IoT is already gaining traction in the consumer world as smart, predictive way to make day-to-day life easier; from home security systems that can send alerts to smartphones to fitness trackers that can keep your New Years resolutions on track. Now, it’s time for IoT to (rightly) take on the manufacturing and enterprise software world. Huge, untapped potential lies in the data that IoT and ERP technology can generate on a manufacturing shop floor, and you can take advantage of it now by connecting your ERP and your shop floor through the cloud to create your own IoT environment.
The basic premise of manufacturing IoT is pretty much the same as you’ve likely come across in day-to-day life; sensors embedded in your manufacturing machinery can share data, process information and communicate operations with the main hub of your ERP system.
Through the Internet of Things, you can interconnect your entire manufacturing floor, or floors as the case may be, with the rest of your business. This is not only a boon when it comes to process management, it can also help you to cut back on major areas of waste within your operations and strengthen relationships with your customers. Some may think that sounds too good be true, but read on and be convinced of the power that IoT and ERP technology can bring to your company!
Complete Process Control
Just as the Internet of Things allows consumers to turn on alarm systems at home, IoT and ERP will give their users total control and oversight of their facility, even when they’re not in the office or on the shop floor. Once they have internet-enabled sensors embedded, your shop floor machinery can broadcast crucial production data to other machinery on their production line, to teams in your quality and compliance departments, and to you wherever you need it.
Furthermore, because IoT technology allows for all of these interactions to happen over the web and in real-time, you can also access whatever information you need in real-time to make decisions on the spot and keep your business moving forward. Leveraging both the sophisticated capability of IoT and ERP’s overarching management powers means you will have unprecedented control over your business, wherever you need it.
Lean Scheduling Capability
Here at the Datix blog, we have gone into quite a bit of detail about the importance of lean manufacturing techniques and how they can foster growth in a manufacturing environment. Lean principles work to eliminate waste in all areas of your business; be it an overstocked inventory or a production line spending too much time turned off as its companions become overworked with products and requests. For manufacturers looking to streamline their production processes and become a lean business, the Internet of Things is great news. An interconnected IoT and ERP manufacturing environments allows your machines to work in tandem with the others. Say one particular production line is experiencing a slowdown due to maintenance issues—that line can communicate the problem to your employees and to related production lines. That way, the demand can be redirected down a line that can handle the workload, and you can send your team to get the affected machinery back up running at full speed again. This kind of symbiotic relationship is a core tenet of lean, pull-scheduling principles where every workflow stems back from the finished product. Only the amount of product demanded by your customers is made, and that means only the necessary materials are order and manufacturing time taken up to make that product. This means less inventory, less unnecessary work, and ultimately less money wasted. An overall win for your business in the end.
Connectivity For Customers
You can even make IoT a unique selling point for your client base, whether it’s extolling how the new technology will result in improved delivery times and product quality for the same prices, or how modern IoT and ERP will allow you to innovate new products based on customers needs and how they are interacting with your current product. Indeed, you can (and should) turn your organization’s innovation into a marketing goldmine—be it targeting new customers looking for a forward-thinking brand, or remarketing to keep those old customers loyal.
For example, manufacturers can install in-product sensors that will know if a product needs maintenance or is coming to the end of its life-cycle, and sell maintenance services or a replacement product before anyone else can get their foot in the door. Naturally, your IoT network can include online interaction with your customer base, including their purchasing history. Once you have this history learned, you can then predict future demand and schedule production accordingly so that you have the right amount of product available whenever your customer needs it. This kind of coordination allows your brand to build meaningful relationships where customers feel supported and kept track of—not just a number on an Excel spreadsheet. That’s the way to keep them coming back to your products, and not giving a second look to competitors.
One thing to consider before implementing a broad IoT and ERP network throughout your facility; do you have the technological capability to handle all of the datasets that IoT inevitably generates? Manufacturing IoT and ‘big data’ inevitably go hand-in-hand, and small businesses with small teams or limited server space may find themselves overwhelmed with all of the information available to them. The key—finding actionable metrics and drilling down to the statistics that affect business costs and can be used to grow revenue. The principle purpose of ERP software, after all, is to help you streamline your operations and keep moving upwards in the enterprise world and IoT technology can help you in furthering that goal!
If you need help deciphering data in your own organization, or are looking to take advantage of the power of IoT and ERP on your manufacturing shop floor, get in touch with an expert at Datix today!