Process mapping: better connected production

Technology is accelerating the pace of manufacturing exponentially. K3 Syspro explains how SMEs can stay one step ahead.

Few industries have undergone the rapid pace of change that manufacturing is currently experiencing.

K3 Syspro PQ July Aug 2016 - Process MappingNew materials are lighter, stronger and more durable than ever. Carbon fibre is replacing steel and aluminium in aerospace, and new techniques are enabling engineers to prototype products in record time.

The sector is accelerating at such a pace that the future of making things now relies on manufacturers tapping into a new generation of business systems, which enable real-time, autonomous interactions between machines, assets and people.

This exciting level of connectivity is making it possible for manufacturers to design more innovative products, streamline operations and deliver advanced services to customers, increasing their competitiveness.

It’s allowing businesses to start designing products based on integrating big data to view every stage of the product lifecycle; connecting mission critical applications, such as enterprise resource planning (ERP); and customer relationship management (CRM) systems to provide a holistic view of business critical data.

But for many manufacturers, this view of the factory of the future is still one reserved for larger corporate organisations.

It can be difficult to understand when a process needs to be automated and to identify the best technology to provide that automation.

Process Mapping

Every revolution must start somewhere, and for manufacturing, it’s with the process mapping.

There are multiple reasons for improving the flow of data in manufacturing: to increase service levels, reduce costs or gain greater visibility of management information.

TM Smart Factory Expo

Nov 2-3, The NEC (Birmingham)

The Manufacturer Smart Factory Expo is the UK’s only dedicated exhibition in response to Industry 4.0

Showcasing the best solution providers and technology offerings, this unique event is for manufacturing business leaders keen to adopt the relevant tools and knowledge to drive business growth.

  •  Learn about how Industry 4.0 can improve your business
  •  Discover new, more cost-effective solutions to existing processes
  •  Hear how other manufacturers are dealing with the fourth industrial revolution
  •  Network with new suppliers, customers and business partners
  • Compare solutions across every product sector
  •  Keep up to date with emerging technology

The trick is looking at the processes in your business that could be improved by automation, and implementing small changes that make a big difference.

Tools such as K3 DataSwitch facilitate small steps towards automation. How much time do contract electronics manufacturers spend manually converting multiple design specifications and product data into ERP as manufacturing data in order to complete a job?

DataSwitch automates this process, converting multiple files into documents that ERP applications such as SYSPRO can understand, and accept, negating the need for manual data entry.

This frees manufacturers up to focus more time on production, therefore increasing capacity.

For growing companies with multi-site operations, small routine tasks such as raising an order can also create time consuming headaches.

It’s often the case that orders placed with one subsidiary are entered into an ERP system, printed to create a hard copy record and then attached to an email to send to the parent site, before being sent back to the subsidiary for processing.

Not only is this time consuming, but the process also requires multiple key strokes for data entry, duplicate processes and a large, often unnecessary, paper trail.

Automation through electronic data interchange can relieve manufacturers of administrative burdens and free them up to concentrate on new product development, and enhancing the customer experience.

The dawn of the connected revolution is already upon manufacturing, with the Internet of Things enabling businesses to collaborate more closely with partners; address customer requirements systematically; establish new business processes, and manufacture better products more quickly.

But it’s with small steps in automation, aligned to the overall business model, where the factories of the future will start to be created.