A turf war over how to capture performance data has started in the manufacturing industry—and companies are having to make a choice: is it better to rely on a broad-based system or several best-in-class specialist systems?
Lean and Smart Manufacturing systems have risen the ranks in popularity in the last few years and use data to create insight, visibility, predictability, traceability, and automation. Overall, they help run factories and enterprises far more effectively.
With these trends, Large ERP and MES companies are broadening their offerings to capture a larger share of the market and introduce new Lean and Smart technology to manufacturers. Even giant companies like Google, IBM, and Amazon are entering the manufacturing improvement market with their Augmented Reality and AI models.
As manufacturers invest in Lean Manufacturing and Industry 4.0, they will be faced with the pros and cons of purchasing a broad-based system versus several specialist systems. As they understand their advantages and disadvantages, this information can help guide their choice on which system model is better for their business.
Pros and Cons: Broad-Based Systems
One benefit of broad-based systems is that their individual components and functionalities are said to be well integrated. There is also no opportunity for “finger-pointing” when things go wrong. The core system functionalities may also get better quicker due to the deeper product development resources of a larger company that can be spread over more installations.
However, there are several drawbacks to a broad-based system. One disadvantage is that the suppliers are typically very familiar with one or a few aspects of the whole solution, for example ERP, and much less competent in other functionalities such as Manufacturing Execution.
There may also be a tendency to use the system as a “one-size-fits-all” solution, reducing the ability to customize systems to make them work optimally in the unique environment of each factory or enterprise. The inability to customize these systems can hinder productivity and eliminate the opportunity for businesses to implement specialized technologies that could be highly beneficial to their unique business.
Pros and Cons: Several Best-in-Class Specialized Systems
On the other hand, the benefit of implementing several specialized systems is the opposite—it is not a one-size-fits-all solution and can be easily adapted to fit the needs and strategies of a unique manufacturer. Additionally, manufacturers can hand-pick technologies that they feel are best equipped to handle the unique challenges of their enterprise and with which they are familiar, which can increase productivity.
That said, the probability of success in any manufacturing improvement system is not limited to its product capabilities and ease of use. It also depends on how well the product’s value proposition supports each customer’s unique needs, and how quickly the factory personnel embraces its implementation. There are often new specialized technologies that are worth implementing because of the unique benefits they can provide your company, even if the factory personnel is not currently familiar or comfortable with them.
Manufacturing improvement systems, by definition, involve change. Human nature tends to be skeptical of change, and in most companies, there are people who prefer to stick to the status quo. Too often, because larger and more complex systems take longer to implement, they may be perceived as more intrusive, creating push-back among the people it affects. But systems that don’t fully accommodate the business’s environment and goals further exacerbates the problem and reduces the chances of meeting its desired outcomes.
There are obvious benefits of using several best-in-class, narrowly focused systems over a broad-based system, but an additional solution is wise to also implement: seamless data sharing. Data sharing can allow your personnel to more easily embrace specialized system technology. And while it may seem that data sharing and integration between different branded systems may be tricky due to lack of standards, modern software makes data sharing very doable as long as suppliers are willing to invest in engineering time.
To learn more about data sharing integration, take a look at VersaCall’s manufacturing communication systems and how they can help your business get the most out of your specialized systems.