Unique ways to look at manufacturing technology adoption

////Unique ways to look at manufacturing technology adoption

Every organization is likely going to take a different approach to adopting new IT tools. While one business may see it fit to stay with their legacy enterprise resource planning software and build around it, others may want to scrap everything and go for all-new software. Manufacturing.net's Mark Davidson said the approach companies take may be dictated by the different processes the organization performs, and in many cases, adding onto manufacturing operations management can be the way to go.

"Since there are various types of IT foundations found in today's complex organizations, it's important to understand the various approaches to building out MOM capabilities," he wrote. "Based on the three IT models described above, there are three corresponding approaches: a top-down or ERP-centric approach, a center-out or MOM-centric approach, or a bottom-up or industrial automation-centric approach."

Each different technology will serve a different purchase for a business, so it is important for manufacturers looking to integrate key processes from systems that will best help their organization. Some tools may seem as though they have great features, but unless the feature makes sense for the company, it likely will not make sense to adopt it.

Davidson said the top-down, ERP-centric manufacturing is one way to go, a strategy that involves taking an existing resource structure and using it for the backbone to build upon. This brings the advantage of having master data consistency and the ability to integrate between business and manufacturing processes. Organizations can also go for a center-out, MOM software-centric approach, which he said has the benefits of giving a richer manufacturing operation. 

"Unlike an ERP-based architecture, a center-out approach enables a much greater level of agility for modifying manufacturing systems and processes," he said.

Becoming lean and agile
Forbes contributor Dan Woods said bringing new software into a manufacturing operation should make it more agile and lean. Agile operations brings a big payoff for being suspicious of certain software requirements, as instead of building out the whole product, it just utilizes the smallest parts and figures out which works best for the company.

"Agile development is an evolutionary conversation in which incremental steps of two to four weeks lead to feedback that allows requirements to be tested and adjusted," he said. "In addition, some functionality is available much sooner. Quality also increases in agile projects because using a working system exposes defects right away instead of leaving them to a final testing phase."

By having an agile approach to bringing in a tool such as a warehouse management software system, he said organizations create a feedback loop between executives and the employees using these tools. In a lean manufacturing system, work can be broken into different values and triggered by demand, thereby allowing both lean and agile systems to work together in a way that is completely reactive to what the organization needs at the time. In practice, he said these two ways of working can play off each other and result in improvements for organizations.

Learn how to define your ERP strategy by downloading the white paper entitled "ERP in Manufacturing: Defining the ERP Strategy" from the DMS website today.