How to Start Designing Your Digital Factory

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The future belongs to digital factories

The factory of the future isn’t just smart; it’s digital. In it, everyone from the shop floor and plant managers to sales teams and the CIO work together to drive out waste, eliminate downtime and capture data to illuminate machine utilization — every cut of every blade or scan of a barcode — to carefully execute the operation’s delicate dance.

What’s surprising (and alarming) is that far too many SMBs aren’t embracing the digital opportunities already right at their finger tips. For example, found that 85% of entrepreneurs see a future in mobility yet 50% haven’t invested in resources to make it happen. Oracle Global Research found that firms lose up to 20% of revenue due to poor customer experiences which digital technologies can address.

The research indicates that it’s time for SMBs to cozy up to digital so they can design smarter factories and facilities. But, the real takeaway from the research is what’s driving lack of digital adoption. If you think it’s technology, you’d be wrong. Technology isn’t the culprit. It’s alignment; aligning the business and its processes to use technology to its greatest good and most competitive advantage. So now that we know the problem, let’s fix it!


Don’t create a digital strategy. (Plus, that’s marketing’s job anyway!)

Create a manufacturing strategy that’s informed and enabled by digital technologies. How do you that? Start with the end in mind. Gather a team and cast a new vision for facility — a digital factory vision.

Doing so doesn’t have to be hard. Pull together a cross representative team of the best and brightest already inside the walls of your facility. It’s also a good idea to draft an expert in the field to infuse the conversation with innovative ideas that your team hasn’t considered. Then have a conversation.

Start with a few of these questions:

  1. How are you capturing the data your machines are trying to communicate? (With this information you could unlock a treasure trove of incredibly valuable data to grow and expand your business.)

  2. What does your quoting process look like? Can you track and follow up to a win or a loss? (Having predictability and reliability in the revenue forecast is critical. With a better line of sight into the quote process, you’ll be able to eliminate manual follow-up and add automatic communications to better influence cycle times.)

  3. Are you promising delivery dates — and meeting them? (This will shed light on process improvements. You’ll quickly be able to see where breakdowns are and how workflows can help you hit your on time goals.)

  4. Who’s spending more time on paperwork than making parts and shipping finished products? What’s the hourly cost of the employee(s) involved? (This will help you quickly uncover a list of tasks to automate. You’ll also see how much not automating processes is really costing you.)


Select an ERP solution (and a support team) fit for today’s business and tomorrow’s growth.

If you’re struggling to answer questions — such as what is the cost of labor and materials for a particular product or where an order is in the production line you’re not at all alone. The sheer speed and volume of transactions demand increasingly time-consuming research via email, voice mail, or walking to the shop floor. And, according to the Aberdeen Group, 97% of leading manufacturers are taking advantage of ERP solutions digitize their operations to over these issues and more.

There’s a lot of ERP solutions on the marketplace. Not all are created equal and those with strong future-focused roadmaps should be on your radar. Here’s a few solutions you might want to consider:

Acumatica; Small- and medium-sized businesses that need flexible, scalable and mobile-friendly tools that connect people with data rely on Acumatica’s Cloud ERP. It links all key business functions for efficient operations, informed decisions and high-impact results. Learn more about Acumatica and its roadmap. You can even request a test drive.

Exact; Exact Business Software is fully integrated in one front- and back-office system across all locations, including business analytics and mobile applications on-premises or in the private cloud. Companies that operate with multiple currencies and internally find this solution the perfect fit. Check out Exact and it’s future-focused roadmap.

SAP Business One; If your operation needs an enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution that gives your business deeper insights, streamlined business processes and better decision-making, you can’t go wrong with SAP Business One. This cloud-based ERP integrates your key functional areas with applications designed to provide a single view of your business. Learn more about SAP Business One and it’s roadmap

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Employ automation to help your team become an army.

No matter the size of your business, automation can allow it to do more at your current headcount. That’s because automation helps the business run the business. Besides reducing cost, saving time, and gaining critical insight. Automation can add increased capability, capacity and real-time communication to your business, making it finally possible for you to focus on what your company does best — make and distribute great products.

Think about it. Your customers already use auto-debit to pay bills, subscription-based delivery services like BlueApron and Amazon Prime to free up time grocery shopping and in the kitchen, and administrative services like Calendly to make meeting scheduling a breeze. These are awesome tasks that have been automated. It’s your turn to automate frustrating, mundane and manual processes in your operation. Acumatica Cloud ERP, SAP Business One and Exact Globe help organizations stop the manual madness.

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Barriers to Digital Entry Be Gone

Adopting advanced tech in a factory setting used to be like climbing Mt. Everest. That also means a host of excuses to not doing so are gone because the technology is far more accessible today than ever before. Products like Exact Globe, Acumatica and SAP Business, along with companion solutions, are here to make the journey less taxing. Add to that phenomenal service from great software and business consulting experts, and firms are within striking distance of creating digital factories to ensure the future growth of their businesses.