Manufacturing has changed. Products used to be more standardized, demand more consistent and predictable, and supply chains fairly stable. Efficiency and quality were enough to compete for market leadership.
Today’s global economy is more interconnected and consumer tastes shift from minute to minute. Demand is more volatile, driving more diverse products, shorter product cycles, and the need to get products to market more quickly.
At the same time, there are some major technology advancements that are helping manufacturers stay ahead of the game. Here are four things you need to be aware of that will have a major impact on your business:
1. Cloud Computing
The question of whether or not to go with a cloud-based platform is outdated. Just like the question of getting a smart phone or a flip phone is outdated. Cloud is an essential component of modern manufacturing. Legacy, on-premise platforms need constant maintenance, upgrading, and re-investment to try to keep up with the ever-increasing complexity and demands of modern manufacturing. These platforms were created with a now outdated technology mindset for now outdated business models, not today’s manufacturing reality.
Cloud unifies your business and data across geographically dispersed locations and delivers unparalleled security, agility, accessibility, and scalability—so you can focus on growing and streamlining your business. Cloud gets you out of the IT business so you can focus on your core purpose: manufacturing. It’s elastic and scales as your business changes, and eliminates those large up-front capital expenses and annual maintenance costs (not to mention upgrade pains) since the latest functionality is available to you without disruption or downtime.
The ability to access data and functionality via mobile devices delivers an untethered work environment where information is available at a user’s fingertips, from anywhere, any time. Moreover, advancements in industrial wearable devices like smart glasses provides an inexpensive, hands-free experience to workers in the factory. But mobile ERP goes beyond the user mobile device. The production environment is increasingly being armed with sensors, RFID, beacons, Bluetooth, and other communication technologies that increase data sharing wirelessly and providing greater visibility into operations like production status, inventory movement, and machine efficiency. In other words, these technologies help manufacturers do their jobs more effectively, and they are becoming increasingly common in production environments.
You may be like many manufacturers today in that you’re not using much of the data you generate. If only you had a way to harness it, that data could be used to drive insights, autonomous decisions, and predictive behavior to drive higher levels of efficiency. Analytics sift through and pick out meaningful data points, connect them, and then present information in an actionable manner. Analytics are becoming more powerful every day and are critical in managing a world of Big Data. Analytics and manufacturing intelligence are facilitating machine learning that can generate prescriptive actions and should be an integral part of modern manufacturers’ business strategy.
4. Industrial Internet of Things
Connectivity to everything and everyone delivers better insight, valuable data, and the ability to make faster, more-informed decisions. IIoT is poised to change how you design, plan, make, and service products. Technology innovation, including connected sensors, smart devices, Internet-enabled machines, and machine learning within the plant provide data used to improve equipment and manufacturing process performance. Wearables and smart glasses enable plant floor supervisors to go hands-free and get production information non-intrusively. Post production, IIoT also provides closed-loop product feedback, enabling companies to gather usage data from products in the field to drive future design and development. IIoT is already creating a seismic shift in the way successful manufacturers differentiate themselves.
Start your manufacturing technology journey now. Take a realistic and practical approach by discovering how these technologies can address your business and operational challenges. Do some searching on how your peers are planning for their futures. Buck the status quo within your company—these technologies offer significant opportunities for you to improve your business. Don’t wait. Get started today.
Download the Forrester Report for more information: The Digital Transformation of Manufacturing Starts with SaaS-based Cloud ERP.