Essentials of a Connected Manufacturing Strategy

Our world is always changing—both for our personal lives, and our professional lives. The number of connected devices is steadily on the rise, while the cost of technology is steadily decreasing. We have a steady stream of information coming at us all the time, allowing us to stay connected to pretty much whatever or whoever we want at any given time. 

This sounds like it could be describing just about any facet of our lives, and it can—but manufacturing facilities in particular are becoming more and more connected with their factories, warehouses, machines, and underlying software. Manufacturers who are looking to grow in this ever-changing and competitive market often experience the same challenges. We’ll go over some of those challenges, here. Some of them you can control, but others are simply out of your hands. When it comes to the latter, the best thing you can do is take steps to mitigate the impact of them. Whether or not you can control the baseline problem, you can always take big steps as to how it affects you. 

Common Challenges

Market volatility is a common challenge our clients face. There’s a good chance that new global tariffs and trade wars are reducing your profit margins. The landscape of global competitors is changing, which will (and already has) bring unexpected disruptions. 

There’s also a wide variety of things that can affect your supply chain. Political uncertainty, compliance regulations, climate change—all of these things can significantly impact your company’s access to the things you need in order to operate. 

Do you find that you’re collecting lots of data from your shop floor—but most of that data isn’t being used? Sometimes it isn’t feasible to dedicate resources to sift through and analyze all that data, and investing in new data technologies can pose the risk of a whole new batch of integration problems. 

If you haven’t heard of the “Amazon effect,” it essentially refers to the rise in customer expectations. There’s an ever-present demand for a stress-free, technology-driven customer experience. Your customers are expecting extremely fast and convenient-for-them delivery, easy self-service tools, and more personalization. 

And then there’s the skills shortage. It’s generally thought that five generations are represented in any given workplace—and each generation approaches technology differently, and with different expectations. This can pose big challenges when it comes to trying to accommodate all of them. 

Planning Well for Growth

Here are a few things you need to consider when you’re thinking about how to grow in today’s changing landscape. Even if you can’t prevent all the challenges mentioned above, you can mitigate their impact with some proactive goals. 

Lower the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)

Lowering TCO of your technology assets will help you increase profitability. One way to do this is by simplifying the application strategy to scale, as business needs require—i.e. connecting new locations and new users across the expanding business. 

Improve Efficiency of IT Resources

When you stay current with innovation and technology, you’ll be able to more efficiently allocate IT resources. Manufacturers are standardizing technology investments with trusted service providers that take on the administrative aspects of running IT, staying up-to-date with technology, and keeping systems updated so you can focus on your growth strategies. 

Improve Security

Data is more valuable than it’s ever been, and today’s manufacturers need to do more to mitigate the risk of data loss. They need to improve application availability and ensure overall system security. Make sure your technology solutions can provide capabilities like 24/7 system monitoring, threat intelligence, best-practice backup, and disaster recovery. 

Speed Up Business Processes

It’s no secret that, due to the “Amazon effect” mentioned above, manufacturers are all looking to reduce customer lead times. Automated business processes and improved workflows need seamless system integration to work effectively—that means API-driven integration across systems, locations, and organizations to establish a single thread of accurate data connecting all of your systems. 

Provide a Better User Experience

Look for ways to offer your customers, suppliers, and employees a great experience working with or for your company—while also improving your system adoption and engagement. Expectations are driving intuitive self-service tools, mobile capabilities, and virtual assistants—use those to your advantage. 

Improve Visibility

Companies need to constantly improve visibility and insight into the industry, and across the supply chain to make informed decisions faster and in real time as conditions change. And we all know how quickly conditions can change. Aligning your technology strategy, solution choices, and partnerships with the right industry fit is a great way to improve your visibility. Industry-specific enterprise offerings that feature modern technology—like Internet of Things, analytics, and natural language processing—can all help you sustain a competitive advantage. 

Looking for more ways to capitalize on manufacturing technology? Contact Revere Control Systems today.