The Value Of Tablets On The Plant Floor

de-santos-restaurantTechnology keeps improving in our lifetimes. As if I couldn’t love my iPad anymore, I found yet another reason to love tablet technology during a recent walk through an airport while on a business trip. I went past a restaurant where each seating place had its own mounted tablet. Patrons can place their orders directly from the tablet, without waiting to talk to a server. After they’ve ordered, patrons can play games on the tablet—a perfect way to pass the time while waiting for your order. And if your order is taking long, you can check the status right on the same tablet. Growing up, I was happy if there was a placemat that had some activities that would pass the time.

This trend is continuing in the consumer market, but it is even starting to catch on in the manufacturing industry, as well. More and more of the customers I speak to are using tablets on the plant floor for various purposes. For instance, executives can use the tablets to see high-level reports. Operators can view their operation and enter data from anywhere. Maintenance personnel can take their tablets along as they work, leaving their clipboards and manuals behind. Imagine the knowledge that can be carried around in a very light tablet. Plus, you have the ability to enter data while hundreds of yards away from your desktop or laptop computer, and right in front of the asset you are doing maintenance on. What if you forget how to do a step? You can find that information on your tablet—maybe even a how-to video. No more lugging heavy manuals around.

According to the Statista statistics portal, worldwide tablet shipments are growing at a very fast pace—forecasted to reach over 406 million units in 2017. Meanwhile, shipments of desktop PCs and laptops are projected to steadily decline to 123 million and 196 million, respectively. This is quite a turnaround from 2010, when total tablet shipments were recorded at 19 million, desktop PCs at 157 million and laptops at 201 million. For perspective, the entire U.S. population clocks in at 318 million people, with a world population of over 7 billion people as of mid-June 2014, according to  The world will be getting more saturated with tablets as they continue to become the norm in our daily lives.

We are seeing the retirement of a generation used to doing all their work on paper, now being replaced by a generation that has grown up on technology and expects it to be part of their daily lives—including their work.

I think tablets are one of the greatest inventions in recent history; I use one for many of my daily activities. As we have seen, tablet usage is increasing rapidly—drastically improving productivity at home, at the airport and especially at the manufacturing facility. I love my tablet.

Paul Adams

Paul has spent more than 20 years in manufacturing with GE’s Intelligent Platforms business, focusing on product development. His deep industry experience comes from countless calls, meetings and visits to manufacturers around the globe to help solve their business challenges. Today, he works in Global Professional Services, which allows him to continue working with GE’s manufacturing customers at a more downstream function. Wonder what challenges he’s helping manufacturers solve today? Connect with Paul on LinkedIn.

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