Planning software shows value

Monzer Tohme, regional vice president, Middle East & Africa, for Epicor Software, explains how planning and scheduling software helps manufacturers keep their customers happy.

The Middle East manufacturing industry and in particular the processing and packaging industry has become virtually unrecognisable over the past 50 years. Manufacturers have been forced to embark on transformation projects and adopt new integrated technology solutions to better service the modern customer.

One such solution is planning and scheduling software. The conduit to managing the shop floor efficiently, this software joins up all parts of a business’s manufacturing arm, allowing companies to utilise resources in a way that optimises performance and profitability.

The software is vital to packaging converters and manufacturers, allowing them to forecast customer demand, and schedule resources such as machines, people, and raw materials based on real-time data. It also allows manufacturers to realise cost savings through reducing wasted time and the amount of unsold stock sitting on shelves in expensive warehouses.

Demanding customers:

Today’s customers are not only becoming increasingly demanding but are also now harder to attract, influence, and retain. This is posing new challenges for manufacturers as they make moves towards a connected future via automation, and robotic assembly.

Whether it’s an enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution to aid the flow of business, and increase communication across a company, or the implementation of a manufacturing execution system (MES) to support the efforts of workers on the ground, and increase productivity, manufacturers are using modern technology solutions daily.

Planning and scheduling software gives manufacturers up-to-the-minute information and suggestions on the raw materials they need and how resources can be used most efficiently. It can predict bottlenecks and issues with orders, meaning manufacturers can take action and rectify potential issues before they cause problems.

Technology transformation The demand for new and more efficient technologies is rapidly increasing, and the line between the digital and physical worlds is blurring in most elements of our daily lives. There is a growing trend for many consumers to purchase greater levels of products online instead of in store.

Manufacturers are experiencing a similar transition with their customers keen to receive the same services they get from internet giants such as Amazon and eBay: the ability to buy online, and have visibility of the delivery timescale upon purchase. These are relatively new demands, and to offer them alongside trends such as mass customisation, manufacturers have to start working smartly. It doesn’t matter whether you are running a make-to-order, make-to-stock, or a just-intime business. Planning and scheduling software needs to be pushed up the list of ‘must-haves’.

Tangible benefits:

Scheduling can provide real business benefits including minimised production time and cost and maximised factory efficiency. However, it’s not just about scheduling the manufacturing process, it’s about ensuring the right resources are allocated for the job, and working in the most efficient way.

For manufacturers wanting to take advantage of what Industry 4.0 will bring, planning, and scheduling is the foundation to build on. With the industry in constant motion, the only way forward is to innovate and evolve. Investing and implementing advanced and scalable technology solutions – such as ERP and planning and scheduling software – will allow manufacturers to see tangible business benefits and positively affect their bottom line.

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