Manufacturing is in the midst of a fundamental transformation. The technologies and trends in play have collectively become known as the 4th Industrial Revolution, but even this historically minded phrase may be selling the scope of the changes short.
The modern manufacturing of today and tomorrow will achieve levels of efficiency, productivity, speed, sustainability, and overall cost-effectiveness that would have seemed impossible just 20 years ago. It is an exciting time for all, but also one marked by confusion, uncertainty, and widespread concern.
The reason manufacturing is quickly becoming more refined than ever before is exactly because it’s also becoming more complicated than ever before. An army of connected devices is giving manufacturers new levels of oversight and control, but also adding to their IT infrastructure significantly. Big data is generating valuable perspective and oversights, but also creating a huge new management burden. And advances like machine learning and AI promise to handle the heavy-lifting while also making complex production environments even more complex. It’s understandable that manufacturers would view these changes with cautious optimism and more than a little bit of trepidation.
The most overarching lesson for these manufacturers to learn is that all new technologies and data-driven processes invite benefits and hazards. The key to tipping the balance in your favor is understanding how to mitigate the hazards and accentuate the benefits. In both cases, that means implementing a manufacturing ERP software.
Even though ERP in manufacturing is nothing new, it is quickly taking on new importance. The technologies that will soon be considered indispensable are all designed to either capture, store, or analyze data. As a result, manufacturers will soon be contending with a flood of new data that can either deliver monumental value or create monumental confusion.
The Scoop on ERP
ERP is fundamentally a data management tool. In every setting and configuration, the point is to streamline and organize the way data flows into, around, and out of an enterprise. More of the heavy lifting is automated and more of the hurdles and roadblocks that compromise data are eliminated. In short, more of the challenges that are new to modern manufacturing are resolved.
Unfortunately, the opposite of this is just as true. In the absence of ERP, the data-driven technologies poised to drive the future are simply expensive disruptions. Not only do they fail to deliver the ROI and long-term value that you were banking on. They can create turmoil in your supply chains and production processes that puts the future of your enterprise at risk.
The manufacturers that have most eagerly embraced next-generation technologies already have manufacturing ERP in place. The manufacturers that are most eager to follow their lead are advised to implement ERP before investing in an IOT or big data strategy.
The biggest thing ERP can do is relieve the challenge of data management. But in practice, it can also help manufacturers to cut costs, reconfigure a workforce, eliminate errors and miscommunications, and build flexibility into processes. During any period of change, manufacturers want to stay lean and agile in order to preserve their market share through a period of uncertainty. ERP creates the conditions to make that possible, as well as the conditions to help modern manufacturers thrive.
Don’t think of ERP as yet another thing to invest in and another IT burden to add to the list. Think of it as the foundation that every other strategy, plan, ambition, or gamble you’re considering must be built on. Once the right product is implemented, your manufacturing enterprise is in a stronger position overall. That way you can move forward now rather than playing catch up later.