Extending Core Systems To Handheld Devices Allows Flexibilty
Technologies giving competitive edge in the Manufacturing sector
The most significant is mobile technology, and specifically the ability to leverage enterprise systems with mobile clients. In the warehouse in particular, that has allowed us to extend our core systems into areas of our plants that were previously inaccessible. Employees are not tethered to a PC or laptop; they can use a handheld device. Our facilities here in Ripon occupy nearly one million square feet of space, including extensive parts warehousing. Enabling people in the warehouse to interface with SAP on a mobile device allows us to ship a part to a customer that same day even if the request comes in very late in the day. It allows us to be as flexible as possible which helps us meet our customers’ needs.
The second is the ability to have manufacturing machinery connected and self-diagnosing. The technology enables the machines to diagnose and then communicate potential problems with an alert or email, before an operator would notice them and often before the machine itself goes down. We have specialized manufacturing machinery and this technology allows us to intervene before there is an obvious problem, to keep the line running.
A third technology is the ability to extend reporting and analytics to manufacturing equipment. Traditionally that technology has played an important role in our sales and marketing areas. Manufacturing information delivered in real time can make a difference in how decisions are made on the plant floor. All these technologies are about giving us the flexibility and speed to achieve more consistent quality and to better meet the changing needs of our customers.
Technology trends Impacting Enterprise Business Environment and Manufacturing Industry
For Alliance, we have moved strongly into adopting cloud-based software services. This allows us to put capital dollars into R&D and manufacturing rather than into large software system deployments. This shift was started in early 2012, but only recently we have seen a large variety of cloud applications that are mature and robust enough for use in our environment. Now every time a new enterprise application is considered our first choice is to go to SaaS. We like both the flexibility and the dramatic improvement in time-to-deploy that SaaS apps offer us.
Another significant trend affecting us is how communications technology is being incorporated not only into our manufacturing processes but into our products. We make commercial washers and dryers that are wireless-enabled so they can be remotely monitored and managed.