Most people think of machine presses, dies, conveyer belts and even robots as tools of the manufacturing trade. Software is sometimes included in that image, but generally programs that create blueprints and CAD drawings are the things that come to mind.
Surprisingly, however, PDF software is one of the most important tools that the industry has come to rely on over the past few years, especially with the advent of 3D PDF capabilities used in design and assembly.
That said,such as is also used regularly throughout the manufacturing process for many aspects of business. To get a better understanding, let’s take a look at how PDF software is used and which features are essential to manufacturing.
PDF software plays a part throughout the business of manufacturing
If you think about the manufacturing process in its most basic form, it goes something like this: take an order, acquire supplies to fill the order, make things, send those things to distribution, then collect payment. In every phase of this version of the process it’s easy to see how PDF software is being implemented.
Orders. In any industry, taking orders generates a lot of paperwork. There are order forms, purchase orders, requisitions and a host of other documents that need to be filled out, signed, sent and stored before you ever turn the machines that build products on.
This step is exactly what PDF software is built to handle. It provides you with the tools to create functional, good-looking forms and includes the capacity to forward them to the right people. Your recipient can then sign the document using a digital signature to approve it and verify they are who they’re supposed to be.
What’s more, instead of having to print the form and fax or mail it, the signer can easily attach it to an email and send it electronically.
To make storage, search and retrieval easier, anyone creating or saving PDF files can apply tags to the document. Or your manufacturing organization can use a PDF IFilter to index and find documents quickly by specifying search criteria, which is especially useful if you’ve got a large number of PDF files.
Manufacturers rely on order forms in the reverse process to acquire supplies they need as well. So not only is the plant taking in order forms, but they’re filling them out as well before they start making their product.
Production. The production process begins with the receipt of an order form, and PDF software has become an integral part of the production process as you can use it to:
• Create instructions
• Present data
• Show process stages
• Create end-user manuals
Distribution and payment. Orders—those same documents that begin the manufacturing process—make their way to the final phases as well. As orders are packaged for distribution, data is collected from these forms and signatures are attached to move things forward. Upon delivery, customers receive the same document in the form of an invoice that they use to remit payment for the goods received.
Essential elements of PDF software for manufacturing
Seeing how PDFs are a part of the process is one thing, but knowing what features need to be a part of the solution is yet another. Simply purchasing a PDF editor or PDF reader off the rack won’t meet all your needs if you’re in the manufacturing industry. Aside from the ability to create, edit and view PDFs, your PDF software solution should include:
• The ability to convert and export documents to other file formats
• A way to organize documents so they can be easily retrieved at a later date
• The ability to search for PDF files by content
• Integration with enterprise collaboration tools
• Comment management tools
• Optical character recognition tools that self-correct scanned files
• Integration with directory services for single sign on
• Document security (redaction, encryption, certification)
Tools like Foxit PhantomPDF are built to meet the needs of different verticals. From the simple task of scanning a document to creating the very documents required to support the design and manufacturing process, PDF software like PhantomPDF can provide the feature set to handle these tasks and everything in between.