To say that the global manufacturing industry is undergoing an era of profound upheaval (or disruption) would be an understatement.
This disruption is not just a symptom of the major changes going on in manufacturing, it will also be its saviour.
Disruption can come in many forms such as pressure from cheaper Chinese imports or even currency fluctuations, all of which have impacted on global manufacturing over the past two decades. For its part, Australia’s manufacturing sector has also suffered from a disruptive economic climate throughout that time.
Disruption in the form of IOT
Across multiple industries the Internet of Things ‘IOT’ is causing a far-reaching form of disruption in all areas especially in the manufacturing sector.
The IoT is fast becoming one of the most disruptive forces that Australian and indeed, the global manufacturing sector has faced.
The modern manufacturing plant floor is a hub of technology, sensors, electronic controls and automated equipment. These interconnected devices drive compliance, efficiency, quality and will cause the most disruption.
Fast, efficient and flexible computerised machines are provided with instructions for the exact requirements for each product at each moment of production. This is a full-scale transformation of the old-style “economies of scale” approach that drove mass-produced consumer goods.
Connected tools and machines are a key aspect of these changes. Take an IoT-enabled torque wrench in the assembly of a complex part, as a simple example.
When connected to specific Cloud applications, a torque wrench can capture the torque applied to a specific part, as well as information like the specific wrench that was used, when that wrench was last calibrated and the employee(s) who used it.
Faults can be detected in real time, and even when they’re missed, the Cloud applications can trace every part affected back to the root cause.
Quality and speed are the first things that will be improved in such a hyper-connected environment, which leads to an improved customer experience.
This same level and depth of visibility won’t stop when the product leaves the plant. Smart products will not only interact with the customer in new ways but will also be able to stay in contact with the producer for better long-term performance, maintenance and support.
Quality issues not only get service attention, but can (and do) influence future product design. Sensor-connected smart technology via the IoT brings processes and products together into a new ecosystem for added customer value.
Compliance is also a major headache to many manufacturers, IoT solutions are being used to streamline compliance with company and government regulations, from collecting and analysing data remotely to making sure that machinery is being used effectively.
Utilising sensors allows staff to immediately detect potential problems and ensure that any issue that may affect quality or safety issues are promptly dealt with well before they arise.
How can disruption help the manufacturing industry?
What is mainly transformative about the IoT is the changing nature of the products that companies will make and how they will be made.
Smart, connected products are generating new value in ways we couldn’t imagine even five years ago – from reduced costs of production to improved efficiencies in areas like service and innovation, opening up new landscapes for invention and growth.
To compete, differentiate, and win in this new IoT world, companies must recognise the transformative (again, disruptive) power of the IoT – and be ready to collect, analyse and capitalise on the information (data) now being generated by customers, suppliers and the products themselves.
It’s Time for Manufacturers to Think Outside the Box
A study from the Economist Intelligence Unit found 87 per cent of leading executives from across the globe have had operations with out-of-date infrastructure.
New technologies that can identify issues with infrastructure before they occur will be needed by companies to put them on a firm footing for the future. IoT enabled solutions will help companies improve efficiency, extend the life of assets, reduce the risk of failure and improve the ability of businesses to meet customer expectations and demand.
Using next generation business management software to exploit the benefits of IOT
In order to capitalise on all the benefits of the IoT, the implementation of new technologies in ERP or next generation business management solutions is the best way for manufacturers to improve and increase their efficiencies.
Manufacturers need to understand that improvements in efficiencies will only come when they think ‘outside the box’ and embrace the notion that disruptive technologies are not only good for their business, but will also help improve the outcomes in a sector that is in a continual state of flux.
However, getting the right solution is half of the battle and experience suggests that success is down to procuring the right software.
Be ready for the Internet of Things with Sage X3
Sage X3 has been designed to support complex organisational deployment and reporting structures, in order to simplify management across multiple facilities, companies or business units and geographic regions.
With built-in functionality for manufacturing, distribution and services tasks, Sage X3 can be customised to accommodate a range of rules and processes.
For the requirements of the IoT, Sage X3 is scalable and is designed to adapt to the needs of large volumes of data, making it simple to manage a global business while at the same time navigating the new universe that is the Internet of Things.