Enterprise resource planning software grows smart and data-aware
ERP Industry 4.0- As with so much else in manufacturing, enterprise resource planning (ERP) software is a byproduct of the Third Industrial Revolution. Where electronics began transforming manual lathes and mills into CNC machine tools some 60 years ago, so too have computers and information technology given us CAD/CAM, ERP, PLM, and so much more. At the risk of sounding like Captain Obvious, all of this has changed how we work, share information, and, most importantly, make things. What’s not so obvious, though, is where the industry is headed.
Terms like cloud computing and big data have begun creeping into the manufacturing lexicon, leaving many to react as our great-grandparents did upon seeing the first vacuum tube: “What the heck is that?” Whether you’re comfortable with technological change or not, however, it should be clear to everyone by now that the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and Industry 4.0 are poised to disrupt manufacturing as we know it. Both will give shops more information, improved decision-making capabilities, and greater visibility into their processes than ever before. Both will also make manufacturing far more complicated, but at the same time easier and more productive.
Continuously Improving with Data
The question then becomes, how exactly will ERP systems handle big data? Will traditional data collection and manufacturing execution systems disappear in the face of smart machine tools and interconnected systems? And what tools will ERP providers offer to shops wishing to harness the IIoT? These are all excellent questions, and if you’re ready to take the next step forward, there’s also some good news: you’ll have plenty of advice, starting with some predictions from Rose of Sharon DeVos, continuous improvement consultant with Global Shop Solutions Inc., The Woodlands, Texas.
“ERP systems like Global Shop Solutions already have the infrastructure in place to accept data from many different inputs, then use that data to drive increased productivity and visibility into different areas of the company, whether it’s scheduling, inventory, finances, or other areas,” she said. “Industry 4.0 will improve all that. Instead of employees performing manual data input, this activity will be both automatic and in real-time, saving valuable time. Data quality will also be better, with the granularity needed to see where and when certain events are happening. Not only will people be able to make better, more timely decisions, but the machine tools, people, and software systems will all be part of a big, data-based ecosystem. That’s the ultimate value behind Industry 4.0 and the IoT.”