Creating the Intelligent Enterprise for Manufacturers

Posted on 22 Oct 2019 by The Manufacturer

With the UK's pace of digital adoption lagging behind other advanced economies, Stuart Querns explores how advanced digital technologies such as IoT, Robotics and AI can overcome the challenges manufacturers face and support their ambitions to become intelligent enterprises.

Exports Supply Chain Logsitics Shipping Containers - image courtesy of Depositphotos.Discrete Manufacturing is an important part of the UK economy, representing more than 44% of UK exports with further growth expected.

It was reported by The Manufacturer last year that growth is expected to continue at a positive rate, which is very encouraging.

However, despite the positive growth in the market, the pace of digital adoption of next-gen technologies lags behind other advanced economies.

The UK ranks 22nd in the world for adoption of advanced digital technologies (ADTs) such as IoT, Robotics and AI. This, combined with the industry challenges that pre-date ADTs has resulted in a need to create the intelligent enterprise.

What challenges are we facing

As well as slow adoption of new technology, the industry faces some specific challenges, crucially, around visibility within the supply chain and uncertainty the markets we operate in.

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Other considerations include speed to market, given the levels of competition bought by short product life-cycles and product variation, driven by new market sectors, but also by bringing together hardware, software and new service models.

There are compelling events in industry that drive challenges for us that change the way we operate, such as…

  • Mergers and acquisitions
  • Entering new markets
  • Developing new business models

These all drive challenges with the business that demand new technology to support growth and change.

The way in which we report and analyse data changes with the business too. A consideration has to be made for managing data accuracy and KPIs, how we develop reporting with the changing KPIs and what to do when new KPIs are being enabled by the business.

intelligent enterprise factory manufacturing digital tablet - depositphotos
factory manufacturing digital tablet – depositphotos

We must also consider some of the practical problems within the business, such as inventory holding and excess stock, capacity modelling, and understanding the need and distribution of capacity, tracking products, tracking process and the rate of change of products and how to maintain your business assets.

How is a platform fit for the purpose?

The challenge for us all is that we are increasingly tech-savvy since the last ERP solutions were deployed.

At home for example, we use simple mobile-based user interfaces, we share real-time information and we receive alerts through these devices when we need to take action.

In our domestic life, we use these new technologies daily, so why is it such a challenge to collaborate in this way in our businesses to address some of the issues identified?

iphone apple tech digital - depositphotos.

We’ve considered the challenges industry leaders are facing and now you have to consider if the technology you have is fit for purpose as much as you are changing as an industry and we are changing as a society, and whether or not the platform delivers the right capabilities for your business.

This dynamic, technology-driven change as products with embedded technology become surprisingly smart and customers are becoming increasing tech-savvy, demands new levels of digital intimacy and capability.

There is increasing complexity and type of business operation that need the support of intelligent technologies.

Becoming an intelligent enterprise

So what does this mean for the platform of the future? The way we look at this is that we say that the future platform needs to be fit for purpose.

It’s interesting to see what the demands from our customer base have been from industry and how we have responded, and these are the sort of things we are bringing together and taking to market in response to the demands of industry leaders.

Firstly, we recognise the drive to break down business silos from top-floor to shop-floor, and between business functions.

This has resulted in what we’re calling the intelligent network which shares real-time information across the business within a digital core.

Then there’s the need to speed up how information is shared across the business network, exploiting cloud to simplify decision making and take costs and complexity out of the business.

And finally, how can we exploit automation to enable scale and manage complexity using machine learning, AI and connecting IoT to business processes.

We connect these technologies to simplify processes within our domestic lives, but less so when it comes to our business.

Bringing this all together as a platform to support your business future, that’s what we’re describing as you becoming an ‘Intelligent Enterprise’, utilising cloud solutions and smart data management, it’s important that you transform to become an intelligent enterprise.

How can this very complex world become a reality for your business?

FAST Engineer is the solution that addresses the challenges above.

As a solution implementation organisation, we have learned from the experience of engaging with companies that have these challenges and issues and we’ve taken this on board to define and develop capability as well as solutions that deliver value as efficiently as possible.

This comes under the banner of ‘FAST Engineer’, which is all about the optimisation we alluded to around visibility, agility and control.

We can help your manufacturing organisation become an Intelligent Enterprise with FAST Engineer. 

Watch our 30min webinar to find out how we’ve helped other manufacturing organisations drive innovation and build a platform that’s fit for purpose and ready for the future.

Written by Stuart Querns, Enterprise Asset Management Capability Lead, Delaware

[email protected]

Stuart has been involved in delivering SAP ERP solutions, with a particular focus on Enterprise Asset Management, for the past 22 years.

Coming from a Mechanical Engineering background and Upstream Oil and Gas operational roles, he has subsequently worked across many industry sectors delivering transformational solutions, ranging from Manufacturing, Oil and Gas to Aerospace and Defence.

Much of this work has been delivered across a diverse regional spread, including UK/Europe, North America, Middle East, Asia working with large Global Organisations as well as regionally focused companies.

*All images courtesy of Depositphotos