The process of “app-timization” has reached all industries, and manufacturing is no exception. Nowadays both big manufacturing conglomerates as well as small family-owned operations rely on various technological solutions. These come in the form of IT systems as well as smaller standard apps. And then there are also custom manufacturing solutions that help address the specific needs and challenges of each business based on no-code.
Big IT solutions, such as Siemens’s MindSphere, help with managing a large variety of manufacturing systems, machines, plants, and more. Other, smaller manufacturing solutions, come in the form of standard apps available through the Google Play Store and the Salesforce AppExchange.
But these solutions are not always feasible for small manufacturers. The latter can therefore also create their own custom apps that are tailored to their specific needs. Such custom manufacturing apps can be created by anyone with the Open as App platform. While they can be of use to any business, they can provide small businesses in particular with a competitive advantage.
Table of Contents
- How customizing your mobile apps is better than the standard approach
- Types of manufacturing solutions without coding
- Examples of manufacturing apps created by the Open as App community
- How to build an audit app
- Build a manufacturing solution without coding
With our app creation platform, you can upload Excel and Google sheets, and other files, and turn this data into web or native apps without any coding. Integrating these apps into your company’s manufacturing processes does not require adopting new systems or tools. The apps simply become available on mobile devices and browsers and can be used immediately.
This allows you to create any number and type of app solutions, as long as you have some form of structured data that you want to deploy in new ways. Custom manufacturing solutions also offer the benefit of creating solutions that are adapted to your company’s specific procedures and structures. Moreover, these apps can be created for a fraction of both the cost as well as the time it usually takes to develop a custom app.
Interested in manufacturing solutions? Here is how Open as App can help you improve your manufacturing process, and how to build your first app!
How customizing your mobile apps is better than the standard approach
Standard manufacturing app solutions, like Siemens’s IoT system or those available in the Google Play Store, address different parts of the manufacturing process. Bigger solutions can encompass most if not all of the components of the process, whereas smaller apps are designed to address specific aspects of it.
While larger solutions offer a great deal to businesses, they can also be difficult and costly to implement. Smaller solutions, on the other hand, address specific issues. But due to their partial nature, they are sometimes not a good fit within the specific IT architecture of a company.
A mobile manufacturing solution, built with Open as App, offers a different approach. Apps built with Open as App cannot substitute overall solutions. They can, instead, offer ways of dealing with specific manufacturing or organizational problems and then be integrated within the greater web of IT architecture.
This is possible because Open as App works only with data that is already available in the company, and problems that are solved through Excel or databases. An app solution that is created based on such an Excel sheet works like a mobile frontend for the data, retaining its functionality, but making it more accessible and easy to use.
But apart from serving as a frontend for such data, Open as App also offers the following benefits to companies:
- High data privacy and security: the hosting environment for the data remains with the company. Open as App simply implements the logic of the spreadsheet but does not access or copy the data. Moreover, apps display on those parts of the data which you decide to reveal.
- Fast and easy app creation: app solutions can be created within minutes and deployed and shared immediately with collaborators or users. Changes to the data source are reflected in the app in real-time, and app maintenance happens through a user-friendly and intuitive interface.
- Low development cost: apps developed with Open as App cost only a tiny fraction of the usual development cost of a custom app. Features in the app are dependent on the functions that are included in the spreadsheet and are not priced additionally by Open as App.
- No coding skills required: Open as App is accessible to all types of users (not just IT). It is intended to empower business units to create ad hoc and bespoke solutions on a daily basis. Thanks to the user-friendly interface and the directions provided by the app creation wizard, an app can be created out of a spreadsheet without any IT support.
These are some of the immediate benefits that your company can gain from creating custom manufacturing apps. Here are some of the types of apps that you can create.
Types of manufacturing solutions without coding
There are several different types of apps that you can create with the Open as App platform. The type of your app will depend on the type of structured data you feed into the platform.
Open as App does not retain the data which you import – instead, it only grasps the way the data is structured. Based on the structure of the data, the platform then suggests the best type of app. If you’d like to create a different type of app, you can select it from the list.
The following types of apps are frequently used when creating manufacturing solutions with Open as App:
- Calculation apps (for quotes, ROI, amortization)
- List apps (for tasks, maintenance or operation instructions, contacts)
- Dashboard apps (to visualize productivity, output, sales)
- Report apps (for weekly or monthly reports about operations, sales, profits, safety)
Curious what these apps look like, and how they function? See the next section for some examples of manufacturing apps created by the Open as App community.
Examples of manufacturing solutions apps created by the Open as App community
The following are several apps created by the Open as App community that demonstrate how companies can create easy manufacturing solutions for a wide range of problems. While you cannot use these apps for your own needs, their purpose is to serve as inspiration for what you can achieve with Open as App.
Machine inspection apps
A machine inspection app can help users keep track of when a machine has been inspected, by whom, and when it is due for another inspection. This helps keep track of maintenance and reduce downtime, and schedule checks at regular intervals.
The app also allows for the upload of data with signature authentication. That way, anyone who inspects a machine may leave comments about its status and specific needs for maintenance, change of parts, etc.
Quality and safety reporting apps
Some of our clients have also used Open as App to create reporting apps for conditions and situations related to quality and safety at the workplace. These apps help streamline the reporting process by providing users with the ability to submit information regarding an unsafe or positive condition or action.
Such an app can include information fields about the data and place of an occurrence, the exact category of the occurrence, and a detailed description thereof. It can also allow users to attach photographs so to substantiate the information provided in the report.
Energy calculation and consumption apps
Open as App has also been used to create apps that calculate energy consumption on smaller and bigger scales.
This can include the consumption and CO2 output of a small firm with just a few machines (and take into account factors such as standby or specific kW rates). It has also been used to calculate the energy input and output of power plants to serve as an audit for their efficiency.
CO2 emission calculator apps
CO2 emissions are a central concern for any manufacturing company. The usefulness of an emission calculator app is that it provides immediate results regarding the environmental impact of different energy sources.
Properly calculating the emissions or mitigation of CO2 involves a large number of calculations and the inclusion of various dependent factors. An app that can calculate emissions helps users to get an idea of the consequences of power consumption at a glance.
Machine hour rate calculation apps
A quick and accessible way to calculate the rates of the operation of one or several machines is by creating a machine hour rate calculation app. This app includes:
- Overview of the hourly rates of all machines
- Breakdown, by machine, of the maintenance and energy costs, rent and acquisition cost, and more
- Details cards that allow you to tweak the shifts and occupancy rates of each machine
- General adjustments regarding the overall maintenance, energy, and rent costs per year, along with a detailed breakdown of the working times of the machines
- Charts that present all of the above information in a highly comprehensive and user-friendly way
Machine location tracker apps
Companies that rent machines or have a large number of machines in their operations may use Open as App to create simple list apps. Such apps can be used to store the location of every machine, its number, and its model. An option to include an image of every machine may also help to identify a machine when needed.
Product/machine ROI calculator apps
ROI calculator apps have been used very effectively by sales teams when leading negotiations and talks with clients. Such an app enables sales representatives to offer quotes and ROI estimates on the spot while taking into account a variety of complex factors that influence such estimates.
Price list and spare parts apps
These types of apps can be used by sales or support representatives to quickly respond to inquiries. Alternatively, companies can make these apps available to customers, allowing them to request quotes or even make orders for spare parts straight from the app.
All of the above are examples of apps that Open as App’s clients have created over time. They are by far not exhaustive of the types of manufacturing apps that can be created. If you’re curious about creating your own app, below is an example of how to build an ISO audit app.
How to build an audit app
The following is an early self-assessment list app for a company’s adherence to ISO requirements and standards. It is based on the general audit questions for ISO 9001 and is intended to help users to get an overview of the status quo in the company.
Features of the audit app
- List with detail dialog for every item
- Detail dialog can be edited – and will change the display of the status automatically in the list overview
- Comments can be left on each item regarding its status or details
- A print option is included that allows users to export the list to a PDF
To create this app, the audit questions and action items were entered into an Excel sheet. To allow users to change the status of each question, a drop-down menu with “yes” and “no” options was added.
These were edited to be displayed with thumbs up and thumbs down icons. Emojis were simply added to the formula and were then picked up by Open as App when the spreadsheet was analyzed.
The formula used for the purpose was: =IF(NOT(ISWRONG(SEARCH(“yes”;C3;1)));”👍”;”👎”)
Once the Excel sheet with the audit questions and the drop-down menu was ready, it was uploaded to the Open as App wizard. The steps you need to take to upload your sheet and create an audit app are as follows:
- Upload your Excel file or link it to the Open as App wizard.
- Choose “list” as the app type.
- Verify where the list begins when prompted by the platform (see screenshot below).
- Choose the design of your app, and organize the columns for the list and detail dialogs, according to your preferences.
- Publish the app.
To allow client changes in the app i.e. edits to the status of items in the list, you will need to take an additional step. In the web portal, you will need to “allow editing lists” from the settings of your app. After this, users will be able to edit the list in the app.
Finally, if your file has a defined print area, you need to add an action button to your app, to enable the option in the app.
Build manufacturing solutions without coding
These are some of the ways in which manufacturers can make use of Open as App to create custom manufacturing solutions for their operations and day-to-day issues. With such custom apps, manufacturing companies can maximize their existing resources and achieve greater efficiency, without any additional IT support or changes to their current processes.
Are you ready to try creating your own manufacturing solutions? Go to our app wizard and get started right away!