Manufacturers are experiencing a global slowdown with a current output at just 3.4% in 2017. The main culprits are international politics and the increase in nationalist governments which are creating uncertainty and limiting trade.

While some manufacturers have adopted a wait and see attitude, there are those that are taking advantage of existing opportunities through innovation to differentiate themselves in the market. According to a PWC report, “2017 Industrial Manufacturing trends”, innovative manufacturing companies in a variety of sectors are already doing this by adopting new technologies.

In this blog, we explain how the investment in technology can increase productivity levels and decrease operating costs, giving manufacturers a competitive edge in a challenging business environment.

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Smart Factory-the future for manufacturers

In its report, PWC recommends investing in the right technology platforms to support further investments. By adopting innovative technology, manufacturers can expect to become more efficient, producing better products and sharing information more effectively, thereby improving the supply chain.

Supporting this assertion is the concept of “Industry 4.0”, the fourth industrial revolution, according to a Forbes article. Industry 4.0 introduces what has been called the “Smart Factory,” in which cyber-physical systems monitor the physical processes of the factory and make decentralised decisions. The physical systems become an Internet of Things (IoT), communicating and cooperating both with each other and with humans in real time via the wireless web.

The Smart Factory is the future for manufacturers who want to create greater efficiencies and lower costs. Examples of Smart Factory technology include developments in cloud computing and smart sensors. Devices and sensors assimilate and share big data to generate greater insights, directly impacting production, quality, customer service, research and development. This will serve to help manufacturers outpace the competition.

Taking advantage of Industry 4.0

PwC’s report lists six ways in which manufacturers can take advantage of Industry 4.0:

  1. Leverage data and analytics – Soltius has an analytics team that works with clients to get the right insights from their data
  2. Innovate pricing – Use IoT to connect machines and equipment to pull live data feeds and provide greater visibility of production in real time, and use predictive analytics to determine future trends. Use data pulled from IoT to innovate your pricing model to be more competitive while keeping healthy margins
  3. Develop strategic partnerships – Invest in long term strategic partnerships with innovative organisations such as SAP and AWS to leverage the best in breed, next generation technologies and ensure your investments are future-proofed.
  4. Mine operational data – Find new ways to use IoT to extract better data from the field so that more informed decisions can be made. Move beyond traditional reporting on existing data to using predictive analytics to look into the future.
  5. Decide what intellectual property to share – When investing in ERP systems, do your due diligence and choose a system from a trusted provider with a strong global reputation, such as SAP’s S/4HANA. Your ERP will form a core part of your business and either drive you forward, or hold you back. You should be able to deploy your ERP system on premise, or in the cloud.
  6. Create strategies for talent development – Invest in applications such as SuccessFactors that enable you to align staff motivations with business strategy, and attract and retain the best talent.


Get your foundations right

While it’s easy to get excited about the opportunities that IoT provides, it’s important to remember that your organisation needs a capable and robust database and software that underpins the innovations. In other words, it’s important to get the foundations right first.

At Soltius, we believe that S/4HANA is the ideal foundation on which to build your smart factory concept and manage the flows of data from your IoT stack.

Soltius leads the market in implementing SAP’s next generation ERP system, S/4HANA, on premise and in the AWS cloud. Our most recent case study, involving Ballance Agri-nutrients, a fertiliser manufacturing organization, highlights the value in deploying SAP S/4HANA as the foundation for the next wave of innovation.

Read our Ballance case study for more detail.

By partnering with an SAP expert like Soltius, your manufacturing company will make a seamless transition to a Smart Factory, giving you the tools to take your business to the next level despite external constraints. Interested? Get in touch with us here!