Discrete manufacturing is typically Engineer-to-order (ETO), which includes Make-to-order (MTO), Assemble-to-order (ATO), Make-to-stock (MTS), or a mix of these types of manufacturing. However different they are, one common thread for all these kinds of manufacturing is – delivering what customers want (finished goods) when they want it (on time) and provide maintenance services depending on the product. While the right ERP solution supports the planning, scheduling, and production activities, one important aspect that is an outcome of this solution connecting all these departments is ‘data’. Leveraging this data in manufacturing can not only improve productivity and efficiency but also minimize costs and ensure improved customer satisfaction. Gaining new insights through information is critical to maintaining or growing market share. Digital transformation changes the way discrete manufacturing units manage and share this information across the enterprise, improving production and transparency, and minimizing costs and downtime.
Let us start with a simple example of the use of data in creating a quotation. Many manufacturers fail to make good use of the information they generate during the quotation process and find themselves generating the same information repeatedly. Analysis of quotation data can be a great opportunity for additional business. Quotation data can be sorted by the type of manufacturing operations required, the quantity of parts required, the kind of material used, resource requirement, type of configuration required, cost of the quote, the combinations are endless! [bctt tweet="Data depicting an accurate quotation conversion rate can lead to good profits, more business, and a competitive edge in the market."]
Historically, the usage of data was limited to determining lead-time, planning procurement, planning logistics. Today, leading manufacturers are analyzing unstructured data to get valuable insights. For example, companies are using sources like social media to consider unstructured data and evolve their supply chain data. [bctt tweet="Optimized supply chain network models developed from scenario-based enriched data, help organizations maximize the value from enterprise-wide available data. This data, in turn, can be leveraged for better decision-making in the supply chain, which means on-time delivery and happier customers!"]
[bctt tweet="One of the most crucial and underrated operational challenges of a discrete manufacturing organization is waste. Understanding and identifying the waste and where it exists is necessary to reduce its impact on productivity, performance, and quality. Collection and analysis of shop floor data can help manufacturers reduce waste."] In a scenario, where there is a faulty product, manufacturers can also avoid recalls on-time or fix the problem and ensure cost control and reduce resource waste by accessing data real-time. Further, in such a scenario, evolved solutions can use a managed-release and readiness process to ensure relevant data is set up appropriately when releasing a new or changed product.
Maintenance is a very important part of improving operational efficiency in a discrete manufacturing business. Traditionally, the data generated by machines were used for alerts signaling machines were operating optimally. Now, if the machine has already crossed some operational thresholds and there is no room for preventive maintenance, predictive maintenance comes into play. Data enabling fault prediction can allow manufacturers to perform predictive maintenance to reduce costs and minimize disastrous breakdowns. The same philosophy can be applied to the production line, where with the help of sensors; machines generate data, by combining which, manufacturers can optimize operational efficiency.
In discrete manufacturing, ERP is a strong foundation, but it is not the only thing that makes a manufacturing business successful. A strong bunch of solutions can make data, more accessible, driving significant operational improvements. For example, [bctt tweet="the Microsoft Power BI solution help manufacturers collaborate, monitor, and communicate with real-time data. It enables them to connect to their production processes from anywhere at any time on mobile devices. Real-time alerts with Power BI mobile apps make operations more efficient and achieve greater flexibility."]