Low code app development approach spreads across almost every business industry at a very fast pace. Business managers go low-code for its decreased costs, fast time-to-value, and accessibility that give them a fast track toward digital transformation. At the same time, there are some businesses that adopt such tools faster. Among them are the industries that need constant modernization: education, finance, healthcare, ecommerce, cloud providers, manufacturers, and others.
In this article, we will focus on the use of low-code in the manufacturing industry. In general, manufacturers are early adopters of brand-new technologies. Obviously, innovation was always a vital factor for financial success in this domain. In 2023, the manufacturing business is in the middle of its fourth revolution which is also known as industry 4.0. Contrary to the previous one, the third has to do with digital transformation and related technologies.
So, multiple businesses look for way to catch up with the industry leaders, eliminate technology debt, and save as much money as possible. According to Gartner, more than 36% of manufacturing businesses realize the above-average necessity of digitization delivered at a moderate price. And low-code is the best answer to this demand.
Low-code platforms in Manufacturing: Basic concepts
Before we dive into the impact of low-code platforms on manufacturing businesses, let’s clarify several basic terms.
Industry 4.0. technologies or modern manufacturing technologies refer to all the digital tools and software that is used by factory workers and management to improve production line efficacy, shopfloor operations, employee safety, and other.
Low-code development approach
Low-code development paradigm refers to software development tools and methods that allow developers to build software much faster. Instead of writing long code lines, developers compile code abstractions. Using a low-code platform, you can build various applications: from multifunctional workflow tools to sophisticated systems that coordinate production lines with AI and ML integrations.
Low-code development platforms
Low-code platform is a SaaS that embodies the low-code approach. These platforms offer an array of features, and ready-made components to help citizen developers build apps easily. Low-code development platforms (LCDPs) differ in the level of complexity, use cases, and pricing.
Why manufacturing businesses choose low-code platforms.
Low-code approach brings lots of benefits to every domain where it can be applied. It has some general beneficial traits we describe below.
Implementing new services and apps on a monthly basis with high code requires much time. Even the basic search for skilled professionals to deliver an application can take months. Leave alone months of development, testing, and deployment.
With a low-code approach, it’s never the case. Low-code platforms provide easy-to-use functionalities, a low threshold for citizen developers, and embedded developer tools that multiply software development speed. Even regular shopfloor operators, after a short training, can create apps in minutes. At the same time, professional low-code developers build complex apps in months instead of years.
With low-code, you don’t necessarily need to pay for professional developers if you need a simple app or website. It can be almost free. Often, low-code platforms provide users with free plans that have quite an impressive feature set.
However, when you need more complex apps or are about to modernize your plant management legacy system, low-code specialists are a must. One way or another, you’ll need much fewer developers for low-code app development projects. Another cost-cutting factor is the speed and ease of development: the faster you get your app, the less time you keep your devs on salary or the less money pay for the project. Compared to high-code development, low-code makes expenses at least twice as little.
Low-code solutions are simple to use, so shop floor staff can handle the creation of simple apps they need urgently. Certainly, they will need to learn the basics, but low-code platforms always include special training courses for non-technical employees.
With low-code platforms, manufacturing businesses can extend their core systems with other applications. Low-code’s reusable components allow adding new functionalities as easily as copy and pasting. Thus, manufacturers can quickly respond to the growing production volumes without costly delays.
Low-code applications are easy to maintain owing to their architecture and the app health tools. Also, the low-code app’s code is clean and consistent so it won’t be a problem to spot the weak spots and eliminate bugs.
Low-code platforms are famous for their routine task automation tools development. Manufacturers can employ low-code automation apps to reduce paperwork, enhance cross-department coherence, and get rid of annoying repetitive actions. For example, the maintenance manager can create an app where the engineers leave reports on the parameters of the assets.
Low-code platforms for the Manufacturing industry.
Now we get to the juicy part - the actual low-code platforms that are tailored to help manufacturers enter the new era of digitization.
Workerbase is an industry-specific LCDP that allows engineers and shop floor staff to create applications to tackle immediate work-related challenges. Using the platform’s intuitive drag-and-drop interface, even regular employees inexperienced in software development can build a simple app to automate or simplify a task in hours. At the same time, Workerbase provides customization capabilities that open the way for experienced low-code developers or trained employees, to develop more complex solutions for your MES.
In comparison to the previous platform, Zoho has much more to offer. First of all, you should consider that Creator is produced by Zoho - a renowned and powerful IT company. Accordingly, its low-code tool stands up for the name of the company. With Zoho Creator, manufacturers can create simple workflow applications as well as whole ERP systems from the ground up. Dragging and dropping ready-made elements, trained staff and developers can build simple apps easily without deep coding skills.
Outsystems is one of the most powerful low-code platforms if the world. It assists manufacturing businesses in achieving operational efficacy with RPA (Robotic Process Automation), field service apps, internal tools, and AI-powered in-line quality control. The platform is cloud-based which makes Outsystem low-code manufacturing software much more efficient, secure, and easy to access. With the enterprise service package, manufacturers can even build ERP systems and deploy them with a click in the private cloud.
Examples of Low-code Manufacturing Apps
Low-code manufacturing apps assist asset operators in improving OEE with digital machine alarms that shorten their reaction time. Apart from that, industry-specific apps facilitate machine setup and changeovers with apps for SMED workflows.
In-line quality management
When paired with IoT technologies and Artificial Intelligence, low-code platforms allow the creation of product quality control apps. Among such software:
- Inspection apps that signal operators when a process deviation is spotted. Using these apps, engineers can take immediate actions to fix the wreckage.
- Task coordination apps, that employ real-time data exchanges between employees and factory ERP.
- Inline data acquisition checklists.
Low-code asset maintenance software is a great aid when it comes to asset inspection. Such apps collect real-time traceability data and support overall machinery inspection along the production line. Then, there are maintenance protocols that coordinate staff, manage repair work, and collect maintenance data.
Low-code apps for material control improve inventory operations on the factory floor and facilitate control over the stocks. Moreover, low-code platforms are used to build digital Kanbans to facilitate material replenishment.
Shop floor management
Low-code shop floor management apps help factories to manage their data more effectively and enhance internal communication. First of all, there are shop floor meeting apps that store the information on the decisions made to keep all the staff on the same page. Then, digital safety checklists to check the staff's overall health and prevent contagious illnesses to spread. Furthermore, low-code idea-sharing apps allow all employees to share their thoughts on how to improve the workflow. And, finally, hand over apps that assist new employees and shift workers to have all the necessary information on their tasks and the current state of affairs on the shop floor.
Manufacturing trends in 2023
Predictive maintenance and digital twin technologies
Asset resilience is the key factor for the manufacturing business to thrive. It was and always be. But nowadays, in the face of unfolding recession, keeping the machinery healthy has even greater importance. Such technologies as digital twins and IoT paired with the manufacturing software are the integral part of predictive maintenance measures. So, in 2023, manufacturing businesses are expected to invest in these technologies and software even more.
Artificial Intelligence and Machine learning
Manufacturing system, paired with thousands of machines through IoT sensors, produce terrabytes of data per day. For now, the best way to manage such ampounts of information and analyzing it is the Artificial Intellligence. The recent research shows the spike in the demand in AI technologies among the manufacturers across developed countries.
Supply chain management apps
There’s also an enormous demand for cost efficient shoring and sourcing techhnologies and software. In 2020, supply chains were shocked by the rising labour costs, shipping prices, and the regulatory pressures. These factors motivated manufacturing businesses to find ways to automate as much tasks as possible and improve warehouse management. The result is the increasing demand for various types of supply management apps which is reflected in the recent supply chain management software research.
Low-code development experts
If you are ready to try the low-code approach, you might need a trusted partner to assist you through your journey. You can discuss your factory digital transformation project with our low-code development experts. We have more than 7 years of software development experience including working with various low-code development platforms including Retool, UI Bakery, Appsmith, Budibase, and others.
We can help you at any stage of your low-code app development: from the right low-code platform selection and process strategizing to full-scale development, customization, and integration with your existing systems. For more information, reach out to our low-code development team leads and get a free consultation.
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