This article first appeared in the
Autumn 2017 issue of The Record.
A focus on optimising productivity and increasing customer satisfaction has disrupted the manufacturing industry.
Many manufacturers today are focusing their efforts on integrating digital and physical systems to help improve visibility, increase efficiency, offer further flexibility and lower costs.
They’re also making advances towards the ‘smart factory’ by connecting equipment and factories to leverage data. The ultimate goal is to improve every aspect of their operations, while also optimising productivity and increasing customer satisfaction.
Digital transformation is fundamentally changing the way that many manufacturers are doing business by enabling more of a customer-¬centric approach, while also optimising operations. Manufacturers that consider themselves to be ‘digitally empowered’ are able to engage with customers throughout the product lifecycle, and able to predict and understand future trends that may impact on production or product design.
A common concern is that capitalising on trends of this nature is limited to large, well-resourced manufacturing businesses. But with unified and flexible solutions from Microsoft, the opportunity to digitise has never been more accessible.
I see five key ways Microsoft Dynamics 365 can help manufacturers. The first is by optimising supply chain operations through enhanced visibility. By collecting and visualising this data, manufacturers can better visualise into their operations.
Asset management can also be streamlined, and the ‘connected factory’ capabilities within Microsoft Dynamics 365 provide real-time insight into data. This means manufacturers can monitor machines and resolve any issues remotely.
New revenue streams can be opened. Through the increasing use of the internet of things (IoT), mobile devices and cloud-based data aggregation, manufacturers can now offer services such as proactive maintenance and remote monitoring.
Innovation and time to market can also be accelerated. By using IoT-enabled parts, manufacturers can gain the insights they need to innovate faster. As an example, through sensors on machines, teams are able to track and identify faulty or inefficient components in the field and use the information gathered to improve future designs.
And finally, customer loyalty can be increased. Through predictive analytics – available with Microsoft Dynamics 365 – value-added services can be delivered to customers, helping build trust through fast and convenient responses. With a connected platform, you can solve potential problems remotely before your customers feel the impact, proving your value and building trust.
For manufacturers, Microsoft Dynamics 365 ends the artificial divide between customer relationship management and enterprise resource planning systems and supplements necessary capabilities with rich analytics, embedded intelligence, and the convenience people expect from consumer apps on their phone or tablet.
Dynamics 365 unites the front office and back office with a single, end-to-end system for managing every aspect of your business, at the pace and scale that’s right for you.
Kevin Bull is product strategy director at Columbus
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