Manufacturers have long endured the extra costs associated with creating, updating, managing, and recycling hard copy policy and procedure manuals. Now they’re finding another reason to banish paper from their shop floors: going paperless can give their lean initiatives a big boost.

For example, electronic procedure manuals further zero-waste goals by ensuring operators are on the same page with the latest policies and practices. What’s more, organizations can link electronic manuals to standard operating procedures stored online and even include video clips to illustrate updates and new methodologies.

“Electronic documents represent much more than just a shift away from paper. They allow you to add new and richer content as well,” says Karen Theel, Oracle senior director, manufacturing product strategy.

And because electronic manuals are easy to revise from a central location there’s less danger that operators will follow obsolete procedures because they’re consulting an old manual.

The new Oracle Manufacturing Operations Center further builds on the benefits of using electronic information by collecting real-time shop-floor data that allows managers to constantly track production lines and quickly spot defects to keep waste to a minimum.

“Traditional business intelligence provides reports on manufacturing process at the end of the day or week, but the Manufacturing Operations Center allows companies to look at data in real time,” Theel says. “If they see something trending out of control, they can make a change right then and there in the process.”