Manufacturing transformed: Microsoft Dynamics 365

The future of manufacturing will be defined by the quality of investments companies are making today

In the not too distant past, efforts in manufacturing to optimise productivity and increase customer satisfaction were viewed as separate endeavours. Today, the convergence of physical and digital trends is disrupting these kinds of assumptions.

Manufacturers today care about integrated digital and physical systems, improved visibility, increased efficiency, additional flexibility, and lower costs. They want to connect equipment and factories, leveraging data from the factory floor to the customer call centre to improve every aspect of their operations.

The Microsoft vision for supporting digital manufacturing embraces the seismic shifts in the industry today. Microsoft has created solutions that provide a unified and flexible approach across front office and production floor processes. Their approach enables transformation in six ways.

Optimise supply chain operations through better visibility and collaboration.

By collecting, integrating, and visualising global supply chain data worldwide, manufacturers gain better visibility into their operations from production to sales. For example, one of the world’s largest industrial automation firms found that by automating the collection and analysis of data from remote installations across the petroleum supply chain, they strengthened their competitive advantage with a faster time to market. Improved access to supply chain data is also the basis for better collaboration across production, supply, service, and sales.

Streamline the management of assets, products, and production.

With a consolidated view that unifies process oversight and provides real-time insight, manufacturers can institutionalise efficiency gains and use connected devices to monitor and resolve issues remotely. One leading manufacturer of industrial robots enabled 24-hour continuous uptime using this approach. The additional insights into production and customer usage also allow manufacturers to provide value-added services like ongoing monitoring and proactive support.

Engage customers in powerful new ways.

To deliver personalised and contextual engagement across any channel, manufacturers must provide customers with more visibility and build trust through fast and convenient responses. This engagement approach is built on a combination of predictive analytics, the ability to deliver value-added services at scale, and guided or self-directed service that’s relevant to customer needs. With the implementation of a connected platform for sales through service, a leading home technology manufacturer not only solved potential problems remotely before customers ever felt the impact, but provided custom differentiated offerings based on unique customer usage and purchasing history.

Transform service centres into profit centres

Thanks to the ever-decreasing cost of IoT sensors, sophisticated mobile devices, and cloud-based data aggregation, manufacturers can improve service quality and margins by offering remote monitoring and proactive maintenance services that supplement break/fix support. By more intelligently coordinating technicians equipped with mobile and virtual reality tools, companies can leverage existing expertise and minimise costly engagements. A leading tire service and manufacturing company found that by combining customer records, technician availability, and back-end inventory in a single mobile-friendly system, it could provide a seamless user experience as well as improve its service delivery.

Accelerate innovation for a competitive edge

The best way for manufacturers to pursue innovation is to understand their business more deeply, from customer usage through supply chain sourcing and production. With IoT-enabled parts, assets, and products, manufacturers can gain the insights needed to innovate. Data from connected products and equipment can empower developers, engineers, and technicians to collaborate. For example, teams can identify overengineered or faulty components and track product usage in the field to improve future designs. When a leading information and communication technology company implemented remote monitoring, they decreased time to production as well as accelerated the cycle of innovation using a data-driven approach.

Empower employees to work more effectively

When a company can provide 360-degree views of customer assets and work order history, technicians are empowered by a better understanding of not only the job in front of them, but of other similar and successful field service engagements. This goes hand in hand with empowering service agents to provide instant feedback, using machine learning to find and follow similar cases for successful troubleshooting, and scheduling a visit or evaluation. A leading auto manufacturer wanted to save money by unifying their siloed customer service and customer engagement while providing employees with better tools to understand customer sentiment. To accomplish this, it implemented a system to connect production and project management with their customer relationship management systems to deliver personalized service and recommendations to their customers.

For manufacturers, Microsoft Dynamics 365 ends the artificial divide between CRM and ERP systems and supplements necessary capabilities with rich analytics, embedded intelligence, and the convenience people expect from consumer apps on their phone or tablet. Dynamics 365 unites the front office and the back office with a single end-to-end system for managing every aspect of your business, at the pace and scale that’s right for you. Digital transformation isn’t accomplished overnight and leveraging current investments is a key component of any successful approach.

Source: Microsoft (Bill Moffett) https://community.dynamics.com/b/msftdynamicsblog/archive/2017/05/30/manufacturing-transformed-microsoft-dynamics-365