PSI Blog

Mobile Working with PSImetals Apps

30/05/2018 - Production, Industry 4.0

© GregorBister - iStock.com & © industrieblick - Fotolia.com

Apps in the industrial environment bring about significant changes in work processes, since they have a great potential to change the work-ing day and contribute to the development of the industry 4.0 vision. With its upcoming PSImetals release 5.16, PSI is supporting customers through new apps that help the operators with optimized functionality and innovative usability concepts. 

The main aim of mobile apps is to make its users’ job easier. This means integrating human-centered design best practices, making critical KPIs easy to access and understand, and avoid information overload leveraging progressive disclosure techniques. When done right, mobile apps within an industrial environment mean more productivity, safety and efficiency.

Mobile Apps in the Metals Industry

In the metals industry, changes in the production environment and the market situation are daily obstacles the producers have to face. Smart assistance systems offer intelligent decision support and allow an easier reactivity to these changes. Having the right choice available in real time through a mobile app helps the operation experts to manage process exceptions and uncertainties of production.

Our smart solutions offer the best possible decision or alternatives at the right time and at every step of production allowing the user to decide fast. 

Innovative operating concepts for plant processes

Johannes Schäfer
© PSI Metals

Johannes Schäfer from PSImetals Competence Center Logistic has a lot of experience with mobile apps. He has been developing them for 7 years. In an interview he told us why mobile apps within an industrial environment are not just a random trend PSI wants to follow and what our customers can expect from the latest PSImetals 5.16 release.

Today, mobile devices and apps are an essential part of people’s daily activities, enabling them to keep in contact through calling, emailing and social media. Why did some companies start to adapt mobile devices and apps to industrial applications? Are mobile apps within an industrial environment just another trend or is it an important thing for the future?

Johannes: The workers in the shop floor over the years are requesting simpler, lighter and more specialized applications. Nowadays, they expect the same user experience like from their own private mobile devices such as phones and tablets. The main advantage of a mobile app in an industrial setting is the real-time access to all information independent of the workers location. With PSImetals mobile apps we can provide solutions that are tailored to the needs of the steel industry and the plant personnel on the shop floor. I think this demand is not only a trend; it will even increase in the future.

Why would our customers use PSImetals apps? 

Johannes: To make the life of their workers easier. PSImetals mobile apps are optimized for the daily life workflows. The presentation of all required information is adaptive and fits to all devices from phone to tablet size. Using the apps is fun and very intuitive.

What are possible dangers?

Johannes: I don’t see any dangers, besides the fact that maybe some workers would not want to use the traditional desktop any longer. 

The latest PSImetals release 5.16 will be presented in June. What was improved and what are PSI’s goals for the future in terms of the mobile apps? 

Johannes: PSI has long been offering software for mobile end devices for direct, on-site support for plant personnel. However, as it is written for Windows CE-based devices, this software could only be run on modern end devices to a limited extent. Thus, the latest 5.16 release contains a lot of great functionalities, including the new WDF2 framework that supports newer generations of end devices such as Apple iPhone/iPad, tablets/ smartphones with Google Android or special industrial handheld units. The use of state-of-the-art technologies like progressive web apps, responsive design and the JavaScript framework Angular ensures that the apps can be used on a wide range of end devices. This is a big step for PSI Metals and our customers. In the future we are planning to offer more apps in different areas of production that cover typical tasks in the plant.

The app for Warehouse Transport Management provides simple and intuitive access to the necessary material data in the material overview © PSI Metals & © Blackzheep - iStock.com

Using State-of-the-Art Technologies

Regardless of the device, the new PSImetals mobile apps always look good. In addition to the KPI app, that has been available for one year, further apps that cover typical tasks in the plant will be added such as the Warehouse Transport Management app and the Shipping app.

Simple, Intuitive Access to Data 

The app for Warehouse Transport Management provides simple and intuitive access to the necessary material data in the material overview, including details. Standard tasks, such as rebooking material or generating transport orders, can be completed directly on site. Special storage location views provide a quick and clear overview of the stored materials. With the new transport terminal, crane operators and forklift truck drivers can select and confirm their transport orders on the tablet itself. 

Functions such as load documentation with
photos can be provided © PSI Metals &
© Blackzheep - iStock.com

Shipping App Supports Employees 

Employees in the shipping department can also receive mobile support. The Shipping app helps employees to complete loading orders. All of the steps can be executed via tablet or handheld unit as part of a mobile solution, from activating these orders to displaying loading lists and completing final verification. Functions such as load documentation with photos can be provided on a customer-specific basis. The global search function makes operation easier. The process will be familiar to anyone who uses conventional search engines: When a colon introduces a list of things, do not capitalize the first word after the colon unless it is a proper noun, simply enter the material designation, load number or storage location. An easy-to-read list of results provides quick access to the data.

Additional Modules Planned 

In the field of production, it will be possible to record material defects and immediately document them with images. The redesigned inventory module allows entire inventories to be recorded in a simple process—even in warehouses that do not have a permanent network connection. Parts of the application can be used in an offline mode for this purpose. The focus is also on the customer-specific extension of apps. From smaller adjustments, like the selection of the data displayed, to completely new screens and functions, anything is possible! 

Jörg Hackmann, Head of Product Development PSI Metals GmbH

The graduate mathematician Jörg Hackmann crossed paths with PSI in 1991. Today Jörg is Director Products & Methodology. Many years of experience and an extensive knowledge base about our product make him the right person to chat with about such topics as PSImetals product, methodology, planning and mobile apps.

+49 211 60219 - 204
jhackmann@psi.de