn’t been immune to the labor crisis impacting so many industries. Manufacturers who can manage through labor shortages and nonstop change will come out ahead.

Ensure your printers and copiers support employees, not frustrate them. Frustrated employees are less productive and loyal.

– Supply Chain Issues for Printer Toner and Parts

Supply chain challenges don’t just affect the manufacturing line, they hit the back office, too. Even delays with supplies like printer toner or copier parts can bring critical document workflow to a halt. A Managed Print Services arrangement puts responsibility for these problems squarely on the shoulders of your MPS partner. A good partner leverages solid relationships with printer and software manufacturers to ensure good supplies access and pricing that can be passed on to customers.

– Delayed Payments and Cash Flow Issues

Demand insecurity has created volatile pricing for materials like metals and plastics. Some manufacturers also struggle with delayed payments, increased costs for working capital and low cash reserves.

Printers and copiers won’t solve these problems, but they shouldn’t make them worse. Managed Print Services assure vigilant cost control when it comes to document workflow. MPS customers enjoy reliable pricing for equipment, toner, parts and service.

Printers Essential to Manufacturing Document Workflow

Manufacturers have enough to deal with. Your printers don’t have to be part of the problem. In Part 2 of this short series, we’ll look at how to drive value from manufacturing document workflow using Managed Print Services.

Written By: Carro Ford