Industrial

How digital removes the guesswork from manufacturing

24th February 2020
Alex Lynn

Digital transformation is a top strategic priority for 94% of executives, but in order to realise its full potential, manufacturers must start to prioritise customer-centric enterprise solutions on their innovation roadmap. Here, Kevin Bull, Product Strategy Director at Columbus UK has explained how becoming a digitally empowered business can create better customer engagement throughout the entire manufacturing product lifecycle, and has the power to unlock disruptive business potential. 

As innovative technologies continue to steadily come to the fore across manufacturers, there has never been a more important time to evolve. Many manufacturers find themselves at a crossroads: to transform and thrive or to ignore the digital transformation call and fall behind the competition. Adopting a data-driven, customer-centric business model and leveraging technology that brings together physical and digital operations is key to helping manufacturers stay on track to success.

Unite data from all corners of the enterprise

Data is at the heart of digital transformation. Manufacturers can enhance productivity and drive customer satisfaction by leveraging powerful data from the factory floor right through to the call centre.

Any business management solution adopted to streamline this process must be able to break down data silos to collect data from remote and disparate sources, integrate into multiple systems and visualise data—helping users gain meaningful and actionable insights spanning finance, production and sales operations.

Improved visibility and access to data also supports collaborative projects across teams, helping employees work better together and make rapid, more informed decisions.

Efficiency breeds efficiency

When manufacturers have both efficient and effective data collection and visibility, they can put themselves in the best place to streamline operations, strengthen customer loyalty and, crucially, find new areas for business growth. The right enterprise system will enable them to leverage newly acquired capabilities to predict future trends that may impact production.

Equipped with real-time insights, manufacturers can monitor and resolve any machine issues while also understanding usage and performance to optimise machine lifecycles. These benefits combined enable firms to ensure 24-hour uptime and minimise operational disruption.

Opening the floodgates to future innovation

Manufacturers already making headway on their digital transformation journey can convert these efficiency gains into a real competitive advantage by moving towards a ‘smart factory’ model. Leveraging smart factory capabilities within ERP creates additional opportunity to optimise the supply chain and boost business performance. Research shows most manufacturers agree with this, with 92% expecting smart factory technologies to help them increase productivity levels per headcount.

In the hard-fought battle to become the manufacturer of choice, speed, flexibility and agility are everything. By removing the guesswork, manufacturers can swiftly speed up time-to-market to overtake competitors and keep pace with Industry 4.0 innovation.

Maintenance goes remote – but stays hands-on

Through the increasing use of Internet of Things (IoT) technology, manufacturers have the chance to add further services such as proactive maintenance and remote monitoring to standard support options.

Delays and ad-hoc issue resolution can quickly become a thing of the past with IoT. The right enterprise-wide system will enable users to intelligently co-ordinate remote technicians equipped with mobile tools and valuable data at their fingertips to collaborate, share best practice and troubleshoot issues from anywhere, at any time.

Solving customer pain-points means building loyalty 

Brand loyalty and trust are essential for survival in any highly competitive market. By providing a 360-degree view of the customer, comprehensive enterprise solutions give manufacturers all the information they need to fully understand issues and even configure tailored offerings based on each customer’s unique buying patterns.

Coupled with predictive analytics capabilities, manufacturers can go even further to solve problems or potential shortages before they have the chance to negatively impact the customer. Such a proactive approach demonstrates a manufacturer’s ‘people skills’, which in turn can significantly enhance its reputation among both existing and prospective customers.

Technology can connect the dots

The right business management solution will allow manufacturers to make use of embedded business intelligence and rich analytics capabilities, while providing users with the same level of convenience they expect from the consumer technologies and apps they use every day.

When selecting this crucial technology, manufacturers should look to connect the front and back office on a single end-to-end platform which enables users to manage every aspect of operations, at a pace and scale that’s right for the business.

Keeping pace with changing times

With business operations joined up and frictionless, manufacturers can realise the benefits of digital transformation from the factory floor to the end customer. Having the right technological foundation for this is crucial—but the process is not ‘done’ once the technology is in place.

To move with the times, manufacturers should always look at digital transformation as a journey of process optimisation, business innovation and data-driven decision-making—all to consistently deliver the best customer outcomes.

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