Just when you think operations are running smoothly, the market changes—and then changes again.
For example, you think you have a pretty good handle on inventory levels, but then demand vanishes for one of your best-selling products. While boxes sit unopened in your warehouses, customers suddenly start buying up one of your “C” items like never before. So, not only do you have to find a way to move unused inventory—probably at a painful discount—but you also must change your purchasing, scheduling, and production to reflect this new mix of demand.
That’s just one possible scenario. Let’s take a closer look at three of today’s top operational challenges and explore how a new strategy can not only help solve them, but also prepare you for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Challenge: Maintaining the Right Inventory Levels
Lack of a real-time view of inventory means you’re less than fully confident in your ability to meet customer demand. It’s almost inevitable that you’ll find yourself with inventory stockouts during times of high demand. A typical response is to carry extra safety stock—but this increases costs and cuts into profit margins.
Without a real-time view of inventory, you’re forced to devote significant man-hours to tedious cycle counting just to keep track of your inventory levels—but these counts are notoriously inaccurate. And it’s virtually impossible to establish full inventory traceability of materials and products when you’re keeping records manually on paper.
Challenge: Maximizing Production and Ensuring High Product Quality
The amount of waste and scrap caused by your production line can cause frequent headaches. But it’s hard to minimize waste when you have so many other priorities that seem more pressing.
Your customers hold you to high standards for product quality—and so when a particular batch doesn’t pass muster, you may have to redo it. But because quality management is so difficult to validate through traditional quality assurance processes, you may find your company erring on the side of caution and discarding more finished products than you’d like. Each time this happens, you put your production goals at risk and cut even further into your profits.
Challenge: Optimizing Inefficient Processes
Uncertain inventory levels and inconsistent quality assurance processes create a drag on your overall operational efficiency. But there are other causes for the wasted staff time that inevitably reduces your manufacturing output.
The typical manufacturing workforce still wastes far too much time performing manual machinery checks and keeping paper records. IT staff are forced to spend hours maintaining hardware and software rather than finding new areas of innovation. On either end of the production process, the purchasing and shipping departments find themselves relying too heavily on costly expedited shipping services.
Address Your Biggest Challenges with Connected Manufacturing
Connected Manufacturing is a business strategy that relies on cloud computing, connectivity, and the sharing of operational and business data to drive efficiency, quality, agility, and faster response times.
You’re not just trying to address the operational challenges you face today. You want a reliable way to prepare your organization for the massive changes you’re likely to face next year—or possibly even next quarter. Connected manufacturing can help.
Best of all, we’re not talking about a technology-based shift that could happen five or 10 years down the road. Connected manufacturing is already here, and companies like yours are taking advantage. The longer you decide to “wait and see” which technology you’ll need for the next few years, the greater the chance you’ll fall far behind your industry—possibly even to the point you can’t catch up.
Take action now. To learn more about the strategies and technologies that are helping manufacturers remain competitive, download The Definitive Guide to Connected Manufacturing.