ColumnsExpert Opinion

Adaptive ERP Solutions Empower Transition to Smart Manufacturing

Jan Biezepol

Industry 4.0, or smart manufacturing, brings together multiple technologies like big data analytics, IoT, artificial intelligence, advanced robotics, 3D printing and augmented reality etc. to help manufacturing companies stay competitive.

Next-generation ERP systems can play a key role for manufacturers as they implement smart technology to solve business problems. While legacy ERP systems may not be designed to adapt to smart manufacturing technologies, ERP that enables manufacturers to recognize new technologies and leverage them for business advantage is perfect for today’s business climate.

Below are some reasons why a next-generation, adaptive ERP system can empower a business to move to smart manufacturing.

Adaptive ERP lets managers make informed decisions based on data

As smart sensors take over a connected factory, manufacturers can take advantage of a core system that accumulates data from every machine, crunches it, and provides actionable insights. These insights allow managers to make informed decisions and measure business outcomes.

Without an adaptable ERP system, one that includes features such as predictive maintenance of machinery, advanced automation to optimize shop floor operations and better customer service, businesses will find it hard to reap the potential benefits of Industry 4.0.

Enhancing customer experience

No manufacturer, whether B2B or B2C, can afford to ignore the importance of customer experience. Customers influence the way a product needs to de designed, manufactured, packaged, and delivered to the last mile. Therefore, manufacturers should create and maintain a completely digitized, transparent, and fast-paced value chain.

A modern, adaptive ERP system allows manufacturers to share data from every part of their system, be it the shop floor or the boardroom. Such a fast, seamless, and real-time movement of data may not be possible through legacy ERP systems, many of which were not built for deep integration.For many manufacturing organizations, ERP systems are still driven by manual and thus error-prone transactions. Modern manufacturers are now moving toward intelligent ERP systems that, in addition to decreasing errors, can effectively boost productivity, efficiency and data integration.

Invoking Flexibility 

Success for today’s manufacturers lies in providing extremely personalized products, rather than churning out batches of mass products. They also need to keep tab on the operating production cost while ensuring this mass customization. In other words, their production processes need to be a lot more flexible. Companies will need to adjust production dynamically, keeping in mind the evolving market needs.

Dependence on outdated ERP systems can inhibit this flexibility, making it harder to scale production up or down. A cutting-edge ERP lets companies rapidly respond to dynamic market needs and customer expectations. It also helps improve resource management to control spending and reduce waste.

Managing Change

Business process transformation is inevitable for manufacturers as they adopt Industry 4.0. technologies. However, the bigger challenge for them, and especially for Indian manufacturing companies, is to gear up for unexpected market moves.

These moves come in all shapes and forms such as customer demands, new regulatory reforms or new compliance/policy requirements. One such change was the recent introduction of GST in the country. It’s important that the ERP system is well equipped to manage such changes, while the manufacturer can focus on their core business operations.

(Disclaimer: The author is the Managing Director, South Asia at QAD, a software company that provides enterprise resource planning software and related enterprise software to manufacturing companies. The opinions expressed are those of the author.)

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