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Becoming a ‘smart manufacturer’

| written by twg

Digital manufacturing isn’t just here, it almost seems to be racing against us. At times, it’s hard to even fathom keeping up. Smart manufacturing is here to stay and for most large-sized manufacturers – it’s already the new norm. But for smaller and mid-sized manufacturers? They find themselves on the other end, trudging forward, trying to keep up while integrating as quickly and cost-effectively as they can.

Here are four building blocks of smart manufacturing that you can benchmark your business against – and become a more intelligent business heading forward.

Cyber security is a must

The key to being a trusted business partner is to be a secure one. In our line of work, that begins with cyber security. As digital platforms become more of the norm in manufacturing, the more you’ll need to make sure your systems are kept safe not only from losing proprietary data an information, but losing the data that belongs to your clients as well.

Understanding smart manufacturing

Smart manufacturing is the idea of integrating all your technology together for monitoring, management and improvement. It’s taking a 360 degree look at your business and finding ways to make it all work symbiotically. Understanding it’s true meaning – and that technology is only one (albeit an important) ingredient of smart manufacturing, will help you develop a clearer picture of your path heading forward.

Understanding the ripple effect in your supply chain

Nearly every manufacturer and retailer in the United States worth their salt are investing heavily in smart technologies. So much so, that over 76% of larger manufacturers have smart technology and over 56% have invested $100 million or more. As they continue to invest, there will inevitably be a residual effect on the supply chain. There will be requirements and industry standards to meet – much like in-time, lean and ISO 9000 requirements because de-facto requirements. While there are new challenges that smaller manufacturers will face, there will also be new opportunities that come about as the ripple effects of these new technologies begin to take hold. Understanding these ripple effects not only with large manufacturers, but understanding their impacts on your business as well – are crucial towards finding long term, sustainable success.

Always inventory your smart status

It’s always important to take a step back and take stock in your business and where it’s at. It’s particularly important to do that when it comes to where your technology is in manufacturing. There’s your basic building blocks of smart manufacturing – including computer aided design technology, enterprise resource planning software systems, preventative maintenance sensor systems and the like… Having those in place might mean your company is closer than you think. Either way, taking account of what you have and how integrated it is into every process in your business will help give you the clearest vision for a path forward.