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Shop Floor Technology for Manufacturers

Last year, I spoke with countless manufacturers. The vast majority of them are well aware of the skilled labor shortage and they feel big pressure to find answers to the complex problems they face. They are inundated with new shop floor technology being released at an ever-increasing rate. Decision-makers need to understand the actual costs and inefficiencies of the status quo to clearly plot a path forward. 

A detailed cost breakdown of how metal fabricators get from
“metal bought” to “product sold”
is often filled with blind spots and best-case assumptions. 

Usually, I help uncover these costs during the evaluation process. Whenever a company I’m talking with uses dedicated software to track these operations, it makes my job — and their decision-making — significantly easier.

There are easy software solutions and approaches to shop floor technology that enable you to collect data and create more efficiencies that drive your bottom line. Here they are listed in order of importance: 

  1. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP): Firstly, implement an ERP. An ERP is a centralized method of managing facility operations and processes, from production to payroll. This serves as the foundation for your tech stack. 

ERP Recommendations: Epicore, NetSuite, SYSPRO, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business 

  1. Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES): Secondly, add an an MES after you have your ERP set up. This is the next logical step in your tech stack. This software sits on top of your ERP. Shop floor managers to have more visibility and connectivity to the shop with these paperless systems. This helps reduce errors, inform decision-making, and create a single source of truth. 

MES Recommendations: Docket, PLEX, PINPoint MES, and StartProto 

  1. Quality Management Systems (QMS): Then, after you’ve established your MES, you can continue to enhance your digitizing your shop floor by integrating a QMS. A QMS helps coordinate and direct an organization’s activities to meet customer and regulatory requirements and improve its effectiveness and efficiency on a continuous basis.

QMS Recommendations: Dot Compliance, ETQ Reliance, Intellect QMS

  1. Supply Chain Management Systems (SCM): Finally, add an SCM to your tech stack. You can manage the flow of goods, data, and finances with a supply chain management (SCM) system. You can oversee from the procurement of raw materials to the delivery of the product at its final destination. 

SCM Recommendations: Blue Yonder, Oracle, Manhattan Associates

Equally important, schedule a demo with whatever system you are considering. It is always great to look at 2-3 options before making a decision. Additionally, make sure it integrates with other programs already in place so that you can build a stack that makes sense and continues to add ease and efficiency to your shop floor.

John Paradise is an electrical engineer by trade, and a problem-solver at heart. As an account executive at Path Robotics, he is focused on helping manufacturers thrive.