In a complex and ever-changing environment, the manufacturing industry must be able to ensure their processes can meet demand while simultaneously catering to the growing needs of their consumers.

As the manufacturing industry continues to evolve thanks to the surge in new technologies such as 5G and the Internet of Things (IoT), manufacturers must also evolve to reap the benefits on offer. To achieve greater levels of productivity and efficiency, they must ensure their current IT systems have sufficient capability to accommodate their business growth. Manufacturers must also have a better understanding of their business processes to meet the growing expectations from their customer base.

Greenfield and Brownfield manufacturers are currently seeking to streamline operations and improve profit margins. But they require a complete business solution to monitor every area of their business and pull ahead of their competitors across all sides of the globe. “By undertaking a digital transformation, it will help manufacturers reshape their business models and production system,” Graham Hall, senior manufacturing solution consultant at NoBlue, says. “Harnessing these disruptive technologies is fundamental if manufacturing companies are to unlock the immense potential of their data to disrupt the manufacturing value chain in the new age of Industry 4.0.”

Harnessing the wealth of data on offer

Many manufacturers’ operations can be pieced together by several different applications. An assortment of solutions may be used for a host of business verticals including warehouse management, accounting, or the supply chain. In addition, several manufacturers may rely on Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software but if they are deploying a legacy system, it may not be fully optimising business operations. Legacy systems can also be costly to maintain and not provide the flexibility needed. In a nutshell, an out-of-date system could hold manufacturers back.

“If companies do not have the capabilities to process and analyse the wealth of data at their disposal, it could prove to be counter intuitive to their overall business growth,” Hall continues. “Legacy infrastructure and solutions could be preventing manufacturers from achieving the elevated levels of supply chain planning, forecasting and inventory management they require to operate productively. As manufacturers place a renewed emphasis on reduced costs and maximising revenue, they could be responding reactively due to the complexity of supply chains and distribution channels, as well as the rising costs of raw materials.

“Separate systems and applications can heighten the risk of errors, restrict growth and may hurt the overall customer experience. Manufacturers may not have access to an ERP system that is vertical specific and adapts to their specific needs. Without a 360-degree view of day-to-day operations and up-to-the minute reporting, business growth could be hindered, significantly impacting the ability to make informed business decisions.”

While an IT upgrade will address these challenges, manufacturers may be put off by the time-consuming implementation times and perceived costs and outage associated with migrating their IT resources. This is subsequently compounded by the need for high-level training for staff to fully optimise the systems at their disposal. Manufacturers must carefully consider a move to deploying a long-term software solution to have the capability to fully take advantage of new markets.

Innovation needed to satisfy demand

The manufacturing industry productivity lever is consistently changing, significantly impacting business models and the value chain. “Disruptive technologies pose managerial challenges which manufacturers should look to master,” Hall adds. “There is a growing necessity for manufacturers to understand the changing dynamics across the ecosystem and adapt new business models accordingly to align with constantly changing value pools.”

As many factories are still organised in functional silos, the company may not be taking direct customer feedback into account. The onus for manufacturing companies is to combine data, integrate systems and processes, and make decisions based on cross-functional information. This in turn, provides an enhanced level of agility and collaboration.

Hall believes that to take the next step and understand their business needs and processes, investing in a tailored cloud-based business management solution is of primary importance. “Having the ability to synergise supply chain management with suppliers and purchasing, the opportunity to accelerate demand planning and improve production control is paramount for manufacturers to achieve greater levels of efficiency and productivity,” Hall says.

ERP partner to match your ambition

When replacing or transforming current systems, manufacturers should seek to work with a third-party partner which not only has a wealth of experience but can also provide the technical support, training, upgrades and educational materials to help a manufacturer fully prosper. Specialising in the development and implementation of tailored cloud-based IT Solutions for businesses, a partner can provide a cutting-edge perspective to look objectively and clearly at a manufacturer’s varying and specific needs and goals. Investing in the right partner will enable manufacturing companies to have adequate time to trial the system ahead of the deployment date, as well as the necessary training end-users need to hit the ground running from the initial live date.

“Ensuring end-to-end optimisation and the ability to manage complex business processes, an integrated cloud-based system can support manufacturers’ evolution and future growth,” Hall continues. “From raw materials and products to customer satisfaction, the solution will improve time-to-market speeds, asset usage, customer care, supply/demand match, inventory, workforce and quality and resource planning.

“Having the ability to automate timely processes such as order management and their supply chain, manufacturers can reduce IT support costs and enable collaboration across the ecosystem. With access to an integrated system and the ability to make decisions based on cross-functional information, those manufacturers will be able to pull ahead of the global competition.”

Unlocking your potential

The manufacturing sector continues to grow exponentially and adopting a cloud-based integrated system will not only meet manufacturers’ urgent and primary needs but provide a reduction in the total cost of ownership. This will also provide the foundations to make continued and unparalleled business growth in the future.

“As manufacturers vie for maximum profit and operational efficiency levels, it is essential that they undergo their digital transformation to fully reap the rewards on offer,” Hall concludes.