Top 3 ways manufacturers can embrace the digital revolution
- Posted on November 22, 2021
- Estimated reading time 5 minutes
Manufacturing is undergoing a digital revolution
Manufacturing has always been complex and resource intensive; however, changes in customer expectations have pushed manufacturers to adopt modern technologies to meet their evolving demands. Whether it’s the need to personalize products, find new methods to attract and hire new workers or leverage IoT technologies to drive insights, manufacturers face many challenges as they modernize. Let’s look at three of these core challenges, and how manufacturers can harness the power of technology platforms like Microsoft Dynamics 365 to address them.
Challenge #1: An aging or under-skilled workforce
Many manufacturers face challenges attracting new workers and providing them with the right training and knowledge. New generations entering the workforce may see manufacturing as unstable, unattractive or too old-school for their liking. Manufacturers must find new ways of engaging and incenting potential new hires and training them using modern methods and medium over physical books, manuals or the minds of seasoned workers.
Solution: Workforce empowerment
By adopting a modern, cloud ERP solution like Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance & Operations, manufacturers can create immersive digital training experiences using the knowledge and wisdom of seasoned workers. Manufacturers must democratize the institutional knowledge across their existing workforce and make it available for new employees through compelling, personalized training experiences. We’ve helped clients use Microsoft Dynamics 365 Guides to help promote employee self-service, and extended reality and gamification technologies can provide unique and immersive training experiences. In addition, Dynamics 365 brings together the worlds of IT, HR and Lines of Business to drive a unified and comprehensive employee experience. Ultimately, Microsoft Dynamics 365 can act as a central platform and knowledge base for hiring, onboarding and training new employees.
Challenge #2: Increasing logistical and operational complexity
Due to many organizations’ globally distributed manufacturing models, supply chains are even more complex, especially when taking into account the needs of local market drivers and customer expectations. Manufacturers are expected to deliver highly personalized goods anywhere in the world instantly, while considering the latest customer needs and feedback. Without a robust and resilient supply chain across vendors, supplier ecosystems and retail stores, manufacturers struggle to deliver the right products to the right place on time.
Solution: Supply chain and operational resilience
By adopting Microsoft Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management (and recently announced at Microsoft Ignite: Supply Chain Insights), manufacturers can leverage the cloud to deliver centralized IT infrastructure across their enterprise, providing a consistent experience from the shop floor to the front and back offices. Manufacturers can build resilient supply chains with control tower visibility, leverage automation at scale to simplify operations and bake in localization requirements at key stages of the manufacturing process. In addition, manufacturers can leverage customer insights and product feedback to enhance innovation, improve product quality or expand product personalization for specific markets. The modules in Microsoft Dynamics 365 can act as a digital footprint for your supply chain and logistics, enabling deeper insights and data-driven intelligence to support informed decision-making.
Challenge #3: Inflexibility due to disparate, disconnected and underutilized data
Many manufacturers also struggle to maximize the value of their data. Whether it’s data related to supply chain and production operations, employees, customers or production assets, it typically exists in silos, available only to specific teams. These disconnected systems prevent a holistic view and understanding, translating into lost opportunities for efficiency, innovation and service. In addition, manufacturers often rely on an array of different machines and systems to produce their goods, and each machine produces data about itself and the work it’s doing. If they don’t leverage this data to generate actionable insights, manufacturing businesses are missing opportunities for exploring predictive maintenance, eliminating workplace safety risks, integrating AI or ML capabilities into their manufacturing lines or simply gaining real-time visibility into globally distributed shop floors.
Solution: Organizational agility through data-driven insights
With Microsoft Dynamics 365 acting as a repository of critical business data, manufacturers can leverage connectors to unify data, break down silos and improve data visibility for the people who need it. In addition, manufacturers can implement RPA and automation capabilities to reduce repetitive and burdensome tasks and gain predictive maintenance capabilities, knowing when machines will fail before they actually do. Manufacturers can even create a “digital twin” of their manufacturing lines, representing them identically but in virtual form. This enables global manufacturers to gain visibility and insights into factory floors everywhere at a moment’s notice. This real-time data availability ensures manufacturers are always aware of their factory productivity and can even tie in customer needs globally and locally to ensure production is properly aligned. For manufacturing workers, this means greater insights into the manufacturing process through digital dashboards and even virtual experiences through Microsoft HoloLens, and improved collaboration by integrating Dynamics with Microsoft Teams.
Embrace the future of manufacturing with Avanade and Microsoft Dynamics 365
Modern ERP is redefining the way manufacturing businesses operate in the digital age, and at the heart of every organization is the workforce that makes things happen. With Avanade’s industry expertise and recognized leadership in Microsoft Business Applications Services including Dynamics 365 and Power Platform, manufacturers can empower their employees with insights, training and collaborative tools to make smarter decisions, drive business performance and deliver personalized customer-centric products.
Ready to learn more? Join our virtual “Microsoft Manufacturing Digital Forum: Rethinking manufacturing to empower operational resiliency and agility” co-hosted with Microsoft, and be on the lookout for more of our guidance to help you rethink ERP and beyond.