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Power Apps for Manufacturing: 8 Benefits and Key Challenges of Creation

Paul Kovalenko Paul Kovalenko | December 7, 2023 | 9 min

In the right hands, Power Apps can provide manufacturing businesses with many benefits, including increased production speed and continuous product innovation. For most of these companies, using Power Apps is a simple case of survival, as they are required to automate manual processes, analyze complex data, boost overall efficiency, and stay relevant in the competitive market. 

Business executives and managers for manufacturing companies may weigh the benefits of Power Apps for manufacturing and the challenges to expect during the creation process. Below, we explore the key advantages of using Power Apps for the manufacturing industry to drive digital transformation. Let’s dive in!

The Growing Influence of Power Apps for the Manufacturing Industry: 4 Use Cases and Examples

Power Apps is a suite of Microsoft apps, connectors, and services that makes it possible to quickly build and deploy custom applications. It requires zero to low code and facilitates app building for modern custom applications. Generally, Power Apps is part of Microsoft’s collection of low-code development tools that can be used to automate workflow, build business applications, analyze data of all sorts, and develop AI chatbots. Other advanced tools in the pack include Power Automate, Power BI, and Power Virtual Agents. 

At a time when manufacturers face obstacles such as inflation and supply/demand issues, automating manual processes and reducing human errors are top priorities. Reports show that human errors in manufacturing account for 23% of manufacturing delays — higher than most other industries. Increasingly, manufacturing companies are noticing how effective and impactful Power Apps can be to their bottom lines. A recent survey by Deloitte reveals that over 80% of companies believe that intelligent automation can make a “practical and visible impact,” and nearly 30% consider the tool an asset.

Using Power Apps for manufacturing companies gives you the ability to integrate them with other Office 365 tools and Azure functions. Whether your manufacturing company is tinkering around the edges or a professional developer is working on complex app customizations, Power Apps can foster data-driven decisions and digital transformation quickly, intuitively, and at a cheaper cost than with traditional approaches.

Take the chemical industry, for example. Power Apps’ predictive algorithms can analyze complex chemical data, identify patterns, make predictions, and optimize experimental conditions with little to no human input.

It’s also important to note that there are three types of Power Apps for development — canvas apps, model-driven apps, and portals. While a model-driven app is more commonly used for designing complex business logic, the best-suited app for each company may differ based on what it manufactures, the equipment it uses, and its unique challenges.

Ever seen Power Apps in action? Its use is not limited to just the assembly line; it’s relevant for manufacturing. Here are three use cases for your inspiration:

1. Customer Air Products & Services, Inc. (CAPS)

CAPS, a Houston-based heating, air conditioning, and ventilation (HVAC) company, uses Power Apps and other power platform tools to manage sales quotes, track sign-offs during production, trace and send notifications about root cause analyses, and many more.

CAPS had bottlenecks with tracking the “cradle to crate” lifecycle of HVAC units, and quality check processes were a headache. Their manufacturing document often got lost or damaged. With zero coding knowledge, they built a Power Apps-enabled management app to digitize the process. It allows stakeholders and PMs to view, track, and manage all active projects and data sets and ensure accurate quality checks before shipping. Well, the picture speaks for itself.

2. TransAlta

TransAlta, a Canadian company dealing in power generation and energy trading, built a Power Apps-based app to cut excess expenses and maximize ROI. The app named ‘economic callouts” makes out the economic viability of deploying technicians during non-working hours. In barely a fortnight of using the app, the company recovered its development cost and improved ROI.

3. Kao Corporation

Kao, a domestic soap manufacturing company founded in 1887, struggled with a long history of manual processes. They had a paper form for everything, including harmful chemical storage, raw materials management, and so much more. A team member with no coding background built an inventory management platform using Power Apps. Now, the company enjoys improved efficiency, with over 480 work hours saved every month.

4. Vehicle Manufacturers

Many renowned global vehicle engineering companies such as Toyota and Rolls-Royce are using Power Apps for manufacturing to drive efficiency, improve safety, enhance employee reportage, and prioritize safety concerns.

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Benefits of Power Apps for Manufacturing

The benefits of Power Apps for manufacturing are limitless. Manufacturing organizations are increasingly using Power Apps to optimize their business flow and gain insight into their data, or in the business lingo of today, to make data-driven decisions. The main advantages of deploying Power Apps for manufacturing app development are listed below:

1. Forecasting and monitoring raw materials

More correctly than paperwork, Power Apps solutions for manufacturing can optimize raw materials management by analyzing large amounts of historical data, marketing trends, supplier availability, and customer feedback. With these capabilities, you can generate accurate raw materials forecasts, identify potential bottlenecks, and explore scenario planning for informed decision-making.

2. Predictive equipment maintenance

Using Microsoft Power Apps for manufacturing can allow businesses to launch proactive maintenance strategies by enabling condition monitoring. Your Power Apps-based equipment maintenance app can directly record equipment readings and sensor data from the equipment alongside other measurements.

Combined with historical data, industrial technicians can identify trends, potential issues, and anomalies with equipment and generate alerts and notifications based on predefined thresholds. This promotes preventive monitoring before equipment failure happens, extends overall equipment effectiveness, and reduces the risk of unplanned downtime.

3. Streamlined workflow

Efficiency and productivity gains are two big benefits of using Power Apps to automate workflow. By developing a custom power app platform, businesses can streamline all paper-based manufacturing processes that are often tedious. From managing requests to document routing to conducting data analyses and more, Microsoft Power Apps for manufacturing is usually faster than humans, which reduces an employee’s workload and allows your team to focus on more important tasks.

In addition, streamlining manufacturing workflow also automates a limitless number of internal processes such as task scheduling and so much more.

4. Improved asset and supply chain management

Asset and supply chain management is another essential benefit of manufacturing app development with Power Apps. You can create an asset tracking app, scan asset barcodes or RFID tags, perform inspections, and update real-time asset statuses. In fact, it’s possible to integrate a Geographical Information System (GIS) cloud map with Power Apps, enabling efficient visualization of assets and supplies on maps, optimizing routes, and facilitating proper budgeting. By establishing a real-time predictive supply model, manufacturing executives are alerted the second a failure in the supply chain is detected.

5. Earning algorithms predict demand

Power Apps for manufacturing projects can analyze historical earning patterns and sales data and predict future demand. This helps manufacturers to increase or slow down manufacturing based on past sales trends, product type, seasonality, purchase frequency, and more.

6. Inventory management prevents bottlenecks

Another compelling Power Apps use case for manufacturing industries is inventory management. A Power Apps-enabled inventory app can analyze behavior patterns, track and forecast demand and supply, help manufacturing businesses improve stock management, reduce stockouts, and streamline supply chain operations.

7. Quality control and safety management

Quality assurance and safety auditors can use Power Apps for manufacturing to spot deviations from the safety norms, track corrective actions, automate checklists, and ensure adherence to regulatory procedures.

8. Easy integration with Office 365 Suite

Power Apps project for manufacturing can be integrated with a slew of APIs and connectors that make collaborations with Microsoft Office 365 suite such as SharePoint, PowerPoint, Outlook, Word, Excel, OneNote, brigades, OneDrive, Power BI, and other Microsoft operations. Also, Power Apps can be integrated with Dynamics 365, SQL Garçon, Salesforce, and other third-party services. 

The above list is by no means exhaustive. Apart from the cost-saving advantage of Power Apps, it can help manufacturing companies reduce scrap loss and maintain flexible structures.

Challenges of Power Apps in Manufacturing: A Call to Executives

While Power Apps has so much potential and promise for manufacturing companies, several challenges may come into focus. Here are challenges to keep on your radar and solutions to go off to the races:

1. Data quality and management

Challenge: Access to high-quality data is critical for the success of power app initiatives. Manufacturing data may be outdated, biased, or full of errors due to many factors. One example is sensor data collected from a production floor where noise, vibration variables, and extreme temperature can produce inaccurate data. 

Solution: Invest in your data foundation. Chase meaningful data, not some vanity ones that are pretty much useless. Accurate data streamlines your Power Apps building stage and also fortifies the foundational backbone of your operations. We recommend consulting a professional power app developer for expert guidance.

2. Internal processes

Challenge: A disconnect in the work structure of a manufacturing company may be a problem. Companies striving on department soloing may struggle with tools like Power Apps requiring cross-sectional input. Also, a skills gap may exist between the demands of Power Apps-powered manufacturing and the current workforce. In fact, some employees may resist adopting new technology. 

Solution: Conduct a company-wide workshop, find internal champions, partner with expert developers, and invest in ongoing training.

3. Security and privacy

Challenge: As Power Apps and other Microsoft integrations continue to grow, manufacturing business data may become more vulnerable to cyberattacks and data breaches.

Solution: Adopt a security-first mindset. This includes regular audits, keeping systems updated, and ensuring protocols are in place for data privacy and protection. An expert developer is in the best position to diagnose your company’s risk of attacks.

4. Integration with legacy systems

Challenge: Manufacturing companies may need help integrating Power Apps with other manufacturing cloud apps or solutions. Similar problems abound in parallel industries like healthcare.

Solution: Collaboration between your IT team and Power App expert developers is paramount here. At Langate, we seamlessly integrated smart glasses with a client’s healthcare data infrastructure, empowering medical professionals with real-time access to patient records, diagnostics, and collaborative tools. Similar game-changing Power Apps innovation is possible in the manufacturing space.

Consider Langate as Your Trusted Partner

Is your manufacturing business still dealing with a lack of automation, difficulty managing workflow, and eye-straining paperwork? Power Apps may just be the secret weapon your factory woes need to come to a deserved end. Power Apps for manufacturing streamline routine workflow processes and boost efficiency, but building one may be difficult. Langate is a global company providing custom and cost-effective Power Apps solutions for businesses of all sizes. 

While not all Power Apps-based development requires expert developers with great coding knowledge, we recommend consulting professionals to analyze the complexity of your app and ensure security precautions before wetting your feet.

Final Thoughts

The benefits of Power Apps are immense, but deploying one for your manufacturing company may be challenging. By identifying the problem and having a clear strategy, vision, and roadmap, manufacturing executives can ride the wave of Power Apps transformation, ushering their enterprises into the era of unprecedented efficiency and innovative technologies. These processes can be complex, so we recommend you collaborate with Langate’s expert power platform developers

Frequently Asked Questions

Why use Power Apps for manufacturing app development?

Power Apps can track and monitor inventory in real-time at the manufacturing level, including production quantities, supplies, and marketing trends. This allows you to quickly adapt to changes and make data-driven decisions.

What are the main benefits of using Power Apps for manufacturers?

The major advantages of using Power Apps include manufacturing automation, better collaboration, cost efficiency, simplified workflow, zero coding required, integration with Microsoft Office 365 and other integration tools, improved collaboration, etc.

How can Power Apps help manufacturers improve quality control processes?

Power Apps helps manufacturing businesses to streamline operational processes, reduce manual work, and accurately monitor quality standards, thereby improving quality control by a long shot.

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