Why Manufacturing Companies Must Consider Business Intelligence

Bhagyashri Kambale | 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.

Final Words

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


Switch Lighting

SWITCH® Lighting, is the maker of best-in-class LED light bulbs, has announced the nationwide availability of their latest LED bulb, the award-winning SWITCH infinia™, the top-performing LED bulb in the general use category for residential and commercial applications. The infinia is currently available in both 40 watt and 60 watt-equivalents, with retail pricing for the 60We as low as $11.99. Like the original family of SWITCH LED bulbs, the infinia has a lifetime warranty. The bulbs can be found at commercial distributors, lighting showrooms, and numerous retail stores nationwide. The SWITCH infinia is ENERGY STAR® certified, which could reduce prices to as low as $3.99 or less in areas with utility rebates.


Multi-Channel Inventory Management: A Guide to Assured High Returns

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.

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How to Boost Your Manufacturing Sales: 5 Ideas to Consider by C-level Execs

Article | April 29, 2022

Manufacturing sales occur when a manufacturer sells their finished goods, which are produced from raw materials or components. At the very least, that was an apt definition before industry 4.0, digitization, and consumerization. Manufacturing sales nowadays must accomplish a great deal more. Smart manufacturing technologies accelerate innovation across all verticals, and manufacturers are making every effort to meet B2C expectations. In this article, we'll look at five great ways to enhance manufacturing sales, so that manufacturers may get back on track with stalled sales deals. 5 Tips to Boost Your Manufacturing Sales Develop an ‘inbound' Sales Mindset Most salespeople have a reputation for being pushy. How frequently have you felt compelled to acquire something that wasn't appealing to you? If you answered yes, you've probably dealt with an outbound salesperson who was pushy, interruptive, and purely focused on selling. This happens when a manufacturer suffers from 'product-focused selling syndrome.' In this case, the salesman places a stronger emphasis on the products than on the customer. Additionally, you risk showing the wrong product to the customer without knowing anything about the buyer. If you do so, you are following an outdated method that needs to be replaced. Here comes the truly unique concept of inbound manufacturing marketing. Inbound marketing outperforms outbound sales methods in terms of lead generation and has the potential to generate more productive leads. Select a Customer Relationship Management Solution Spreadsheets are backdated, and the world has gone digital. It would be best you adapt as time changes. It is possible to understand one's business requirements and choose the best CRM system that will help streamline processes and deliver results faster. Regardless of your business size, the ideal CRM software may help you maintain a competitive edge by helping you to: Track all customer interactions Maintain control over sales and marketing activities Ensure that existing clients have a positive experience Increase product and service sales Streamline communication between the sales and marketing departments Acquire and retain new customers Align Your Sales and Marketing Teams According to a Forrester study, 43% of CEOs said that misalignment cost them revenue. To increase sales, your marketing and sales teams must work in unison and collaboratively. Spend time developing interactions between these teams; it will ensure that your marketing team's efforts are actually assisting your sales team in closing business. Additionally, ensure that face-to-face time between teams is facilitated, and consider adding solutions that will assist your workers in working together and communicating more effectively. The purpose of integrating your marketing and sales teams is to foster complete transparency and a shared knowledge of their respective goals and objectives. One team cannot function effectively without the other, and keeping this in mind would help everyone to grow the business. Boost Your PR with Social Media Manufacturers should invest in PR to build brand awareness and communicate stories. Social media can help broaden your PR reach. It's best to post press releases on your company's website and then share them on Twitter and Facebook. This will help your SEO and encourage others to share your material. Make sure your website page has a “share this” option for easy syndication. Also, many manufacturing companies are not utilizing their company websites to their full potential. Using websites has a competitive advantage as it helps to enhance consumer loyalty and sales. Make an Online Interactive Product Catalog Having a PDF download of your product catalog is insufficient in today's digital age. Businesses want a catalog of products that customers can search for, explore, and analyze online. Products should not be merely posted on a page, but should be integrated into a true product database, allowing for the electronic distribution of particular product listings to prospective buyers via a link or social media. This shortens the sales cycle and provides better support for your sales team as they present products. Demonstrations of products via video would be an extra bonus for any business transaction. Final Word Manufacturing sales are influenced and shaped by market conditions, industry-specific variables, manufacturing type, and distribution mix. Manufacturers may respond to these problems and develop agile and sustainable sales strategies for the future by leveraging digital sales solutions and industry 4.0 technologies. Manufacturers can retain margins, increase customer happiness, and most crucially, grow revenue through digital manufacturing sales. A customer-centric approach prepares producers for the future of a commercialized B2B market. FAQ What are manufacturing sales? Manufacturing sales are intended to provide raw materials that can be turned into finished products to meet market demand. What are direct sales? Direct sales do not involve any intermediaries. Manufacturers or producers sell directly to B2B customers. It's a good cost-cutting strategy because the producer retains complete control over marketing, sales, and shipping. What are indirect sales? Indirect sales allow manufacturers to quickly expand their sales networks, increase brand recognition, outsource sales operations costs, and reach new consumer groups or market sectors.

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Key Types of Warehouse Management Systems and Examples

Article | February 10, 2022

Employing Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) is the most effective method of streamlining and simplifying warehouse operations. Expanding businesses with immeasurable stock require well-designed warehousing systems that automate and precisely track all warehouse operations. “Trade isn’t about goods. Trade is about information. Goods sit in the warehouse until information moves them.” - C. J. Cherryh The system that enables you to track everything in your warehouse, from inventory to staff activities, is the ideal example of a warehouse management system. In this article, we'll look at three different types of WMS and the criteria to consider when selecting the best WMS for your warehouse. Additionally, we will examine some examples and a comparison to assist you in selecting the best WMS. Types of Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) Standalone A standalone warehouse management system is the first of the list of WMS types. It provides features that make day-to-day warehouse operations more efficient. Companies may use these systems to track and regulate the flow of goods in and out of warehouses. This also simplifies complex warehouse operations such as receiving, put-away, replenishment, expiration date tracking, cycle counting, slotting, packing, auditing, and shipping. Standalone warehouse management systems may also include advanced features such as cross-docking and advanced analytics. Supply Chain Execution Modules WMS systems are a subset of supply chain management systems (SCM). Software for supply chain management may be used to handle everything from vendor relationships to corporate operations to risk assessment. Its primary objectives are to automate inventory management, material procurement, and product lifecycle management. These warehouse management systems demand investment in supply chain planning tools with warehousing expertise. This is a popular option because it enables 3PL organizations to explore the substantial advantages of SCM. Combining WMS with other apps enables a high level of integration across various segments of the organization. It enables complete supply chain management, unlike standalone systems that focus exclusively on warehousing. Integrated ERP ERP is a complete software solution that integrates multiple systems' features. It includes applications for supply chain management, accounting, customer relationship management, human resources, and more. ERP is a solid choice for companies wishing to enhance their software systems. Businesses aspiring to stay ahead of competition and boost ROI should consider this powerful supply chain execution system with scalability. Warehouse management is not just a key component of integrated ERP systems. This must be kept in mind while purchasing ERP software. Make sure the system you select has warehouse management features. This form of warehouse management system is expensive. Due to its wide scope, ERP may replace many other software programs and consolidate activities. If you're unsatisfied with existing software solutions or wish to integrate them into one system, ERP may be the ideal alternative for you. WMS supply chain modules and ERP integration allow warehouse management as part of a platform with greater capabilities. The first choice is whether to invest in a specialist WMS or a hybrid offering. The answer is based on your company's size and objectives. Pointers to Consider While Selecting a WMS Functions: Each WMS performs a distinct function. Certain WMS are tailored to particular types of businesses. Therefore, it is vital to know what you want and select accordingly. Cost: It is the second critical factor to consider when selecting a WMS, keeping in mind the financial aspect. The cost of a WMS is determined by its complexity and the functions it provides. Customer Needs: If you are using a WMS, it is important to be aware of its shortcomings. Based on that, you may determine customer needs and pick WMS functionalities to provide the best service. This point is about selecting and considering WMS functionalities from the perspective of the client. Warehouse Size: WMS complexity grows with warehouse size since bigger warehouses require more features. So you must pick the functionalities based on the warehouse size. Warehouse Management System Examples NetSuite WMS NetSuite is a cloud-based suite of enterprise resource planning and accounting modules that is available in a variety of versions geared towards various client sizes. The multi-country, multi-currency edition is available as a separate module named OneWorld. NetSuite is known for its easy end-to-end functionality, which spans sales estimations through customer collection, as well as its end-to-end workflow management capabilities. NetSuite connects with shipping providers to provide unified order processing and fulfillment tracking, as well as a comprehensive audit trail. Additionally, inventory and payroll administration, human capital management, financial planning, and revenue management are some other functions available. Additionally, NetSuite may be integrated with CRM and e-commerce platforms. While NetSuite's comprehensive suite of services is geared for medium-sized firms and enterprises, a system tailored to the needs of smaller businesses may be constructed. Because it is modular and highly adjustable, the cost of implementation varies significantly based on the buyer's requirements. Features Pros Cons Mobile RF barcode scanning Easy to use It comes with some ERP features but not an effective ERP solution Mobile Cycle Counting Offers guarantee Certain key business operations (e.g., sales tax/VAT) are absent Returns authorization receipt Contact information is visible Warehouse map Has third party plugins Order management Wireless warehousing Barcode tracking Thorough standard reports Shipping management Excellent at tracking financials and budgeting Workforce and load management Handle multiple business units Fishbowl Inventory Fishbowl is inventory management software that is suited for small to medium-sized businesses, particularly those who use Quickbooks. It functions as a robust asset tracking tool that enables users to manage assets, goods, and stockpiles more conveniently and efficiently. Because Fishbowl and Quickbooks are integrated seamlessly, they share the same information, which enables you to receive a more comprehensive and precise picture of your company's warehouse health. This also translates into thousands of dollars in savings because adopting Fishbowl ensures that your initial investment in Quickbooks is protected while gaining the benefits of integration. Features Pros Cons Integration with QuickBooks Offers free trial It comes with some ERP features but not an effective ERP solution Integration with QuickBooks Sales and buy orders can be generated in any currency It comes with some ERP features but not an effective ERP solution Generate work orders Provides many plugin products Doesn’t support native shipping and e-commerce module Inventory and asset tracking across locations On-premise installation is not available Real-time inventory updates Pick, pack and ship items New barcode creation Default and custom reports 3PL Warehouse Manager 3PL Central is a cloud-based solution. It has a contemporary user interface and clever workflow functionality. John Watkins and Nancy Rohman launched 3PL Central in 2006. They were operating/having their own warehouse at the time. As a result, this system was developed by warehouse management professionals. The 3PL warehouse manager comes with multiple features that are ideal for smooth businesses. 3PL warehouse manager is a software solution designed for small and medium-sized teams. It includes a variety of essential features such as real-time data, order management, product rotation/shelf life management, inventory management, and reporting and analytics. Features Pros Cons Barcoding/Serial Tracking Easy to expand the system This system needs training to operate Product Rotation/Shelf Life Easy to expand the software For small warehouses/organizations. Reporting & Analytics User-friendly Lack of support Picking & Packing Value for money Third Party Plugins Effective and useful to scan barcodes Wireless Warehouse Workforce/Load Management Real-Time Data Order Management WMS Comparison Table NetSuit WMS Fishbowl Inventory 3PL Warehouse Manager Overall User Ratings 4/5 4/5 4/5 Ease of Use 4/5 4/5 4/5 Value for Money 3.5/5 4/5 4/5 Ideal Customer Size Small, Medium, Large Small, Medium, Large Small, Medium, Large Free Trial Not available. Free product demo is available 14 Days Not available. Free demo is available Best Features Strategy definition for put away and picking up. Offers multiple plugins and multi-currency conversions. Centralized management for multiple warehouses and customer data. Pricing Starting from: 499.00/month Pricing model: Subscription Starting from: $4395.00 Pricing model: One Time License Not provided by vendor. Connect with the service provider for pricing Final Words The industry of warehouse management system software is brimming with alternatives. Buyers seeking the finest WMS must first analyze their business needs and then shortlist the WMS. You may use the points mentioned above to choose the best WMS for you. Of course, the examples provided in this article are not extensive, but they are the finest. However, examine your requirements carefully and select the appropriate WMS. FAQ What is a good WMS? A good WMS must have these nine qualities: maximum functionality, ease of use, complete transaction management, flexibility, useful, easy-to-read metrics, seamless ERP integration, proven track record, and value for ROI. What is the main goal of warehouse management? The main goal of any WMS is to assist in ensuring that goods and commodities are moved through warehouses in the most efficient and cost-effective manner possible. What are the warehouse types? There are different types of warehouses, such as distribution centers, public warehouses, private warehouses, bonded warehouses, climate-controlled warehouses, and smart warehouses.

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AGV ROI Starts with a Delivery Commitment

Article | January 4, 2022

So much emphasis has been placed on features, advantages, and benefits; too little attention has been paid to delivery dates. The best automation solution on paper means nothing if it cannot be delivered in 2022. Selling the sexy sizzle of new, clever, even remarkable AGVs means nothing if manufacturers and distribution centers cannot take delivery of the product until 2023. Throughout industrial manufacturing and distribution the lead time from many AGV manufacturers is more than a year. That means product ordered in Q1 2022 will not be delivered until the following year. That is an absurd lead time and reflects poor planning and unnecessary supply chain constraints.

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Switch Lighting

SWITCH® Lighting, is the maker of best-in-class LED light bulbs, has announced the nationwide availability of their latest LED bulb, the award-winning SWITCH infinia™, the top-performing LED bulb in the general use category for residential and commercial applications. The infinia is currently available in both 40 watt and 60 watt-equivalents, with retail pricing for the 60We as low as $11.99. Like the original family of SWITCH LED bulbs, the infinia has a lifetime warranty. The bulbs can be found at commercial distributors, lighting showrooms, and numerous retail stores nationwide. The SWITCH infinia is ENERGY STAR® certified, which could reduce prices to as low as $3.99 or less in areas with utility rebates.