ORLANDO, Fla.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Maximizing productivity will be critical to thriving in the rapidly evolving manufacturing sector. That was a recurring theme in keynote presentations on Day One of the Pinnacle conference for customers of IQMS, a leading manufacturing ERP software and manufacturing execution system (MES) authority. Collectively, presenters from the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, LNS Research, and Oracle examined the economic and technology factors impacting productivity that manufacturers need to consider in developing their business strategies.
IQMS’ Pinnacle user conference is being held, April 3-6, 2017, at the Lowes Sapphire Falls Resort in Orlando, Florida. It brings together manufacturing executives, enterprise resource planning (ERP) technical experts, and industry thought leaders in 66 sessions examining manufacturing technology and business best practices, as well as how to get the most out of IQMS software.
Why Productivity Will Lead Growth
“Manufacturing output is increasing, and most of it is being driven by productivity gains,” observed William A. Strauss, a senior economist and economic advisor in the economic research department at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
In his keynote, “Economic Conditions and Factors That Impact Manufacturing,” Strauss explained that labor force growth, the other leading factor in expanding manufacturers’ businesses, is limited to an extent by the availability of potential workers. He noted that population growth in the United States is at 0.8%, and the population is aging. Baby Boomers entering their retirement years with lower participation rates represent a bigger portion of the potential workforce compared to younger members of the population considered to be in their years of prime employment.
“The way to grow the economy with labor is to have employees do things more efficiently and effectively,” Strauss said. “Manufacturers need to invest in more machines and software—and in better ones that will lead to better innovation.”
Presenters at Pinnacle agreed that making better use of data will be essential to increasing productivity. Data is the new currency, stated Will Childs, director of cloud and SaaS business development and strategy at Oracle. In his presentation, as part of the “Product, Industry and Technology” keynote panel, he observed that the latest predictions are for some 40+ zettabytes of data to be generated annually by 2020. However, to date, companies are estimated to only be using 0.5% of the data they are collecting, suggesting a large potential for manufacturers to better harness this information to improve their businesses. Understanding this data is going to be key to moving forward; manufacturers have new opportunities to branch out into new revenue generated services for their customers.
Meanwhile, Dan Miklovic, a principal analyst at LNS Research, suggested that manufacturers need to go beyond analyzing data for insights into the past to predicting and acting upon what could happen in the future. In his keynote, “Practical Applications of IoT and Smart Manufacturing,” Miklovic examined four aspects of analytics. He explained that manufacturers are moving from descriptive analytics that just tell us what we’ve been doing to diagnostic analytics where we collect information if something is not right or better than better than expected—and why.
Miklovic advised manufacturers, “At this stage, you should be collecting information and understanding what’s going on in the plant. If you aren’t already, it should be a top priority.”
The next phase is predictive analytics to anticipate when a machine might break or when there might be a quality issue, Miklovic said. Even more powerful, he stated, is the move to prescriptive analytics. Imagine, he proposed, using prescriptive analytics to indicate that slowing a machine down would enable a bearing to last another four weeks; that because the manufacturer had a backlog, there was no need to run the machine at full speed; and with machine maintenance already scheduled to take place in two weeks, slowing the machine would be the only action required.
Significantly, taking advantage of analytics needs to start with effective data gathering, said Miklovic, noting that 67% of manufacturers’ data comes from the shop floor system, MES, quality system, and ERP.
“IQMS users have a good place to start because so much of the data you need to start with is well in hand due to the inherent integrated MES and ERP functionality. This will give you an edge in trying to make those shifts,” according to Miklovic.
Growing Roles for IoT and the Cloud
At the same time, the Internet of Things (IoT) and cloud computing will play important roles in collecting and managing manufacturers’ data. Will Childs of Oracle noted that there will be some 50+ billion IoT devices generating data in the next couple years; meanwhile applications are generating so much information, that 75% of data will be in a cloud by 2018.
Dan Miklovic of LNS Research explained that together, IoT, cloud and big data are eliminating layers of information flow, so that environments are more point-to-point and less hierarchical. For example, sensors can just go straight to where they need to go. This helps to eliminate both the complexities of integration and errors caused by manual entry of information from one system to the next, he explained.
Miklovic agreed with Childs that IoT and application data will go into the cloud. However, he stated that not all information will go to an external cloud. Instead, some will be managed in the “fog,” a cloud created within the office or facilities. This allows things that only need data from other things in that area to exchange information locally. For instance, a pump needs to know when a motor is ready to start, he explained. Effectively, Miklovic noted, these systems need to be omnipresent to enable information sharing and automation.
IQMS uniquely combines ERP and MES functionality to give manufacturers a comprehensive end-to-end suite for running the business, backed by the real-time performance and scalability that companies demand. Developed specifically for mid-market repetitive, discrete and batch process manufacturers, IQMS provides robust capabilities for addressing strict customer and regulatory certification and compliance. IQMS achieves this by delivering traditional ERP functionality for accounting, sales orders, material requirements, inventory and purchasing, plus extended native features for CRM, human resources, production scheduling, shop floor control, warehouse and quality modules. With offices across North America, Europe and Asia, IQMS serves manufacturers around the world. For more information, please visit http://www.iqms.com.
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