How Smart Manufacturing is Revolutionizing the Industry

I'm sure you've heard of "factories of the future," which has been a well-discussed philosophy among manufacturing leaders for decades. The idea of using cutting-edge technology to revolutionize manufacturing is an alluring one, but even now, it’s an idea that many manufacturers struggle to actually execute. Through the course of our decades in business, we've developed our own philosophy, which is that the future is now. That means we focus on helping companies take their lofty ideas around building revolutionary manufacturing practices and bring them to reality on the factory floor. As strategic partners and expert implementers, we help companies build real change through smart business decisions and continuous improvement.

Smart Manufacturing systems are built to be responsive to changing demands and conditions, leveraging modern solutions including cloud computing, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), data analytics, enterprise resource planning (ERP), IoT, and more. In a practical sense, smart manufacturing can help:

  • Improve productivity, quality, and efficiency
  • Increase forecasting accuracy
  • Reduce downtime
  • Track shipments
  • Optimize supply chain processes
  • Reduce costs and raise profitability

But to begin simply, you can focus on one particular area of your manufacturing system. Here are a few examples of areas where being "Smart" pays off.

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Many industry leaders have already embarked on their own Smart Manufacturing journey, and we wanted to capture their experience. So, we talked to a group of high-level manufacturing leaders from across the United States to gain insights on where they are in their journey and what they have learned.

These organizations generate annual revenues between $400 million to more than $1 billion and primarily specialize in industrial equipment, auto suppliers, high tech/electronics, and medical devices. These companies are clearly starting with big goals: "business transformation" was the most commonly cited driver for technology adoption at these companies, with 40% calling it the most compelling factor. Strong planning and management are also essential for business transformation, and 68% of the companies surveyed reported that they have invested in enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. Advanced ERPs, such as Microsoft Dynamics 365, can manage and integrate a company’s financials, supply chain, operations, reporting, manufacturing, and human resource activities within a single, cloud-based business application.

Making change happen starts with goals, but it is executed through leveraging the right expertise, careful planning, and step-by-step progress. Here are some best practices for your transformation journey from our surveyed manufacturing leaders.

  • Enlist industry and technology experts to guide your transformation, from start to finish
  • Evaluate needs first. Identify and scrutinize factory problems before identifying the technology you want to implement
  • Think about the impact technology makes at the business level, not just on the factory floor
  • Align your strategy at the top executive level to ensure momentum
  • Make sure you solicit feedback from employees and bring them into the decision-making process

MCA Connect partners with global manufacturing companies of many sizes, helping them find the technological edge they need to adapt and move forward. The world’s best manufacturers trust us to digitally transform their operations according to their unique needs. Ready to get started? Contact us here.

Author: Doug Bulla, VP of Solution Development


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