Staying Competitive: The Technology Manufacturers Need to Leverage
The manufacturing industry has had significant challenges to overcome in the last two years. Beyond pandemic closures, supply chain breakdowns and labor shortages continue to present major production obstacles.
Despite this, manufacturing is bouncing back. But to stay competitive during this ramp-up, manufacturers must invest in new technology and learn to use it to their full potential.
Let’s take a closer look at the tools and tech your facility needs to stay one step ahead:
Warehouse Management Systems and Enterprise Resource Platforms
Cloud-based technology is becoming less of a supplement and more of a necessity for manufacturers. Paper processes are being phased out as leaders realize that transitioning to digital storage helps keep their vulnerable data safer, organized and accessible.
Two different tools for this are warehouse management systems (WMS) and enterprise resource platforms (ERP):
WMS: A WMS comprises software, hardware and processes that allow warehouses to track each stage of a product’s journey. Centralizing the information makes tracking inventory, pulling goods and shipping products more efficient. A WMS often provides a comprehensive analysis of a warehouse’s operations, allowing leaders to make better data-driven decisions.
ERP: An Enterprise Resource Platform is a system of integrated and centralized applications that manage and automate various recurring tasks, like inventory management or shipping updates and notifications. Generally speaking, an ERP is a helpful tool for many types of industries – but it can be extremely valuable for manufacturers and warehouse facilities.
While these systems have proven useful, they need to be used consistently to make the most of your investment. Make sure you provide the proper training for your team, so they feel comfortable with the platform. Plus, as you’re working with WMS providers, make sure you’re paying for features you’re going to use – don’t waste your budget on applications you won’t need.
While we’re still learning more about blockchain and the possibilities it has to offer, we know it can make a difference in optimizing warehouse operations.
Blockchain is an online record that allows your team to store and share data safely. It begins with a transaction, which creates a “block.” That block will then be authenticated by other computers in the network, adding it to a blockchain that becomes much more difficult to infiltrate.
In manufacturing, blockchain can be used to:
- Monitoring supply chain processes
- Tracking products and assets
- Quality assurance and counterfeit detection
- Increase data visibility and accessibility
- Oversee logistics operations
- Boost cybersecurity for your data
Real-Time Location Systems (RTLS)
Supply chain delays and issues present significant problems for warehouses. So, the more visibility manufacturers have over the process, the better. That’s how real-time location systems (RTLS) can help.
RTLS gives manufacturers the ability to keep track of products and other assets through every stage of the supply chain process. This includes where the product is, what stage of the process it’s in and its current condition. This system gives manufacturers more control and makes better decisions about their inventory and production process. Plus, it helps them manage customer expectations and provide more accurate product updates and delivery information.
Wearable technology can be a beneficial tool for leadership teams. They allow manufacturers to monitor an employee’s steps, collection path for fulfilling orders and overall productivity.
For example, tech wearables can be a game-changer for your picking process. Employees wear headsets with a microphone connected to voice-activated technology, allowing employees to receive picking information via an automated voice. This way, the employee doesn’t need to circle back or refer to order paperwork.
Voice-activated technology is becoming more and more popular. 51% of companies are expected to embrace voice-activated technology within the next five years. By switching to voice-activated technology, employers can help streamline their operations while giving their employees the tools they need to succeed.
Maintenance Forecasting Software
There’s nothing worse than an unexpected machine breakdown. This can lead to costly product damage or downtime, which means backups and unhappy customers.
More and more manufacturers have embraced the method of preventative maintenance, which revolves around a recurring schedule of machinery preservation. Employees are assigned a rotating roster of equipment to observe. This way, facility team members can address potential problems before it results in expensive and time-consuming downtime.
Maintenance schedules can be determined by the amount of time between reviews or how much a machine has been used. A great way to keep track of this process is by using maintenance forecasting software, which can often be included in warehouse management or enterprise resource software.
It’s unwise to depend only on the physical abilities of your employees. This can easily lead to injuries, accidents or even worse outcomes. Investing in industrial manipulators can take significant physical stress off your team, optimizing their process and increasing productivity.
Industrial manipulators are best used when:
- A product is too heavy to be moved by hand
- Many items must be moved quickly
- Manually moving a product puts a person at risk of injury
- Manually carrying things that will quickly exhaust employees
- A product must be relocated to a place that is difficult or time-consuming for a worker to reach (for example, a very tall shelf)
At Dalmec, our team is devoted to finding our clients the material handling technology that best fits their facility, which helps their companies grow. Our manipulators can be customized depending on your facility’s requirements and inventory – this way, you can be sure you’re leveraging your investment and maximizing your material handler’s full potential. Contact our team today to get started.