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How manufacturers can respond to rapid change with technology

By Contributor
Mon 1 Aug 2022

Article by Infor A/NZ vice president and managing director Jarrod Kinchington.

Change is the only constant in manufacturing today. Disruption, innovation, and continual refinement of shop floor processes are driving factors in today’s complex market landscape. 

Whether a business makes commercial aircraft, office furniture, or industrial valves, it’s important to stay on top of trends and adapt. New strategies and actions must sync and align with customer expectations. It’s no easy task.

There’s some good news, though. The right manufacturing ERP software helps. Modern, composable ERP solutions with last-mile functionality built in provide the capabilities required to address today’s most pressing challenges. By using a modern manufacturing ERP, it is easier to update an entire organisation, from new product introductions to operational efficiency - one step leads to many benefits.

Here are three tips to adapt to changing demands:

Improve supply chain agility

The disrupted supply chain has been a major headache for most manufacturers. That’s an understatement for many. Trade tariffs, bottlenecks and delays, the war in Ukraine, chip shortages, unavailability of cargo containers, and high costs of fuel have turned procurement into a game of chance - with unfavourable odds. 

Modern software, with artificial intelligence (AI)-driven analytics and full supply chain visibility, can provide relief. Smart solutions will help make smart decisions - anticipate risks, make strategic choices, and forge new partnerships. Data insights help plan for contingencies and manage expectations. Organisations would know the stock required and when to expect it to arrive.

Manage shop floor complexity

Manufacturers must meet the demands of customers for highly personalised products. But, they still need to control costs and improve margins. In many industries, traditional mass production is being replaced by mixed mode manufacturing with highly configured products, engineer-to-order, and assemble-on-demand operations becoming the new normal. Modern manufacturing software is essential for the transformation. It helps streamline processes, close gaps and keep workflows synchronised. The latest Industry 4.0 technologies provide critical tools - like smart sensors - for tracking machine performance, output, quality control, and optimising resources. Tools also help manage the existing workforce which must work smarter, not harder, to get the job done. Data insights help keep the shop floor running with orchestrated precision, because every part, every machine, and every work cycle matters.

Leverage data insights 

While answering consumer demand for new and personalised products, manufacturers must simultaneously strive to improve productivity, boost efficiency, automate processes, and strategically plan the use of resources. They have tough decisions to make. Modern ERP software helps capture, track, and leverage data throughout the organisation. Using facts, not feelings or hunches, manufacturers can better align with customers, launch new product introductions, design and source appropriate parts and components, and track all costs. New strategies for remaining relevant and growing the business can now be planned and executed with a balance of long-term goals and short-term capacity and cash flow restraints. Data insights are key.

Right tools for operational efficiency and innovation

To avoid threats to market share and profitability, manufacturers must stay alert and on top of the ever-evolving trends. They need to adopt modern, data-driven processes and turn to technology to help introduce new products. When inefficiencies are eliminated, teams have more time for innovation. 

Technology, such as modern cloud-deployed ERP solutions, help organisations quickly adapt to change, including starting new branches or divisions. This agility means they can focus on green initiatives, offering new services or managing logistics. Even creating hubs closer to end customers becomes easier. Manufacturing is being redefined, and software plays a major role in supporting the new era - from go-to-market strategies to supply chain planning and shop floor operations. It may be easier than it looks if organisations start in the right place.

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