Before discussing the future of manufacturing software, it’s imperative to first understand where it’s evolved from. Over the years, organizations have implemented countless purpose-built systems and applications, generally to resolve a specific set of issues. Given the breadth and complexity of today’s manufacturing operations, it’s common for there to be hundreds of disconnected solutions in a given company, each dealing with a specific functionality such as scheduling, quality, production execution, maintenance, and so on.
Manufacturing may be known as the place “where the rubber meets the road,” but that doesn’t necessarily mean that organizations are getting the most out of their production operations. In fact, as I discussed two weeks ago, a considerable number of operations have difficulty with realizing the full potential that manufacturing can generate. While this can happen for a multitude of reasons, in my experience a main culprit can be a misalignment of detailed goals between manufacturing and a company's broader business objectives.
In the first post of this series, which was written on Apriso's Manufacturing Transformation Blog, I described a common problem many manufacturing companies face today, the lack of a robust IT platform for orchestrating end-to-end business processes. As was shown in my real world example, many companies have some maturity in areas like ERP or PLM, but this does not necessarily extend across the entire value chain. In fact, there are often major gaps in manufacturing, quality, distribution, sales, and service.