Impact of Smart Business Tools on Manufacturing Industries

 Kunal Kislay

Kunal Kislay

The buzzword for any industry is ‘digital transformation’ andbusiness intelligence tools have become essential in decision-making across the operational spectrum. The manufacturing sector uses several processes that rely on the synergy between machines and humans. This collaboration can be fostered by implementing mobile technologies across assembly lines, on the shop-floor as well as during procurement, automation and servicing.

As flexible working and remote operations become commonplace in the manufacturing sector, organizations arerecognizing the importance of empowering employees. In such a scenario, enterprise mobility, industrial automationand predictive analytics can place advanced capabilities at their employees’ fingertips and engage themin a way that helps achieve better results.

Understanding Enterprise Mobility, Predictive Analytics and Industrial automation

Enterprise mobility, also known as business mobility, is a popular trend that offers employees remote working options with the help of a variety of mobile devices and applications. The term also covers the mobility of enterprise data and of workers themselves. Another next-generation tool is predictive analytics that sifts through the company’s data and merges it with publicly available data to make predictions. Thisempowers companies to think, apart from making traditional presumptions, reducing planning time and enhancing productivity. Industrial automation enhances the customers and the factories and helps in remote monitoring, machine learning and big data technologies and harnesses machine to machine learning (M2M) and sensor data. Enterprise mobility, predictive analytics and Internet of Things (IoT) work in tandem to help companies adopt faster processes and save costs involved in delayed processing methodologies.

Need for digital transformation

Keeping with the times, digital transformation is the way forward andimprovisations to enterprise mobility require manufacturers to rethink their approach. It’s imperative for businesses to understand that employees need apps customized to suit their jobs in order to perform well. At the same time, different role-based apps within an organization must interact well for a seamless digital transformation. With enterprise mobility, it’s possible for manufacturing companies tointegratedifferent employees across departments and enable improved efficiencies. This can help organizations cut app development costs by 60 percent and maintenance costs by 70 percent.

Predictive analytics is increasingly used in everyday manufacturing operations, making the workplace more efficient and safer due to the digitization of assets. The predictive modeling software prevents efficiency loss in the manufacturing process, allowing transparency in operations. Predictive analytics also improves the inventory position because of the information garnered by the supply chain and operations. At the same time, future predictions help logistics and transportation managers to reduce transportation costs.

IIoT sits at the heart of this transformation for industries and is famously referred to as Industry 4.0, emphasizing its importance as the next stepping stone in Industrial revolution. It enables sensors data, machine to machine (M2M) communication and automation technologies to incorporate Machine learning and data analytics to help organization to improve on their inefficiencies and enhance their Business Intelligence efforts.

The pros

By integrating mobile technologies and predictive analytics in their day-to-day operations, manufacturing businesses can enjoy several benefits.

• By enabling real-time responses and information integration, enterprise mobility helps in connecting manufacturing with other subsystems.
• Enterprise mobility also helps in implementing inventory management systems to facilitate inventory tracking in real time.
• Mobile technologies ensure better monitoring of performances and efficiencies of the production cycle.Dashboards empoweremployees to stay in sync with operations.
• Alerts are sent to track the physical state of the machinery using sensor-based techniques. Timely information sharing keeps the machinery in optimum condition and ensures that there is no negative effect on the production due to malfunction or breakdown.
• Supervisors get a comprehensive view of the shop floor with the help of surveillance systems wired into the enterprise solutions. With real-time information access, there is better co-ordination with the workforce.
• By combining data with predictive analytics, manufacturing units can foresee production requirements and trends. Market surveys and customer feedback are factored in to take corrective actions and manufacture more efficiently with better quality.

The challenges

In the context of digitization and its impact on global trade, the manufacturing industry is undergoing many changes and faces some unique challenges:

Competing in a global market:Manufacturers are constantly striving to establish their value in the face of global competition. Asian nations with a substantial workforce are posing a threat to established global players. The challenge is to keep costs low while ensuring high quality and customer satisfaction.
Technological advances:Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with latest advances such as automation, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), cloud computing, and robotics. Even as these solutions are making the manufacturing process faster and more efficient, IT departments have to up the ante and choose the most appropriate solutions for their industry.
Skilled labor:A Deloitte report states thatthe manufacturing sector will face a shortfall of 2 million to 3.5 million skilled laborers by 2025. As technology becomes more prevalent, the need for an unskilled workforce is shrinking and manufacturers find themselves in need of employees with a different set of skills.
Keeping products relevant:The market is brimming with a plethora of products of varying costs and quality. Product innovation is the order of the day as manufacturers vie to woo customers with new concepts and features.

The latest trends

Smart business tools are more than just the flavor of the season and are being accepted and integrated in the day-to-day functioning of several manufacturing enterprises. Here’s a look at some trends that are augmenting the growth of these tools:

Use of AR & VR for training:Going forward, augmented reality and virtual reality will be widely used in the manufacturing industry for in-house training. Augmented reality apps can be an effective delivery tool for teams who are working remotely. They can be particularly useful in the construction industry where workers can identify and visualize concealed structural items such as ducts, wires or pipes. Virtual reality is also coming handy to perform vehicle testing in the automobile sector.

Connected hardware:

Enterprises are looking to simplify their processes with the help of connected hardware. In the logistics and transportation sector for instance, connected hardware comes handyin improving service, locating shipments and enhancing the delivery mechanism.Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is also helping enhance various product-related and business-related services of manufacturers. With enterprise mobility solutions, manufacturers can optimize connected things and provide better customer experience.

Interactive platforms:Enterprise mobility will pave the way for touch points for end consumers. These include chatbots that willrespond to questionsand create a connectionbetween manufacturers and their customers.They will alsofacilitate interaction within the enterprise and tend to requests such as meetings, reminders, and information related to holidays.

Looking ahead Enterprise mobility solutions and predictive analyticsentail the most innovative usage of technology in the manufacturing sector. Over the next few years, there’s expected to be a 30 per cent increase in the deployment of mobility solutions. An increased growth in cloud-based solutions is also likely to make predictive analytics tools available to small and medium-sized businesses, allowing them to better compete with larger corporations. Empowering the manufacturing industry with latest technologies is a boon for both the enterprise as well as its employees. These toolsare likely to revolutionize the way people work, the way manufacturers interact with vendors, suppliers, distributors and customers with assured improvements in productivity and efficiency.

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