How digital-first thinking drives productivity and value creation

How digital-first thinking drives productivity and value creation written by Bruce Minty, Senior Product Manager – MYOB

Manufacturers are taking the leap in digital transformation to gain a competitive advantage

From macroeconomic volatility to adapting to ever-changing disruptive digital technologies and the Industrial Internet of Things, the manufacturing industry faces a multitude of challenges.

What’s more, businesses must constantly reimagine how they function in the digital era, from creating a connected workforce to enabling predictive maintenance. And they must do all this amid the rise of industrial consumerism — where consumer expectations influence every part of their value chains. It all adds up to intense pressure for manufacturers to innovate, optimise and get serious about efficiencies.

As highlighted in MYOB’s recent mid-market research, technology has a critical role to play in addressing these challenges for the industry. While most businesses have a handle on data and its role in guiding business decisions, major advances in automation, AI and robotics will be key to manufacturers increasing their productivity and efficiency to meet market challenges.

Both discrete and process manufacturers need to boost efficiency, flexibility and safety to survive in a world of growing economic, environmental and regulatory pressures. To gain the visibility and control they need, they must push beyond “Industry 4.0” digitisation efforts and optimise the entirety of their production, workforce and supply chain networks.

Manufacturers that are further along their digital transformation journey are well-placed to leverage new technologies — but those businesses are few. As many as seven in 10 Australian businesses are making decisions without full visibility over their business.

Seizing the benefits of digital

Core technologies, like an integrated cloud-based business management platform, are a foundational investment to respond and adapt to an increasingly uncertain environment. With solid data infrastructure and real-time visibility over operations, companies are better equipped to identify opportunities to make gains in productivity and value creation.

Real-time reporting systems, collaboration tools and cloud systems can all be transformative. For discrete and process manufacturers it can be a first and critical step to address some of the challenges and gain competitive advantages.

A cloud business management platform can address some of the current challenges for discrete and process manufacturers.

For discrete manufacturers, it can support:

  • Streamlined supply and demand management, production planning and forecasting
  • Quality management and industry compliance, especially when ramping up operational agility
  • Workflow of engineering change orders and engineering change requests to develop new products faster
  • Accurate job cost reporting, estimating and converting estimates into bills of material and production orders

For process manufacturers, it can support:

  • Manufacturing resource planning by planning every requirement for every item
  • Automation and centralisation of purchasing processes and sales activities

Advanced planning and scheduling to manage bottleneck resources with scheduling, inquiries, and reports

Streamline workflows, boost efficiency with connected workflows

In the race to digitise processes across key workflows, businesses look to technology to streamline and connect operations. For manufacturers experiencing disconnection, failure to adapt may widen the gap between their business and competitors who are better positioned to take advantage of Industry 4.0 technologies. For many, this means looking to cloud enterprise resource planning (ERP) platforms.

A new ERP system isn’t just an investment — it’s a catalyst for change. A cloud ERP platform can incorporate several different functions and features, which allows an organisation to manage its business end-to-end. The software is designed to integrate and streamline your main workflows to make them more efficient regarding time and resources – in short, giving you more control. Businesses often use ERP software to collect, store, manage and understand business data from all their internal processes. An ERP platform provides manufacturers with functionality to manage production, Bill of Materials, material requirements, finances, customer management and inventory.

Benefits of cloud ERP for manufacturing

An ERP system can unite your operations to provide insight, visibility and complete control so your business moves as one.

  • Access critical information anywhere, any time on any device. With a few clicks, you can access that data and use it to develop reports, create forecasts and make informed business decisions.
  • Reduce complexities around the supply chain by being able to access real-time updates. When you automate, organise, and simplify supply chain planning with the right technology, you can forecast upcoming decreases in market demand months or even years in advance and ultimately reduce waste. In addition, a streamlined supply chain allows businesses to provide personalised services, lower prices and speedier deliveries.
  • Improve cost tracking by being able to effectively track product costs in one system. Manage assets, track business income, plan for future growth and ultimately make more informed decisions.
  • Automate manual processes and achieve greater productivity, reducing errors, duplication of work and delays. Using a business management platform can help you automate time-consuming and inefficient tasks, so your team can focus on business-building work. Create workflows that bypass bottlenecks, avoid duplication, remove unnecessary steps and automate the transfer of data so your staff don’t need to.
  • Make insight-driven decisions with real-time information, to effectively manage business growth. With the right software, you can see production levels, sales trends and forecasts, stock levels, delivery times for raw materials and other relevant information. This real-time insight can help you optimise stock levels, avoid shortages and predict future orders, so you’re not scrambling to catch up with sudden changes in demand.
  • Collaborate effectively with teams across the business by having access to the same real-time information. Connected systems facilitate effective communication, helping data flow from team to team. If an overall view of your operations is accessible to every person on the team, it’s far easier to identify and resolve issues promptly.
  • Adapt quickly to market changes and customer demands. One driver of inefficiency in manufacturing is fluctuating demand. In our current climate, changing markets, ongoing disruptions and shortages of raw materials make this even more of an issue. Real-time reporting and forecasting help you avoid problems by predicting changes in demand early, so you can be prepared.
  • Efficiently manage your distribution process with system-wide inventory control and effective inventory management. Manage purchasing and procurement more efficiently and streamline innovation to the market.

When it’s time to take a leap

If you’re experiencing problems with manual data entry and cost-tracking, visibility of your production process, or your software is struggling to keep up with transaction levels, it’s time to think about an upgrade.

Sourcing, selecting, and implementing a brand-new business management system may seem like a time-consuming task however the return on investment is soon realised with reduced waste, reduced manual tasks and the opportunity to optimise.

MYOB Advanced Manufacturing is an end-to-end business management platform designed to meet the needs of Australian and New Zealand manufacturers. Rather than using multiple disconnected systems, you get collaborative tools, complete data visibility and powerful reporting in a single, accessible platform. When you’re facing new challenges every day, having a multi-functional, flexible and reliable platform in place is a serious benefit.

Looking to boost efficiency in your manufacturing business? Learn more about MYOB Advanced Business. myob.com/advanced

MYOB will be exhibiting at the Modern Manufacturing Expo on 20-21 September

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