Use case: Increase shop floor productivity with Microsoft Power Platform


The shop floor is a fascinating place that’s brimming with activity, with dozens of employees, machines, materials and products constantly going back and forth. In order to integrate all these different elements into one well-run entity, efficiency is key. With Microsoft Power Platform, you can optimize production, increase productivity among workers and connect your shop floor with your ERP system. 

The challenge 

Previously, we had already implemented Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central, our ERP solution for small and medium-sized businesses, for two of our customers, who are: 

  • a manufacturer of bicycle parts (spokes and nipples) 
  • an expert in paint stripping and thermal cleaning 

Both of them were reliant on a legacy system to support certain shop floor processes. Separately, they each asked us to replace their existing platform in order to increase their shop floor productivity. 


The approach 

We developed two intuitive, customized canvas apps on top of Business Central, using Microsoft Power Apps. To shed light on how these apps increase productivity on the shop floor, we discuss one specific process for both customers. 


Customer 1: the production of bicycle spokes and nipples 

  • In the app, an operator can navigate to a work center and/or a machine center where certain parts need to be produced or handled. 
  • The operator will see a specific screen for the chosen process. The app includes many supported processes including the manufacturing of parts, but also washing of parts, packing, etc. 
  • A production screen displays the details of a new production order from Business Central (e.g. ‘Remaining quantity: 3,000 spokes’). 
  • By pressing the start button, the operator initiates the production process.
  • In the meantime, the operator can perform other actions, such as consulting a technical drawing of the parts in PDF format or applying automatically printed labels to the pallets.
  • Once all the parts have been produced, the operator stops the machine and enters the output into the app.
  • Every action inside the app is linked to Business Central. This allows the operator to constantly consult the most recent information.


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Customer 2: thermal cleaning 

  • The app allows operators to bundle materials together for a cleaning process. 
  • The operator puts the appropriate materials into a designated bin and then places it in the cleaning oven. 
  • By pressing the start button, the operator initiates the cleaning process. 
  • When the cleaning process is complete, the operator validates the order.
  • Power Automate then automatically completes the cleaning order in Business Central. 

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As you can see, productivity is increased on several levels: 

  • In both cases, operators can easily access their machines from the app.
  • In case 1, the operator can perform additional tasks while the process is running.
  • In both cases, operators can quickly validate the order using the app, after which it is automatically completed in Business Central and handled by their admin colleagues. 

The results 

Both customers now have a flexible, future-proof application at hand to support a variety of processes on the shop floor. The main benefits of both apps are: 

  • Ease of use: large buttons and simple navigation allow operators to complete tasks quickly 
  • Increased focus: instead of completing orders directly into a bloated ERP system, operators can focus on their tasks and do everything via the app. 
  • A customizable solution: the app can be expanded with new buttons or functionalities to support other processes in the future. 
  • Connected to Business Central: both apps are built on the existing ERP architecture. 

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