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Author's profile photo Birgit Starmanns

Want to Be Part of the Smart Manufacturing Revolution? Start Your Digital Transformation Now

If your manufacturing operations are still being viewed as a cost center, you have a huge opportunity ahead for your business. By moving to smart manufacturing, which uses embedded sensors and integrated software to collect massive volumes of plant operations and supply chain data and analyze that data, you can create real-time improvements in production, procurement, and processes. And in doing so, you can make your factories sources of innovation and profit.

Smart manufacturing marries information, technology, and innovation in ways that empower you to create and use manufacturing intelligence across the enterprise. This intelligence can be used to make your manufacturing plants more adaptive to unexpected changes in demand and customer needs. It can be used to optimize material resource and manufacturing resource planning, improve worker safety, and protect the environment. And it can provide the information and analysis manufacturers need to make the best decisions during daily operations, as well as decisions about business strategy, product portfolios, supply chains, and more – all in real time.

But for most businesses, operationalizing smart manufacturing requires a digital transformation powered by connected systems and new analytic technologies. Behind it all are technologies such as cloud, mobile, robotics, social and business networks, RFID, embedded sensors, and the Internet of Things (IoT) that are being woven into the fabric of everyday business and life. On the analytics front, IDC notes that smart manufacturing takes advantage of several business analytics capabilities to harness all of this data, including:

  • Portfolio analysis: To support high-level decisions vital to business strategy and resource allocations
  • Scenario analysis: To support what-if simulations that help decision makers understand and mitigate vulnerabilities and risks
  • Value analysis: To balance outcomes that conflict by creating an optimized, tactical plan
  • Situational analysis: To ensure actions are compliant with higher-level business policy

Analyses have to happen in real time – using the latest data from the plant floor and your extended enterprise.

You also need connected, high-performance business systems – for instance, to perform real-time material requirements planning (MRP), manufacturing resource planning, and production scheduling using the same source of real-time, trusted enterprise data. If you are still using traditional, siloed MRP systems for tactical and operational planning, how can you respond swiftly enough when things change and problems occur, such as a delayed shipment of parts required to build your products? As noted by IDC,[GF2] adapting quickly to unexpected events like this isn’t easy when your MRP system processes data slowly, is plagued with data quality issues, and has limited integration with other business areas.

But when your MRP is seamlessly linked with the right systems and a complete source of enterprise data, you can run complex scenario and portfolio analyses in seconds for more relevant and timely insights and intelligence. Everything you need is at your fingertips – literally – to respond faster to problems and demand changes, reduce manufacturing costs and stock-outs, and lower inventory stocks.

This is just one example to illustrate the need for an IT foundation that gives you the visibility, accuracy, speed, and insights needed for smart manufacturing. And it can’t be enabled by just plugging yet another new manufacturing tool into a patchwork of existing, integrated systems. You can’t fix the underlying complexity that’s hindering visibility, accuracy, speed, and insights by adding a new layer of complexity. You need to simplify from the ground up, digitizing your manufacturing operations to modernize decision making, enable information access anytime and anywhere, and monitor machinery in real time.

Are you ready to reimagine your manufacturing operations to support smart manufacturing?

SAP can help with the next wave of innovation for SAP S/4HANA, our next-generation business suite. Now all areas of your business – including manufacturing – can be connected, with SAP S/4HANA as the digital core. This core enables digitized, mission-critical processes on a single source of real-time information that interconnects all aspects of the digital value chain, including core manufacturing operations, workforce management, assets and the Internet of Things, and supplier collaboration and business networks. This gives you:

  • One source of truth that provides current data across supply, logistics, manufacturing production, inventories, and demand
  • Prediction, simulation, and analysis – for example, to give you accurate MRP views and various options using what-if analysis and predictions of consequences
  • Continuous MRP with connections to enterprise data from other business areas for better strategic and operational planning
  • The ability to identify and prioritize most critical material issues, options, and consequences
  • Faster execution for a more current and accurate view of material situations
  • Enterprise-wide visibility across supply, production, inventory, and demand

What’s your plan to drive digital manufacturing transformation? Read the IDC Technology Spotlight, “Planning for the New Requirements of Smart Manufacturing” to learn more and start your digital transformation journey.


[RMB3]Link to article in CMPS for this project

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