When asked about high tech initiatives, most manufacturers are unlikely to list their ERP solution at the top of the list. The 40+ years of delivering to core business functional requirements makes ERP both essential and anything but trendy. Despite the perception, there is plenty of high technology in modern ERP solutions. Cloud solutions, flexible architectures and advanced user interfaces are the foundation of current offerings. QAD is doing its best to make sure that high tech ERP doesn’t belong in the oxymoron category with jumbo shrimp and farewell reception.
QAD Labs is all about High Tech
In addition to delivering unprecedented technology in its core offering, QAD is engaging with its customers through experimentation in the QAD Labs. QAD Labs is not a physical place with scientists in white lab coats. Instead, QAD Labs is a virtual combination of people, technology and passion for addressing the challenges of manufacturing planning and operations. The guiding force behind QAD Labs is the collaboration between QAD and our customers. This collaboration involves experimenting with advanced technologies to address legacy or emerging challenges. The experimentation is not hindered by the large budgeting cycles of major projects. By design, the QAD Labs approach allows for rapid application, rapid evaluation and strategic pivots to build on success or investigate alternatives.
This experimentation can be aligned with initiatives like Industry 4.0 and associated technologies such as IoT, Machine Learning, Robotic Process Automation and Data Lakes. Alternatively, the initiative can be associated with innovation to solve long-term problems with the explosion of emerging new technologies. The pilot projects listed below are examples of what is already cooking in the lab:
Machine Learning-Assisted Planning
A consistent challenge for Tier 1 auto suppliers is translating the fluctuations of the long-range schedule provided by the OEM into a forecast that will more closely match actual production levels. QAD and three of our Tier 1 customers have been collaborating in the QAD Labs to address this challenge through Machine Learning-Assisted Planning. We have applied machine learning techniques to historic forecast and shipment data and the early results show a significant improvement in predicting the actual expected shipments and, correspondingly, the plan. We continue to jointly refine the effort with great excitement for the promise of lower inventory costs, optimized resources, maximized capacity utilization and mitigated risk.
IoT and Integrated Shop Floor Connectivity
QAD manufacturing customers have continuously bemoaned the information gap between the shop floor and the planning function. A more collaborative enterprise can drive better decision making, reduce inventory levels and increase customer responsiveness. QAD is delivering multiple pilots with direct connectivity to both production equipment and simplified data capture from shop floor operations. The influx of live production status reduces the time to knowledge and allows for unprecedented enterprise agility. These pilots are showing immediate productivity gains and laying the foundation for broader applications of shop floor connectivity.
Get your Mad-scientist-self on in the QAD Labs
It’s an “open secret” that the QAD Labs efforts are looking “awfully good.” You would have to be “clearly confused” to still believe that the expression “high tech ERP” is an oxymoron. QAD is always looking for additional lab partners! Whether the activity is centered on Machine Learning, IoT, Robotic Process Automation or other emerging technology, QAD is providing a platform and resources to jointly move our customers’ capability along.
If you have a need or idea for experimentation around advancing technology, please let us know at QAD_labs@qad.com.