When tackling productivity, manufacturers can sometimes get caught looking so carefully at their own production line and not realising that productivity improvement can be achieved by adopting partnership-enabling technology. And companies should not only look to technology to facilitate more meaningful supply chain partnerships, but also their front end relationships with their customers.
Real-time view of supply chain
30 years ago, UK manufacturers typically did it all, from developing products, directly acquiring raw materials, producing a product and stocking and shipping it. Today’s supply chain is much more complex and involves a multi-national array of partnerships. Companies like GT Nexus, help manufacturers get a bird’s eye view of every level and function of their supply chain. Their commerce driven network has over 25,000 connected organisations, including manufacturers, raw material suppliers, shipping companies, financial institutions, and third-party logistics firms, and manufacturers on the system can create their own network. Holistically GT Nexus can be defined as a commerce-oriented network of networks.
Instead of hoping their supplier will deliver on time, a manufacturing manager can track each material and product set to come into their warehouse in real time. In this way, companies can predict problems and respond proactively.
Consumer is king
In the past, manufacturers would produce and stock batches of their product and hope someone would buy them. Now, manufacturers should be building partially completed units and allowing customers to personalise certain aspects of the product to their specific needs.
Today, the retail world of omni-channel ordering and customisable products is greatly impacting what customers experience and expect, and technology can help fulfil these expectations efficiently. Today’s Configure/Price/Quote (CPQ) applications now allow manufacturers to utilise a similar approach, where customers can configure products, request prices and quotes or buy immediately. Once ordered, the CPQ application will create and send a dynamic bill of manufacture to the production system (ERP) controlling the shop-floor.
The impact of fostering strong customer and supply chain partnerships will have an enormous impact on overall productivity, ensuring that gains are focused in the right areas. Manufacturers should no longer be searching for productivity gains purely within their own four walls – understanding the bigger picture is crucial.
To hear more about technology’s potential for boosting productivity, attend the EEF National Manufacturing Conference in London on 24 February 2016.