Understanding the real value of technology in manufacturing
In the competitive and quickly evolving manufacturing sector, how can you grow your business, while managing risks and costs and boosting profitability?
The manufacturing industry has always been competitive. Since the days of the first industrial revolution, manufacturers have always sought to improve on processes and products in a way that gives them a competitive advantage. Whether it is the task of fine-tuning the production process or the challenge of keeping costs down, manufacturers have always explored how they can do things better than their competitors.
Being an industry driven by customer demand and technology, manufacturing is constantly evolving to keep pace with demand. And as manufacturing businesses grow to a certain size, globalization becomes a factor. Interacting with the world offers lucrative opportunities – a higher demand for products and sources of cheaper raw materials could make significant improvements to the supply chain.
Globalization can also mean complex challenges – a crowded global market means more competition and a rapidly accelerating rate of change. To stand out manufacturers need to be able to compete with low cost overseas competitors, taking control of data for better customer insight is key – it will enable manufacturers to anticipate customer demands and become more agile.
Delivering the right product, at the right time and at the right price requires manufacturers to take total control of their product development process, from initial design to final production. Use of specialist technology will help shorten the time-to-market for products, improve product quality, and increase customer satisfaction.
The advent of the digital age has certainly helped many manufacturers with addressing some of these challenges. New technologies are helping manufacturers to meet the challenges of today’s business world, helping them to accelerate collaboration and reporting, providing real-time insight into costs and operational performance, and enabling companies to make smarter and faster business decisions.
Better business management – better business
Technology to manage resources can be of great help to manufacturers, supporting businesses to enhance efficiency, diminish costs, increase sales and profitability but most importantly, enable the organization to make accurate, informed and strategic decisions. It can be a real game changer, helping manufacturers meet the evolving challenges of today’s business world.
According to a recent Forrester report, manufacturers can realise up to 218 per cent return on investment (ROI) within four months by implementing effective business management solutions. The report also found that, as well as receiving significant ROI within a short amount of time, manufacturing organisations reported strong improvements in: financial management; purchasing; sale management; inventory management; and customer service.
Next generation business management systems will enable a company to optimise the end to end manufacturing process – including production planning, project management, process scheduling, compliance, and mobile supply chain management, whilst reducing overall total manufacturing costs.
Revolutionising the way a business works, removing much of the heavy-lifting and mundane tasks that can slow down productivity, stifle flexibility and inhibit growth can be a game changer. Whilst improved visibility between the front to the back office will lead to better insight and improved decision making across key company operations.
In today’s competitive business world, manufacturers cannot afford to be inflexible or static. Consumer demands are dynamic and adopting the right technology could be the difference maker in the challenge of meeting these needs and achieving loyalty.
An investment worth making
Next-generation business management solutions take the complexity out of running a manufacturing business, simplifying operations to allow enterprises to grow faster and stay agile. With minimal IT investment and resources, companies can enjoy rich, integrated functionality to support all core business processes. And they’re easy to adapt to fit unique processes, roles and preferences.
Automated systems and consistent processes lead to time and cost savings, easier collaboration and faster outcomes. Integrated reporting allows regular and real-time operational insights, enabling better, quicker business decisions. The right solution will allow manufacturing companies to consistently deliver and take advantage of new commercial opportunities.
The efficient, streamlined processes that stem from the right business management solutions enable improved productivity and profitability – and accelerated growth.
James Reid is the Vice President of Enterprise UKI at Sage.
Siemens: Providing the First Industrial 5G Router
Across a number of industry sectors, there’s a growing need for both local wireless connectivity and remote access to machines and plants. In both of these cases, communication is, more often than not, over a long distance. Public wireless data networks can be used to enable this connectivity, both nationally and internationally, which makes the new 5G network mainframe an absolutely vital element of remote access and remote servicing solutions as we move into the interconnected age.
Siemens Enables 5G IIoT
The eagerly awaited Scalance MUM856-1, Siemens’ very first industrial 5G router, is officially available to organisations. The device has the ability to connect all local industrial applications to the public 5G, 4G (LTE), and 3G (UMTS) mobile wireless networks ─ allowing companies to embrace the long-awaited Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).
The router can be used to remotely monitor and service plants, machines, as well as control elements and other industrial devices via a public 5G network ─ flexibly and with high data rates. Something that has been in incredibly high demand after being teased by the leading network providers for years.
Scalance MUM856-1 at a Glance
- Scalance MUM856-1 connects local industrial applications to public 5G, 4G, and 3G mobile wireless networks
- The router supports future-oriented applications such as remote access via public 5G networks or the connection of mobile devices such as automated guided vehicles in industry
- A robust version in IP65 housing for use outside the control cabinet
- Prototypes of Siemens 5G infrastructure for private networks already in use at several sites
“To ensure the powerful connection of Ethernet-based subnetworks and automation devices, the Scalance MUM856-1 supports Release 15 of the 5G standard. The device offers high bandwidths of up to 1000 Mbps for the downlink and up to 500 Mbps for the uplink – providing high data rates for data-intensive applications such as the remote implementation of firmware updates. Thanks to IPv6 support, the devices can also be implemented in modern communication networks.
Various security functions are included to monitor data traffic and protect against unauthorised access: for example, an integrated firewall and authentication of communication devices and encryption of data transmission via VPN. If there is no available 5G network, the device switches automatically to 4G or 3G networks. The first release version of the router has an EU radio license; other versions with different licenses are in preparation. With the Sinema Remote Connect management platform for VPN connections, users can access remote plants or machines easily and securely – even if they are integrated in other networks. The software also offers easy management and autoconfiguration of the devices,” Siemens said.
Preparing for a 5G-oriented Future
Siemens has announced that the new router can also be integrated into private 5G networks. This means that the Scalance MUM856-1 is, essentially, future-proofed when it comes to 5G adaptability; it supports future-oriented applications, including ‘mobile robots in manufacturing, autonomous vehicles in logistics or augmented reality applications for service technicians.’
And, for use on sites where conditions are a little harsher, Siemens has given the router robust IP65 housing ─ it’s “dust tight”, waterproof, and immersion-proofed.
The first release version of the router has an EU radio license; other versions with different licenses are in preparation. “With the Sinema Remote Connect management platform for VPN connections, users can access remote plants or machines easily and securely – even if they are integrated in other networks. The software also offers easy management and auto-configuration of the devices,” Siemens added.