Changing Business Dynamics for Manufacturers
Business dynamics for manufacturers are changing more rapidly and becoming more disruptive than ever before. The changes are driven by the rising expectations of consumers and business customers, increasing complexities of global supply chains, growing competitive pressures, constantly shifting regulatory requirements and many other factors.
Your operational strategies need to align with IT strategies to ensure the organization can evolve and adopt new technologies to help improve the time to market of new products, unlock cost efficiencies, enhance product quality and drive new revenues.
Certainly, initiatives for automation and more controls across business processes have existed for decades. However, new technologies like IIoT, Machine Learning/AI, and robotics are becoming more capable, mature and affordable to help resolve specific manufacturing and supply chain challenges.
Digital Transformation: What and Why?
Adoption of these emerging technologies is still early. Companies are implementing or, at least, reviewing new technologies to boost speed, productivity, quality, flexibility and responsiveness. Typically, we see manufacturers starting with smaller prototype projects like using machine learning to better predict forecasts and maintenance requirements, deploying IIoT techniques to connect machines to provide more insights into manufacturing activities, or developing projects to improve visibility with advanced analytics implementations.
Although many companies have achieved some level of automation in their material handling and shop floor activities and improved data accuracy, they often still struggle in knowing crucial process data points due to a lack of connected processes. Too often, we see production planners and schedulers relying on spreadsheets to plan and schedule daily production levels with complex calculations derived from MRP data.
Material planners have their own spreadsheets to organize the material supplies required at the production lines and work centers. When tracking production activities, like material handlers not transacting receipts when they occur, the information is captured sometimes many hours later with only limited detail. Disconnected activities like this result in out-of-sync operations, which leads to uncertainties around the production process, including what has been promised to the customer, what to plan and where the products are physically. This can make it very hard to change priorities or manage the daily balancing act of demand and supply.
Consider the following questions:
- How reliant are you on manually intensive processes, and what is your level of readiness for digital transformation?
- How much time do you spend looking for things, or looking for information to make well-informed decisions?
- Do you have timely visibility to understand inventory availability and order statuses?
- Are you still relying on paper-based data and manual processes?
- Are you effectively using the information to make the best-informed decision?
Investing in connecting your processes, your people and your machines in real-time so that information is in sync with what is really happening on the floor enables a faster time to knowledge. This allows for a quicker response to changes in customer demands or changes in supplies while still controlling costs and quality of products and processes.
These are all areas QAD addresses – QAD manufacturing ERP software helps manufacturers to be more responsive to daily changes in operations, better manage increasing product variability and leverage technology to enhance connected manufacturing operations that rapidly respond to change.
Here are just a couple of areas where QAD Manufacturing has made recent enhancements to help manufacturers gain quicker access to information and boost digital capabilities.
QAD Master Planning and Scheduling Workbench allow production schedulers to have “a finger on the pulse” with instant access to all relevant data. It provides all the insights into the origin of demand, sources and the status of supply, current inventory levels as well as the expected availability of inventory for all components across multiple levels of product structures.
It now also provides the option to automate demand leveling of scheduled orders based on the available capacity of production resources using methods such as EPEI (Every Part Every Interval).
QAD’s production solutions have been modernized and improved to better support the needs of different production modes, from job shop, batch, repetitive and continuous flow manufacturing to mass-customization or cellular manufacturing requirements. New capabilities focused on flexibility have been added that allow you to better manage material supplies to production lines across allocating, picking, moving and issuing materials among other enhancements.
QAD Automation Solutions introduces a very flexible and easy way to manage data capture in the warehouse and the shop floor using simplified screens on mobile handheld devices directly integrated with the core transactions. It includes a complete, scalable and flexible label printing solution allowing you to be compliant with any industry requirement or specific company mandate.
So much change! Where should you start, and how do you progress current digital transformation initiatives for manufacturing operations? There are many innovations to get started on without major investments. Start small and local. Pick a specific challenge or pain point in a division or plant. Tackle the issue and prove the solution, evolve and make incremental improvements over time while leveraging obtained experiences.
Tell us more about your digital strategies and let us know where QAD can help in the comments section below.