Manufacturing technology investments in 2022 will focus on technologies that provide insights to help businesses identify and act to improve efficiency, speed, and quality, essential to compete and grow in today’s dynamic supply chain.
Manufacturing Technology Investments Start on the Shop Floor
Tech investment plans often start with the goal of improving visibility and control across shop floors to manage costs, time, and materials better. From there, investments scale up to remove the roadblocks that get in the way of getting more work done and producing higher quality products while controlling costs.
According to a recent IndustryWeek survey, achieving growth and profitability goals and staying adaptive enough to meet changing customer demands are the two highest-ranked goals manufacturers strive for today. Roadblocks to achieving those goals include maintaining cost control and competitive pricing by 42% and maintaining the manufacturing flexibility to meet changing market demands mentioned by 41%.
Manufacturers continue to see gains from their tech investments by identifying steps in the production processes that drain time, costs, and resources. Capturing real-time production and process data helps define baseline performance levels and is essential for identifying cost variances. In addition, having a baseline of real-time data to compare improvements is key to growth.
Supply chain, sales forecast, and customers’ financial viability are major uncertainties manufacturers also have to deal with today. When an ERP and MES system runs on the same database, the negative impact of uncertainty – including runaway rising costs, lost orders, low quality, and no financial visibility – get under control.
Tech Investments Driving Growth for Manufacturers
- Build a strong business case for end-to-end visibility on a single ERP platform. By eliminating the gaps between systems operating independently, manufacturers gain the real-time visibility and control needed to get the most value out of every minute of manufacturing and make data-driven decisions about improving business performance. Ensuring that ERP, MES, SCM, CRM, and related systems share a common data source manufacturers gain the insights needed to enhance product quality, streamline production, and improve on-time customer deliveries. In doing so, it has proven effective both in absorbing supply chain shocks and in setting a solid foundation for future growth.
- Real-time production and process monitoring are table stakes to compete and grow in 2022. Real-time monitoring provides the necessary data to automatically update ERP, MES, and related manufacturing modules with insights to enable continuous process improvement. For example, with real-time production monitoring, manufacturers often count production cycles, measure scrap, ensure all production steps are executed, evaluate production times, and predict completion times.
- Demand-driven scheduling is a must-have for dealing with uncertain supply chains. The more unpredictable supply chains and suppliers’ delivery schedules are, the more challenging it becomes to get demand-driven forecasting right. An integrated ERP system that includes demand-driven scheduling and inventory management allows real-time modifications to the production schedules based on material availability, keeps inventory levels updated, and resources optimized across orders. It is a must-have for meeting customer delivery dates, especially when suppliers face shortages and allocations are core parts of a manufacturers’ Bill of Materials (BOM). Combining demand-driven scheduling and real-time inventory management is key to controlling costs and having the visibility needed to know how production operations impact financial performance.
- Real-time reporting and analytics help deliver a 360-degree view of the shop floor. Analyzing real-time production and process data helps unlock why a given machine operates out of spec and assess how to solve the problem. The same data can be used to identify the cost implications of refurbishing a machine versus simply tolerating the situation. Analytics also assists in uncovering the root cause of why one specific workflow with a given production team is struggling to reach daily output targets while another is surpassing production goals.
IndustryWeek identified four areas that provide manufacturers the greatest return on their technology investments. Among these is getting applications to share a common database to gain end-to-end visibility of the business, rapidly adjust to change, and understand how shop floor decisions drive financial results. Similarly, manufacturers can more readily adjust their production, pricing, and planning to adapt to evolving customer demands and market conditions through automated real-time production and process monitoring, demand-driven scheduling, and BI and analytics. As a result, manufacturers will be better positioned to compete on quality and superior customer experiences while increasing profitability and growing the business.