Build Manufacturing Collaboration with Interactive Ink

Gary Baum, VP of Marketing, MyScript
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Gary Baum, VP of Marketing, MyScript

Today’s manufacturing involves a multitude of tasks that are performed automatically. Though sensors have an important role, humans still have a key function in managing this information from manufacturing systems and in collaborating with colleagues and management. That means manufacturers can still realize vast new efficiency and productivity gains by more effectively managing collaboration—both between human team members, and sometimes between human team members and the machines they share the manufacturing floor with.

Yes, the Internet of Things (IoT) or Industrial IoT has gar­nered huge improvements in the manufacturing process im­provement. But improving the productivity of human collabora­tion, and even more important, problem solving, has remained largely unchanged for over a decade. All manufacturers need a richer, deeper collaboration architecture that incorporates broader business functions and tools. One example of this col­laboration disconnect between human machine interfacing has to do with one of the most basic daily tasks–the act of handwrit­ing. For instance, many manufacturing personnel take handwrit­ten notes as part of their collaboration, problem solving or re­cord keeping, and have no easy way to easily integrate them into their everyday workflow or easily share their notes and thoughts with others.

A key tool manufacturing system collaborators are increas­ingly taking advantage of are the newer tablets and so-called ‘hybrid,’ or 2:1 tablets. These 2:1 tablets, sometimes called ‘de­tachables,’ include hardware and styluses powerful enough to exploit Interactive Ink, and allow you to both write on the device and use the keyboard for user input as most appropriate to the situation and information being created. For example, creating math equations or diagrams is not easily accomplished using a keyboard or a mouse whereas writing is simple and easy.

  ​Ink converts handwritten input to digital form and preserves text titles, paragraphs, and bullet lists, as well as layouts, colors and styles   

MyScript’s Interactive Ink technology, and new apps such as Nebo, enables pro­ductivity gains on a daily basis. Manufac­turing process control personnel can take notes, edit, and convert them to digital text for further use or collaboration. Interactive Ink converts handwritten input to digital form and preserves text titles, paragraphs, and bullet lists, as well as layouts, colors and styles. You can annotate pictures, insert images, and even add interactive diagrams, editable equations and freeform sketches to your notes, too. Be­ing able to edit and format your handwritten notes, or even the typeset converted notes, provides the flexibility common to a keyboard based-word processor–and it can all be done with the digital pen on the device itself. All of this adds up to a dramat­ic improvement in mobility, a savings in time and an increase in productivity.

The best way to make mobile manufacturing ‘problem solver’ employees more effective, creative, and productive is by ensuring that they’re using the latest devices and technologies available. Interactive Ink is a strong example of the innovation needed as it relates to increasing efficiency and productivity in the workplace. Platform interoperability enables users to easily digitize text and export it to Microsoft Office applications such as Word, email programs or as HTML output to other apps or browsers. This helps get the information to other people in the company faster. And you no longer have to spend time retyping and reformatting to share the notes and dia­grams with coworkers, since Interactive Ink automatically turns digital handwriting into typeset digital fonts with formatting pre­served. Nebo-based documents can be ex­ported to Nebo running on other platforms so that the user or coworkers can continue to edit and change the digitized content on their favorite device using the active pen (or pencil).

IDC has been reporting the gradual decline of consumer interest in tablets and is now backing the premise that the 2-1 detachables will enjoy the device market growth for the foreseeable future. This represents a shift from tablets being used solely for media consumption since detacha­bles provide a potent means for content creation in the enterprise, too. "Beyond the growing demand for detachable devices, we're also witnessing an increase in competition within this segment that will help drive design, innovation, and a decline in average prices," said Jean Philippe Bouchard, Research Director, Tab­lets. “Adoption [of detachables] among business users is only just starting,” adds Marta Fiorentini, Research Manager, IDC EMEA Personal Computing.

As manufacturing technology continues to evolve every day to meet greater productivity demands, timely worker collabora­tion is central to a new vision of work that quickly integrates the work of entire teams into the cloud ecosystem in near-real time. As PwC points out in a recent report, workers need to not only communicate with each other, but to communicate with their machines, too. Robotics have become cost-effective in re­placing mundane tasks currently performed by humans, which frees humans to do more important tasks. Today robots are not only being used in traditional manufacturing sectors such as au­tomotive, but also in sectors such as food and beverage and life sciences. Robots not only are used to do work that requires dex­terity and precision humans often cannot achieve, but in some cases, they are working collaboratively, hand-in-hand with their human counterparts.

In the end, the key to realizing improved productivity gains in manufacturing will be found in simplifying and speeding the collaboration between human team members. That means the big trends in computer software and hardware will be all about enabling mobility and multimodal input. MyScript has staked out its place in that future with Interactive Ink.

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