There’s a saying when it comes to American football: Games are won during the prep time between Monday and Saturday, not on the field Sunday. Understanding the opponent and creating a strategy or scheme to combat that opponent actually has more value than how the players perform or the events that happen during the game. And the same is true for today’s manufacturing landscape and how planning and production strategy are the most important aspects of a successful production cycle.
There are a number of tools manufacturing companies have at their disposal to help solidify planning and production strategy at the front end of the production cycle. Procurement. Resource allocation. Job allocation. These are valuable in helping companies chart an accurate course for efficient production based on market and customer demands. But while these safeguards in demand planning give manufacturing companies some level of insight and maneuverability in responding to alterations in rules or restraints in production programs, many of the most significant events or occurrences in today’s global manufacturing supply chain happen in the moment and without much warning or advance notice.
Though manufacturing companies go to great lengths to deploy intelligently-planned production programs and transportation strategies to ensure on-time delivery and customer satisfaction, such a variant-rich industry with a wide variety of network partners means companies are often playing catch-up in responding to breakdowns, bottlenecks, or other planning and production hurdles.This is where the value proposition of real-time truly shines in an integrated supply stream. Whether you’re talking about planning strategy, material procurement, job or facility allocation, or warehouse and container management, real-time insight into the supply pipeline via intelligent solutions and software can be the saving grace for planners and managers in leveraging efficiency and productivity.
The development and adoption of real-time capability provides manufacturing companies with the flexibility necessary to compete in a variant-rich industry. With all this in mind, let’s examine a handful of ways how real-time enhances planning and production sequences.
Insight into demand and market forces
Real-time information not only allows manufacturing companies to view up-to-the-minute needs from customers around the world, but it also helps them plan or combat any potential slowdowns or bottlenecks across the supply stream. Real-time windows into overall demand can also help companies identify trends or fluctuations in need for component parts and adjust production programs or facility allocations before these fluctuations significantly impact productivity. For example, real-time capability can help a manufacturing company in Germany recognize a downward trend in demand for parts with a customer in Mexico and reallocate materials and resources to adapt to that trend rather than keeping production at current levels with the risk of severe overages in inventory
Efficient job management
Real-time information fosters more accurate, detailed planning capabilities in both the short and mid-term. Because insights into current demand can be viewed and analyzed as they unfold, planners and managers can then use these insights to create better production plans and projects in the near future based on current trend lines. As we’ve discussed in previous entries, better overall planning strategies reverberate through all touch points of the supply stream from transportation management to customer relations. This is why greater planning capability is one of the most important competitive advantages via real-time information platforms.
Accurate reporting and data analysis
Because of real-time information gathering, gone are the days when planners and managers waited until the end of the month or quarter to review data critical to a manufacturer’s productivity and efficiency. Real-time information allows planners and managers to analyze up-to-the-minute data as it becomes available and distribute this data in a cross-organizational way to promote better communication and collaboration. This real-time information also stems from the use of integrated, intelligent solutions and platforms, which eliminates the need for spreadsheets and other manual methods of data entry and management.
Increased production and network control
As we’ve discussed before on this blog, the capacity to administer variant-rich production programs at multiple production sites is a constant juggling act for manufacturing companies. Sourcing materials, designating jobs, balancing inventory, and delivering products on-schedule is made even more complex when working in disparate parts of the world with varying network partners within the regional constraints of where production is taking place. However, real-time gives manufacturing companies enhanced production control to understand the nuances of multiple production streams, anticipate potential disruptions or breakdowns, and combat these disruptions by scaling production as necessary to meet customer demand or client agreements.
Enhanced customer satisfaction
If a manufacturer has the ability to review the state of their supply situation as it’s unfolding, make adjustments to strategies and planning platforms in the moment, and react to sudden changes in the supply stream at a moment’s notice, it stands to reason this will result in enhanced customer relations and satisfaction. Real-time information provides companies with the ability to create more accurate production timetables and delivery schedules, which in turn drives a more positive outcome when it comes to acquiring and retaining customers.