AI and IoT Use Cases
Industry 4.0, Fourth Industrial Revolution, the Digital Factory—whatever term you want to use, the bottom line is that manufacturing and distribution are undergoing a radical transformation. Rapid advancements in enterprise technology deliver real-time insights and automate processes from the top floor to the shop floor. Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software often serves as the cornerstone of manufacturing and distribution digitization, creating a central hub of data to fully manage business performance.
But many businesses struggle to keep up with the fast pace of enterprise technology. Tired of the buzzwords and suspicious of change, they stick to their old ways—and end up falling behind the competition. You can’t turn the tide of digital progress, but you can leverage your ERP solution to simplify your adoption of cutting-edge tools. ERP vendors such as Epicor are continuously optimizing their solutions to include the latest features, integrating them seamlessly with your familiar dashboards and functionality.
We’re going beyond buzzwords to demonstrate how you can use new technology in daily manufacturing and distribution processes. To explain how you can capitalize on ERP innovation to improve business performance, we’ve put together use cases for two cutting-edge developments: AI and IoT.
AI devices perform tasks that are typically assigned to people. It rapidly analyzes data to detect patterns and trends that we can’t easily discover on our own. Though that might sound a little creepy, the purpose of AI is to add efficiency and accuracy to processes, not replace humans in the workforce. The technology has evolved in the past few years to become commonplace in the office and on the factory floor. Gartner predicts that about 80% of emerging technology will be supported by AI by 2021.
Increasingly, ERP vendors are embedding AI into their solutions to provide greater automation and deepen insights. These are some of the ways manufacturers and distributors are employing AI and ERP functionality to improve processes:
- AI translates massive datasets into actionable insights. For example, it can analyze sales history, order patterns and other metrics to help users determine how much inventory to keep and predict orders. This improves forecasting accuracy, so you can minimize waste and costs while meeting customer demands.
- Users can easily interact with AI virtual assistants and bots for instant information. The Epicor Virtual Agent (EVA) allows users to access insights through simple text or voice commands.
- It can identify lapses in performance as well as root causes of issues. For example, AI will alert users of dips in production and locate the source of the problem.
- AI automates business processes, such as accounting activities. The technology is capable of categorizing invoice data into different accounts and verifying the accuracy of reports.
- By automating repetitive tasks, AI reduces human error and worker fatigue to improve efficiency and create safer factories.
- Sales reps gain real-time information to personalize customer experiences. AI reports reveal details about customer behavior, such as which customers are focused on price and changes in buying habits, so sales reps can respond accordingly.
Internet of Things
The IoT refers to objects and devices that can be connected to the internet, usually through sensors or wireless technology. For manufacturers and distributors, the most effective way to leverage IoT capabilities is to embed sensors in shop floor equipment or products to track performance and identify issues. IoT is becoming a staple across multiple industries. In manufacturing alone, IoT is expected to surpass $150 billion by 2024.
With IoT data feeding into your ERP solution, businesses gain a comprehensive view of assets and products to mitigate risk and accelerate decision making. Here are some of the improvements made possible by IoT and ERP:
- IoT supports predictive maintenance by catching equipment issues before they lead to destructive downtime. Epicor IoT provides real-time performance metrics in an intuitive dashboard, so users can instantly detect errors, schedule maintenance and improve overall equipment effectiveness (OEE).
- IoT measures a variety of metrics, such as production yield, order performance and cycle times. This data reveals inefficiencies and errors to help businesses make strategic enhancements.
- Real-time inventory updates eliminate the need for manual inventory counting and enable businesses to maintain an accurate picture of stock levels at all times.
- Kanbans and replenishments can be automatically communicated to your ERP without requiring human intervention.
- Even after products are delivered to your customers, your ERP can continue utilizing data generated from sensors in your products to optimize the customer experience. You can schedule field service or recommend other products to customers based on metrics.
- Instead of manually inspecting WIPs, manufacturers can use sensors to track quality along production lines.
As these use cases demonstrate, AI and IoT aren’t just temporary fads; they offer real improvements for manufacturers and distributors. Epicor ERP explores cutting-edge trends to develop practical solutions that address common pain points. With its AI and IoT features, Epicor enhances its ERP functionality to optimize business performance.
An Epicor Gold Partner, Datix enables manufacturers and distributors to capitalize on the full value of their ERP software. For over 20 years, we’ve stayed ahead of industry trends to help businesses implement innovative solutions and manage change. Our certified consultants work with clients from start to finish to ensure their software is aligned with their goals and requirements.
Let Datix be your guide in transforming your business through software. Contact our ERP experts today!