Manufacturing organizations are constantly trying to find ways to get better results out of their production processes. This effort always includes a combination of process optimization and removal of wasteful practices and production steps. To achieve this, manufacturers have, for a long time, relied mostly on localized, small scale improvements that would not necessarily be in sync with the rate of progress along the rest of the value chain. Reasons for this were lack of sufficiently developed operational technology and a lack of integrated solutions leading to high implementation and upkeep costs. However, all of this has now changed. The wide acceptance and investment into IoT technology as well as AI analytics allows manufacturers to cost-effectively retrofit existing equipment with sensors that can provide a high level of visibility and enhance decision making across the organization on a unified end-to-end platform.
Manufacturers that consistently apply the strategy of leveraging technology – to connect assets and extract information that can point to enhancement opportunities or inform future strategy – will be best positioned to adapt to shifting market trends. Not allowing your organization to be held down by a patchwork of solutions, and instead opting for an integrated platform, will allow you to take production to the next level while simultaneously improving your supply chain logistics and customer relationships.
A core requirement all manufacturers have for their systems is to help them effectively manage and maintain production levels. The accent is placed on predictability and accuracy that is required to fill customer orders in a timely manner. What often gets overlooked, however, is the value that can be gained by having an advanced management platform.
Certainly the core requirement of having accurate, sensor-provided insights into real time performance of plant assets remains necessary. The next step is connecting sales as well as the supply chain with production. Having this holistic overview of the entire operation can often uncover things such as profit drains within production or more cost-efficient sourcing opportunities.
Deeper customer visibility and analysis of product performance can lead to the uncovering of growth opportunities in the form of new products and product features. Finding out more about the ways your customers interact with your products will improve your R&D, allowing for improvements of underperforming products and creating new sales opportunities.
Focusing on customer visibility isn’t only about finding ways to improve products or create new ones. Many manufacturers are also focusing on developing a service-centered model that can mean long-term customer loyalty, more predictable demand and revenue as well as the proliferation of a company’s revenue streams. Taking advantage of the servitization model requires manufacturers to put systems in place that will enable them to effectively manage services, such as predictive maintenance, in order to transform them from a reactive, emergency actions to a standardized, preventive service.
To achieve this, organizations need to be able to collect unprecedented amounts of data. However simply collecting data won’t translate into insights. Creating a network of IoT-enabled sensors that communicate to the same platform allows you to employ powerful analytics tools that are able to sift through all that data in order to identify patterns. This will allow you to locate issues ahead of time and ensure their swift resolution by enabling remote asset management and automatic procurement of necessary components. This allows you to never be on your back foot, constantly putting out fires, but instead enables you to proactively scale your service offering while increasing profit margins at the same time.
Still, it comes as no surprise that creating deep and lasting relationships with customers is the most secure way for manufacturers to ensure long-term prosperity and growth. Relationships are best achieved through building trust by being transparent and proactive in all customer engagements. This can include notifying them of a possible delay, using a maintenance visit to recommend a new product that will be a better fit for the customer needs or finding a way to expand your presence by serving more of the customer’s needs. A platform that provides you with the full view of your engagement with a particular customer (purchase history, product performance, service records) can help your team better understand their need and more accurately identify opportunities.
Segmented management of production activities adds an unnecessary layer of complexity to your internal processes and prevents your organization from being agile. A robust solution that is able to employ the latest technology and integrated, powerful analytics capabilities is a key component to the future success of manufacturers in the digital age. Microsoft Dynamics 365 eliminates the need for disjointed solutions by unifying supply chain, production, sales and services into a single platform.
Powered by the world’s largest and most flexible enterprise cloud, manufacturers are able to maintain full control over the management of all processes and projects – no matter their complexity. Have the ability to scale at your own pace and add functionality seamlessly by integrating additional features to the existing environments as they become necessary.
At Merit Solutions, we pride ourselves on our ability to help companies transform their business and successfully adopt new workstreams and enabling technologies using our extensive experience in performing a wide array of enterprise transformations. Visit our website to learn more about the benefits of digital manufacturing.