Manufacturers are required to have comprehensive plans, procedures, designs, and specifications from the time a product is conceptualized until it is developed and distributed. These manufacturing documents include product data, engineering changes, drawings, customer feedback, etc. Using a manual system to keep these documents organized, accurate, and accessible is not easy.
Digital signature software helps manufacturing firms digitally manage all documents that relate to every point of their manufacturing process. Once you integrate your processes with a digital signature creator like Foxit eSign, you gain control over your Bill of Materials (BOMs) and related documents, helping you streamline your supply chain.
Document Management Challenges in Manufacturing
Changes in Mismanaged Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)
SOPs are an important part of daily processes in the manufacturing industry; this is because procedures and protocols being followed the same way every time is of utmost importance. Making changes to SOPs and validating them takes time as it is a process that involves multiple parties. When manufacturing companies depend on paper-based processes, changes to SOPs are usually communicated via quick notes that can be easily misplaced or lost.
Creating Customer Communications
Communication is one thing you must embrace when in the manufacturing sector. Generating and approving volumes of documents, such as product information, proposals, and invoices, is crucial to ensure customer relationships remain strong.
Maintaining Vendor Relationships
Your suppliers and vendors are just as important as your customers and require your full attention at all times. This covers paperwork like quotes and packing slips, change order documents, requisition, etc.
Good Manufacturing Processes (GMPs) are crucial to organizations that manufacture products such as pharmaceuticals, food, cosmetics, etc. Implementing these processes can help avoid recalls, fines, seizures, and even jail time because of poor product quality.
Now, documentation is the key to Good Manufacturing Process compliance and ensures traceability of all manufacturing, development, and testing activities. In other words, GMP documentation usually provides the route for authorities and auditors to access the quality of the final product.
But as you might be aware, it is not easy to ensure compliance, especially when many processes are involved. Verifying and appending signatures to hundreds of documents is always a tedious and intricate process, even for organizations with many employees.
Lowering Costs Associated with Documentation
Cutting costs is a top priority for every sector, and manufacturing is no exception. Printing costs are one of the largest overheads faced by manufacturing companies today. Fortunately, it is a cost that can be easily culled.
For the manufacturing industry, employee productivity can determine an organization’s profitability. For example, employees must be up to date with all contract developments to ensure all issues relating to these contract processes are tracked and managed effectively.
Lack of Centralization
Uncoordinated paperwork exposes manufacturing companies to unnecessary risks, such as noncompliance and late payments from customers.
How Digital Signatures Help Solve Challenges in the Manufacturing Industry
There are multiple reasons why it is wise for manufacturing companies to invest in digital signatures. Below are some of the notable benefits.
Faster contract approval process
Contracts validate the relationship between the manufacturer and the suppliers or customers. However, getting them approved and signed can be a tedious process.
Digital signatures can hasten the process of approving client/supplier contracts. Instead of sending a contract to one party, waiting for them to print, sign, scan, and send it to another party, and replicating the process repeatedly, everyone can append their signatures within minutes. This faster turnaround provides manufacturers greater versatility, especially in time-sensitive situations, and may allow you to realize the cash benefits much sooner.
Cut the costs in the contract approval process
Investing in digital signature software may seem more costly, but eventually, it will save you lots of money. By cutting the need for contracts to be transported, signed, and filed in paper format, digital signatures can minimize the cost of manually handling paper contracts. This includes saving money on paper, mailing supplies, postage, and the time employees spend processing paperwork.
Prevent human error in the manufacturing process
Using digital signatures to manage manufacturing documents enables companies with different business units and branches to control documents and ensure quality processes across the globe or even within departments. With a digital signature tool like Foxit eSign, you can easily create templates that can be applied to change orders, change requests, BOMs, QC inspections, training, CARs, etc.
Templates ensure your company is using the correct version of the master document. Without a doubt, this streamlines operations, enhances manufacturing efficiencies, and helps in archiving and retrieving documents.
Maintain compliance with various manufacturing standards and regulations
Again, as we mentioned, being in the manufacturing sector means you have endless regulations to comply with. From 21 CFR Part 820 to OSHA to ISO 9000:9001, digital signatures can help your organization easily abide by all regulations.
Digital signatures employ Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) technology – and thus, represent universal acceptance and the highest level of security for digital documentation. For instance, a page of verifiable signatures can be included at the end of a PDF-based contract. This acts as proof that the authorized parties have approved the contract.
This way, digital signature software can guarantee every signer’s intent and identity. It also shows the time and date a signature was appended, further guarding against document fraud. Once a contract has been signed digitally, it cannot be altered. If there is any alteration, the signature will be invalidated.
In short, when integrated into a document management system (DMS), digital signatures can help eradicate document anarchy. Most importantly, they ensure necessary compliance processes have been followed – minimizing the risk of fines or censures from regulatory bodies.
Improve Workforce Agility
The advantages of going digital also include improved agility in regard to flawless onboarding processes, reliable record keeping, and streamlined safety policies.
Manufacturing companies that adopt digital signatures can accelerate the overall employee hiring process. For example, manufacturers can digitally distribute employee handbooks and policies while flawlessly monitoring the signing process, which employees can append from any location. Digital signatures can also be used when conducting background checks. Identity verification credentials, etc.
Besides the hiring documents, employees have to sign countless documents throughout their employment phase, whether they are internal, like sick leave or confidentiality agreements, or external collaborators with suppliers, clients, collaborators, etc.
Streamlining the process by investing in digital signatures is, thus, important for employees in manufacturing companies who see their days laden with the administrative part of work.
Central Document Repository
Physical documents can easily get misplaced, lost, or damaged. After all, the documents are all over different sites and departments, making it more difficult to trace them whenever needed. However, with digital signature software, signed contracts can be securely stored within a centralized repository for easy access and protection.
Common Documents Used in The Manufacturing Industry
You can easily digitally send, sign, and send, the following manufacturing documents:
- Bill of materials (BOM)
- Product requirement
- Design documents (generated in CAD)
- Orders and fulfillment
- Shipping documents
- Product assembly and finishing agreements
- Build packages
- Manufacturing service agreements
- Patent, IP, and copyright licenses
- Quality control contracts and certifications
- Engineering documents, technical documentation
- Sales documents, commercial proposals, tenders, RFP/RFQ documents
- Purchase orders, bills, invoices, and statements.
- QA and other reports
Which digital signature service should you choose?
Now that you have seen the benefits of creating digital signatures, it is time to choose a digital signing tool for your manufacturing firm.
Check out the tips below to know what should be your priority:
- User-friendly interface for desktop or mobile
- Digital records that are time-stamped and tamper-proof
- Instant document access from anywhere
- Insights into manufacturing documentation processes for workflow optimization
- Secure and compliant with manufacturing industry regulations
- Easy to integrate with other business applications
It's Time to Make a Change
Armed with the above reasons for embracing digital signatures, it is high time to think about switching. Today, digital signatures are so common that anyone you transact with won’t question your documents’ legitimacy when prompted to sign digitally.
Foxit eSign provides a much easier and quicker contract approval process, eradicating friction in agreement negotiations. It incorporates an array of features designed to curtail the risk of fraud and leave a detailed audit trail. This means you can see everyone who signed, where they are geographically located, and when they signed.