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Key Takeaways from the Smart Manufacturing Software Buyer's Guide

Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), Smart Manufacturing, Digital Transformation
April 12, 2023

With advanced technology driving industrial digitization across the globe, companies are reaching new heights in efficiency, process optimization, and other revolutionary achievements unheard of even a few years ago.

To stay competitive, it's essential to identify superior solutions that align your company with all these technologies. But choosing the best software solution to accomplish this isn’t easy. 

The Smart Manufacturing Software Buyer's Guide is designed to help you make an informed choice and understand the challenges and opportunities available. This guide will reveal industry challenges, trends, technology forces, and other critical information to empower decision makers with the knowledge they need to make the best choice.

Smart Manufacturing Is Here to Stay

Inconsistent and unpredictable demand is only part of the problem that companies face today. Supply chain strategies are rapidly changing, creating new models for shortages, longer lead times, substitutions, and more. Despite the changes brought on by multiple and massive disruptions, consumers want faster production, more choices, and higher quality.

But manual systems and human analysis can't overcome this combination. And despite the power of methodologies like Lean and Six Sigma, the level of data and analysis required to take manufacturing to the next level can't be achieved with traditional practices.

Smart manufacturing has emerged as one of many solutions capable of addressing these competing realities. It may be the only solution that enables companies to leverage data to produce agile production, increase quality and sustainability, and shorten the lead time in the face of challenges.

Takeaways from the Plex Smart Manufacturing Software Buyer’s Guide

By understanding why smart manufacturing is essential, decision makers can use the guide to address the question, "Where do we go from here?" The guide not only brings you up to date on trends and technology; it also outlines the strategies, implementation, and deployment considerations to consider:

Here are the key takeaways to help map out that direction.

Labor and Connectivity Challenges for All Industries

With more jobs available than workers, smart manufacturing offers the opportunity to reduce the overall number of workers needed for each facility. As these shortages continue, smart manufacturing implementation could be affected. Buyers should understand the urgency of adoption and prioritize it to capture its benefits for their company before the pool becomes too tight.

Another critical consideration in selecting software is connectivity, as the age, generation, and model of equipment that make up the company's production machinery usually vary. As decision makers zero in on software, the ability to connect all assets seamlessly and what the costs are to retrofit equipment so that all assets are connected is crucial.

Evaluating the Trends in Manufacturing

Smart manufacturing has created emerging trends that have been identified as core concepts. One trend is the complete digitization of all business processes, and this radical approach utilizes real-time data and analytical insights to allow the automation of processes.

Smart manufacturing implementation is heavily reliant on end-to-end visibility within the enterprise. This includes traditional manufacturing by using dashboards, contextualized operator input, and other features. It also extends that visibility to other areas like inventory, supply chain, and maintenance through dashboards and alerts.

The Power of Technology Forces

Many technologies combine within smart manufacturing, and more emerge every year. Buyers will need to understand which ones fit their company best and make sure to include their cost in software selection.

These technologies include:

  • Production Monitoring
  • AI and IIoT
  • Digital Twins
  • Machine Learning Algorithms
  • Edge Computing
  • Advanced and Autonomous Robotics

Where to Start

The best place for any company to begin a significant new project is with a well-crafted strategy. Start with where you are. What equipment has embedded connectivity? What needs to be retrofitted? How will we bring it all together?

With an understanding of what is needed to connect, companies must define their expectations for automation. This requires a deep dive and audit into processes, operating procedures, signoffs, and the production flow from start to finish. You can't automate what you don't map.

Planners also need to set goals and decide on the most critical KPIs. The goals will contextualize the automation and strategy, while the KPIs will help show progress.

Getting the Ball Rolling

Everyone in manufacturing has been part of some implementation. Please make the most of it by identifying bottlenecks and addressing equipment concerns like connectivity. And this requires getting buy-in. The identified areas of concern require consensus on whether the system will work.

Quick pilot programs that show significant results are often helpful. These milestones and achievements will help build buy-in.

Putting Your New Software to Work

With proven results, well-defined processes, and a strategy to move your company to a smart manufacturing platform, you can deploy the system way that benefits your company best. Options include on-premises, hybrid, or even standalone, depending on the nature and sensitivity of your data and industry.

Transform Your Company to Meet Today's Challenges

These are only a few of the highlights of the Smart Manufacturing Software Buyer's Guide. It’s based on decades of manufacturing experience in advanced cloud-based infrastructure to help you make the right decision for your company.

To learn more, read the complete guide here.

About the Author

Plex Team

Plex Systems, Inc., a Rockwell Automation company, is the leader in cloud-delivered smart manufacturing solutions, empowering the world’s manufacturers to make awesome products. Our platform gives manufacturers the ability to connect, automate, track and analyze every aspect of their business to drive transformation. The Plex Smart Manufacturing Platform includes solutions for manufacturing execution (MES), ERP, quality, supply chain planning and management, Industrial IoT and analytics to connect people, systems, machines, and supply chains, enabling them to lead with precision, efficiency and agility.