Some habits are hard to break, especially when they’ve been going on for hundreds of years. Take paper, for instance. It’s been the foundation of business and manufacturing documentation since the beginning. And although many current manufacturing processes leverage advanced technology in production, safety, operations and quality documentation still largely relies on paper processes for most companies. let’s take a look at the history of paper processes in manufacturing and see why it’s time for businesses to let go of paper and make the switch to digital transformation. 

The History of Paper Processes in Manufacturing

The history of the Industrial Revolution in the United States throughout the 1800’s and 1900’s is one of constant innovation and rapid technological advancement. In fact, the very production of paper itself was a very early part of that history, with the first American paper mill starting in Pennsylvania in 1690. The rise of paper gave rise to more books, newspapers, documents, ideas and knowledge that led to even more innovations. 

Fast forward to the 20th century; manufacturers everywhere eagerly adopt new technologies to streamline assembly lines, create more products, and boost quality. Manufacturing operations, and particularly American manufacturing systems, actively chased rapid innovation and technological advancement to bring better products to market, faster and better than the competition. Through it all, they generated, filed, lost, abandoned, shredded and recycled mountains of paper documentation.

Switch Through Digital Transformation

Although companies have adopted all kinds of technological automation to create millions of products, there is one constant that has resisted change for most companies: using paper to document quality, operations and safety procedures. Machine automation, robots, blockchain technology and so many other advances have made manufacturing safer, more reliable and scalable than ever before. The innovation is right in front of our eyes- so why are businesses still stuck on paper?

It’s time to make that same digital transformation for paper processes in manufacturing too. Research demonstrates significant ROI to going paperless, particularly as safety management, operations and quality control are concerned. Some manufacturers have already moved towards digital transformation, eliminating a great deal of paper waste, saving significant amounts of money, and saving thousands of trees in the process. 

But we still have ways to go. The average employee churns through about 10,000 sheets of paper annually, about 1,400 of which are lost according to Papersave. Another study shows that filing one paper document costs $20 in labor costs. Not to mention, a business spends $120 searching for missing documents, and $220 by recreating lost documents. Paper, for all its well-earned history, is slower and more inefficient than ever against a backdrop of highly advanced manufacturing processes that are faster and more precise than ever. 

The persistent slowness of paper hobbles operations and costs too much. Documenting changes, quality and operations issues, and safety directives on paper simply doesn’t make sense anymore, especially when digital solutions like Anvl’s software make every step of the digital transformation simple and easy to manage. 

It’s Time to Let Paper Go

Aside from the fact that paper is slow, inefficient and unproductive, paper is not as safe as digital documentation sent through a safety software process. Employee safety is the top concern, and the COVID-19 pandemic is one of the most pressing reasons to let go of paper today, and never look back. With the need for more employees to work from home, or at greater distances on the shop floor, it’s more difficult for paper documents to change hands and stay relevant before they expire. Not only that, but the novel coronavirus can live on paper for about 30 minutes, meaning that contaminated documents can change several hands, with potentially disastrous consequences for your employees. On the other hand, digital documents fly in milliseconds from one person to another without any need for disinfectant. And because digital documentation is so much more efficient, less wasteful and more intelligent, it accelerates improvements in operations all across the plant while helping improve worker safety along the way. 

It is time to let paper go. Sure, paper was innovative for the demands of the Industrial Revolution- but we should have come a long way since then. Anvl can make taking that first step toward digital transformation easy and rewarding:

  • We can help you automate your paperwork and work processes to engage frontline workers for a safer work environment and higher productivity overall. 
  • Find out about how our digital transformation services can make it easy for you to innovate, improve and say goodbye to the paper that weighs your business down. 

Request a free demo and contact one of our experts today.