The manufacturing industry as a whole is surprisingly innovative. It’s easy to get caught up imagining endless conveyer belts covered in coal soot, but today’s manufacturing processes are clean, they’re streamlined, and they’re digital.
Manufacturing and IT are more inextricably linked than at any point in history. Here are three IT trends we’re keeping an eye on as they continue to impact the sector.
1. Embracing the Internet of Things
We’ve been hearing about (and talking about) the Internet of Things for years. IoT technology has quite literally revolutionized the manufacturing industry as we know it, and it’s not even close to done yet. The idea that every product, commodity, machine, and more, can be connected digitally was mere science fiction two decades ago; today it’s empowering manufacturers to maintain control over their ever-complex operations.
With IoT, equipment can communicate. Inventory isn’t a once-a-year to-do item, it’s a continuous process. Ordering is simplified. Each consumer interaction generates data. Manufacturers who haven’t fully embraced Internet of Things technology are falling further behind by the year, but a sweeping IT overhaul isn’t as difficult (or expensive) as most assume. All it takes to be successful is the right partner and a little faith in the long-term investment of better technology.
2. Taking Control of Cybersecurity
Manufacturers are finally waking up to the real and present threat of cybersecurity breaches. Cybersecurity is an issue that can no longer be ignored, particularly at the enterprise level. From malicious viruses to outright data breaches, a well-connected manufacturing platform means more security risks.
Forward-thinking manufacturers aren’t just investing in Band-Aids, they’re turning their operations into digital fortresses from the ground up. Firewalls, multiple-layer authentications, and even high-tech measures like fingerprint access and retinal scans are making their way into manufacturing facilities everywhere. Keeping manufacturing data safe isn’t just good for business, it can even be considered a national security issue.
3. Big Data as a Driver
Today’s manufacturing environment generates thousands upon thousands of data points a day. Comprehensive ERP solutions offer more use for this data than ever before. Manufacturers with the right technological foundation can use data to make hiring decisions, to determine which market segments to target, and even to plan for acquisitions and mergers.
Without data – Big data, to be specific – manufacturers are still operating on an as-it-comes basis. Data provides visibility where previously there was none, but it’s only useful with the right software systems in place. Choosing an ERP built for industries as complex and long-term as manufacturing isn’t cut-and-dried, but it makes all the difference when it comes to squeezing every last drop of usefulness out of the information created by manufacturing processes.
Does your manufacturing operation need help making its way into the 21st century? Maybe you haven’t quite embraced digitization, or maybe you’re working off platforms that don’t do your business the justice it deserves?