Mature Manufacturing Plant Data Demands Cloud ERP
Discrete manufacturers and batch processing plants have moved quickly over the last ten years to transition plant floor machines and systems away from analog processes to digital input/outputs (I/O), so ERP software could optimize production planning, forecasting, and invoicing, to name a few. However, achieving mature manufacturing plant data takes time as companies experience ebbs and flows in terms of technology investment, while also focusing on cutting costs.
A recent 2021 LNS Research survey shows how almost all manufacturers or process operations are creating “Industrial Transformation (IX) teams that provide a coordinated approach in leveraging technologies to create step change improvement in industrial operations.” And the big takeaway is that companies are falling into two camps when it comes to data maturity/transformations: vision-focused and value-focused.
Moreover, value-focused companies in manufacturing or batch processing – pharmaceutical, beverage, food, etc. – are creating a buy-in culture around digital transformation, and, more importantly, building out advanced manufacturing execution systems (MES) to gather plant floor data. This is crucial in finding optimization throughout the enterprise and promoting interoperability between business and plant-floor machines.
The Industrial Society of America’s (ISA) 95 standard is a structural model for manufacturing and processing, and it reveals three layers: a production level at the bottom (machinery/sensors); manufacturing and operations software level (detailed production software like MES); and a third top level called Business Planning and logistics, which includes ERP software.
With these three layers being the global standard in manufacturing for over twenty years, the critical element in a successful digital transformation is interoperability between all the manufacturing layers, and the ability to share plant data to the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) level, preferably to a cloud-based system.
Cloud-based ERP systems allow manufacturers the ability to manage data not only at a plant, but across multiple plants in different countries. Both Microsoft Dynamics NAV and 365 Business Central can manage Production Orders – basic functionality – but with a Business Central cloud-based system the possibility of managing multiple production plants and moving away from on-premises servers is much more efficient.
That’s why cloud-based Dynamics 365 Business Central can quickly move companies into the smart manufacturing category. For example, Business Central SaaS’s ability to monitor sales and forecasting of beer production in multiple locations is crucial for business margins, especially smaller craft brewers.
Market Factors for Batch Industries Demand Cloud-based ERP Systems
In a perfect world, batch food and beverage processors would be all digital in their production environments but investments at the production floor level have been substantial. Over the last ten years, pharmaceutical companies have been using vision-based scanners for to track the amount of raw ingredients going into drug production runs or employing more sensors to measure beer levels in tanks and optimize production planning. Moreover, manufacturers have been updating industrial networks to move both serial and digital data from the plant floor to the third level of the enterprise – Business planning and logistics.
A recent survey reported by Automation World in 2020 cited these top five areas of investment within the batch processing industries: IoT platform software, data acquisition and analytics, cloud computing, cybersecurity software and sensors as the top five.
According to the survey, “80% of the respondents in the batch industry vertical are increasing spending on data acquisition and analytics, while only 42% expect an increase in spending on motors, drives, and motion control technologies.” Plus, smaller brands and CPG companies are moving quickly to integrate supply chain and manufacturing systems after Covid-19. The logical conclusion is more C-Suite and buying teams are considering cloud-based ERP systems to oversee and manage multiple plants or locations so the future can come faster.
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