Why manufacturers have to prioritise digital solutions in 2022

Following the disruptions brought about by the pandemic, deploying innovative solutions for businesses, including manufacturing, has gathered momentum. Industries have now fast-tracked adoption of technology and the firms that were quick to take this route are already reaping the benefits. 

On the other hand, firms that were ponderous in making decision whether or not to automate their operations before Covid struck have been awakened from slumber and are now busy shopping for solutions that will transform their operations as they look to stay competitive, and ultimately afloat.

It is worth noting that even before Covid-19 caused business and economic upsets across the globe, there were compelling reasons for manufacturing companies to find appropriate technologies for their businesses.

Enterprise Resource Planning Tools, popularly known in the tech and business world as ERPs, have been transforming the way business processes are run for a while and firms whose top managers were visionary and flexible enough to appreciate the revolutionary impact of this kind of technology have invariably been ahead of the game, reaping rewards in form of reduced costs minimised risks and, more importantly, increased revenues.

The role ERPs cannot be overemphasis in the modern era where innovation is a never-ending undertaking for businesses keen to remain not only relevant but vibrant.

Properly deployed, ERPs make it much easier to coordinate virtually all processes ranging from production, human resource, accounting and production. This brings about high levels of operational efficiency, resulting in realisation of such essential benefits as saving time and money, increased accuracy as well as enhanced production.

Machine Learning, Big Data and Artificial Intelligence, which are also increasingly becoming centerpieces in business success, are being integrated in ERPs.

These cutting-edge technologies leverage data in the management of critical aspects of the manufacturing processes such as resource utilisation and in enhancing strategic decision-making. In world where data has become the lifeline of enterprises, leveraging these new forms of technologies is imperative.

The biggest question that chief financial officers (CFOs) always ask is how ERP uptake will help their firms in boosting their margins. Well it is easy to connect the dots.  Since you are able to closely keep track of all the processes and well-placed to carry out real-time data analysis to gain insights, you have the requisite tools to make quick decisions in tandem with industrial and market trends.

On the basis of the insights regarding the happenings in your operations you will be in a good position to make critical decisions that could, for instance, nip in the bud any emerging risks that may push your business into the edge.

Take for instance inventory management. One of the biggest headaches manufacturing firms face is how to accurately determine the level of supplies they need in order to meet customer requirements.

Having huge supplies at a time of low demand is likely to result in losses emanating from idle or even dead stocks. Also, under-stocking when there is a high demand means the firm is unlikely to reap maximum returns from available business opportunities.

One of the key elements for a thriving business is being in a position to make informed decisions and choices. This capability is provided by ERPs thanks to access to real-time data, insights, and the ability to keep track of all processes.

Due to close monitoring and accurate measurement of key metrics in all the processes as well as sales, manufacturers are empowered to make not only quick decisions but also accurate ones. Companies thrive on the basis of constantly making good decisions. On the flipside, companies encounter headwinds when they persistently make wrong choices.

Another important benefits accruing from ERP uptake is synchronisation of various department and operations. Manufacturing firms usually have several departments working separately to achieve common goals. To achieve the overall desired objective, it is essential that all these disparate departments are properly coordinated through adoption of appropriate digital systems. 

When all the units are operating as one and pulling in the same direction, wastage of time and resources are considerably reduced. With a smooth flow of operations and all parts working as a single entity, there is easy information sharing, high visibility, and significantly reduced scope for making errors.

Taming costs

Taming costs is one of the hallmarks of a healthy business. Leaving costs to spiral out of control is certainly bound to sound the death knell for even the strongest of firms. With time, the solid foundation of such firms will be shaken and if the costs are not reined in, such businesses may come tumbling down.

ERPs are the saviour in fundamental ways. Automation of your processes means processes get more efficient and the required level or amount of resources, such as human resource and energy, will be reduced.

Digital processes significantly cut waste, maintenance cost and scope of errors.  All these and other benefits will favourably combine to bring about substantial reduction in costs. A cost-efficient operations means more profits.

Adoption of resource planning tools can also go a long way in making your customer happy. How you may ask? Reduction in time wastage coupled with smooth flow of operations mean meeting deadlines for deliveries. This leads to satisfied customers. You will not only retain these customers, they will most likely convert them into good ambassadors who will spread good word about your product, helping you to expand your client base.

Johan Du Toit is the Chief Sales Officer, SYSPRO Africa

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