Manufacturers are used to operating in challenging circumstances – whether financial, economic, political or competitive. And it's a good thing since the coming years seem likely to be as uncertain as those following the global economic crash.
But manufacturing will have an excellent opportunity to thrive because, like many sectors, it’s experiencing the dawn of a new era: Industry 4.0. Here automation, large-scale data and analytics blend with the internet of things and cloud computing to create an integrated, efficient system of virtual and physical manufacturing processes.
Industry 4.0: expensive challenge or revolutionary opportunity?
Industry 4.0 helps firms drive efficiencies and provides a new and exciting opportunity to optimise performance, even to differentiate around quality. Furthermore, because these new models make it far easier to connect individual processes, they also make it far easier to collect, integrate and analyze data across the manufacturing operation for far deeper, richer and, importantly, real-time insights into quality.
In fact, at manufacturing conferences this past year, one common theme rang out: How can manufacturers improve visibility across their value chains, gaining rapid insights and using them to optimise processes and performance?
It will be difficult for manufacturers to compete on price as they grapple with fluctuating European and global demand – but they can compete and differentiate on the quality of their products.
Quality: only a holistic approach counts
At SAS, our 40-year heritage of developing advanced analytics is helping manufacturers of all shapes and sizes transform quality -- and maintain profitability. However, ours is an end-to-end approach. It’s no longer enough for quality to be housed in discrete centres of excellence. What’s the point in assuring quality throughout the production line when erratic processes within your distribution channels drive up customer returns? That's just one example of the many ways limited insights into quality issues can negatively impact profitability.
Can you hear what your business is telling you?
Instead, SAS has developed an analytical approach that may be deployed at various stages of the lifecycle. Those stages include:
- What the customer says (voice of customer)
- How the product evolves through the manufacturing cycle (voice of product)
- How all the information you capture throughout your business can affect efficiency and productivity (voice of process).
The approach for each stage is designed either to work independently or to link seamlessly to one another to create what we call the quality-connected enterprise.
I’ll talk more about those ‘voices’ in my next blog. What’s really crucial is that our approach of delivering intense visibility into quality around the manufacture, launch and servicing of assets is fully realised. And it’s making a significant impact on profitability for many of our customers by achieving all manner of results, from reducing production waste to informing precision marketing.
Right product, right market, right quality
Lenovo, for example, saved face, not to mention millions of dollars, using our sentiment analysis on their ‘Lenovo Early Detection’ (LED) program to spot and rectify an issue customers were talking about on social media regarding a pre-release product.
Using SAS, Lenovo has had double-digit improvements in their response time and repair reduction rates. The company protected sales and demonstrated that theirs is a brand that collaborates with its customers on product development. Priceless!
Look out for my next blog post, where I’ll be explaining in more detail how you can become a quality-connected enterprise and what this will do for your profitability. In the meantime find out more about achieving excellence in quality.