There's no longer room in manufacturing for gut feelings. With the advent of automated data collection and other information technology solutions, the tools are decisively there. Manufacturers can gain clear insight into their supply chains, from the smallest component to large-scale distribution. So why do so many organizations continue to depend on inaccurate data collection and workflow solutions that aren't based on hard facts?
Recent Studies Show Subjective Data is a Primary Source
According to the "2014 Smart Manufacturing Technologies Survey," just 20 percent of companies collect objective data when looking at their workflows and optimizing manufacturing processes. More than half - 54 percent - of survey participants indicated as much as 10 percent of product cycle time is wasted.
Another sore spot for manufacturers is product maintenance. Fifteen percent of organizations in the study placed no importance repairing capital assets. One of core strengths of automated data collection solutions, in combination with robust ERP software, is keeping track of equipment, machinery and inventory with real-time updates.
For example, radio frequency identification tags communicate wirelessly with sensors that help manufacturers automatically generate key data about their infrastructure. Instead of taking a reactive stance toward maintenance, organizations can be proactive in addressing issues. What's more, RFIDs help manufacturers keep detailed records without labor-intensive manual tracking.
"Today manufacturers need to focus on automating their systems and gaining a more valuable, objective level of visibility so they can better optimize their workflow and reduce errors in their processes," explained Adrian Jennings, CTO of real-time location intelligence solutions for Ubisense in the Americas.
Data Management Continues to Pose Challenges
Manufacturing.net explained many organizations face several primary issues, many of which have carried over the years. Other challenges have been exacerbated as digital technology and similar innovations have touched the manufacturing sector. One of the biggest issues is data management. Manufacturers come into contact with massive amounts of information on any given day. In light of the fact that most companies don't use objective data to guide decision-making, it's understandable why many organizations can't get a firm grasp on their data.
Inventory is just a single component of many operations that depends on accurate, updated information. Manufacturers lose money when they don't pay close attention to inventory levels. Gaps in data integrity relating to inventory stem from either too much merchandise or too little, according to Manufacturing.net. What happens when there's too much? The company loses profits because products depreciate in value the longer they sit on the shelf, or the business is forced to undercut profits through heavy-handed sales tactics to move more merchandise.
Whether a manufacturer wants to ensure it's compliant with government regulations or has clear visibility into its inventory management, it needs better data management. Automation software helps put the right systems in place to help track information as it's generated. This not only important to optimize workflows, but also to secure a wider profit margin.