Manufacturing still tends to have a "blue collar" reputation, but that doesn't mean that advanced technology hasn't made its way into the industry. However, software and mobile apps have made work a lot easier for manufacturers. Industry ideals like Lean manufacturing and Six Sigma are concepts that promote efficiency and reducing waste; the right mobile app goes hand in hand with this. Using software and apps enables warehouse managers and manufacturing workers to make more-informed decisions. If you're curious to see what mobile apps can do for your manufacturing plant, here are five examples of ones that every manufacturer should have. Related: GPS fleet tracking software improves productivity and efficiency. American Manufacturing Staying up to date on what your competitors are doing is imperative for any business in any business. For manufacturers, American Manufacturing helps you do just that. This B2B magazine has become the voice of manufacturers in the United States. Whether its changes in tax law, international trade, or shipping rates, this app allows you to get all the latest manufacturing news directly on your phone. AmRate Freight Optimizer Mobile This app offers shippers the best freight rates in the industry by comparing real-time quotes from the nation's top regional and long-haul carriers. In addition, shippers have access to all the custom reports made available to them on their desktop version. Having the most recent information at your fingertips allows for well-informed decisions. Warehouse and supply chain managers now have instant access to the shipping information they need. Related: Find a shipping vendor right here at Business.com. Canvas Canvas software enables workers to collect information using their mobile devices, analyze that data on the Canvas website, and share information across their business community. It offers functionality for inventory collection, basic order forms, forklift performance tests, and safety inspection checklists. Warehouse workers and managers are constantly on the move, so it's a great benefit to be able to collaborate from any location. Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation This app gives you quick, free access to relevant thought-leadership articles for manufacturers from MAPI which provides information to improve your business strategies and even increase your productivity. It's important to stay on the forefront of manufacturing thought leadership and best practices. MAPI offers a variety of research that supports decisions made by the global manufacturing community: Forecasts of economic conditions for key geographic regions, such as Asia, Europe, and North America Analyses of policies that impact the global competitiveness of U.S. manufacturing Survey-based benchmarks on issues such as SG&A costs, corporate taxes, and the sales forecasting process Roambi Analytics With so many applications in use, it can be a headache to coordinate and transfer data. Roambi Analytics transforms data from Microsoft Excel, CSV, HTML, Google Docs, SalesForce CRM, and other popular business-intelligence products into rich and interactive visualizations designed for your iPhone, iPad Mini, and iPad. Consider your own manufacturing needs and think about how these apps can make life a little bit easier. You'll never know unless you try. Photo credit: worldlinkapps.com Bio: Robert Lockard is a copywriter with Fishbowl. He writes for several blogs about inventory management, manufacturing, QuickBooks, and small business.