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3 Questions: What Is Driving All the Change in Manufacturing?

There is no question that technology is advancing at a pace unlike any other time in history. And it is manufacturing and industry that is at the forefront of harnessing new technology. Whether it was the use of electricity in manufacturing plants during the industrial revolution, advent of the assembly line, to implementing connectivity in the computer age, technology has driven innovation in the industrial sector.

Exact Macola, a leading enterprise software developer for small and midsized manufacturers and distributors, recently commissioned a study conducted by Berg Research to learn which technologies are driving the most change, and how businesses are being positively impacted by those changes and what the future looks like to them.

What is Driving Innovation in Manufacturing?

The current presidential administration ran on a platform of global trade deregulation with the aim of helping US manufacturers. While 50% of respondents felt as though deregulation would have a positive impact on their revenues, that factor lagged well behind emerging technology as the biggest game changer for the industry.

Things like big data, the Internet of Things, wearable technology and 3D printing are all seen as game changers. In fact, 72% of respondents feel as though emerging technology and IT innovations are the biggest revenue drivers.Big Data, Connected Machinery and Collaborative Robots that work in conjunction with a human labor force are just 3 emerging technologies that respondents felt were having the greatest impact on their daily operations.

How is ERP Software Being Leveraged?

As technologies advance, so has ERP software. Modern ERP is designed to work with emerging technology so businesses can gain the greatest ROI. ERP can be used not only as a collection point for extensive amounts of data, but also has the ability to process that data in near real time into actionable intelligence.As an example, understanding data can help businesses predict production bottlenecks before they occur, predict sales cycles and keep inventory levels where they need to keep orders on schedule.

Through the Internet of Things, machinery can be connected directly to the ERP system. Diagnostics can be sent straight to your ERP system. Maintenance schedules can be stored within your software, sending automated alerts to managers, keeping equipment working at peak levels. Production schedules can also be shared with connected machinery to identify the most efficient plans, improving lead times, productivity and customer satisfaction.

Wearable technology can be connected to your ERP, meaning employees can access vital data like shipping and receiving notices or pick tickets right to a smart watch or tablet. RFID technology can be used to do inventory audits almost instantaneously, and that data can be uploaded to ERP through connected devices. The applications that can be automated through ERP are nearly endless, and manufacturers who have been early adopters are reaping the benefits.

What has the Impact of Emerging Technology been on Manufacturers?

Possibly the most incredible statistic to emerge from the Berg survey was the demarcation line between manufacturers that have implemented process automation versus those who hadn’t. Of the manufacturers who were using ERP for process automation, 61% experienced revenue growth of greater than 20% year over year. By comparison, 67% of respondents who weren’t automating processes saw growth of less than 20%.

Even more telling than that, however, was the revelation that businesses who were using automation were nearly twice as likely to see revenue growth between 20-40% compared to those that weren’t (34% vs 18% respectively). ERP software, and by extension process automation, was an operational necessity to stay competitive in the market.

For more information on how to properly implement ERP in a way that will help your business take advantage of some of these incredible advances in technology, call the Attivo Group at 877-428-8486 or contact us here.