There are many benefits to having multiple sites and sales regions: for enterprise manufacturing businesses, local sales offices and production sites make for lower costs and quicker time-to-quote.
However, the process of setting up sales offices and production sites in different countries and regions tends to create silo-ed factories and offices: most of them don’t find a need to be connected to other sites on a day to day basis, so they aren’t. Even when sites are in the same region, they may not be aware of each site’s activities, from productivity levels to sales activities.
That can become a full-blown crisis when multiple sites intersect without knowing; for example, by replying to a Request for Quotation (RFQ) about the same project and quoting different prices in the process. Or, when productivity is negatively impacted by unplanned factors and requires another site to pick up the slack immediately. When this happens, silo-ed factories become a headache.
To break it down, we will discuss how data can be collected and shared, first on the factory floor, then in the sales offices.
Unifying Data Across Production Sites
In our blog post on Industry 4.0, we’ve talked about ‘Interoperability’:
"Interoperability deals with the ability of machines and systems to connect and work with each other without restrictions."
Using the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), machines can be interconnected through sensors and other devices that pass data through the cloud. This data can be analysed using Big Data solutions, and then be used in cost-saving processes such as preventive maintenance. The first step for manufacturers is hence to embrace the Internet of Things (IoT) and invest in Industry 4.0 solutions to start digitising their factories.
Expanding on this, enterprise manufacturing businesses can also implement interoperability across different regions and sites, providing themselves with a complete compiled picture of all their systems and machines. With more data points, backed up by Big Data Analytics, manufacturers can hence use preventive maintenance data from one site to plan productivity levels across other sites. At the same time, each factory can benefit from the data that is shared, as this allows them to learn from each other as well as work together on production if it’s more cost effective.
Unifying Quote Databases Across Sales Offices
When it comes to sales offices, this problem can crop up even more frequently: multiple sites can pitch for the same project, wasting time and resources on both sides, as well as causing inadvertent price wars within the same business.
To fix this, enterprise manufacturers, especially contract manufacturers, can implement another type of Industry 4.0 tool that unifies quotation databases across all the offices. In this case, a manufacturing sales tool that is tailored to handle multiple sales regions, for example, a Configure Price Quote (CPQ) solution, would work to integrate and unify all existing quoting methods and history. From excel sheets to BOMs, a pricing engine such as a CPQ would be able to combine databases and ensure that it is visible to all sales reps.
Different sales offices can have different discounting options or different prices depending on up-to-date information provided through integration to the ERP. They would also be able to see which accounts had already been created, to reduce the chances of two sites quoting for the same project. A manufacturing CPQ would function as a type of sales automation tool, as it could hold all quote versions, pricing models, leading to quick quote creation.
Enterprise manufacturers that have multiple sites and offices, like many contract manufacturers, face complications when it comes to managing these differing factories and processes. By using Industry 4.0 solutions to unify these databases, both management as well as those on the ground would be able to benefit and increase productivity across the sales as well as the production lines.
Watch our CPQ demo video to see configuration and calculation possibilities!