Article | June 8, 2022
The International Federation of Robotics predicts that cobot sales will reach $1.94 billion per year in 2028, which is 15.7% of the total market for robots. Collaborative robots, popularly known as cobots, have been one of the most impressive sectors of the robotics industry in terms of market growth. Cobots are designed to work alongside as well as near humans, unlike other robots operating in 4-D environments that require separation from humans to operate securely. In manufacturing, the use of cobots is on the rise because they make workers and businesses safer and more productive.
The Rise to Prominence:
When compared to their human coworkers, these computers may be "taught" to execute repeated jobs and are significantly less prone to making mistakes. Cobots are also relatively simple to operate with minimal training and can usually be set up in a short time span. Cobots also appeal to manufacturers because they are smaller and can move around more easily than traditional industrial robots.
A wide range of cobot types may be wheeled from one industrial station to another swiftly and easily. They are, in most cases, software-flexible, allowing them to be reprogrammed to perform multiple jobs rather than just one. Cobots are also appealing because their naturally safe design eliminates the need for often costly safety attachments, saving both money and factory floor space. With such benefits, as well as manufacturing's preference for flexibility considering high variability, low volume, and short product life, it's easy to see why cobots are so valuable.
Early Adopters of Cobots:
The automobile sector was one of the first to use cobots. University research programs and the General Motors (GM) Robotics Center produced the first cobots in the mid-1990s. These robots were later used by BMW and Volkswagen in 2013. BMW's cobot worked with humans during the door construction process. Volkswagen used cobot to install glow plugs into cylinder heads. Both companies wanted to reduce the physical strain of their workers by having robots perform repetitive and unergonomic tasks.
The use of cobots is no longer restricted to the automobile industry. It has diversified into various other processes and industries.
Good News for Every Industry:
Cobots can be utilized to bring industrial automation to a variety of corporate processes. Each machine can be used for a variety of activities, from fine detail work to palletizing, but some versions are better suited to specific tasks. A business that wants to automate non-load-bearing operations may benefit from a tabletop model like the UR3e, but a larger cobot arm will be able to pull its weight with heavier jobs.
One of the most valuable qualities of cobots for a small firm is their versatility. They can be reprogrammed in a short time to address gaps that arise in nearly any aspect of the business, from palletizing to the production line. The adaptability of cobots is due to one key component: their end effectors.
End effectors, also known as end of arm tooling (EOAT), are an important part of every cobot. They attach to the robotic arm's end and enable it to do specialized activities ranging from tedious tasks like selecting and packing to technical jobs like welding and sanding. Depending on a company's needs, a single cobot could accomplish up to a dozen jobs in a working week.
Following the industry's initial skepticism of this new technology, cobots acquired remarkable traction in entering production lines. The advancement was spurred in part by the buzz around cobots, but it is obvious that the ease of use and versatility of cobots made robotization accessible to small and medium-sized firms. Because cobot development has made a big step forward, one can surmise that it will be used in almost every part of manufacturing in the future.
Article | December 14, 2021
Do manufacturing businesses require Business Intelligence (BI)? The answer is YES. Manufacturing is one of the most data-intensive businesses, producing massive amounts of data ranging from supply chain management to shop floor scheduling, accounting to shipping and delivery, and more.
All of this information would go to waste if not properly categorized and utilized. Scrutinizing and analyzing your data with business intelligence will help you become a more efficientand productive organization. Your organized data can show you where the gaps or inefficiencies are in your manufacturing process and help you fix it.
Many companies simply are not willing to change or think they are done once they make a change. But the truth is technology, consumer demands, the way we work, human needs and much more are constantly changing.
Michael Walton, Director, Industry Executive at Microsoft
BI has the potential to improve the operations of an organization and transform it into an organized one. According to Finances Online research, more than 46% of organizations are already employing a BI tool as a significant part of their company strategy, and according to Dresner Advisory Services research, 8 in 10 manufacturers who use BI for analytics have seen it function successfully.
How Manufacturing Operations Are Improving with Business Intelligence?
As revealed by the BI statistics above, we can see that business intelligence is critical in manufacturing. To further illustrate how business intelligence supports the manufacturing industry, let's look at some of the business intelligence benefits that are making a difference in the manufacturing industry.
Advances Operational Efficacy
While modern enterprises create massive amounts of data, not all of this data is relevant. Today's business intelligence solutions take all of the data from your organization and transform it into an easily comprehensible and actionable format. It enables you to minimize or fix errors in real-time. Additionally, it helps you to forecast raw material demand and assess procedures along the supply chain to ensure maximum efficiency.
Allows for the Analysis and Monitoring of Financial Operations
Business intelligence solutions provide insight into sales, profit, and loss, raw material utilization and can usually assist you in optimizing resources to increase your return on investment. Understanding your cost-benefit analysis, BI enables you to manage production costs, monitor processes, and improve value chain management.
Assists in the Management of Your Supply Chain
Manufacturing companies engage with various carriers, handling these multiple processes can be complicated. BI enables manufacturing companies to have more accurate control over shipments, costs, and carrier performance by providing visibility into deliveries, freight expenditures, and general supplies.
Contributes to the Reduction of Inventory Expenses and Errors
Overstocks and out-of-stocks are substantial barriers to profitability. Business intelligence can assist you in tracking records over time and location while identifying issues such as product faults, inventory turnover, and margins for particular distributors.
Determines the Efficiency of Equipment
Several factors can cause inefficient production. For example, errors with equipment due to improper installation, maintenance, or frequent downtime can reduce production. So, to keep industrial operations running well, one must monitor these factors.
Manufacturers can maintain their machines' health using data analytics and business intelligence. It provides real-time information about your production lines' status and streamlines production procedures.
How Business Intelligence Helped SKF (SvenskaKullagerfabriken) to Efficiently Plan Their Future Manufacturing
SKF is a key supplier of bearings, seals, mechatronics, and lubrication systems globally. The company posses its headquarter in Sweden and has distributors in over 130 countries.
Due to SKF's extensive worldwide reach and product diversity, they constantly need to forecast market size and demand for their products to modify their future manufacturing. Generally, SKF experts developed and kept their forecasts in traditional and intricate excel files. However, the efforts of maintaining and reconciling disparate studies were excessively high. As a result, SKF used require days to generate a simple demand prediction.
Later, SKF integrated its business data assets into a single system by utilizing business intelligence in production. Following that, they could swiftly begin sharing their data and insights across multiple divisions within their firm. They are now able to aggregate demand estimation fast and does not face cross-departmental issues about data integrity for the vast number of product varieties they manufacture.
This intelligent data management enabled SKF to plan their future production operations efficiently.
Business intelligence in manufacturing makes a big difference in the organization's entire operations. Given the benefits of business intelligence in manufacturing, a growing number of manufacturers are implementing it in their operations.
According to Mordor Intelligence, Business Intelligence (BI) Market was worth USD 20.516 billion in 2020 and is anticipated to reach USD 40.50 billion by 2026, growing at a 12% compound annual growth rate throughout the forecast period (2021-2026).
Hence, we may say that the business intelligence is crucial for manufacturing and is booming, thanks to its enormous potential and the numerous benefits it provides to various businesses.
Why is business intelligence so important in manufacturing?
Organization intelligence may assist businesses in making better decisions by presenting current and past data within the context of their business. Analysts can use business intelligence to give performance and competitive benchmarking data to help the firm run more smoothly and efficiently.
What value does BI add to manufacturing?
Business intelligence solutions provide insight into sales, profit, and loss, raw material utilization and can usually assist you in optimizing resources to increase your return on investment. Understanding your cost-benefit analysis enables you to manage production costs, monitor processes, and improve value chain management.
What is business intelligence's key objective?
Business intelligence is helpful to assist corporate leaders, business managers, and other operational employees in making more informed business
Article | December 10, 2021
The benefits of contract manufacturing are triggering manufacturers to utilize it as a strategy to speed up production and increase revenue. According to BCC Research, the worldwide contract manufacturing industry should increase from $2.0 trillion in 2018 to $2.7 trillion in 2023, a 6.7% CAGR.
Given the growing demand, contract manufacturing has a long way to go in innovating new solutions for manufacturers.
As technology takes over and enhances many of the processes we used to handle with manual labor, we are freed up to use our minds creatively, which leads to bigger and better leaps in innovation and productivity.
– Matt Mong, VP Market Innovation and Project Business Evangelist at Adeaca
Let us look at the benefits and concept of contract manufacturing, often known as manufacturing partners in some circles.
Contract Manufacturing: Concept and Benefits
Contract manufacturing is a business model in which a company agreeswith a contract manufacturer to make components or finished goods based on the hiring company's design. In short, it is a business model in which one company hires another company to manufacture components or goods for them or their products.
The following are some of the primary advantages of contract manufacturing that attract manufacturers to adopt this concept and find a trusted supplier to manufacture any product or part of their product without much difficulty.
Cost Efficiency: In contract manufacturing, companies do not have to pay for the facility, equipment, or labor needed.
Resource Allocations: The money and resources saved through contract manufacturing can be redirected towards other company operations.
Faster Lead Times: Hiring a contract manufacturer reduces manufacturing time. This improves market speed, delivery time, and customer service.
Quality Control: Contract manufacturers are likely to have their own quality control processes in place, which allow them to spot counterfeit or damaged products early on.
Advanced Skill Sets: Companies can benefit from the skills they may not possess, but the contract manufacturer does.
Contract Manufacturing Examples
Here are some examples of contract manufacturing companies that offer manufacturing services to other businesses and work on full-service outside manufacturing projects.
Example 1: Kimball Electronics Group
Kimball Electronics Group provides a comprehensive range of electronics manufacturing services, including engineering, prototyping, testing, electronic data interchange (EDI), new product introduction, and repair depot services. Soldering, assembly, reflow, de-paneling, flux application, inspection, screen printing, testing, and rework are all processes used in their manufacturing.
Example 2: Scapa Healthcare
Scapa Healthcare, headquartered in Knoxville, Tennessee, provides contract manufacturing services for medical and cosmetic products. Their portfolio of products includes sunscreen, silicone medical adhesives, and innovative materials. Additionally, the organization provides development, packaging, and logistics services.
Things to Consider While Selecting a Contract Manufacturing (CM) Partner
You need to know how to identify the ideal contract manufacturer for your business to accelerate production and produce high-quality items. Below, we've listed some of the most important things to keep in mind while looking for an outsourced manufacturing partner for your company.
Understanding a contract manufacturer's (CM) capabilities in terms of logistics and fulfillment is critical. Is your potential CM able to meet shifting product demands? How to use the CM's services? You may need one or more services from CM for your product, so always examine their capabilities or develop a list of their services and see which ones are valuable for you.
Knowledge or Prerequisite
A qualified, experienced, subject matter expert CM always correctly understands the requirements and delivers the services as per expectations and within the time frame specified in your production schedule. Always inquire about their qualifications or certificates in the places where your product will be manufactured.
Any contract manufacturing plan must have an agreement or compliance clause. Always inquire about the compliance procedure and thoroughly understand the terms and claws to avoid future issues.
Verify your possible contract manufacturer's personnel count. Is it easy to talk to them? Is labor skilled enough to meet the product's goals? It is critical for large-scale production and production, requiring swift responses. Any work force shortage might cause production delays.
Gear & Expertise
Check for machines and equipment as well as human labor in your possible CM. Many CM lease equipment to complete a project. So always check how the CM will organize the essential equipment for your project. Expertise in using the equipment is also necessary. Verify which machines were used and whether or not professionals were involved.
The CM's location is the main factor to check. Because the CM may have numerous plants, knowing which plant is assigned to your product is essential to knowing every aspect of its production. Also, the assembly location must allow you to visit and inspect the manufacturing between cycles.
Finding a reliable contract manufacturer with solid financial backing and market roots is essential to avoid market scams. However, you must also analyze and solve risk factors like equipment failure, supplier capacity, and unreasonable expectations.
Selection Myths of Contract Manufacturing Partner
Once you've produced a list of shortlisted contract manufacturing partners who meet all of the criteria described in the preceding heading, you can proceed by following the steps below to select the best contract manufacturing partner.
Look for Who is Willing to Invest in Your Business
Incorrect. The objective is to find a vendor prepared to manufacture at a loss. A contract manufacturer's strength is that they can stay competitive and make a profit for both parties.
Focus on Tier 1 CM Partners from the Market
This one is indeed not acceptable. Tier 1 is a financial phrase used to separate large corporations from smaller ones. You want a contract manufacturer who understands your business and your needs. Don't worry about the manufacturing partner's size.
Go Ahead with the One Who Offers the Best Services at the Lowest Price
Trying to get the cheapest quote isn't always the best idea. You should get a quote from your contract manufacturing partner, but the quote may not always reveal the complete story. Cost per unit frequently captures approximately 75% of total supply chain cost. Some contract manufacturers charge the OEM the remaining 25%. Consider the complete picture while selecting a CM partner.
Manufacturers use contract manufacturing to meet their commercial goals. Therefore, contract manufacturing is a win-win situation for both industrialists and contract manufacturers. Finding the proper contract manufacturing partner for your company is not straightforward, but our brief guide can help you identify the right manufacturing partner.
What makes a good contract manufacturer?
The most significant contract manufacturing firms are more than just supply chain partners. They recognize and treat your items as if they were their own, are meticulous in their operations, and are concerned with quality and capital.
What differentiates contract manufacturing from outsourcing?
A contract is a legally binding arrangement. It involves two or more parties. For example, outsourcing is outsourcing some tasks to an outside organization under a contract agreed upon by both parties.
What's the difference between contract manufacturing and licensing?
Contract manufacturing only outsources production phases, while licensing is far more complex. In return for fees, a corporation sells the right to utilize its intellectual property to another company. Licenses are like franchises.
"name": "What makes a good contract manufacturer?",
"text": "The most significant contract manufacturing firms are more than just supply chain partners. They recognize and treat your items as if they were their own, are meticulous in their operations, and are concerned with quality and capital."
"name": "What differentiates contract manufacturing from outsourcing?",
"text": "A contract is a legally binding arrangement. It involves two or more parties. For example, outsourcing is outsourcing some tasks to an outside organization under a contract agreed upon by both parties."
"name": "What's the difference between contract manufacturing and licensing?",
"text": "Contract manufacturing only outsources production phases, while licensing is far more complex. In return for fees, a corporation sells the right to utilize its intellectual property to another company. Licenses are like franchises."
Article | May 18, 2022
Multi-channel selling is a significant component of manufacturing. Modern buyers expect more from their buying experience, and one of them is being able to access different touchpoints to make a purchase. It is a challenge that modern businesses must address. And it all starts with prudent warehouse inventory management. But how can businesses stay ahead of the curve with a complex web of retail, wholesale, ecommerce, and logistics? This is precisely where multi-channel inventory management comes in.
Multi-channel inventory management is the process of managing and keeping track of inventory sold from multiple locations through various selling channels. In this article, we will talk about how smart inventory management for a business with multiple sales channel can increase profits when done right.
How C-Suites Can Unravel the Complex Web of Multi-Channel Selling
When it comes to optimizing and addressing challenges in inventory management, warehouse management software is known to do wonders. But, when a business uses multiple channels to reach out to more consumers, generate more sales, and increase brand awareness, it also merits a holistic strategy.
Management at the inventory level is key to fully unlock its revenue potential in a multi-channel marketplace. When C-levels are looking for ways to optimize operations, inventory management presents a massive opportunity. It is possible to solve many bottlenecks using proven strategies and established information and automation best practices.
“Continuous process improvement by definition is ongoing. A static value proposition is hackneyed in no time.”
Thomas R. Cutler, President and CEO, TR Cutler, Inc.
Loss from Overstocking and Phantom Stocks
Unoptimized inventory allocation is one of the costliest and most common challenges faced by multi-channel businesses. According to research commissioned by OrderDynamics, businesses worldwide lose over $471 billion from overstocking and $634 billion from out-of-stock orders.
As a multi-channel seller, you must ensure that each channel has the corresponding inventory. Not doing so can lead to order cancellations or delays, or unsold stock. All of these can significantly reduce your profit margin.
The Solution: Real-time Inventory Visibility
Giving your warehouse managers the clarity they need in manufacturing inventory management can tackle the problem of overstocking. In addition, inventory management tools update inventory levels in real-time, so they don’t have to keep a close eye on inventory at every channel. Additionally, a synchronized inventory storage system can also help boost productivity and improve customer experience.
Whether you use a periodic or continuous inventory management system, adding automation and integration with other tools will only help in providing clarity and flexibility.
Slowdown in Logistics Due to Unoptimized Warehouse Space
Distributed inventory is another aspect of multi-channel inventory management that can be used to create more traction and profit. Warehouse space is valuable for multi-channel businesses.
With scattered locations and fluctuating demands, it can be difficult to forecast the optimal distribution of inventory across all channels as well as warehouse locations.
According to manufacturing.net, about 20 to 30% of the inventory in a warehouse is obsolete. This clearly indicates the need to fully utilize storage and eliminate hurdles in warehouse inventory management.
The Solution: Supply Chain Forecasting
A combination of automation technologies can be used to build a multi-channel inventory management stack. The first is using demand sensing, an automation technology that uses real-time data to identify and anticipate short-term demand patterns. Sporting apparel giant, Nike has used demand sensing to effectively cut down on lead times by weeks.
Another technology to consider in optimizing your warehouse space is Multi-Echelon Inventory Management, or MEIO. It has a holistic approach where it performs planning, optimization and forecasting across the supply chain. MEIO is also the answer to the scalability of modern multi-channel inventory management that offers comprehensive visibility and efficient rebalancing of inventory in real-time.
Considering that 51% of sellers still lack forecasting software, as per a Zentail survey, the opportunity for C-levels is immense.
Final Thoughts: Getting Impressively High Returns
When done right, optimizing all aspects of multi-channel order management can yield impressive returns. The use of technology in automation and data analytics makes it easier to decode the complexities of a multi-channel operation. A storage and inventory management system may not have all the answers to the profitability puzzle. It is assured to lead to reduced inventory costs, improved performance of the supply chain network, and better responsiveness. This inevitably creates a powerful revenue generating multi-channel business.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can my existing ERP work as multichannel inventory management software?
ERPs like SAP, Netsuite, or Oracle are designed to manage back-office processes and lack the specialization required to manage ecommerce and wholesale processes. Although they come with integrated solutions, their quality may not be up to the mark.
What is the cost of multichannel inventory management software?
While inventory management software ranges from free to thousands of dollars, the base price varies as per functionality. Some software services charge extra depending on the scale, volume, and integrations.
What are the primary techniques of inventory management?
Most manufacturers use three primary techniques to address challenges in inventory management: the pull strategy, the push strategy, and the just-in-time (JIT) strategy.