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Lisa O'Flaherty Lisa O'Flaherty
Principal Solutions Engineer

Cloud-ERP Can Support Job Shops at Every Level of Digital Transformation—Here’s How

August 14, 2023

The challenges job shops face with shop-floor scheduling and planning have been exacerbated by several factors, among them labor shortages, supply-chain delays and overall lack of visibility.

The challenges job shops face with shop-floor scheduling and planning have been exacerbated by several factors, among them labor shortages, supply-chain delays and overall lack of visibility. While pandemic-era supply-chain delays have been resolved for the most part, job shops still require better visibility of their entire supply chain and business processes as they position themselves for future growth.

In my experience, job shops tend to fall on two ends of the scale when it comes to technology. On one end, some shops simply look to digitize; they want to take the work they perform on paper to the cloud. At the opposite end we find shop owners on the bleeding edge of innovation. They have engineers on their team who want to do more with their already-digitized processes. Their to-do list includes adding advanced scheduling, developing completely paperless processes, and employing mobile apps that allow them to be versatile.

ERP solutions can be tailored to help job shops on both ends of the scale, embracing technology in steps. At the core, it’s all about organizing data and creating process visibility. 

So, how best to begin? Start by determining where your shop is in this continuum; here are some helpful tips to get off on the right foot.

Level 1—Take the Business to the Cloud 

Understandably, some job shops still operate with pen and paper, spreadsheets, and even sticky notes to manage their businesses. The old adage, “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it,” applies here, and until the pandemic completely upended global supply chains and the manufacturing workforce, job shops hadn’t previously seen a need to digitize their processes. 

Today, however, many job shops have opened their eyes to adopting the cloud. One of many benefits of the cloud is the ability to eliminate issues with tribal knowledge, where your team members hold instructions, data and information in their head rather than in an accessible system. This means that when a team member leaves the company, so does all of their knowledge. In addition, adopting the cloud instantly creates more visibility across processes, so that more-informed decisions can be made. Most importantly, the cloud is a key enabler for job shops as they seek to embrace innovative technologies to launch their business forward.

Level 2—Implement ML and AI

For those shops already in the cloud with digitized processes, their journey continues by adding advanced scheduling and planning. By connecting and analyzing data from the shop floor and leveraging an ERP system, advanced machine-intelligence solutions can trigger actions that reduce downtime, scrap and failure, so that machine operators and managers can maximize their time, resources and bottom lines. In addition, advanced scheduling tools can create "what-if" scenarios that help to avoid setting unrealistic deadlines, a critical tool in today’s fast-paced ever-changing environment. 

This is only the beginning. With artificial intelligence (AI) becoming more democratized every day, this technology is expected to further advance and disrupt manufacturing. Deloitte estimates that the size of the AI market in the manufacturing sector will exceed $2 billion by 2025, posting average annual growth of more than 40 percent.

Pick An ERP Solution to Join You on Your Digitization Journey

Regardless of where your shop sits on its technology-adoption journey, adopting a cloud-based ERP solution that can be tailored to help your shop embrace technology in phases is an essential step. ERP solutions offer end-to-end visibility and enable manufacturers to plan and adapt as the industry changes.

In addition to scheduling and planning, ERP systems drive productivity and cost-efficiency enhancements, protect small to medium-sized businesses from rising cybersecurity threats, and support the incorporation of new technologies to gain a competitive advantage. As your shop’s business evolves and successfully integrates new solutions to meet business and industry challenges, a future-proof ERP solution will form the foundation. MF

Industry-Related Terms: Core, Edge, Form, Lines, Scale, Scrap
View Glossary of Metalforming Terms


See also: ECI Software Solutions, Inc.

Technologies: Management


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