Discrete manufacturing demands precision, reliability and agility. It is a demanding and complex industry with multiple moving parts and, as Industry 4.0 gains traction and momentum, it is a sector facing significant challenges. As Bain points out in a recent analysis of the industry, it is critical that companies ‘rethink what is possible today’ and focus on technologies that can raise productivity and improve quality, resource optimisation and cost-efficiency.
All these technologies lie within the realm of Industry 4.0 – artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), automation and Internet of Things (IoT), and one of the threads that can bind them all together is an intelligent enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution.
ERP provides the organisation with the ability to embed innovative processes within existing systems and to then leverage these to optimise and revitalise its potential. Plus, thanks to the radical AI revolution, it is now powered by intelligent AI that takes the capabilities of ERP even further.
AI-powered ERP tools are optimising production processes, inventory management and supply chain operations. It also introduces a whole new level of predictive analytics in demand forecasting, quality control and maintenance scheduling. These are intensely powerful tools in the hands of the discrete manufacturing organisation as they can fundamentally transform how you manage your stock, inventory, customer service and product quality.
Microsoft is one of the leaders in this space as the firm recently added AI to its ERP solution. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Copilot, as the new AI offering is called, takes on a hefty amount of the admin burden traditionally carried by manual and time-intensive tasks. It smooths over the bumps in the business process road that even the most well-designed ERP couldn’t completely mitigate by automatically adapting and adjusting core processes through continuous learning.
Using an ERP with relevant and reliable AI embedded within its core, your manufacturing firm can redefine its approaches and become more agile and efficient. For example, AI within ERP can automate routine tasks that have usually been taken on by employees. Modern ERP is capable of shifting the burden of data entry and analysis from the shoulders of people and into the AI-driven system where it can collate, analyse and store the data at unprecedented speed.
This then also translates into real-time decision-making and reporting. The data is analysed and insights are delivered to the right people at the right time, which is essential within this sector for two key reasons. The first is allowing for the C-suite to make informed decisions and meet changing market conditions with agility. The second is real-time decision making within the manufacturing environment which then translates into improved safety and wellbeing and predictive maintenance – both of which prioritise employee wellbeing and deliver measurable cost savings.
Predictive maintenance is a truly powerful benefit for the sector. Downtime from equipment failures is expensive and there is always risk to personnel. However, if your ERP has AI built-in, it can monitor systems for risk factors and potential red flags and notify decision-makers before there is a failure. As AI can learn continuously, these will refine and optimise over time to ensure that teams are provided with relevant information at the right time.
Finally, there is the supply chain advantage that allows companies within discrete manufacturing to forward-plan their stock levels, improve how they engage with suppliers, and focus on advanced demand planning.
The best part is that none of these capabilities are out of reach. Mint has the engineers and the expertise to ensure your discrete manufacturing firm can tap into the power of AI-driven ERP to unify, streamline and advance your business operations.