Today, manufacturing represents 17% of global GDP and continues to be a key economic driver worldwide1. Although technology and globalization have transformed the space, giant manufacturing enterprises face quite a few problems on the integration and agility fronts.
Consider a mammoth oil company with more than 1000 gas stations that are not integrated with a centralized system and whose applications are fragmented. Not only is manual intervention the order of the day in the event of network or system failures, there is lack of assured delivery as well. Monitoring is distributed and there are multiple dependencies on interface performance. How can such a company overcome this long list of challenges? By implementing a layered solution that enables collaborative manufacturing!
And how does such a solution actually help? Well, it facilitates collaboration of operations with processes by enabling real time and reliable information flow across the enterprise, thus enhancing process efficiency and optimizing resource utilization. It also offers a powerful web-based executive information system that provides a consolidated view of an organization’s performance, allowing quick response to new opportunities, thus helping the enterprise gain a competitive advantage. The solution framework will vary depending on whether the integration is at intra-plant, enterprise or extended-enterprise level. The collaboration can take one of three forms: data integration, process integration or service orientation.
A leading oil and gas company that implemented a collaborative manufacturing platform benefited in terms of scalability. The solution also helped open up its legacy applications and enabled robust integration, with network and database-related outages not affecting message delivery. Instant e-mail notifications to system administrators in case of network or database related problems rendered the platform user-friendly. Another well-known company in the same sector was able to exercise centralized monitoring and control on Retail Outlet systems and extend its loyalty solutions to customers. The platform also facilitated the provision of a Fleet Management System to retail customers by integrating Retail outlet systems with Head Office.
I am sure this kind of solution can benefit others in the manufacturing space as well: automotive, aerospace, chemicals, consumer appliances, engineering and construction, electronics and even pharmaceuticals. Organizations will be able to meet their connectivity needs with just one solution. They can keep their training and maintenance costs down. Automated handling of interactions and web-enabled remote access will also be possible.
On a broader level, a manufacturing enterprise can enhance efficiency in operational practices as well as improve quality and processes, by adopting a suitable collaborative platform. In a fast changing marketplace, such a solution enables agility and flexibility while also aiding achievement of strategic objectives.
What are your views on such a platform? Do you consider it top priority for organizations? Would like to hear your opinion.