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Choosing Manufacturing Software Why Your Company Really Needs Manufacturing Software

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Manufacturing Software Top Benefits

By Chuck Schaeffer

In this challenging business environment, manufacturers need every advantage they can get—and manufacturing software can provide the kinds of sustainable benefits companies need to remain competitive, retain customers and find new ones. Among the key enhancements manufacturing software can deliver are better product quality, increased automation, real-time production reporting, decreased operational costs, lower cycle times and reduced lead time. How can CIOs at manufacturing companies ignore that?

A survey released by Framingham, Mass., research firms IDC Manufacturing Insights and IDC Retail Insights, entitled, Business Strategy and Supply Chain Innovation, identifies some of the top business and supply chain issues and how manufacturers and retailers expect to leverage information technology (IT) resources to address those objectives and challenges.

According to the research survey, which queried 415 manufacturers and 179 retailers in the United States, when executives were asked about their top three supply chain initiatives over the next 12 months, product quality was identified as the most critical. The researchers say this is a reflection of the growing number of product recalls in categories such as automotive, toys and grocery; increasing pressure on brands from retail private labels; and much more visible (and amplified) product scrutiny from consumers in social media channels.

Reducing costs was a high supply chain priority for respondents, according to the research firms, and there was "significant interest in improving forecasting capability and accuracy as well as improving responsiveness to demand changes. As companies begin to recover from the recession, managing the ability to respond to change and prepare for the return of demand is increasingly critical for business success."

Manufacturing software, which goes by a variety of names including lean manufacturing software, manufacturing execution systems and manufacturing resource planning (MRP) software, gives companies the ability to run more efficient production operations, improve the quality of products and increase efficiencies in the supply chain. It provides powerful software features such as automated inventory tracking and warehouse management, which let manufacturers gauge the dynamic volume of resources they need to keep costs down and processes running efficiently.

Here are just a few of the key manufacturing software benefits that can facilitate lasting efficiencies and impact to the bottom line.

  • Reduced lead time. Enterprise software solutions can help manufacturers cut the time required to develop a product from the concept phase to market delivery, by enabling more accurate demand forecasting along with improved production information such as end to end product lifecycle visibility and dynamic forecasting for better modeling and predictive capabilities. By reducing lead time, manufacturing companies can get products to market faster and thereby create a competitive advantage, which is particularly effective in fast-changing industries such as high-tech, electronics and retail.

  • Improved product quality. Companies can use business software solutions to collect data from the shop floor, monitor and control product quality traits and defects, and analyze process errors that contribute to product defects in near real-time. Recognizing and remedying defects on the shop floor results in 260 percent cost savings as compared to fixing the defects after they've left the shop. Further, waiting for consumers to discover and broadcast product defects over social media channels can impose a significant hit to the brand which affects customer loyalty and sales efforts over future periods. What’s more important for a manufacturing business than turning out quality products consistently and efficiently?

  • Increased process visibility. Manufacturers can gain greater visibility into shop floor operations, inventory management, order processing, warehousing and distribution chains and more with modern manufacturing software systems. These operational capabilities are mission critical to managing production schedules, maintaining materials supply and moving products through the supply chain.

  • Decreased costs. Manufacturers margins are getting squeezed, so many businesses are rethinking how manufacturing software can aid sustained cost reductions with improved business process efficiencies. By operating more efficient processes for demand forecasting, order processing, production planning and control, materials procurement, inventory and purchasing management, regulatory compliance and other areas, manufacturers can save significant amounts of time, effort and money. Enterprise software solutions can help streamline operations so companies can minimize costs in production, warehouses and other facilities.

Any company that designs and produces products—including everything from airplanes and automobiles to household appliances and clothing—needs to consider or maybe reconsider how deploying manufacturing software can align and support the company's most strategic goals. The companies that will likely benefit the most from using current era manufacturing software are those that are now relying on a combination of rigid legacy systems and manual processes to manage functions such as demand forecasting, scheduling and materials management. But clearly any manufacturing operation can benefit from the capabilities of the latest software offerings.

Business executives and IT decision makers in manufacturing companies are wise to explore the current manufacturing software market thoroughly to better understand new vertically focused enterprise software solutions, new capabilities and new software delivery models as well as examine real-world case studies in order to learn how other manufacturers have successfully deployed the technology and benefited their companies. End

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The need for increased product quality is a reflection of the growing number of product recalls, increased pressure on brands from retail private labels and much more visible (and amplified) product scrutiny from consumers in social media channels.



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