Paperless Manufacturing – Much More Than Saving The Environment

Industries have been relying on papers as it is more than just a piece of paper. It is a piece of useful information which provide value to the people working in any company. This information could be a set of instructions to the technician, design of the product, monthly reports or any other sort of data. But the question is whether this piece of paper is really benefitting your company by all means? If this question raised a few decades back, the answer would be simply yes, but nowadays with advancement in technologies in almost every sector of industries, the answer is no. These technologies have helped industries take a huge leap towards digitalizing their entire workflow and minimize the use of paper to make process more efficient and cost effective. People are still confused on a few terms like ‘automation’, ‘digitization’ and ‘digitalization. Let’s have a look on what they mean.

  • Automation: Automation or automatic control is basically delegation of human control function and making the use of various control system for operating equipment to increase productivity, increase quality and increasing safety in working condition.
  • Digitization: Converting data, documents and processes from analog to digital. Example – Scanning a document to create a digital file.
  • Digitalization: Transforming business processes by leveraging digital technologies, ultimately resulting in opportunities for efficiencies and increased revenue. Example – Using digital technologies to transform your reporting process, collecting and analyzing data in real time and using insights to mitigate risk and promote efficiency.

Challenges due to relying on paper

Many enterprises still use manual systems, spreadsheets, logbooks, paper forms, whiteboards and emails to manage all their operations. They rely heavily on paper job tickets and packets including drawings, pictures of job to be completed, work order, etc. which is time consuming to create. If any change is needed to be made in these documents, one must recreate the document, print it and distribute it to the shop floor. There are many such overlooked problems. Let’s have a look at some of these problems faced in the real world by industries.

  • Paper based manual processes prone to manual error and are time consuming. On an average, a worker spends 20% of his/her time looking for and collecting data.
  • Presence of tools like Excel still doesn’t mitigate this issue. Due to human error and mismanagement of documents, almost 47 % data breaches per year.
  • Almost 3% of the company’s revenue is spent on paper, printing, filing and the cost to store this information.
  • There is lack of communication between the management and the person on the shop floor, operations are less transparent and data capturing process is tedious and time consuming.
  • Information stored physically is hard to retrieve, especially in case of audits.
  • Lack of data integrity and missing data in leads to defective products, reduction in efficiency and increase in overall cost.
  • Studies show accuracy of manual paper based data is around 94%, which can lead to huge costs.
  • Considering the quality of product, manual paper-based systems simply lack the ability to mitigate errors at each step involved in manufacturing operation.

Digitalizing manufacturing

Digitalizing manufacturing doesn’t means eliminating paper and using various technologies to capture data. Digitalizing manufacturing means to capture “error free data” and providing the right data at right time, to support the front-line workers with accurate work instructions and managers and executives with real-time results and metrics. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it became a necessity of many manufacturing companies to digitalize most of their processes like using pdf instead of reports, using digital data capturing tools, creating instructions and tracking operations digitally on software. The outcome of this change was recognizable. Let’s have a look the benefits that industries gained by switching to digital technology in their facility.

  • Improved productivity and effectiveness due to elimination of manual errors, especially in complex operations.
  • Reduction in “Cost of poor Quality”.
  • Allowing the workforce to access key performance indicators [KPI’s] and key documents while they work on shop floor.
  • Reduction in operating cost, and faster ROI due to quick deployment across multiple functions.
  • Studies have shown manufacturers who adopts digital technology to transform their factory’s and enterprises will be able to operate at an higher level and will be able to predict future barriers.
  • Helps in avoiding the “risks” and “costs” of Non-Conformances.
  • Consumable cost savings by elimination of paper, pens and the cost associated with storing the documents.


Paperless manufacturing is no longer a probability, it is now a necessity. Many companies have failed coping with the pandemic, and it has become clear that value of operational agility, resilience, and intelligent decision support is made possible by digital transformation. These digital technologies results in ROI within months and they are mature, proven, and practical for most manufacturers.