smart manufacturing, robotic process automation, robot, assembly line, manufacturing

What has your enterprise resource planning (ERP) system done for you lately? While your thoughts on the subject may be lost in the back of your mind, the fact is that ERP solution capabilities are evolving, and so is their role in manufacturing. New system features and extensions for production execution, for example, have reached the forefront of the minds of those looking to better utilize their operational data. Smart manufacturing is no longer just a buzzword, it’s now the “way forward” plan for many manufacturers, regardless of the industries they serve.

Manufacturing products is all about efficiency. The more efficient the workfloor is, the more products and money the business can make. This is why it’s so important that factories hire people who are qualified to do things like use a Tig Welder, has good knowledge on electrical wiring, and are good as assembly. However, some industries are beginning to introduce smart technology to boost their efficiency further and to decrease spending budgets. They are aiming to increase their manufaxturing efforts and grow their business to accomodate the demand they face in their industry.

What is Smart Manufacturing?

Smart Manufacturing, also known as intelligent manufacturing, spans many different technologies and encompasses varying levels of user adaptability, data processing capabilities, industrial connectivity and flexible workforce training. It can also be attributed to identifying and addressing manufacturing inefficiencies and safety hazards in the workplace. Manufacturers can actually utilize trends in data to make predictions for the future, and ERP is just part of smart manufacturing best practices. So, how does the role of an ERP solution affect the transition from traditional manufacturing to smart manufacturing? It starts with data.

Better Data for Improved Operations

In a recent article written for Automation World, Glenn Graney, QAD’s director of industrial and high tech, explains how simple and easy-to-use ERP systems are these days, especially those that simplify the user experience (UX) and improve the flow of information. In addition to reducing costs through various system efficiencies, manufacturers want an ERP solution that also saves them time and effort on the factory floor. Thanks in part to artificial intelligence (AI) and smart sensor systems brought on by the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), manufacturer business metrics can be combined with operational data to improve business strategies and decision-making capabilities.

“Today’s ERP systems have operational extensions that simplify the interface to the factory floor.” – Glenn Graney, QAD’s Director of Industrial and High Tech, speaking to the reduced lag in today’s upward flow of information from operations to business systems.

Graney also highlights an example of an automotive supplier utilizing smart sensors that signal a scale to automatically weigh finished products. ERP innovations like these might seem minuscule in the grand scheme of things, but with the proper equipment and a steady flow of data to and from the ERP, manufacturing plants are able to run much more efficiently and become effective enterprises. Of course, there can be risks involved when altering or automating operational processes, but these can be bypassed with the right operational extensions and a well-established industrial communications system. This is true not only for cloud-based solutions, but also those that are found on-premise.

To learn more about the evolving role and enhanced capabilities of ERP, read the full story from Automation World.