In today's digital age, it's more important than ever for manufacturers to have the right tools in place to help with production planning, inventory management, manufacturing execution, manufacturing analytics, and selling online.
Software solutions are being created to help manufacturers with the manufacturing process so companies can continue to meet increasing demands while ensuring quality control. While some manufacturers may not need all these software solutions to be successful in their business model, it's always good to have options before making a purchase decision.
Listed below are 8 software solutions every manufacturer should consider using in 2021.
1) Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES)
Manufacturers rely heavily on manufacturing execution systems to monitor production processes in real-time. An MES delivers vital data related to assembly, materials usage, progress reports for scheduled jobs, downtime information, work order completion dates and times for each machine or process line within the manufacturing plant.
The MES serves as a company's manufacturing brain and most manufacturing companies will not be able to run without it.
2) Digital Manufacturing (DM)
Digital manufacturing is nothing like manufacturing at all. Relatively new on the manufacturing scene, digitization delivers manufacturing services through virtual environments with 3D models of real products and processes that can be accessed anywhere at any time – even by customers – for collaboration and learning purposes.
The DM process helps manufacturers reduce production costs, improve product delivery times and create entirely new manufacturing business units even in highly fragmented industries "with tons of small players."
3) Cloud-Based Manufacturing ERP Software
Cloud-based manufacturing ERP software allows manufacturers to have comprehensive access to their enterprise resource planning systems from any computer or mobile device. Because manufacturing companies are complex entities that rely on many different software applications simultaneously, it's important for manufacturers to have a single point of reference for their manufacturing ERP systems.
4) Electronic Bill of Materials (e-BOM)
An electronic bill of materials is similar to the traditional bill of materials only it exists as an electronic file made up of data, not words and pictures – therefore all components become "smart."
The e-BOM provides a detailed list of parts needed for manufacturing assembly and allows manufacturers to make sure they have all the components before starting a job. The ability to track parts through manufacturing also becomes easier with an e-BOM which helps cut down on manufacturing lead times because manufacturers can predict when all parts are going to be delivered.
5) Manufacturing Analytics
Manufacturers are taking advantage of manufacturing analytics in order to make better business decisions. Instead of acting blindly, manufacturers rely on manufacturing analytics software to guide them in the decision-making process with information gathered from their manufacturing plants in real-time in order to help reduce downtime, improve productivity and increase margins.
The ability for manufacturers to see across the entire manufacturing facility in an easily digestible fashion provides critical insights that were once unattainable – giving manufacturers a competitive edge over other companies who do not employ manufacturing analytics.
6) Advanced Planning and Scheduling (APS) Software
Advanced planning and scheduling (APS) software is used by manufacturers "to determine how to produce a product that meets customer demand." The APS software takes into account the manufacturing process, resources and available time to create a manufacturing plan. The manufacturing plan shows what is to be produced, when it will be produced and how much it will cost.
7) Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP)
Sales and operations planning (S&OP) allows manufacturers to "integrate sales and marketing plans with manufacturing plans in order to ensure that the right products are made at the right time and place."
The goal of S&OP is to improve communication between different departments within the company in order to make better business decisions. Because so many factors go into manufacturing – from forecasting future demand to ensuring inventory is aligned with customer needs – it's important for manufacturers to have a formalized process for sales and operations planning.
8) Product Lifecycle Management (PLM)
Product lifecycle management (PLM) is a software solution that helps manufacturers manage the entire product life cycle from ideation to obsolescence. PLM solutions provide a "single source of truth" for product data, enabling all stakeholders – including suppliers, customers and partners – to access and share information in real time. This allows manufacturers to make better decisions faster and improve collaboration across the supply chain.
While not an exhaustive list, these eight manufacturing software solutions are essential for any manufacturing company looking to stay competitive in 2021. By implementing these software solutions manufacturers can reduce costs, improve communication and make better business decisions in order to ensure they stay competitive.