May 12, 2017

Manufacturing PlantManufacturing has conventionally been about maximizing returns by achieving the right efficiency, speed, quality, and cost throughout production. Today though, the agenda for manufacturers has changedwithout really changing. Staying efficient and profitable continues to remain critical, but this alone does not determine success.

A constantly evolving global marketplace, growing demands for customization, and distributed production that goes beyond geographical and organizational boundaries are introducing new dimensions to the manufacturing challenge. Against this backdrop, manufacturers are quickly transforming their business landscape to compete effectively and realize aggressive quick wins along the way.

The last decade has seen technology change the way manufacturers forecast demand, manage materials, design and manufacture products, and even deliver products to customers. Connected factories that offer up-to-the-minute production visibility and allow predictive maintenance are redefining efficiency. Responsive manufacturing processes have reduced costs and the time to respond to changes in demand.

What’s driving these sweeping changes?

All of this is made possible by the collective power of several technologies. Manufacturers are using the cloud and data to ensure seamless communication between man and machine and create an extended ecosystem of vendors, suppliers, partners, and employees. They are using a combination of the Internet of Things (IoT), digital technologies, Big Data and analytics, and artificial intelligence to support constant innovation and agile production to reshape the entire industry.

IDC predicts that within the next five years, 50 percent of manufacturing supply chains will have benefited from digital transformation. IDC also sees data integration on the horizon with 50 percent of manufacturers driving value from connecting supply chains, operations, and services. And the IoT will boost manufacturing productivity by 30 percent through real-time data sharing.

Manufacturers such as GE are taking the lead, bringing its Brilliant Machines campaign to the factory floor to redesign operations by melding physical production with digital technology. Powered by sensor-enabled machinery and connected data across the factory, GE is starting to drive promising levels of efficiency and cost savings. In automobile manufacturing, leaders such as BMW are optimizing supply chains through automation, integrated data across logistics, and more, to deliver automobiles with very short lead times.

There's no denying that the manufacturing landscape has changed dramatically. To make good on the promise of the future while managing the challenges of the day, manufacturers must be prepared to seize business opportunities while ensuring agile, streamlined, and simplified operations. Companies that create quick wins today through digital transformation, with an eye to the future, will position themselves to lead in the economy of tomorrow. We are working with some great companies that are doing just that.

At SAPPHIRE NOW this May, Toyota Material Handling will present how they created a more collaborative business model to deliver better user experiences and speed time to market. Tata Steel will discuss how they unified their ERP systems to drive process improvements, data integration, and efficiency throughout their operations.

Expect to gain great insights on manufacturing technology and business transformation at the conference this year. We'd be delighted to see you at the conference to discuss how going digital can drive success at your business. We hope to see you from May 16-18 in Orlando, Florida at SAPPHIRE NOW.

Akhilesh Tiwari is the Global Head of the SAP Practice at Tata Consultancy Services. He is responsible for driving the business growth and strategic direction of the SAP team – a dedicated group of talented consultants who work in close collaboration with SAP and TCS industry experts to design, implement and execute enterprise-wide projects for many Fortune 500 companies. Under his guidance, TCS has strengthened its long-standing relationship with SAP and delivered market-leading results for clients.