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The whole business world is in the 4th Industrial Revolution. The first industrial revolution started the mechanical era with the introduction of steam engines. The second revolution was characterised by assembly lines and mass production. The third revolution applied automated technology and information technology in manufacturing. And this fourth revolution promises to bring the ability to integrate all the latest technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), big data, and Internet of Things (IoT), in all stages of the production line.

In Vietnam, within the first six months of 2018, the industrial sector recorded a healthy growth of 13.02% in the manufacturing industry, the highest increase in seven years, continuing to be the bright spot for overall growth of Vietnam’s economy.

Manufacturing in the Industry 4.0

Manufacturing is perhaps one of the most complicated and complex industry in terms of operation and production management. To increase profits, companies need a solution that provides insights into their system and procedure, which can help them achieve their goals. This is where Business Intelligence steps in to help.

Today’s manufacturers have to meet their customers’ expectation of providing unique capabilities, precise specifications and constant accuracy in their products. Industry professionals must work out a clear definition of what the Industrial Machinery and Equipment Manufacturing industry are, how they will evolve, and how they can boost the company's operations both now and in the future.

Many manufacturers are very interested in the Industrial Revolution 4.0. The problem is how to adapt to this new concept. Limited awareness makes it difficult for them to have a holistic approach to the 4th industrial revolution. They only apply some individual technologies without a clear strategy. Moreover, the deployment process focuses on specific areas rather than improving the overall performance of the organisation.

According to a survey conducted by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) with 380 senior executives from manufacturing companies in the United States, the most deployed technology segments are:

  • Network Security (65%)
  • Big Data and Data Analytics (54%)
  • Cloud Computing (53%)
  • 3D Printing (34%)
  • Robot Technology (32%)
  • Augmented reality (28%)

As automation has long been a prominent trend, a new revolution of robotic technology is arriving and will shape the future of the manufacturing sector with increased productivity and reduced cost. Besides, the IoTs can help promote sustainability, using sensors to regulate temperature and energy usage in different areas. Manufacturers are now able to reduce energy costs and lower their environmental footprint thanks to the IoT.

Big Data is opening up a whole new world for manufacturers with the ability to link all data to people and processes. Furthermore, the manufacturers can consider the APS (advanced planning and scheduling) - an advanced manufacturing management system that allocates raw materials and production capacity optimally to balance demand and capacity constraints. Therefore, it is way better than traditional planning systems.

Manufacturing challenges

The study by BCG also found that up to 90% of US manufacturing businesses are aware of the potential of digital technology to improve productivity, but only 28% of them see the opportunity and create new revenue streams from these new technologies.

In Vietnam, the increased volatility of commodity prices, environmental regulations, and globalisation of sourcing are also adding into the operational challenges that foreign-based, as well as local manufacturers in Vietnam market, has to overcome. Additionally, many manufacturing companies have seen an increase in operational complexity, in customer demand and in pressure to manage operational cost. (For more details, you can click here: part 1 and part 2)

Another challenge in manufacturing to which managers need to pay attention is Lean Manufacturing. It is known as one of the most well-known process strategies in modern manufacturing. However, there is one issue regarding the relevance of this lean style in today’s non-stop evolving economy. That’s why new Lean Manufacturing strategies are needed.

Manufacturers must adapt to the consumer-driven markets, but adaption means bigger budgets. However, they can still successfully fulfil customer expectations without sacrificing line efficiency if they understand that the manufacturing flexibility is vital and they can use modern technology to supports the product specialisation in production.

ERP and digital transformation in manufacturing

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) plays a vital role in the manufacturing industry. Many businesses nowadays realise that legacy systems can no longer keep up with today’s dynamic customer’s demands. Therefore, having an ERP system that can reflect such change and can respond quickly to changes is one of the main challenges that manufacturers have to overcome.

According to a survey conducted by Manufacturing Business Technology, “57.2 per cent of companies are either currently investing in ERP or will be doing so within the next 12 months.” This emphasises the role of ERP in today’s manufacturing industry, and having a right set of ERP solutions can drive efficiency and reduce the overall operational costs.

With the help from a Cloud-based ERP, the supply chain, distribution and service standpoint of the manufacturing process can run to their fullest. Problems like Inaccurate demand forecasts, Overgrown costs, Inflexibility to customer expectations, and Increased global competitiveness can be solved quickly.

In the Industry 4.0 and Digital Transformation, new opportunities have been opened up to reinvent the ways products are made and distributed to the market. However, turning these opportunities into reality requires specific critical steps that manufacturers need to take in their journey to digitalisation. (Should you want to know more, here are part 1 and part 2)

Successful technology adoption case studies

Today’s furniture and fixtures manufacturers are facing volatile raw materials pricing, fluctuating consumer demand, and increased global competition. Customers expect higher quality and greater value than ever before, as well as more customisation options, including being able to configure selections and purchase online. That’s why furniture manufacturers need to be aware of the industry trends to assure their positions in the market.

Not just furniture, the plastic manufacturing industry is also experiencing some challenges, as well as many opportunities, and many companies are turning to ERP to boost growth and profitability.

Another successful case is Tesla Motors. It is an American company, specialising in design, manufacture and distribution of automotive electrical cars and components for electric vehicles. Tesla decided to turn to advanced ERP software and has gained greater information governance to catch up with the rapid production growth (click part 1, and part 2 for more details).

As the UK's third-largest concrete tile manufacturer, Russell Roof Tiles has planned to move its ERP to the Cloud. "Adopting a Cloud model reduces our technology footprint, and will make for a smoother transition when our US operations migrate to the same platform in H2 2018,” says Araminta Chesters, the company’s Finance Director.

Ending this list is TAL Apparel Limited, a provider of fashion supply chain products and services, has finished renewing its legacy ERP system to a modern cloud-based one. The transition went smoothly with minimal business disruption and is able to help TAL Apparel Limited achieve impactful cost reductions and operational improvements.

Infor’s solutions for Manufacturing

Infor CloudSuite ERP systems leverage Infor’s deep expertise in manufacturing software and are delivered on AWS, the world’s largest cloud computing infrastructure provider. Infor CloudSuite Industrial (Syteline) is tailored for small and mid-sized businesses in discrete manufacturing across all industries. Moreover, it is repeatedly considered one of the market-leading ERP systems in Nucleus Research’s Technology Value Matrix reports.

Take action today

Boost productivity, improve order accuracy, and increase on-time delivery with TRG International's robust ERP solutions, tailored specifically for the Manufacturing industry. 

I really recommend Infor because it has ideal tools with industry-specific functionality. For industrial manufacturing, Infor LN is the best.

Ricardo Menezes Brandao TECFIL

We appreciate Infor’s partnership and ability to address the complexities of unifying our technology system.

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