For many years, China has been heralded as the focal point of manufacturing in the global supply chain because of the country's ability to rapidly produce goods through automation and a sizable labor force. However, a recent article in Automation World indicated there are holes developing in this manufacturing model, leaving room for North American industries to achieve a greater role in production and distribution.
Businesses Look for High-Quality, Low-Cost Manufacturing
Citing data from near-shoring enterprise the Entrada Group, the publication explained there are reasons to believe that manufacturers in the U.S. and Mexico should expect an increase in activity. The study conducted among C-suite executives at privately held companies in primarily the U.S., Canada and Europe during the tail end of 2013 and the beginning of 2014 found the U.S. is currently the most attractive low-cost manufacturing region on a global scale. Among the respondents, nearly 70 percent indicated a strategy founded in affordable manufacturing practices is important to sustainable growth.
Manufacturing Expected to Increase
What's more, most companies are planning to expand. In fact, the study found 67 percent of businesses with at least two centers of operation aim to establish additional facilities. At the same time, manufacturers emphasize high quality products are at the heart of their operations. Finally, gaps in quality standards in manufacturing and an unstable currency situation in China has led many businesses to rethink their strategies, leading them to facilities in other regions.
As a result, manufacturers in the U.S. and neighboring countries need to make sure they're prepared to provide customers with the highest standards of quality and service. Many businesses have found the answer in automated data collection solutions, but knowing which software company will best suit their needs is a crucial first step in integrating the technology. A recent RFgen white paper, "The Data Collection Software Buyer's Guide" looked into the essential characteristics of an ADC solution provider.
- Minimal Disruption to Existing Systems
Most manufacturers make use of an ERP system, which have distinct configurations. An automated data collection system shouldn't force a business to alter their processes and systems wholesale. Accordingly, a solutions provider should have the internal expertise to faithfully integrate ADC software into a manufacturer's existing information technology infrastructure.
- Automate Processes and Provide Ongoing Support
Although certain aspects of a manufacturer's processes, such as its ERP system, may be automated, there are likely numerous others that are still paper-based. This ultimately slows processes down. The best solutions provider will leverage email notifications and database integration to automate steps that were once manual, and it will provide support to manufacturers that may need help integrating the software or system. The provider should include consulting, implementation, training and support as part of its services.
- Experienced, Certified and Knowledgeable Partner
In many manufacturing operations, businesses will collaborate with multiple companies. A solutions provider should recognize how its products and services bring out the strengths of all the technology manufacturers depend on. In keeping with this idea, an ADC partner should be certified to provide the solutions it's offering, while maintaining robust relationships with suppliers. What's more, manufacturers should work with a provider that has a proven track record of success in partnering with a variety of companies.
With more businesses looking to expand their manufacturing operations and return to the U.S., as well as other regions, it's never been more important to work with the best partner possible to implement ADC solutions. By considering these aspects of choosing a provider, companies can make sure they've put themselves in a strong position to succeed.