Call it what you want - smart manufacturing, digital manufacturing or Industry 4.0, the end goal is an ingenious manufacturing method for a faster, smarter and better way of working. In the evolving landscape of this industry, companies must work towards reaching the expanding levels of smart manufacturing by utilising the potent combination of software, data analytic and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) to gain a competitive advantage. Due to the massive push towards digitising everything, manufacturers must learn to embrace the technology quickly or risk losing out to competition.
Smart Manufacturing - understanding your opportunities
Several companies have jumped right in and embrace the new technology. British engine Rolls-Royce and Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star) have teamed up to develop digital and data analytic capabilities for various industries in Singapore. Both parties plan to set up technology centres focused on the Internet of Things (IoT) and smart manufacturing. They are investing in the development of "Future of Manufacturing" capabilities inclusive of advanced technologies and processes for manufacturing, assembly, maintenance, repair and overhaul applications.
"Indeed, the future of manufacturing will be driven by Industry 4.0 technologies, such as the Internet of Things, additive manufacturing, digital manufacturing, robotics and advanced materials," A*Star chairman Lim Chuan Poh said. "In this increasingly mobile, networked world, businesses that do not invest in digital capabilities will be disrupted."
Software for manufacturers: It isn’t a choice
Newer technologies will only continue to surface for smart manufacturing, bridging the connection between industries and the network of systems in which they are highly dependent on. Software has pushed itself to the forefront and become a key enabler for manufacturers in the future. “What we’re showing isn’t a choice—we’re all in the software business now,” said Tom Elswick, director of business development, Siemens Industry Inc. Digital Factory Division. Software solutions such as a CPQ tool provide a direct integration into manufacturing processes and existing front-end sales, thus eliminating the time to quote and quoting errors and boosting revenue.
Automation - a prerequisite from production to sales
Automation has intricately woven itself into the future of manufacturing. Just pay a visit to any manufacturing plant and you would see most of its processes are fully automated. With improvements over the years, machinery has not only become easier to programme but easier to use, whilst it allows for total precision. Automation provides a degree of accuracy and productivity that is beyond human capabilities and is highly needed in a business loaded with complexities. In the same way automation is a must when it comes to selling these complex solutions. Given the increasingly slimmer margins provided in industries such as engineering, a high level of accuracy is needed when configuring and calculating offers for customers. Businesses have to ensure the same level of automation in their sales processes as on their production floor. After all, the revenue determining factor in manufacturing sales is still selling at the right costs and with the right margin.
Manufacturing processes still have a long way to go in adapting to the much-needed technological revolution that begins at the core of operations. However, investments on automation technology on the production floor shall always go hand in hand with developing sales automation. Ultimately, the goal of every business is to increase revenue, which cannot be generated from smart manufacturing alone.
Only by embracing digitalisation in every step from production to sales, can businesses in this sector keep up with
- the growing demands,
- keep a head above the competition and
- aspire for future growth by encouraging the next era of smart manufacturing.
If you want to learn more about sales automation and margin protection for manufacturing industries, watch our On-demand CPQ webinar!