Manufacturers looking to gain long-term profitability and steady business growth should not hesitate to embrace digital capabilities. Smart manufacturing units are considered the prime driving factor for competitiveness. The operational efficiency of the manufacturing units is directly related to the capacity to connect in real-time, to be efficient with predictive processes, and to automate processes. AI-enabled software systems enable factories to scale with a new level of preparedness.
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In order to get to know what software is needed for manufacturing, it is essential that we understand the end-to-end manufacturing process first. This blog will help users to understand the processes involved in efficiently operating manufacturing units, and shortlist the best manufacturing software for better growth.
Different Stages In Manufacturing Process
- Step 1- Initial planning stage: In the production planning stage, the business owner ensures that all the necessary resources and raw materials are procured to create finished products. All the specifications from the customers are gathered, and product requirements are recorded in the documents.
- Step 2- Product Development Phase: In the product development phase, the managers work more in detail on client specifications. Besides that, they work on assembling the work process, scheduling the work, and estimating the production costs.
- Step 3- Prototyping: Based on the client's product specifications, a prototype is created. Prototype production and evaluation are done until it reaches the desired quality.
- Step 4- Commercial pre-production: Prototypes are often produced in a controlled environment, and the product's actual viability cannot be estimated until it is tested in a real-world environment. In the preproduction step, a small quantity of product is produced or run in a real environment. The quantities in the preproduction stage could vary from ten to several hundreds.
- Step 5- Commercial production: If the commercial pre-production is successful, the product is moved for a full-fledged commercial production. During the production phase, a continuous evaluation goes on to further improve the product and increase the production rate.
- Step 6) Inspection, shipment and delivery: Once the production is completed, the product is analyzed for quality. If everything is in order, the products get packed and delivered to the destination.
Why do you Need a Manufacturing Tool to Handle Manufacturing Activities?
Manufacturing tools have a crucial role in facilitating the entire process. A few of them are as listed below:
- Share documents in real-time: With the help of software, it is easy to manage and store all the necessary information about manufacturing activities. It is easy to share documents in real-time with team members, and all the approvals required for the manufacturing process can be done quickly.
- Prototyping and testing the product: Prototyping is a critical stage of manufacturing because this is the time to identify and iterate the errors in the process. The software helps to design the prototype models and analyze whether the product fits the demand. The product is placed under a simulator to check whether it can withstand all the strain and pressure it would face in a real environment.
- Order management: The order management process impacts every component of the supply chain. For better visibility on every aspect of order management, right from demand, supply, production, inventory, till distribution, a well-functioning manufacturing software can be of great help.
- BOM (Bill of Materials) Management: Bill of Materials is at the heart of the manufacturing unit. It is the list of all items required to make the product. It carries details such as raw materials, semi-finished products, subcomponents, sub-assemblies, assemblies, etc. Lack of information on BOM can result in producing an inferior quality product or a malfunctioned product. A well-managed BOM can reduce manufacturing costs and keep all the departments on the same page, such as design, procurement, sales, and production. It is essential to minimize production errors and shipping delays.
- Inventory management: During the manufacturing process, inventory management has great significance, especially when there are multiple manufacturing units. Any error in inventory management can disturb the entire manufacturing process. It is an important segment of the manufacturing process, and software makes inventory management simple. It helps to track inventory in various ways ( SKU number, serial number, lot number, part number, etc.) and maintain stock levels.
- Work-flow automation: Workflow in the manufacturing unit determines the processes from production planning to manufacturing and facility management for the safety of the employees. With the help of software, manufacturers can automate the workflow and increase the productivity of the unit.
- Third-party tool integration: By integrating with other software solutions such as accounting, logistics, and ERP, it further fine-tunes the business process.
- Predictive maintenance: With the help of predictive analytics software automatically picks up the machines’ damage and schedules it for maintenance. Timely maintenance saves business revenue and keeps manufacturing running without any downtime. Predictive analytics can be used in myriad ways in the manufacturing business, such as predicting future staffing needs, forecasting consumer demand, estimating raw material needs, etc.
- Supply chain management: Poor supply chain management in the manufacturing industry can take down organizations' revenue, resources, and time. It has a complex structure, and it is imperative to streamline the supply chain process. Business owners can simplify supply chain management and reduce operating costs by using manufacturing software.
- Quality management: The software is used to monitor the product quality throughout the manufacturing process and if there is any defect it is removed from the batch.
- Customer and supplier management: The manufacturing software is a centralized system that stores all the information about the customers. The sales and marketing team can use this data to boost their sales and improve business prospects. Likewise, it also holds information of suppliers, which enables manufacturers to strengthen their relationship with suppliers. A strong bond with suppliers and manufacturers is imperative for the smooth functioning of the business.
There are a range of manufacturing software solutions available in the market, and business owners can shortlist software by aligning them to their business needs. The above mentioned are standard processes in the manufacturing unit, and it would be ideal for business owners to choose the software that envelops all these processes. In order to help further, below is the list of features that business owners should consider in their manufacturing business management software.
Features to Look For In the Best Manufacturing Software?
- Inventory management
- BOM ( Bill of Material) management
- Predictive analytics
- Order management
- Customer management
- Supplier management
- Track location of parts or products
- Shop floor management
- Facility management
- Workflow automation
- Third-party tool integration (ERP , Accounting, etc.)
- Support for mobile apps
- Invoicing and payroll functionalities
- Employee scheduling and monitoring
Manufacturers are trying to bring stability despite significant headwinds caused due to Covid. Adapting strategies can help manufacturers work in complete control and drive performance. For this, manufacturing companies need to think big. To execute agility, investing in new generation manufacturing software is the best move. Such tools help you to scale fast and create value consistently.
By selecting the right manufacturing software solutions, business owners can harmonize their business processes and pace up with the current market needs.