The Benefits of Small and Medium-Sized Businesses in the Manufacturing Industry

When it comes to the differences between large and small businesses, there are two main aspects to consider: speed of business and time to try new things. Small- to mid-sized (SMBs) companies often struggle with data collection and analysis due to a lack of resources and understanding of how to use data in their decision-making.

This can be further complicated if companies buy multiple point solutions, which don’t communicate with one another. In these cases, it’s important to understand processes before and after the machines are turned on to get the most out of the technology. SMBs should also be careful not to blow their budget on hardware, leaving no room for support equipment, training, or software.

Additionally, companies must ensure they have the capability to produce when they win a large OEM contract. When it comes to robotics and machine tending, companies can either purchase a manufacturing cell or go for a piecemeal approach. Both methods have their pros and cons, so it’s important to consider which is best for your business.

The Challenges around Disconnected Data

Integrating automation into a business can be a challenge, as there is often a need to balance the short-term benefit of a quick, easy, and up-to-date hardware solution, with the long-term cost of not fully owning the development of that solution. In addition, the entire environment must be taken into account in order to maximize the efficiency of the automation – such as a wall preventing load from one side of the cell, or a robot placed in an aisleway blocking access for carts or maintenance.

Integrators may be able to help, but the same holds true for traditional CNC machines – planning for future upgrades such as a pallet pool, or considering the flow around the machine, is essential. The same holds true for office space, where companies can lose money due to disconnected solutions that don’t talk, resulting in expensive people handling non-value-added tasks.

Change can be scary, but it is important to remember that companies don’t need to do it all at once. Taking small steps can help to increase efficiency, and ultimately, taking the time to consider the entire environment and plan for the future is essential to a successful automation process.

The Importance of Supply Chain Visibility in Today’s Market

Explore the growing need for visibility in supply chains to mitigate risks and meet customer expectations, with a focus on examples like the chip shortage and changing communication standards influenced by Amazon.

For small and medium-sized enterprises, the process of managing information systems can be intimidating. Many customers now expect real-time access to information such as equipment being used, work-in-process status, raw material inputs, certifications, and quality. To keep up with the competition, companies need to provide the same level of transparency as Amazon or other large companies.

This can be achieved by integrating connected systems and EDI to share data with customers. However, this comes with the added risk of cybersecurity. Insurance companies may drop coverage if a company is not secure, making it a big risk. To protect data, companies can turn to cloud-based solutions which have tens of thousands of people working to ensure data is secure and up to date.

Reducing Cybersecurity risks for SMBs

When approaching an information system project, it is important to have a vision for success and start small. Talk to a professional to identify the problems and work together to create a roadmap for success. This could include educating and training employees on the processes and systems used. Having an identity for the products and systems used will help create a system of cross-trained employees.

You can watch the full video, Manufacturing the Future on here. You can also learn more on this topic by downloading the white paper Rightsizing Technology for SMBs.

Michael Buchli
Michael Buchli has 20 years of design and manufacturing experience throughout the Midwest ranging from Aerospace to recycling systems. A number of those years were spent learning and understanding workflows and processes to improve efficiency and productivity. From running CNC equipment to welding and painting Michael has been hands-on in all aspects of bringing products to market. Michael is also certified in many areas of mfg and a CSWP. He has also written the CAMWorks Handbook.