As a small business owner in the manufacturing industry, you are always looking for ways to optimize your processes and increase efficiency.
The benefits of doing so are extensive. First, automating tasks can help to reduce human error, which can lead to decreased waste and improved quality control. Additionally, automating tasks can help to improve turnaround times and decrease production costs.
These benefits are important for any business, but they are especially important for small businesses in the manufacturing industry. By automating and streamlining their processes, small businesses can stay competitive and keep up with larger businesses. In addition, by reducing waste and improving quality control, small businesses can save money and improve their bottom line.
One of the main ways to achieve these benefits is to enhance manufacturing teams with software solutions that can automate and streamline various tasks throughout the manufacturing process and positively affect your team at each step of the process.
There are a variety of software solutions available that can help streamline and optimize the manufacturing process, from Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) to inventory management. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at how each position in the manufacturing process can benefit from these software solutions.
Let’s dive into how each of these process steps can greatly benefit from software solutions.
Engineering / Design
Engineering and design teams in the manufacturing industry often have to manage a large amount of data, which can be difficult and time-consuming to do manually.
This data can include everything from product specifications to customer feedback.
- Software solutions can help to automate the process, making it easier for designers to manage data and create prototypes. Cloud-based software can help to improve design efficiency by providing designers with easy access to files and data (ie. documentation like 2D drawings or 3D models ) from and have version controls all in one place. Additionally, search functionality can help designers quickly find the information they need, saving them time and energy.
- By using software solutions that automate data management, teams can reduce the amount of time spent on data management tasks, allowing them to focus on designing products that meet customer needs. You should be able to document the lifecycle of an item and all the connections it has to other items.
- Software solutions can help designers to communicate with other team members more easily. This communication is important for ensuring that designs are aligned with the rest of the production process and that everyone is on the same page. By improving communication among team members, software solutions can help to reduce confusion and optimize the design process.
Manufacturing / Production
Small businesses in the manufacturing industry often struggle with maintaining efficient production processes.
Some of the top issues that production teams face include inaccurate forecasting, inefficient use of resources, and production bottlenecks
There are a number of factors that can contribute to this, such as outdated or inefficient machinery, lack of manpower, and insufficient production planning.
In order to overcome these issues and improve production efficiency, small businesses need to implement software solutions that can automate and streamline tasks throughout the production process. A few of the benefits:
- Software solutions allow businesses to create more accurate forecasts based on actual data, rather than relying on estimates. Metrology news was quoted to say “Data driven manufacturing is an approach to production that allows facts and a strict set of manufacturing KPIs to guide decision-making, as opposed to guesses, anecdotal evidence, or ‘gut feelings.’“
- They can help to improve communication between team members, which can lead to reduced waste and improved productivity.
- In addition, inventory management software can help keep track of production materials and equipment, with the ability to move inventory around your factory and to external suppliers, ensuring that the necessary resources are available for each step of the manufacturing process. This can help to prevent delays in production, improving turnaround times and customer satisfaction.
- You can see all items (component parts, raw materials, consumables, etc) needed to produce a particular item, how many you have of them, and where they are, further streamlining the process.
Purchasing / Procurement
One of the top challenges for small businesses in the manufacturing industry is ensuring that they have the correct numbers needed for procurement. This can be difficult because production can be unpredictable and inventory levels can change rapidly.
In order to overcome this challenge, businesses need to have accurate and up-to-date information about their inventory levels and production schedules. As per Deloitte, “Strategic sourcing is becoming more predictive, transactional procurement is becoming more automated, and supplier relationship management is becoming more proactive.” This information is necessary to make informed decisions about what materials to order and when to order them.
Here’s some top benefits of using software that can handle procurement:
- These software solutions can help you manage your inventory more effectively by tracking what products are in stock and when they need to be replenished. Appropriate stock levels need to be maintained to meet production needs without overstocking or running out of necessary items
- Purchasing/procurement software can free up time for your purchasing department with aspects like creating purchase orders and forecasts for demand planning, so they can focus on other tasks, like supplier management or contract negotiation.
- Procurement software can help you find and negotiate better prices with suppliers by seeing all vendors and price breaks, as well as providing data-driven insights into market trends.
- It can be challenging to keep track of supplier performance. It’s important to have a system in place that allows you to track supplier performance so that you can identify any issues early on and prevent them from becoming bigger problems down the line.
With the help of software solutions, small businesses in the manufacturing industry can ensure that they have the correct numbers needed for procurement, making it easier to stay competitive and improve their bottom line.
Quality Assurance / Quality Control
In the manufacturing industry, ensuring high quality products is crucial for customer satisfaction and business success.
- Quality control software can help smooth the document management for QC. This includes managing various tasks such as the testing and inspection processes. This can lead to improved accuracy and consistency in quality control, as well as increased efficiency and decreased waste.
- Automation can free up time for your quality assurance/quality control team so they can focus on other tasks, like root cause analysis or process improvement.
- Quality assurance/quality control software solutions can help you ensure that your products meet all quality standards by providing tools for testing and inspection.
- You can easily catalog the results as high-level summaries that are easily telegraphed around the business for widespread awareness
- Quality assurance/quality control software can also help you identify problems in your production process so that you can prevent them from occurring in the future.
Shipping / Receiving
Small businesses in the manufacturing industry often face difficulties when it comes to shipping their products. This can be due to a variety of factors but includes packaging and shipping restrictions, shipping delays, and incorrect shipments.
Shipping software can help automate the shipping process and alleviate other issues:
- Software can optimize the process by generating labels and tracking orders, by helping you determine the most cost-effective shipping options for each order, look up purchase orders to see if what’s received matches the order, and by providing tools to manage returns and exchanges. This all saves time and reduces errors.
- Shipping software can also provide real-time tracking information so that you can see where your products are at every step of the shipping process.
- Information kept in a software solution can help you avoid shipping delays by ensuring that you are aware of any potential problems ahead of time.
- Software can also help with packaging restrictions by providing guidelines and information on packaging specifications. This can prevent products from being rejected or returned due to incorrect packaging.
- All these optimizations can free up time for your shipping department so they can focus on other tasks, like processing returns or dealing with customer service inquiries.
Shipping software solutions can automate the creation of shipping labels and documentation, which can save time and reduce errors.
Ownership / Management
Ownership of a manufacturing company can be a challenging task. In order to be successful, it’s important for the owner to have a good understanding of the manufacturing process and the needs of the business.
This includes having a clear vision for the future of the company and making sure that everyone on the team is aligned with that vision. It’s also important to be able to make sound decisions based on data rather than intuition. The owner must also be able to manage finances effectively and ensure that the company is making a profit.
With a clear vision, good decision-making skills, and strong financial management, these challenges can be overcome. Also, if you’re still using a spreadsheet to manage everything, it may be time to move on. Check out our post on the benefits of moving beyond spreadsheets.
- Ownership/management software can help automate the decision-making process with quick access to documentation, which can free up time for you as an owner or manager so you can focus on other tasks, like strategic planning or market research.
- Management software solutions can help you run your business more effectively by providing tools for task management, your inventory position, team collaboration, and customer relationship management.
- Software can also help you make informed decisions about where to invest your resources by providing data-driven insights into your business operations including your manufacturing status and performance.
Sales should not be an island out on it’s own, and the right software solutions for your manufacturing company can also help out your sales team.
Aspects like client retention, referrals, and upsells all affect the sales team significantly. Some of the ancillary benefits of software solutions for sales are:
- You can track job and sales order progress. This order management and fulfilment information helps to maintain a positive customer experience and build trust with your clients.
- Manufacturing software can also help you track customer data and preferences so that you can better understand your market and better align your future sales messaging with prospects needs.
- Software solutions allow you to easily see sales history across customers which has numerous benefits from upsell opportunities to further enhancing the customer experience as you have their data at hand.
- Future sales with customers become streamlined as you’re able to see exactly which items a customer owns down to the individual versioned BOM.
Accounting / Finance
Small businesses in the manufacturing industry often face a few unique accounting challenges. First, production can be sporadic and unpredictable, making it difficult to forecast income and expenses. In addition, inventory can be costly and difficult to track, and tax laws and regulations can be complex and confusing.
These challenges can be difficult for small businesses to manage on their own, but with the help of software solutions, many of these challenges can be alleviated.
- Inventory management software can help to track inventory levels and budget more effectively. Additionally, tax software can automate the tax filing process, making it simpler and less time consuming.
- Accounting software can help automate bookkeeping and invoicing tasks. Get down into the details like seeing historical vs latest costs for an item. This can free up time for your accounting department so they can focus on other tasks, like financial planning or tax preparation.
- Accounting software solutions can help you manage your finances more efficiently by automating tasks like invoicing and payments. For example, you can reconcile procurement costs with invoices to then move billing and inventory data into your financial accounting system as needed.
- Accounting software can also give you insights into your financial data so that you can make informed decisions about where to invest your resources.
Overall, software solutions can play a key role in helping small businesses in the manufacturing industry manage their finances more effectively. By reducing accounting headaches and helping to streamline the manufacturing process, software solutions can help small businesses stay competitive and improve their bottom line.
Software solutions that can handle PLM, Procurement, Inventory management, MES (Manufacturing Execution Systems), and QMS (Quality Management Systems) are essential for any small manufacturing business looking to streamline its operations and improve efficiencies.
These solutions offer a variety of benefits for every position in the manufacturing process, from shipping to accounting to ownership. If you’re looking to take your small manufacturing business to the next level, investing in one of these software solutions is a great place to start.