Smart manufacturing is fueled by a data driven, connected value chain. We need data to be accessible to all stakeholders to ensure seamless production flow and effective communication. Data accessibility also allows us to meet growing customer demands and improve delivery times.
Information silos have become the scourge of modern manufacturing, as they limit the organization’s ability to make data driven decisions. These silos are created by disconnected data sources which create inefficiencies in the entire manufacturing process – from the production floor and across the supply chain. There’s nothing wrong with using specialized software for each department. But when each department depends on its own self-contained system such as ERP, MES, PLM or CRM, and these don’t connect, real-time data sharing becomes impossible.
This lack of connectivity puts manufacturers at risk of losing their customers and revenue. Critical data is stored in “information silos” and this requires manufacturers to take preemptive measures and direct action. Here’s a look at the main challenges caused by data silos and how to address these issues.
Problems Caused by Information Silos
Longer Delivery Times
Short Delivery times means satisfied customers. When data to make decisions is inaccessible it hinders daily productivity and communication between the supply, production, and sales departments. More often than not, manufacturing teams aren’t able to shorten delivery deadlines, update schedules in real-time, give customers accurate quotes, or promise accurate delivery dates.
This poses a significant threat to building and maintaining loyal customer-manufacturer relationships. With today’s customers demanding on-time delivery and full visibility into production and shipping processes, inability to improve delivery times due to inaccurate information flow simply means manufacturers become less competitive and customers may jump ship at any given time for shorter delivery times
Impact on Productivity
Organizations plagued by communication delays also suffer from decreased production efficiency.
Information silos inhibit the accurate tracking of overall equipment effectiveness (OEE). Silos limit inventory control and accurate production costing, because the data necessary for these operations resides in several different repositories. This also impacts the ability of predictive maintenance (PdM), which helps reduce unplanned downtime because there is no way to perform the complex data integration necessary for PdM.
Impact on Communication with 3rd Party Vendors
In today’s marketplace, manufacturers are running smart factories and collaborating in dynamic, online supply chain and manufacturing networks. Manufacturers of all sizes need constant real-time connectivity not only between departments within the factory, but also externally with suppliers, customers, and third party logistics providers and vendors.
When data is stored in isolated offline repositories, connecting in real-time to internal and external systems becomes impossible, interfering with the end-to-end manufacturing processes, and constraining the supply chains.
The Solution: A Data Driven Organization
Information silos within a factory must be broken. To achieve that, manufacturers need solutions that connect data from across their company (from systems like ERP, MES, PLM, CRM) , and from the machines on the production floor into one, easy-to-manage platform. All the relevant data, no matter its source, must be integrated and displayed on dashboards that can be easily accessed by all relevant team members.
With real-time information sharing, manufacturing processes can be optimized. If, for example, a customer wants 1000 “customized” units of a product, sales teams can see all the relevant inventory, production, and costing data and set an optimal price and promised delivery date. The order can then be seamlessly fed into the ERP system and scheduled for production, empowering the production team to meet the customer’s demand.
Connected manufacturing, with the free flow of information, facilitates optimal management of OEE and inventory, predictive maintenance, and full visibility for your customers. Silos become a thing of the past, data flows freely, and productivity increases, keeping existing customers happy and helping to attract new ones.
Connected manufacturing is paving the way to new efficiency levels. In our latest whitepaper we describe the top five causes of bottlenecks in manufacturing and discuss how they can be eliminated by Industry 4.0 technologies.