Manufacturing is changing. This free report can help you to find out how cutting-edge IT is transforming businesses, says The Manufacturer’s Contributing IT Editor, Malcolm Wheatley.
What is manufacturing actually about? Most of us instinctively feel that we know. Yet one only has to look at how the UK’s manufacturing sector has evolved over the past fifteen years to see the changes that have taken place.
Manufacturing’s mission has changed, for instance. Mass production of commoditised products still has its place, to be sure. But that place is shrinking.
Instead, today’s manufacturers are more focused than ever on adding value, getting closer to their customers, and adding intelligence and hi-tech capabilities to their products.
And manufacturing’s toolset and sources of competitive edge are changing too. Again, low-cost production has its place, but customers want to see those low costs reflected in manufacturers’ manufacturing and supply chain processes, not in the products that they buy.
Roll it all together, in short, and the business of manufacturing is being re-imagined around a model that is smarter; faster; nimbler; better informed, and more productive.
But re-imagined how, exactly? Over the past few months, we’ve attempted to answer this question, carrying out a series of interviews with a team of Microsoft manufacturing experts led by Colin Masson, Microsoft’s global industry director for manufacturing and distribution.
And the picture is encouraging, on a number of fronts.
First, a number of emerging technologies have a bearing on the question, and can deliver practical help. So if you’ve been putting off exploring exactly what big data; the Internet of Things; additive manufacturing; cloud deployment, and Industry 4.0 mean for manufacturers, then delay no longer.
Moreover, take the opportunity to explore how these can leverage, and in turn be leveraged by, ERP and CRM. New business models, and new ways of better serving customers, quickly emerge.
Second, there’s an undoubted “network effect”. The more capabilities that a manufacturer adds, the more those technologies and the connections between them act to reinforce and add value to each other. Put mobile devices and analytics on the factory floor, for instance, and see customer satisfaction metrics improve.
That might not have been the prime intended objective behind the deployment, to be sure, but such secondary effects can be very compelling.
Third, some equally compelling real-life use cases have emerged. In short, what Microsoft is calling “Intelligent Operations” has a solid grounding in what real-life businesses like yours are achieving today.
And fourthly, the price of admission can be low. Leveraging the cloud, and leveraging technologies that are delivered as a service, means it costs very little to start exploring exactly how all this can benefit your manufacturing business, through “proof-of-concept” deployments.
Where to start? Handily, a number of the interviews with these experts have been gathered together in a single, on-line report, “RE-IMAGINING MANUFACTURING: HOW CUTTING EDGE IT IS TRANSFORMING YOUR BUSINESS”.
Better still, the report has been organised into high-level topic areas: analytics; mobile deployment; the internet of things; and so on, making it easy to quickly locate the topic areas of greatest interest to your manufacturing business.