Using The Power Of The Cloud For A Competitive Edge In Manufacturing

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Process Control: Improving the Productivity of Your Small Factory

Several years ago, I purchased a small clothing factory. My goal was to focus on producing quality goods that were affordable for people on fixed incomes. It didn't take me long to see that we needed to improve the production process. To get started, I brought in a production and efficiency expert. She looked at our current production layout and identified several ways to eliminate waste and shorten the amount of time needed to cut and assemble a garment. With some rearranging of machinery and job responsibilities, we were able to increase our productivity by 30% and reduce operational costs by the same amount. Whether your company produces clothing, widgets, or toys, it pays to take a second look at the process. Let me share what the expert did to help us. You may find some of those same suggestions will work for your operation.

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Using The Power Of The Cloud For A Competitive Edge In Manufacturing

12 March 2015
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Cloud technology may not be something that most people associate with manufacturing, but that is changing rapidly. As technology grows and changes almost daily, it's more important than ever that manufacturers stay up-to-date with the latest tech trends in order to maintain a competitive edge. New technology means constantly changing software, which can be both tremendously expensive and difficult to implement for many manufacturers. However, using software based in the cloud can mean manufacturers get the benefits of the new technology without completely overhauling their own systems every time a change is made.

3D printing

With a huge surge in the use of 3D printing in the manufacturing industry, using cloud-based software systems allows even smaller companies to keep up with the changing face of manufacturing. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) is the software used by manufacturers to run their operations. It's not easy to change your company's ERP, and it can be very expensive. However, cloud-based ERP systems allow manufacturers to use new technologies without the massive expense of completely changing their existing ERP structure.

Because 3D printing allows for very detailed, personalized products that can be created in batches of one, manufacturers can use the technology to make test pieces, to better meet their customers' needs, and to re-create items that have been discontinued for special orders. If they had to maintain and change up the specifications for these items in standard ERP, it would be time-consuming and expensive. Cloud-based ERP allows them to make all the changes that are necessary, and share the results with anyone via the cloud.

Employee access

Being able to access your employee data from anywhere in the world is useful in any industry, and manufacturers who choose to use cloud-based software can do just that. Employees can also be "on the same page" when it comes to software updates and changes without having to physically update old software systems in every branch of your business. Cloud-based ERPs give employees access to important data in real time, which can speed up collaborations and increase productivity.

Every aspect of manufacturing, including human resources, finance, and scheduling, can be made simpler with cloud-based ERP because it is more efficient and accessible 24 hours a day. Manufacturers can automate many aspects of their business, including scheduling, and make changes across the entire company from one place, making the day-to-day running of the company much easier for every department.

Acceleration of new product development

In manufacturing, reducing the time it takes to develop and produce new products can be crucial to beating out the competition. One of the most useful aspects of using a cloud-based manufacturing software program is the fact that it can help turn ideas into realities much more quickly. Being able to access data from around the globe, instantly, utilize the data to design the product, then begin production immediately after the design has been tested means less waiting, more production, and a quicker way to get products to market.

Cloud-based technology is also on the rise among consumers, and manufacturers can use this to their advantage, offering updated products quickly without requiring a complete overhaul of the production systems already in place. As more consumers demand cloud-based technology, manufacturers will have to be ready to offer these fluid, ever-changing products to meet the demand of the public, or face falling behind.

Although there are still a few holdouts who haven't bought into the cloud-based ERP, many manufacturers have already begun to implement it, and eventually it won't be a matter of choosing to go "with the cloud" or not. As technology expands its reaches deeper into the manufacturing industry, those who don't use such programs run the risk of falling behind and being unable to compete in today's busy economy. For more information, contact a production software specialist.