Up until recently, the optimization of production processes and ensuring high customer satisfaction were conceptualized as two entirely separate efforts within a company. Today, the introduction of new technology, coupled with current market trends, is shaking up this perspective.
Manufacturers are now interested in integrating digital technology into production machinery to improve visibility and efficiency as well as adding flexibility and lowering expenses. The accent is increasingly on interconnecting factory equipment as well as gathering and analyzing data from all parts of the organization. This allows company executives to come up with innovative ideas that can help keep the company competitive and relevant in the digital age.
As companies are discovering new applications of digital technologies in their respective industries, we’re seeing a fundamental change in the way manufacturers do business. Surfacing customer-generated data allows manufacturers to engage their clients throughout the value chain. Product development, production, marketing and customer service can all be informed by data gathered by various IoT sensors and service records. A higher degree of customer involvement also comes with the added benefit of uncovering opportunities to introduce services that complement the core asset and diversify the company’s revenue streams.
Capitalizing on business opportunities enabled by digital platforms is in no way a privilege restricted solely to large, well-resourced manufacturers. Now, manufacturers large and small are realizing just how accessible digitalization is.
In order to gain better insight into the specific activities and performance of previously disjointed parts of the organization, manufacturers are turning to centralized data centers that gather and report on the operations of everything from procurement to field service. This centralized overview of the business does not only help inform high-level strategic decisions, but also immediately provides the organization with tangible operational efficiency improvements. Faster order fulfillment, shorter R&D cycle and better warehouse management can all be achieved by making your organization more lean and information driven. Sharing information between functional departments will eliminate manual processes and reduce human error.
Enabling production machinery for IoT integration and consolidating equipment into a unified network allows factory supervisors to have a detailed, real-time insight into the efficiency of the production line. Comparing this real-time data against historical averages can allow maintenance teams to detect any equipment issues ahead of time, using sensor data to pinpoint the cause of the problem. This enables them to effectively manage procurement of replacement parts as well as repair scheduling to maintain the desired levels of production.
In the digital era, customer expectations have reshaped many purely manufacturing companies into becoming manufacturing-retail-service hybrids. This has understandably put tremendous pressure on the conventional manufacturing business model but it has also opened up potential for expansion into markets and revenue streams that were previously closed off. This expansion, however, requires manufacturers to be able to gather customer data such as usage patterns, past purchases and customer service or maintenance history. Access to this information can enable sales and marketing teams to create new services, predict demand and better target new prospects.
Getting better acquainted with data patterns from the initial production process through to client usage provides ample benefits beyond factory maintenance and business development. This information can be used to inform engineering teams about components that cause production defects, increasing waste. It also helps identify ones that are responsible for malfunctions – damaging client satisfaction and loyalty. Solving these issues before they become widespread can translate into huge differences in the company’s bottom line as well as drive the delivery of new products to market.
Taking advantage of the steadily decreasing cost of sensors, mobile devices, cloud data collection and other IoT technologies, manufacturers have managed to fundamentally alter the way they handle product monitoring and support. Efficiently managing technicians and providing them with accurate data can help the company avoid costly engagements and developing field mobile apps can allow those same technicians to process equipment replacement orders and position and process new purchases and equipment upgrade orders.
For manufacturers, Microsoft Dynamics 365 ends the artificial divide between CRM and ERP systems and supplements necessary capabilities with rich analytics, embedded intelligence, and the convenience people expect from consumer apps on their phone or tablet. Dynamics 365 unites the front office and the back office with a single end-to-end system for managing every aspect of your business, at the pace and scale that’s right for you. Digital transformation isn’t accomplished overnight and leveraging current investments is a key component of any successful approach. With Microsoft, you can optimize across all your processes while laying the foundation for connecting advanced technology in the future.