Written by: Melissa Cook
Relentless pressure in both supply and demand are forcing manufacturers to become more innovative and dynamic.
In manufacturing, it’s always been about innovation, growth, productivity and ultimately profitability. What is new is that as manufacturing companies pursue these goals in an increasingly globalized supply chain, they need vastly improved information to design, plan, execute and measure operations across a complex and varied environment. Even the small and mid-sized manufacturing operation is now part of a global network of loosely coupled entities that must collaborate and deliver real-time status information to customers, supply chain partners, organization leaders, and employees.
What’s also new in manufacturing is the relentless competitive pressures of a global demand and supply environment and the resulting rise in expectations for continual innovation in product and process and continual improvement in the productivity of people. In response, leaders in manufacturing must place greater importance on transparency in the demand and supply chain gaining a real-time view of global operations, and engaging their entire workforce in improved decision making.
Ultimately, products don’t design and manufacture themselves; the success of an organization always comes down to people. Microsoft has always had a passion for the personal side of technology. We’ve always been inspired to give people the tools and information that they need, whenever they need it, no matter where they are. We broke the mold in the era of personal computing and we continue to break the mold in manufacturing systems. The original manufacturing ERP implementations were, quite frankly, just a retread for mainframe applications of the 60’s. They were mostly about collecting and reporting on information and processes after they occurred. That’s not how Microsoft sees it.
People and real-time information are the center of our vision for dynamics in manufacturing. We continually work on integrating information into the operational and production processes, giving people what they need to make better decisions, in context of their role. We also provide people choices about what they want or need to know—right now, wherever they are—and whoever they are, from executives to shop floor workers.
Of course, there’s always risk in adopting new technologies, especially for small- and medium-sized companies. And, in today’s global manufacturing economy, speed and agility are the key risk mitigation strategies. It’s critical that new technologies enable a manufacturing organization’s abilities to be flexible. That means that new technology investments need to be easy to procure, easy to implement, easy to use, and easy to change. None of those qualities have been the historic hallmark of most ERP implementations. We think we have an edge here: the idea of the dynamic manufacturer—agile, globally connected, forward-looking organizations that thrive by empowering their people to reach their full potential.
Worldwide, companies like Hunter Douglas (manufacturer of custom-made window fashions in North America) and Vitamix (world leader in high-performance blending equipment) are finding out that the flexibility of our solutions can help improve productivity—and profitability—in a market where both supply and demand is changing. Luca Caremoli, CIO of Sematic S.pA. Sematic (international supplier to some of the world’s largest elevator manufacturers) explains his global experience this way: “Maintaining a distributed manufacturing operation carries a unique set of challenges. Our customers depend on standard parts and designs, so we must maintain consistency and process control among plants and operations that are often a half a world away. We present a unified face to our customers, and our own internal operations need to reflect that unity. Now, with Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R2, we have a single, common ERP. Already, intercompany flow between the headquarters in Italy and the manufacturing plant in the UK has streamlined procurement and enhanced CTP planning and sales processes.” That’s competitive edge.
Our vision for manufacturing includes global planning and operations, improved execution, real-time insight and operational visibility and tools that connect you to your customers, suppliers, and employees. We’re redefining how business solutions empower people for greater success, predict potential issues and opportunities, and enable organizations to expand the possibilities for that competitive advantage.
Post originally written for Forbes.com: http://www.forbes.com/sites/microsoftdynamics/2013/02/04/building-visibility-one-person-at-a-time/