Nobody thinks that preparing for Industry 4.0 is easy. Building a smart manufacturing system requires sensors, networks, computing and above all a software system to bring all the disparate elements together.
The ideal software package should be an ERP system, but a recent survey conducted by The Manufacturer and Oracle | Netsuite has revealed that many SMEs are struggling to understand and use their software to build a smart manufacturing environment.
Too many SME manufacturers appear to be stuck in an outdated view of what an ERP system is for, and even though much of a potential Industry 4.0 system may be present on their shop floor, the various parts are not being linked up.
Therefore, it is vital that forward-thinking SMEs who wish to move to smarter manufacturing should look very hard at the ERP system they are running.
First, they should ask themselves if they truly understand the breadth of modules and functionality available in an up-to-date ERP system. Second, they need to ask software vendors tough questions about what their products can do – see below.
What should you be asking ERP system vendors?
- Is the ERP system a modern, born-in-the-cloud solution designed specifically to support digitalisation of business, from powerful workflow capabilities to support automation to web-based communication and collaboration capabilities?
- Has their software moved beyond a standard ERP package and absorbed a sophisticated Internet of Things capability that feeds back to the system the status and progress of orders, production, glitches, and supply chain information?
- Is data capture automatic? (Modern software links shop floor information into the ERP system automatically – avoiding the need for time-consuming, error-prone human reporting on the status of the real-world situation of the production line via machines, control systems and other data sources.)
- Is their software just a glorified accounts system or a vertically integrated package that covers CRM, e-commerce or PLM?
- Can the software operator use data to generate incremental revenue streams – offering value-added services such as servitization by extending sensor-based feedback to the product after manufacture and sale, perhaps by alerting customers to maintenance schedules and predicting component wear and tear?
- Is the software set up for the kind of pain-free online sales experience that people increasingly expect from product vendors?
- Is the software easy to use? What are the training opportunities? Are case studies and templates available to enable users to get up and running quickly and painlessly?
- Is the software automatically upgraded when new releases are available, or is the user responsible for upgrading and reimplementing to take advantage of new features?
Are you looking to install or update an ERP, BI, CRM, FSM or SCM system?
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Upcoming The Manufacturer Connect – Wednesday 28 February, 2018 | Glasgow