Find the value of tablets on your plant floor
"Get ahead of the curve," Syclo's Kleban suggests at Mobile Conference.
The smartphone has answered all the questions about whether it would ever become more than just another portable multimedia time-waster capable of little more than surfing the Internet, exchanging pictures, and playing Angry Birds. It can do all of that, of course, but the smartphone has become a vital tool for manufacturers, connecting maintenance professionals with their next task and keeping distant parts of a plant in closer communication with voice, data, and images. In the process, smartphones have made the traditional walkie-talkie just about obsolete.
“Tablets will do the same thing for clipboards,” said Jeff Kleban, executive vice president for alliances for Syclo Inc., at last week’s Syclo Mobile Conference in Chicago. Kleban opened the second day of the conference with a look at how this latest hardware device is being adopted by manufacturers in all kinds of enterprises.
“The whole mobility issue is about the consumer, not about the enterprise,” Kleban said. “The tablet is really attractive to smartphone users, because they already know the operating system.” It’s the rise in the use of smartphones by an older demographic that got the business potential for tablets in front of software developers. “Every other American will own a smartphone,” Kleban said. “We’re not only seeing smartphone use among Gen X and Gen Y. There’s a huge adoption by those over 45. Right now, 28% of smartphone users are over 45. There comes a point when if you didn’t use one, you start to get isolated from people who do. “The biggest issue isn’t whether technology works; it’s will they use it,” he added. “These folks have made the investment. It’s that one experience that will provide real value to them. Now from the bottom up, they’re willing to embrace change.”
Tablets are the next logical extension from the smart phone—a bigger screen but essentially the same functionality as a smartphone, regardless of the current platform being used—Apple, Android, Windows, or BlackBerry. For the maintenance staff, the tablet also can deliver such new technology as Augmented Reality, where overlays of a particular device can show up on the screen, along with menus and information on what parts or tools might be needed for repairs.
“The question is, how do we link together the enterprise? Where do tablets fit into the enterprise?” Kleban said. “It’s good to get ahead of curve. Where would tablets be of value to the organization? Someone else will make the choice for you. This is a chance to get ahead in the tablet market.”
Annual Salary Survey
After almost a decade of uncertainty, the confidence of plant floor managers is soaring. Even with a number of challenges and while implementing new technologies, there is a renewed sense of optimism among plant managers about their business and their future.
The respondents to the 2014 Plant Engineering Salary Survey come from throughout the U.S. and serve a variety of industries, but they are uniform in their optimism about manufacturing. This year’s survey found 79% consider manufacturing a secure career. That’s up from 75% in 2013 and significantly higher than the 63% figure when Plant Engineering first started asking that question a decade ago.