Manufacturing invented automation, so it stands to reason that manufacturing knows automation best. So why are the vast majority of advancements in automation being limited to the factory floor? If keeping the competitive edge is important to your business, it is imperative that automatic and AI-assisted (artificial intelligence) efficiencies be implemented throughout every facet of your company, even the work done at a desk. More than half of all routine office work can be automated. In this era of globalization, industry 4.0, and increasing customer expectations, focusing on this area of digital manufacturing is essential to staying competitive. As a matter of fact, Forbes says that manufacturing will experience 5 years of innovation in the next 18 months due to COVID-19.
If you are looking to increase efficiency in operations and improve your customer experience, the following manufacturing areas need to be automated:
1. Research and Development
The design, innovation, improvement, and introduction of products requires a serious amount of paperwork and communication between various departments, especially engineering and production. From design sheets and research, CAD drawings, standards and specs, manuals, regulations, inspections, the sheer volume of documentation can be overwhelming and can create a bottleneck when not properly coordinated.
There are multiple moving parts in the process of research and development, and automation tools can streamline and standardize this process. From data tracking and project management, to document processing, template-filling, and conversion, connecting it all leads to expedited change orders, faster time to market, less errors, and more overall efficiency.
Materials and supplier management are usually handled manually through various supplier portals, internal records systems, VMS (Vendor Management Systems), and other documents and emails. Procurement automation tools can streamline all of these processes such as: supplier requirements, supplier relationships, and ordering of the goods and services. In a nutshell, procurement automation can simplify supplier agreements and compliance, while standardizing your purchasing processes.
3. Sales and order processing
The right product at the right price, delivered to the right person has always been a complicated process in the manufacturing industry. Now that customers are increasingly demoing customized products, the demands and stakes are higher with more complex data and digital systems required than ever before.
Manually compiling information regarding orders placed, fulfillment, tracking and delivery from all sources within your organization is a definitive drain on administrative resources and leaves entirely too much room for error. Automation tools can streamline and combine multiple systems while providing complete documentation and real-time visibility into sales and order status, while handling price calculations, payment processing, tracking and change orders. Automating sales and order processing improves the overall efficiency of sales and turnaround time.
4. Logistics and distribution
Order specifications and instructions, product information, inspection sheets, packing slips, proof of delivery, invoices, and shipment tracking are just a few of the types of document workflows that can complicate and strain the distribution and logistics process.
Businesses who store goods and materials have an additional set of challenges and processes when it comes to warehousing. Enabling full visibility into the quantity and quantity of inventory as well as optimizing the stock on hand is essential for increasing cash flow and lowering expenses.
Automation of logistics and distribution reduces the time involved to get tasks such as these done by processing a high volume of product information for faster time to revenue, analyzing it for optimization, or looking up the status of any given piece for real-time tracking for continual improvement in customer service. The bottom line is that automating your logistics enables you to communicate faster, reduce costs, and decrease risk.
5. Customer Service
Sales reps, engineering, accounting, assembly lines, suppliers, vendors – and many others are involved in the production of the products you sell. This chain of command can significantly slow response times, frustrating your customers. While there are many entities involved in producing and delivering products to your customers, today’s customers expect answers and deliveries faster than ever before. You can streamline the information to keep your customer informed by automating your customer services systems. Customer service automation can take multiple account histories and integrate them into a single system. This data can then be used to deliver automatic replies with answers, or immediately route the information to the correct representative that can resolve questions and communicate quickly to reduce time and improve overall customer satisfaction.
Manufacturers in the United States are held to thousands of regulations. If you do business internationally, the number of regulations goes up exponentially.
Automating and standardizing compliance processes ensures that businesses use correct information. Managing compliance information and its subsequent data in the same system in which you manage quality can enable the leveraging of regulatory data beyond compliance. This ensures competitive advantage, improvement of quality and even learning opportunities for machines.
Producing a product on the factory floor presents numerous opportunities for process automation. Quality testing, fulfillment, inspection documents, manuals and other documentation flow needs to be streamlined efficiently to avoid holdups between departments and employees, or even physical stalls in the actual production.
Increasingly, manufacturing also comes with an array of sensors and IoT devices that need monitoring, along with data collection and analysis that are necessary to achieve efficiency and quality.
Production automation is a way to orchestrate and connect all of this data into one digital thread, whereby that data can then be used for real-time visibility, analytics, AI-assisted decision making, reporting and over-all communications.
Human resources, finance and operations departments within the manufacturing industry can also greatly benefit from automation. When human resources, operations and the finance departments are running smoothly, everything else inevitably falls into place, boosting the bottom line and ensuring a safe work environment.
Operations automation handles workflow and documentation that comes with recruitment, payroll and compensation management, performance appraisal and benefits administration, labor relations and compliance management.
Godlan offers an easy platform for digital transformation and automation. Contact us today to schedule a demo and learn how Godlan can help you to tackle manufacturing automation processes with Prophecy IoT.