Manufacturing Tomorrow Blog

Wipfli Manufacturing Technology Team Blog

Manufacturing Tomorrow is a regular news service from the manufacturing strategy and technology experts at Wipfli. It’s a short, concise collection top-of-mind trends, strategies, and news we’ve discovered recently.

 

4 Steps to Aligning Product Costs, Profitability, and Pricing

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align-cost-profitability-pricing Costs and profitability work hand in hand, but not all discrete manufacturers leverage the interdependency to improve organizational performance or set optimal product pricing. To do so requires following four key fundamental steps.

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Using Data to Develop Deeper Customer Relationships

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data-for-deeper-customer-relationships A 5 percent increase in retention rate translates to a profit bump of 25-95 percent. Despite these impressive numbers in favor of retention, most manufacturing businesses choose to focus on acquisition instead of using data to drive sales from their existing customer base.

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Increasing Your Company’s Financial Health Visibility

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increasing-financial-health-visibility Starting out, discrete manufacturers can generally stay on top of their numbers, trends and strategies with basic accounting tools, and key decisions generally fall to one person or a small group of executives. As the business grows, so do the financial and administrative responsibilities.

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How Discrete Manufacturers Can Build An Effective After-Sale Revenue Stream

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discrete-manufacturers-after-sale-revenue Manufacturers can expect to capture upwards of 30 percent of their revenue from after-sale service and service-based product strategies in the future. As such, they need to be prepared with an approach that generates new revenue and keeps competitors at bay.

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Six Ways Discrete Manufacturers Can Get the Most from Their ERP System

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discrete-manufacturers-get-most-from-erp To maximize returns on the significant investment of money and time put into an ERP system, discrete manufacturers need to use best practices to, first, determine the best ERP solution for their needs and then get the most from it.

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Finding Efficiencies that Help Reduce Lead Times

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finding-efficiencies-that-help-reduce-lead-times | Photo Courtesy of http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/lead-time-reduction-chart-on-blackboard-gm180744280-24884724 Supply chain delays add significant costs to your process, primarily because you need to carry more inventory than you would without those delays, but also because they can cause a slow order-to-cash cycle.

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Greater Visibility Leads to a More Optimized Supply Chain

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boost-supply-chain-visibility-discreet-manufacturing | Photo Courtesy of http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/ordering-on-line-from-plastic-factory-gm584473348-100051437 Only with broad and deep visibility into all functions across your supply chain—raw materials, suppliers, manufacturing, warehousing, distribution, and customers—will you have the data necessary to extract insights that lead to better processes and better results.

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How IoT Can Improve After-Sale Performance

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improve-after-sale-performance-with-IoT-Technology | Photo Courtesy of http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/engineer-in-the-factory-gm508836700-85466287 Beyond process improvement,there’s even more that can be accomplished using connective technology—like better understanding after-sale maintenance requirements and using data to understand and predict when a product will require service.

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Boosting Visibility Into Your Supply Chain to Improve Performance

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boost-supply-chain-visibility-discreet-manufacturing | Photo Courtesy of http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/female-manager-working-on-tablet-in-factory-gm527045000-92709157 Supply chain visibility continues to be a hot topic because its value to manufacturers can’t be overstated: visibility into a discrete manufacturer’s entire supply chain, from procurement to final delivery, is the best—if not the only—way to profitably grow your business and sustain that growth.

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How IoT Can Help You Develop Deeper Customer Relationships

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deepen-customer-relationships-with-IoT-Technology | Photo Courtesy of http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/manual-workers-discussing-while-using-laptop-at-factory-gm490607422-75285885 Today, IoT is being widely used to improve product design and performance, but there’s also much being done using the same technologies to improve customers’ experiences with enhanced and expanded services. This means that in addition to selling products, manufacturers that leverage IoT technologies can also generate revenue through services.

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Want To Manage Inventory More Effectively? Try An ERP System

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ERP-for-inventory-management | Photo Courtesy of http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/word-mvp-writing-on-golden-sand-background-gm525340103-52854864 Making inventory a priority means putting real discipline behind it. One of the most effective ways to do that is deploying an enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution, which makes it possible for discreet manufacturers to gain more control and reduce inventory costs.

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How The Internet of Things Is Changing The Way Discrete Manufacturers Produce Products

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internet-of-things-discreet-manufacturing | Photo Courtesy of http://www.istockphoto.com/vector/industrial-machinery-and-robotic-arm-wireless-network-gm616891500-107192911 Technologies based on IoT have the potential to drastically improve data visibility and, with the intelligence that’s gathered from all those sensors, improve nearly every aspect of manufacturing. When you capture and analyze the data generated by equipment, systems and people, you’re able to unlock insights that enable you to improve virtually everything you do.

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How Should Manufacturers Develop The Next Generation Of Workers?

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manufacturing-generation-training	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-job-interview/166671683 As more manufacturing employees near retirement, the industry must find ways to attract and retain young people in order to survive. The average age of manufacturing workers today is 40 to 50 years old, according to an article on the Manufacturing Digital website that highlights strategies for developing the workforce of the future.
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Should Manufacturers Use Short-Term Solutions To Fix Legacy ERP Problems

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short-term-software-fixes	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-computer-support/95442592 An article on the CIO website outlines how one company used mobile platforms to develop a short-term solution to address problems caused by its legacy ERP systems. If you have a legacy system and front-end issues, then a mobile platform solution makes sense. However, it should only be viewed as a bridge to get you where you truly need to go.
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Using Big Data To Improve Your Manufacturing Process

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using-big-data-improve-manufacturing-process	| Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-illustration-big-data-analysis-illustration/464848191/ While most companies are good at gathering data and tracking the manufacturing process, they often do very little in the way of analysis. Even fewer use ongoing Big Data analysis for continuous improvement. Although the big Fortune 1,000 companies are way ahead with this technology, smaller manufacturers are also using Big Data to gain an edge.
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How Can Manufacturers Leverage The Industrial Internet?

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leveraging-industrial-internet	|	Photo Coursey of	Depositphotos	http://depositphotos.com/28749939/stock-photo-Excited-contractor-looking-at-laptop-on-blue.html?sst=100&sqc=237&sqm=668&sq=2evsax Using the Industrial Internet, manufacturers can empower employees who are deep in the workplace to make faster, more effective decisions and give them a sense of responsibility beyond just the tasks they've been assigned. Look no further than General Electric to see this technology's potential for achieving efficiencies.
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5 Key Elements Of Analytics To Consider

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key-analytic-elements	|	Photo Coursey of	Depositphotos	http://st.depositphotos.com/1700950/3157/i/110/depositphotos_31574137--Close-up-of-graphs-and-charts-analyzed-by-businessman.jpg Analytics can provide insight into your business and help with making key decisions, but you must know what you’re trying to accomplish. To start, you need to understand the purpose behind using analytics. Are you trying to make a decision, create ideas or validate assumptions? There are five key elements of analytics to consider.
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How Poor Inventory Management Affects Profitability

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Inventory-Management-Effects-Profitability|Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-manager-in-warehouse-with-clipboard/178553819 Profitability and good inventory management are intertwined. If you're inattentive to your inventory, your profit margins are likely to suffer. Learn tips for spotting poor or inadequate inventory management procedures in your manufacturing operation and discover how to achieve greater profitability today.
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How Top Performers Drive Continuous Improvement On The Shop Floor

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shop-floor-improvements	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-large-modern-storehouse-with-some-goods/462238715 In manufacturing, a popular method for measuring performance is overall equipment effectiveness (OEE). But it’s also important to look at how top performers and best practices contribute to continuous improvement in your manufacturing process. Three success factors help set these top performers apart: capacity, capability and desire.
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6 Keys To More Effective Decision-Making

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effective-decision-making	|	Photo Coursey of	Depositphotos	http://static5.depositphotos.com/1029233/444/i/110/depositphotos_4449011-Trying-to-make-a-decision.jpg Effective leaders go through six steps as part of their decision-making process. It's very similar to skiers on a giant slalom who must navigate many obstacles without skipping any. When making decisions, it's important to recognize you're going through a series of stages, and that you must pass through each stage before advancing to the next.
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Are You Getting Enough Insight From Your Big Data Analytics Efforts?

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big-data-insight-analytics	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-business-people-analyzing-documents-in-a/462180515 The challenge with Big Data analytics lies in its name - the data is so big that the truly valuable nuggets of information are often buried too deep. As a post on the Enterprise Irregulars blog sums it up, the data is too thick, and the ability to analyze it is too thin. Learn how to get thicker insight from thinner slices of data.
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Three questions to answer to learn how the Internet of Things could affect your business

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The cloud and manufacturing business The Internet of Things can be a confusing term. The real intellectual property exists in the uniqueness of the sensors or device and how information is shared with others. Answers to three key questions can help you find a new value proposition for your business.
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Emerging Business System Technologies and Trends Impacting the Shop Floor

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Manufacturing First Machine breakdown, and the unplanned downtime it creates, is one of the biggest challenges manufacturers face. But what if a shop floor was “intelligent” enough to predict problems and offer solutions that could be implemented before unscheduled downtime or issues actually occurred?
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A Worthy Challenge: Integrating Your ERP And CRM Systems With Big Data

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ERP-CRM-integration	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-keyboard-with-big-data-button/185880629 Many manufacturers are smart about managing their own data. But when organizations treat ERP and CRM systems as separate IT tools performing different functions, they miss out on the cost savings of integrating them, according to a recent article from SmartData Collective. Combining this information with Big Data poses an additional challenge.
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How Should Manufacturers Improve Information Flow?

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improving-information-flow	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-illustration-abstract-computer-technology/452093413 The way that information flows throughout an organization is a major factor in how efficiently the business runs. Process mapping is a great way to improve information flow. Leverage the knowledge that employees on the shop floor have, use portals to gain better visibility and refine processes as necessary to keep improving.
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The Internet Of Things Vs. The Industrial Internet

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internet-of-things-vs-industrial | Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-composite-image-of-technology-interface/488640953 When machines communicate with each other online, this technology is often described as "the Internet of Things," or IoT. But it's also useful to differentiate between the consumer-oriented IoT and more commercial-grade applications, or the "industrial Internet." As this technology spreads, manufacturers need to make data security a priority.
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Are You Deluding Yourself With Data?

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manufacturing-data-intelligence	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-it-worker-scratches-head-while-viewing-laptop/111874294 Data can be misleading if you're not careful. It's important to think critically about the source and type of data and to avoid jumping to conclusions. An article on the Manufacturing Business Technology website warns businesses against being deluded by data. It can be easy to read too much into data if you don't question it.
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How Should Manufacturers Improve Job Order Scheduling?

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improve-job-order-scheduling	|	Photo Courtesy of	istockphotos A great deal of cost reductions and productivity gains can be made by aligning scheduling, supply chain and machine usage. Trend analysis is critical when it comes to improving scheduling routes and standards. Look for variance when you conduct an analysis. Areas where you see variance should be the first to be targeted for improvement.
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How Do Manufacturers Build Better Customer Relationships?

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build-better-customer-relationship | Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-customer-or-employees-care-concept/176436790 As a manufacturer, you're more likely to keep your customers if you look beyond making and selling products and explore ways to offer additional value. New ways to deepen the customer relationship and grow revenue include providing services and subscriptions that tap into device sensor data, according to a recent article on Manufacturing.net.
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What Kind Of Environments Breed Innovative Thinking?

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innovative-thinking-environments	|	Photo Coursey of	Depositphotos	http://static9.depositphotos.com/1288156/1161/i/110/depositphotos_11615341-Creative-Idea-Concept.jpg Breaking down the barriers that constrain thought is crucial to facilitating creativity and finding innovative solutions in the workplace. People are frequently too focused on what they perceive to be the problem at hand and lose sight of what's really important, according to an article on the BizTimes website.
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2 Keys To Efficient Order Fulfillment

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efficient-order-fulfillment	|	Photo Coursey of	Depositphotos	http://depositphotos.com/12582784/stock-photo-Friendly-woman-with-headset-in-customer-service.html?sqc=86&sqm=94&sq=2e65j1 Manufacturers should evaluate their order fulfillment processes and remove any potential hurdles that could stop or delay the workflow. The keys to increasing order fulfillment efficiency are ensuring that critical information is available at each stage of the process and fostering informal communication across departments.
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3 Tips For Manufacturers To Increase Agility

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increasing-manufacturing-agility	|	Photo Coursey of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-construction-worker-jumping-across-heap-of/75674191 In today’s fast-moving environment, businesses must ensure their production system can adjust to meet changing customer demand. Customers have come to expect a speedy response thanks to advances in technology and processes that brought such conveniences as next-day delivery of consumer goods. Follow three tips to become more agile.
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3 Examples Of Manufacturers That Are Going Green

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green-manufacturing-increasing-sustainability	|	Photo Coursey of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-green-hard-hat/78777745 Manufacturers stand to gain from finding ways to make their operations greener. According to a post on the Manufacturing Trends and News blog, green manufacturing is all about sustainability. There are several ways that companies are going green, which can help to reduce costs and even create new revenue streams.
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When Is Business Intelligence Right For Your Company?

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business-intelligence-value	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-3d-statistics/462990629 While "business intelligence" is a contested and confusing term, BI 1.0, BI 2.0 and now BI 3.0 do reflect a real evolution, according to a SmartData Collective article. Driving this change are technology vendors that want to tap new markets for BI solutions, as well as organizations that see the value in encouraging wider use of these tools.
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How Is Enhanced Mobile Functionality In CRM Systems Changing Sales?

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CRM-mobile-functionality	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-building-site-inspection/119013094 Tablets are increasingly popular with sales organizations, and recent advances mean it's possible to leave the laptop behind and still run full-featured CRM systems and ERP software. While sales reps have used tablets for a while to display products and catalogs, they now also have access to client histories, past orders and analytics tools.
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3 Metrics To Consider When Benchmarking Your Manufacturing Organization

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benchmarking-manufacturing-data	|	Photo Coursey of	Depositphotos	http://st.depositphotos.com/1774770/1956/v/110/depositphotos_19567937-Fictitious-Website-Analytics-Data.jpg When you go see the doctor, he or she might take your pulse, temperature and blood pressure, and those tests can tell you a lot about your health. Similarly, benchmarks can give a kind of personal health assessment of an organization. But it's important to keep in mind that the same benchmarks don't work for everyone.
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Using Business Intelligence To Understand Your Market And Customers

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Business-Intelligence-Understand-Market-Customers	| Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-business-intelligence-word-cloud/477440389 If you're running a company without business intelligence tools, you're probably just sustaining your company or in a market with low competition. In competitive markets, business intelligence is a critical tool for understanding your customers and what they're buying, helping you discover patterns and see how processes are changing.
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3 Tips To Improve Collaborative Problem-Solving

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collaborative-problem-solving Collaborative problem-solving is about getting the right mix of people together and leveraging each individual’s unique set of skills. It must start with a common pool of understanding in which people share similar values of trust, integrity and honesty, and there must be a common purpose or vision.
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What’s The Key To Improving Performance Alignment?

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improving-performance-alignment	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-3d-abstract-metallic-line-with-graph/186312701 Many manufacturers struggle to align the performance goals of each department with the objectives of the overall organization, but it’s worth the effort. One of the major advantages is higher employee engagement, which leads to increased productivity. Improving performance alignment starts with clear and effective communication.
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Create A Culture Of Manufacturing Innovation Using Change Management

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culture-manufacturing-innovation | Photo Courtesy of 

thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-great-idea/466489967 Innovation, by its nature, requires change. And manufacturing innovation requires a corresponding capacity for change, whether you're taking a risk on cutting-edge technology or trying new communication strategies. Companies that lead the market in manufacturing innovation often have a strong change management culture running in parallel.
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Do Your Manufacturing Process Workflows Stifle Human Genius?

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Do Your Manufacturing Process Workflows Stifle Human Genius?	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-business-man-with-gears-and-puzzle-pieces/175346648/popup?src=history When automated workflows fail to align with how your employees actually think and work, effective decision-making and manufacturing innovation are hindered. Too often, the complexity of an ERP system blocks employee intuition. Unlocking the potential of data-driven workflows requires tools that combine software and human multidimensional cognition.
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Improving Profitability With Analytics And Customer Segmentation

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Profitability-With-Analytics | Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-energy-bar/462245421 Different customers are governed by different budget cycles. With good customer segmentation and analytics, you're able to forecast your business and its profitability more accurately. Analytics help you see how products sell across certain customer segments, providing valuable insight into areas where you could make improvements.
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Implementing A New Manufacturing ERP System? 3 Planning Steps You Shouldn't Skip

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3-ERP-
planning-steps	| Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-which-way-to-go/465316135 Is it time for new manufacturing software? Don't be in such a hurry to start that you skip key planning steps in your implementation. Effective planning and change management help keep your company's day-to-day efforts running alongside the implementation project. Here are three planning tips for a smooth transition to a new manufacturing ERP system.
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Want To Increase Productivity? Start Empowering Your Employees

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empower-employees |Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-king-of-the-world/465676475/ Employee productivity and engagement isn't typically boosted by office celebrations and other soft events, an article in Entrepreneur magazine reports. To increase productivity and empower your employees so they feel like they're making a significant contribution, give them the power to take risks, make decisions and offer suggestions.
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6 Ways XRM Helps You Manage Distributed Assets

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Profitability-With-XRM | Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-businessman-holding-money-bag/78775915 When you're dealing with complex distributed assets, you need powerful tools in place to monitor and analyze the asset data. XRM gathers relevant information into one place, making it easier to monitor data points, identify standard procedures and automate routine tasks. Learn six ways to improve how you manage distributed assets with XRM.
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5 Steps To Using KPIs And Dashboards For Problem-Solving On The Shop Floor

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using-dashboards-effectively	| Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-illustration-web-analytics-information-and/490822651/ Many manufacturers provide employees with analytics and dashboards, hoping that the data empowers them to identify issues and solve problems on the shop floor. But a dashboard's usefulness depends on the relevance of the data and whether that data produces meaningful action. Here are five steps for using KPIs and dashboards effectively.
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Why Analytics Is Useless Unless Aligned With Business Objectives

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aligning-business-objectives-analytics	|	Photo Coursey of	Depositphotos	http://depositphotos.com/31419835/stock-photo-Financial-report--statistics.-Future-technology-business.-Holog.html?sqc=25&sqm=2795&sq=2dadb9 An article on the Information Age website says “fast data” technologies can create value because they get information into the hands of decision-makers while it’s still relevant. But it doesn’t matter how “big” or “fast” the data is. To be successful, the data must be aligned with business objectives and strategies.
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Transform Your Management With Agile Manufacturing Values

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Agile-Manufacturing-Values | Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-agile/166098897 Manufacturers tend to focus on the practices aspect of agile, similar to how they might think about "just in time" or lean manufacturing. While there are simple ways to use agile practices to improve teams, improve efficiency and increase synchronization, at its core agile is a management methodology of practices and values.
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3 Ways To Encourage Your End Users As They Learn New Manufacturing Software

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help-
employees-change-manufacturing-software	| Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-
computer-key-orange-change/476125391 Any time you introduce new manufacturing software or a different tactic for workflow improvement, you're asking employees to not only learn a new way of working, but also to stick with it despite the frustrations that often come with change. Here are three ways to get users on board and encourage them during any rough patches.
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7 Keys To Encourage User Adoption Of Your Manufacturing ERP System

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manufacturing-erp-user-adoption	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-smart-young-man-in-hard-hat/178050505 ERP implementations require strong user adoption in order to reach the system's full potential. Manufacturers shouldn't simply bring a vendor in, watch the vendor set the system up and then expect employees to start using it. We outline seven keys to encourage users to embrace your manufacturing ERP system.
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The No. 1 Manufacturing Metric You Can't Afford To Ignore

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Business-Intelligence-To-Monitor-Performance|Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-cnc-lpg-cutting/458861767 When manufacturers use business intelligence to monitor performance, they're often uncertain about the specific numbers or trends they should review. How do you know you're analyzing the right metrics? Learn the single most important measure for manufacturers, and how it uncovers hidden waste and emphasizes collaboration across the organization.
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How To Use Manufacturing CRM Systems For Improving Sales And Profitability

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CRM-Improve-
Sales-Profitability | Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-business-graph-on-
screen/478669219 CRM systems offer the opportunity to do more than just manage your customer and sales information. They're able to improve your manufacturing business and even increase your profitability. When you have access to market share information, the right CRM system is able to identify problem products and regions, and also highlight areas primed for growth.
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Pros And Cons Of Using Robots In Your Manufacturing Process

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robots-in-manufacturing | Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-industrial-robot/481252921/ When a manufacturing process includes a routine movement that occurs repeatedly, the repetitive motion is often a great job for a robot regardless of whether it's high-quality precision or a lower-quality task. Wondering how robots could enhance your value stream? Learn about the benefits and potential drawbacks of using robots in your manufacturing process.
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Overcoming Fear, Resistance And Skepticism With Change Management

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Skepticism-With-Change-Management | Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.co.uk/image/stock-photo-old-and-new-way/453886289 When individuals at your company learn about plans to change the status quo, many are likely to react with cynicism and resistance. While it may seem like they're just being negative, their reactions might be rational and well-deserved. Here are three change management tips for addressing skepticism and building a culture of continuous improvement.
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How Can Value-Stream Mapping Improve Operations?

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value-stream-mapping	|	Photo Coursey of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-business-concept/181514370 Value-stream mapping is vital to helping organizations truly understand their operations and implement lean manufacturing principles. People need to see how decisions are made and materials flow. An article on the Manufacturing.net website shows how film and adhesive manufacturer FLEXcon used value-steam mapping to improve operations.
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Why Lean Processes Shouldn't Be Limited To The Shop Floor

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lean-process-management	|	Photo Coursey of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-textile-factory-manager-using-tablet-computer/158546528 Breaking down departmental barriers is crucial to developing lean operations. According to an article on the IndustryWeek website, a lot can be gained from employees having an awareness of how their actions affect co-workers in other divisions. An end-to-end approach to improving value chains is a critical lean principle.
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How Can Technology Support Interdivisional Collaboration?

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technology-supports-interdivisional-collaboration	|	Photo Coursey of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-illustration-partnership/158503543 According to an article on the IndustryWeek website, headaches frequently arise when one division of a company supplies another division in the same company. It's critical that internal suppliers be put through the same selection process as external suppliers. This also applies in the manufacturing process between work centers.
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Configuration Management: Why It Pays To Take Early Ownership Of Your ERP System

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erp-software-early-ownership	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-chief-and-two-builders-with-laptop/146729494 ERP systems manage extremely complex business processes, as a post on the SmartData Collective website notes. With everything that's on the line with ERP systems, businesses should take the time to get to know them inside and out so they're able to tailor them to meet their needs. The best time to learn is during the implementation.
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Promote A Value-Stream Perspective By Improving Data Visibility

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improving-data-visibility | Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-sky-viewing-machine-with-bosphorus-background/493764883/ Individuals, teams and divisions often focus on a specific manufacturing process at the expense of the overall value stream, but sharing a larger perspective brings production and sales together to reach business goals. A value-stream perspective requires improved communication, data collection and visibility at every level of the organization.
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Top 3 Barriers To Agile Manufacturing (And How To Overcome Them)

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barriers-to-agile-manufacturing | Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-road-closed-traffic-cone-and-warning-lights/160103145 Agile manufacturing prioritizes outcomes and deliverables, rather than activities, which requires many organizations and individuals to change their behaviors. That's why cultural barriers cause many agile projects to fail. The three main barriers to agile adoption are nearly universal, spanning industries and organizations. Learn the keys to overcoming those barriers.
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Improving Your Customer Experience Through Value Stream Visibility

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Value-Stream-Visbility|Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-abstract-ethereal-smoke-rising-up-from-the/187371824 To deliver a great customer experience, you need a clear view across the entire value stream and visibility into the entire lifecycle. XRM gives you a way to share information across different departments and functional areas, helping put the customer experience at the center of your operations.
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Could 'Artisanal Manufacturing' Rejuvenate The Industry?

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artisanal-manufacturing-strategy	|	Photo Coursey of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-engineer-in-nuclear-power-station/dv738021 Small-to-midsize manufacturers should consider delivering what customers want, rather than trying to create a market for products. An article on Forbes.com describes how artisanal manufacturing could reinvigorate the industry by supporting new jobs, sustaining communities and providing consumers with the high-quality goods that they crave.
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Don't Let Inadequate Systems Integration Hamper Your Workflow

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Systems-Integration | Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-silo/480491233 Too often, companies invest time and energy breaking down communication silos at an organizational level, only to have their specialized systems recreate the problem at another level. Whether you're sharing information internally or with vendors, partners and customers, a custom portal is a great tool for communication and workflow improvement.
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Are You Getting The Most From Your BI Initiatives?

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business-intelligence-ROI	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-illustration-growth-graph/457424139 Manufacturers must know what specific information they’re looking for to get the most out of analytics and business intelligence (BI) tools. You need to create specific hypotheses before you’re truly ready to use a BI system. Furthermore, the system should be able to evaluate data based on the unique characteristics of your business.
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3 Advantages Of Using Manufacturing XRM Software As A Development Platform

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XRM-Asset-Tracking-Solution|Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-man-with-binoculars/451822995 Whether you're managing fighter jets or the machines on your shop floor, there are key advantages to developing solutions on an XRM platform. Whereas a manufacturing CRM system manages customer relationships, manufacturing XRM software manages workflow and monitors activity around virtually any aspect of your organization.
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Promoting Continuous Improvement In Your Company Culture

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Promoting-Continuous-Improvement |Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-continuous-improvement/186233448 Many organizations talk about making innovation and continuous improvement part of their company culture, but don't see results. If you want changes to stick, they need to be linked to individual performance. The only way to build a culture of continuous improvement is by driving the behaviors you want to encourage, typically with performance management metrics.
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Demystifying Agile Manufacturing: Concepts, Methodologies And Practices

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demystifying-agile-manufacturing | Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-illustration-question-marks/467696289 Being "agile" sounds like an aspiration for every company, but it's important to differentiate agile manufacturing principles from methodologies and practices. Focus on understanding agile concepts first and then figure out which methodologies (like "scrumming" and "kanban") bring those concepts to life in your organization.
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#6: Know Your Solution Partners [Be a Better Core Systems Buyer - Six Things Manufacturers Should Know]

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CSRP solution partners A CSRP is one of the biggest projects a manufacturer may ever undertake. It's a big investment in time, money and human resources, so it's important to do everything possible to mitigate risks and reduce the likelihood of missteps. Learn how knowing your solution partners can get you on the road to success.
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#5: Know The Work Involved In Implementing A Core System [Be a Better Core Systems Buyer - Six Things Manufacturers Should Know]

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CSRP implementation A CSRP is one of the biggest projects a manufacturer may ever undertake. It's a big investment in time, money and human resources, so it's important to do everything possible to mitigate risks and reduce the likelihood of missteps. Learn how knowing the work can get you on the road to success.
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#4: Know Your Governance [Be a Better Core Systems Buyer - Six Things Manufacturers Should Know]

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CSRP good governance A CSRP is one of the biggest projects a manufacturer may ever undertake. It's a big investment in time, money and human resources, so it's important to do everything possible to mitigate risks and reduce the likelihood of missteps. Learn how knowing your governance can get you on the road to success.
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#3: Know Your Buying Process [Be a Better Core Systems Buyer - Six Things Manufacturers Should Know]

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CSRP buying process A CSRP is one of the biggest projects a manufacturer may ever undertake. It's a big investment in time, money and human resources, so it's important to do everything possible to mitigate risks and reduce the likelihood of missteps. Learn how knowing your buying process can get you on the road to success.
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#2: Know Your Needs, Not Just Your Wants [Be a Better Core Systems Buyer - Six Things Manufacturers Should Know]

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CSRP mitigate risk A CSRP is one of the biggest projects a manufacturer may ever undertake. It's a big investment in time, money and human resources, so it's important to do everything possible to mitigate risks and reduce the likelihood of missteps. Learn how knowing your needs can get you on the road to success.
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#1: Know Your Business [Be a Better Core Systems Buyer - Six Things Manufacturers Should Know]

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CSRP return on investment A CSRP is one of the biggest projects a manufacturer may ever undertake. It's a big investment in time, money and human resources, so it's important to do everything possible to mitigate risks and reduce the likelihood of missteps. Learn how knowing your business can get you on the road to success.
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The Security and Privacy Frontier of IoT

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IoT and Privacy As everything becomes “smarter,” it’s necessary to stay ahead of the security game. While IoT increases the rate of connectivity for industries and consumers, it also poses a security threat that goes hand in hand with every aspect of the Internet where personal data is sent and received.
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IoT: Man vs. Machine

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Internet of things: Man vs. Machine Manufacturers have long recognized the power that comes from aligning people, process, and technology. With today's Internet of Things (IoT), however, alignment gets trickier as more machines and inanimate objects talk to each other than people.
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The Industrial Internet of Things: Exploring the Possibilities

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Internet of Things While most manufacturers have thus far viewed IIoT solely as a strategy for improving operational efficiencies, many are now weighing the growth and revenue opportunities that IIoT may hold. In the spirit of innovation brainstorming, here are a few ways in which consumer-based IoT solutions might translate to serve the industrial side of IoT.
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How To Get More From Your Manufacturing ERP Software

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Manufacturing-ERP-Software-2015 | Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos http:/www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-happy-new-year-2015-businessman-running-with/514438097Expect some exciting improvements to manufacturing ERP software, namely in the areas of integration, functionality and solutions for CRM/XRM capabilities. But while you're getting prepared for the future of ERP software, don't forget about the numerous overlooked features many systems already offer.

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4 Common Mistakes To Avoid With A Global Customer Base

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Global-Customer-Base | Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-two-business-man-shake-hand-silhouettes-city/457819155 Your manufacturing business might be dominating its market segment in the U.S., but don't let confidence turn into uncertainty by taking your business global without careful consideration. Learn four tips to guide your organization as it expands globally and avoid common mistakes.
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Using Dashboards To Improve Collaboration And Communication

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Dashboards-Collaboration-And-Communication | Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-system-integration-concept/465406205 While dashboards offer insight into valuable internal KPIs such as cost of quality and daily production output, they're also great external communication tools. Use dashboards to gather quotes from vendors or to relay shipping information to customers. Learn how to get the most out of your manufacturing ERP system by using dashboards to their fullest potential.
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Rebuilding Trust And User Adoption For Your Customized Portal

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User-Adoption|Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-trust/133828561 If you're seeing signs of a user adoption problem with a new portal implementation, forcing people to use a system that doesn't work is a short-term solution, at best. The long-term solution is to solve the root cause and rebuild trust. That requires the courage to admit that the portal implementation is not going well.
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Are You Doing Enough To Support Your Distribution Channels?

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Manufacturing-Distribution-Channels	| Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-b2b-text-on-blackboard/495384875 Are your manufacturing organization's distribution channels getting the support they need? If you're not supporting your distribution channels, you're not supporting your business. Communicating is key to success, so be proactive in establishing what's necessary to ensure a successful business relationship.
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5.5 Signs Your Portal Design Isn't Working For Your Users

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Portal-Design|Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-illustration-usa-networking/100748265 When you implement a customized portal, strong user adoption is key to success. The ultimate goal is to secure a return on the asset, whether in terms of efficiency, productivity or operational effectiveness. Unfortunately, many organizations encounter poor user adoption, due to problems in portal design. Here are 5.5 warning signs to watch for.
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Safety Stock Essentials For Smart Inventory Management

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Safety-Stock|Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-safe-risky/505304645 When is the last time you audited safety stock levels across your manufacturing organization? If the answer is never, you're making a mistake. Learn why it's critical to proactively assess your safety stock levels to achieve maximum profitability and how manufacturing ERP software is able to help.
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5 Tips For Using CRM Systems To Improve Your Renewal Rates

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Improve-Renewal-Rates | Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-high-level-of-success-succeed/179131234 If you offer extended warranties, preventative maintenance or other types of service contracts, they typically expire after a certain time unless your customers renew them. The key to driving revenue with these services is to always manage these renewals ahead of time. Learn five tips for using CRM to improve your renewal rates.
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Manage Assets More Effectively With XRM

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XRM-Improves-Collaboration | Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-start-up-business-team-in-meeting-working-on/466045639 If your company uses individual spreadsheets to manage equipment and other assets, it tends to produce data silos that hinder collaboration across the organization. One solution is to manage your assets with a platform based on XRM, which brings data into a collaborative environment and improves visibility into processes and workflows.
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5 Change Management Tips For Retaining Your Best Employees

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Change-Management-Tips | Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-blue-ribbons/80614749 During periods of organizational change, it's not uncommon for companies to lose some of their best employees - just when they're most needed. One of the main reasons employees start looking elsewhere is that the changes taking place are poorly understood. Here are five ways to avoid losing your best workers during periods of change.
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5 Essentials For An Organizational Change Check-Up

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Organizational-Change-Check-up | Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-stethoscope-on-laptop-keyboard/163751742 If your company has made internal improvements in 2014, congratulations! Now's a great time to check up on those organizational changes and make sure they remain strong in 2015. While some changes are easier to evaluate than others, having a plan to ensure follow-through is critical. Here are five essentials for your organizational change check-up.
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8 Ways Data Monitoring Drives Manufacturing Productivity

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Data-Monitoring-Drives-Profitability|Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-composite-image-of-businessman-standing-on/485264847 Drive productivity and profitability with data monitoring across a variety of processes in your manufacturing organization. Everything from downtime measurements and labor analysis to back office productivity and supply chain reporting could benefit from more effective data monitoring efforts.
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What's Killing Your Employee Engagement?

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Measure-Employee-Engagement | Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-wellbeign-at-work/452498803 It's a good idea to measure employee engagement through third-party assessments, but it's easy to judge employee engagement by how people react to new ideas, concepts and initiatives. If people tend to be skeptical, reluctant and cynical, you probably have an engagement issue. Until you've addressed these issues, it's difficult to move forward.
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Why CRM Systems Make For Happy Customers And Sales Reps

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Customer-Relationships | Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-portrait-of-a-smiling-businessman-isolated/146774270 In the past, sales reps were largely on their own when managing customer interactions. Today's CRM systems eliminate much of that guesswork in the sales cycle, helping reps communicate effectively and build productive customer relationships. Here are three ways that CRM systems improve the sales process for both your reps and your customers.
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Top 5 Inventory Management Challenges For Global Organizations

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Inventory-Management-Challenges	| Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-warehouse-worker-taking-inventory/78741275 Expanding your manufacturing business internationally is an exciting opportunity, but it comes with challenges, especially concerning inventory management. Everything from culture to taxing regulations and environmental standards may be different than what you're used to, so it's best to be prepared.
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Why Are More Manufacturers Using Dashboards To Drive Decisions?

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Driving-Decisions-With-Dashboards | Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-confused/153464696 Dashboards are a great aid for driving decisions in the manufacturing industry. But the data your dashboards present is only effective when the right people see it and know how that data is generated. Learn more about how to ensure your dashboards are used effectively to drive decisions.
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How To Re-evaluate Your Methodology

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Agile-Practices	| Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-man-throwing-and-catching-currency-symbol/521029607 It's always a good time for CIOs, IT managers and developers to check up on the effectiveness of the IT group's methodology. If your current approach doesn't provide a reliable mechanism for meeting your business outcomes, you might need an agile makeover. Learn four questions that help you identify your team's problem areas.
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5 Technology User Adoption Tips

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User-Adoption-Tips | Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-businesswoman-using-touch-screen-smiling/470658817 As the evolution of technology continues to accelerate, organizations have to handle more changes at a faster pace. This year, these changes focus on increasing mobility through tools that offer anywhere, anytime access and input. In this rapidly changing environment, the company that's able to drive user adoption will come out the winner.
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5 Pitfalls To Avoid When Communicating Change To Employees

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Communication-Change | Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-change-management-flow-chart-marker/178005930 Good communication is essential to successful organizational change. Unfortunately, many organizations settle for poor communication and mediocre follow-through, resulting in employees that approach new initiatives with mistrust, resistance and cynicism. Here are five communication pitfalls to avoid in your change management process.
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The four stages of BI development: Ensuring the highest value

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Optimize your BI data The more questions you can answer, the higher value business intelligence holds for manufacturers. Each stage of BI development offers opportunities to optimize information and clarify the benefits of a BI system. Learn how your business intelligence can work to make the biggest improvements in your organization.
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Business intelligence: Six common mistakes manufacturers should avoid

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Manufacturer business intelligence mistakes Avoid the pitfalls other manufacturers have made when planning and implementing business intelligence. Read what to watch for and learn the best place to start when considering the right BI system for your organization.
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From shop floor to executive suite: Everyone in your organization works smarter using BI

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Businessman and working together in factory As information becomes more available and easier to access, individuals are learning to analyze complex information and make sense of it. BI helps everyone in an organization make better-informed decisions. Learn how to unleash the power of BI for everyone in your company.
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Business intelligence runs on the power of the question

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Business intelligence leads to growth Manufacturers looking for the next "aha" moment turn to business intelligence for answers. BI is the smart path to organizational improvement at every level. Learn why the true power of business intelligence is in asking the right questions.
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Different views of data and how to achieve alignment

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Businesspeople analyzing business data Many manufacturers believe business intelligence starts and ends with sales, profitability, and expenses. But the metrics of good BI should also align with individuals, teams, departments, and business units' performance. See how adherence to a few principles can optimize data and help you find greater insights in your organization.
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How business intelligence leads to understanding the key drivers of your organization

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Business planning for change ahead Successful manufacturers know that retaining and attracting more customers takes a better understanding of how, where, and why the company makes its money. As markets change, business intelligence will play an even more important role in helping business owners gain insight and make smart decisions. Learn how BI helps you understand the key drivers of your business and stay competitive.
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How broadening the definition of business intelligence can help manufacturers leverage sound data and good intuition

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Businesswoman interpreting business data Manufactures have often relied on intuition and good business sense to succeed. Looking toward the future, though, leaders realize they need BI to better understand the key drivers of the business to help the broader leadership team. See how the right definition of BI helps manufacturers prepare for the long term.
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Three reasons for the increasing demand for business intelligence

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Increasing demand for business intelligence Several pressures are driving manufacturers to learn more about business intelligence and analytics. Fortunately, technology and data are not the big mystery they used to be. Learn the three main reasons for the increasing demand for BI.
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How to shine a light on the insights buried in your data

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Shine light on business data Business intelligence technology is now cheaper, the development time is faster, and the tool is intuitive. Manufacturers are eager to unleash the potential buried in their data asset and are ready for the right BI system to help them. Learn how today's BI can help you find the insights to run and improve your business.
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Three signs of data overload in the implementation of the Internet of Things

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Managing data overload Manufacturing continues to move from designing merely mechanical and electrical products to innovating smart, connected devices. Micro sensors and the data stored on them are paving the way to unprecedented capabilities that manufacturers can turn into valuable intellectual property and unique competitive advantages. Is there a limit to the data manufacturers should collect and store? See what you should consider in deciding when enough is enough.
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Three keys to finding a partner to support Internet of Things innovation

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Manufacturing business partners shaking hands As manufacturers continue to weigh the advantages and risks of the Internet of Things (IoT), business owners often wonder if and how they should include partners in new innovation. What can an IoT partner help you do that you can't or shouldn't do alone?
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Three key factors to consider when evaluating the connection to the cloud in the Internet of Things

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Cloud and device functionality The remaking of existing products into smart and connected ones can be overwhelming for manufacturers. Still, the appeal of the IoT has many business owners searching for ways to create new, competitive advantages with current and new innovations. Here are three areas to consider when determining whether the functionality belongs on the device or in the cloud.
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The seven components of smart products to help you prioritize the Internet of Things for your company

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Choosing smart product functionality Today, on-board computers can collect data inexpensively and provide huge storage capabilities. Internet and wireless connectivity can push information to the cloud. We can use the information for our own purposes, provide it to an end user, or share it in an ecosystem. How do you make the right choices in your company for the Internet of Things?
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Should the Internet of Things drive change in your business model?

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Considering smart technology and business model If you're in an industry that seems like it's on the back end of a maturity curve, and you feel you need to change or die, take the plunge. But don't get too enamored of the "bright and shiny" appeal of smart technology before you ask the right questions. Here are a few areas to consider before investing precious resources on the Internet of Things.
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5 New Year's Resolutions For Your Organizational Culture

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Organizational-Culture | Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-businesspeople-holding-jigsaw-puzzle/461149083 Posting mission statements and values on the wall is one thing, but your company culture comes from what you see, hear and feel when you're in that workplace. Some aspects of that experience may not be ideal; every company has culture challenges. If you're ready to improve your organizational culture, consider these five New Year's resolutions.
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5 Ways Analytics And CRM Systems Transform Your Sales Process

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Effective-Sales-Process|Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-sales-funnel-ecommerce-conversion-rate/179239461 The buying behavior of B2B customers is rapidly evolving, and sales organizations are struggling to keep up. Many sales teams could benefit from adopting tools such as CRM systems and sales analytics to better understand the buying process from the customer's point of view. Here are five tips for using analytics to transform your sales process.
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Driving Productivity: Business Intelligence On The Shop Floor

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Business-Intelligence-On-Shop-Floor|Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-businessman-in-factory/78771489 Manufacturing organizations increasingly put business intelligence (BI) tools in the hands of people who are closest to the work, such as those on the shop floor. Organizations are more effective when they bring BI information closer to the people in manufacturing work cells, using technologies like smart work centers and near-field communication.
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Think Before You Buy: Aligning ERP With Your Business Model

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Manufacturing-ERP-System-Selection-Process | Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos hhttp://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-picking-different-apple/467257181 When selecting a new manufacturing ERP system for your organization, your focus shouldn't be on the system's features. Instead, focus on how the ERP system aligns with your business goals. Consider all the key activities critical to your organization's success and make your selection based on what you need to reach your goals.
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3 Ways To Use Manufacturing ERP Software To Improve Employee Collaboration

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Considering-An-ERP-Implementation | Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-illustration-cogs-and-gears/164870928 Manufacturing ERP systems are excellent tools for enabling workplace and employee collaboration. ERP software empowers users with access to the information they need to do their jobs more effectively and efficiently. Discover three tips for leveraging ERP software to achieve greater collaboration within your organization.
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Where To Use Business Intelligence To Improve Collaboration

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Business-Intelligence-Platform|Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-do-androids-dream-of-girls/497200193 When manufacturing organizations introduce a business intelligence platform and don't see the expected improvements, it's often because they're applying these tools in the wrong places. Using business intelligence (BI) to promote departmental excellence isn't the same as using it to improve effectiveness across your entire ecosystem.
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5 Pitfalls That Hamper Lean Accounting Goals

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Lean-Manufacturing-ERP-System | Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-cash-flow/485920721 Successful accounting practices for manufacturing organizations rely on lean principles. Lean accounting is about eliminating waste and streamlining the accounting process by reducing paperwork and human touch, while also realizing when slight variance in process is acceptable. Read more to learn about five pitfalls to avoid.
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How To Implement Financial Processing Best Practices With Your Manufacturing ERP System

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Leverage-Manufacturing-ERP-Software | Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-illustration-vector-erp-system/485476079 Whether you're only operating in the U.S. or have a global presence, it's easy to enforce financial processing best practices with a robust ERP system. Use your manufacturing ERP system to standardize financial best practices in your organization. Doing so enables the visibility and real-time data access necessary to make smart business decisions.
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Get Lean In 2015: Lean Manufacturing Strategies For BI And Collaboration

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Lean-Manufacturing-Strategies-For-BI-Collaboration|Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-illustration-financial-chart-showing-the-credit/122428393 The new year is a good opportunity to evaluate your lean manufacturing initiatives and make sure you have the right strategies and tools in place to support them. Often, organizations hoard data instead of using it to make better decisions. The top priority is getting your BI platform ready to deliver lean information to your users.
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How To Create An ERP Vendor Shortlist In 7 Steps

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ERP-Vendor-Shortlist | Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-workplace-headache/185983980 Too often, companies invest lots of time in researching manufacturing ERP software, but stall out when it's time to make a decision. That's why it's important to have a strategy for quickly narrowing down the possible vendors to a short list, and a plan for how you'll make the decision. Here are seven steps for an efficient process.
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5 Tips For An ERP Implementation That Exceeds Expectations

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ERP-Implementation | Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-implementation-methodology/514379649 Unforeseen obstacles and problems are always a possibility when you're implementing a new manufacturing ERP system. To avoid these pitfalls and stay on course, everyone involved needs to share the same expectations when it comes to timeframe, scope and communication. Here are five tips for an ERP implementation that exceeds expectations.
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Using Customized Portals To Retain Knowledge And Train Employees

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Leverage-Manufacturing-ERP-Software | Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-illustration-vector-erp-system/485476079 Whether you're only operating in the U.S. or have a global presence, it's easy to enforce financial processing best practices with a robust ERP system. Use your manufacturing ERP system to standardize financial best practices in your organization. Doing so enables the visibility and real-time data access necessary to make smart business decisions.
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Assembling A Winning ERP Implementation Team

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Manufacturing-ERP-Software | Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-technical-engineer-concept/469798119 Creating a successful ERP implementation team takes care and consideration, from selecting the best personnel to fostering collaboration and communication. After you've assembled your team, consider how to best support your personnel with technology during the implementation, such as manufacturing ERP software that simplifies the documentation process.
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Is User Input The Secret To Manufacturing Innovation?

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Is-User-Input-The-Secret-To-Manufacturing-Innovation | Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-businessman-hand-show-gear-to-success-as/174367486/ For some forward-looking companies, end users play a key role in manufacturing innovation. In the past, innovation was influenced by a smaller number of customers. Now, it's possible to engage a much larger community, while simultaneously building an audience. The end user helps you figure out what to make - and how to sell it to them.
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5 Benefits Of An Agile, Configurable Manufacturing ERP System

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Agile-Configurable-Manufacturing-ERP-System	| Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-agile/166098897/ Older manufacturing ERP software is often "customizable," with any changes requiring custom coding. But today's ERP systems have become more "configurable," making it easier to tweak the system as your business processes evolve. Here are five benefits of choosing a configurable ERP system and introducing it through an agile implementation process.
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3 Tips For Change Management Success

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Change-Management-Success | Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-timeline-concept-time-to-change-on-digital/465104989 When you're launching new technology or an important initiative, three basic stages require effective change management. While transparency, communication and reinforcement may not always be easy or comfortable, they are essential to successful projects. Learn three tips to improve performance, speed up user acceptance and accelerate return-on-investment (ROI).
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Implementing A Manufacturing ERP System? Avoid These 5 Mistakes

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5-Mistakes-to-avoid-when-implementing-Manufacturing-ERP-System | Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-illustration-businessman-running-away-from-problem/487393913/ Implementing a manufacturing ERP system is likely to require significant time and resources. Mistakes happen, but the last thing you want is to get several months into the project and realize you're headed in the wrong direction. Here are five common mistakes manufacturers make during an ERP implementation - and tips for avoiding them.
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Communication Breakdowns: Is Your Organization At Risk?

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Communication-Breakdown | Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-businesswoman-shouting-to-colleagues-through/160689683 Even though most leaders realize that information sharing is the backbone of their company, some don't take it seriously until it's too late. A communication breakdown often stems from disconnects in two or three areas that just need some tweaking. But they also result from larger problems in an organization's culture and strategy.
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Shaping A Mobile Experience That Drives Manufacturing Innovation

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Drive-Manufacturing-Innovation| Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-production-idea/164114501/ When you adopt mobile technology to help employees work more productively and efficiently, you need to shape the overall experience to support productivity and manufacturing innovation. Some organizations provide company-owned smartphones, tablets and laptops, while others adopt BYOD work environments. Both approaches have benefits and drawbacks.
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Customer-Focused Process Improvement For Manufacturers

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Customer-Focused-Process-Improvement	| Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-time-to-improve/173357713/ All too often, companies lose sight of what should be their core focus: providing value to customers. Applying process improvement methodology to your customer service has the potential to make a huge impact on your organization, from increased sales to lowered turnover. It all starts with analyzing your business through the eyes of the customer.
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Improving Business Intelligence With Integrated Analytics

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Improving-Business-Intelligence-Integrated-Analytics	| Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-illustration-businessman-in-the-office-flat/468204165 When you're using business intelligence tools to make decisions, you want the analytics to provide a holistic sense of your organization's activities. But many manufacturers miss out because their information is split between multiple platforms. And when your analytics only pertain to isolated systems, you're not going to get the whole picture.
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American Business Development: A Guide For Chinese Manufacturers

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American-business-development-china	| Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-handshake-between-united-states-and-china/474474069 Many Chinese manufacturers want to launch operations in the United States, but it's a difficult process. Wipfli has combined its technical experience in the U.S. with the SoZo Group's trusted relationships in China to guide companies through the transition. Here are five areas where Chinese companies benefit from this outside guidance.
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5 Keys To Cross-Cultural Business Development

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cross-cultural-business-development-china-united-states |Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-illustration-usa-and-china-flags-in-puzzle/498681641 Today, Chinese manufacturers are looking to the United States for business development opportunities. As labor costs rise in China, taxes and tariffs are pushing them to source materials and manufacturing closer to their customers. Here are five keys to building mutually beneficial relationships between Chinese manufacturers and U.S. communities.
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5 Ways To Drive Workflow Improvement With Mobile Technology

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Drive-Workflow-Improvement | Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-illustration-flat-vector-illustration-of-web/463634555 From management to the shop floor to customer service, mobile technology is helping manufacturing organizations drive workflow improvement and increase productivity in a variety of contexts. Mobile technology is already starting to save money for some forward-thinking organizations, and has the potential to save a whole lot more.
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9 Hidden Risks And Costs Of Global Manufacturing Supply Chains

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risks-global-manufacturing-supply-chain | Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-abstract-world-connect/454037465 A global manufacturing supply chain may have advantages for U.S. companies, provided you stay alert and factor in hidden costs. Over the last two decades, many of these hidden costs have risen to the surface. Tariffs, taxes and fees come in all forms, so you need to be on the lookout. Here are nine of the most important barriers to watch for.
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The Benefits Of Integrated ERP, MES And Scheduling Systems

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data-integration-scheduling-manufacturing | Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-binary-code-impact/136300536 Integrating your manufacturing ERP, scheduling and manufacturing execution systems (MES) offers tremendous benefits. Not only does integration provide greater visibility into your operation, but you'll be able to offer better customer service thanks to a seamless flow of information throughout your organization.
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How Could Digital Workflows Improve Your Manufacturing Operation?

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digital-workflows-provide-time | Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-abstract-flow-chart/180549896 Use your manufacturing ERP system's ability to run digital workflows to save time and improve your operational efficiency. Any process that requires multiple submissions and approvals from a number of people is a good candidate for a digital workflow. With the right workflows in place, a process that takes days (or weeks) could be significantly shortened.
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Managing Mobile Devices In The Manufacturing Sector

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data-integration-scheduling-manufacturing	| Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-binary-code-impact/136300536 Workplace technology has advanced immensely in recent years. To attract technology-savvy younger employees, you'll have to offer mobile technology. As you outfit your team with smartphones and tablets, make sure you've educated them on the best practices for maintaining their devices and keeping company data secure.
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Manufacturing ERP Systems And Mergers: Which Software Stays?

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integrating-
ERP-systems-merger | Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-four-people-with-
puzzle/185930206/ When manufacturing firms merge, it's essential that management avoids forcing a manufacturing ERP system into a situation where it doesn't fit. Consider the business process needs of the newly formed entity and then decide on the best ERP solution. The key is to have that conversation early and make the transition to a new system quickly.
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Managing Customer Relationships In The Social Media Landscape

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manufacturers-use-social-media-customer-relationship	| Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-illustration-social-media-marketing/154067314 More than one-third of consumers have shared their feelings about a company online, according to a WebProNews article. The state of the customer relationship is shifting rapidly, and manufacturers without an active and responsive social media presence are missing a vital piece of their brand management strategy.
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Is Outsourcing A Good Business Development Solution For Manufacturers?

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build-
relationships-with-customers | Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-illustration-
handshake/474157713 As a recent article in Manufacturing.net points out, an aging workforce and a high dependence on contract labor burden the manufacturing industry. Outsourcing is the perfect business development solution, right? It could be, but only if you trust your outsourcing partner. If there's no trust in that relationship, you're putting your business at risk.
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Are You Taking Advantage Of LinkedIn As A Business Development Tool?

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linkedin-
important-business-development-tool|Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-social-media-
keywords/159079284 As a Sales Benchmark Index post suggests, LinkedIn is a powerful and effective social network. It's not just a place to look at resumes online; it's a business development tool that connects you with your prospects. Manufactures today shouldn't merely have a LinkedIn account; they should make it part of their lead generation process.
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Analyzing The Customer Relationship And Social Media

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manufacturers-part-of-social-conversation | Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-illustration-vector-of-social-communications/178915467 As a post from Enterprise Irregulars highlights, consumers view Facebook, Twitter and other social media posts as a barometer for the quality of customer care a business provides. Manufacturers should start focusing on their online presence and make maintaining healthy customer relationships a top priority.
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Why 20 Percent Of U.S. Manufacturing Jobs Come From Foreign Firms

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us-
manufacturing-funded-by-foriegn-investors	| Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-
photo-global-cooperation/480752613/ A recent report by The Brookings Institution reveals that foreign companies supply 20 percent of U.S. manufacturing jobs. This is a significant manufacturing trend that sheds light on the industry. Nearly 2.2 million U.S. manufacturing jobs are made possible by direct foreign investment. Find out why this is happening.
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Forecasting And Planning: Why It's An Art And A Science

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know-your-
customer-art-science-forecasting-planning |Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-illustration-
global-network/466850679 Forecasting and planning isn't 100 percent predictable for each client, despite all the scientific methods in place to make accurate estimates. As a recent IndustryWeek article points out, forecasting and planning is both a science and an art. Science takes you most of the way, but art fills in the rest of the picture when it comes to accounting for variability.
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Using Trend Analysis And Data Monitoring To Offer The Right Warranty

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monitor-data-for-effective-warranty	| Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-computer-files/187115358 To create meaningful product warranties that don't negatively impact your business, you need data visibility. With the right data monitoring efforts, manufacturers are able to view who's making warranty claims, and track that data across a product line to determine whether to extend the warranty or redesign the product.
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When It Comes To Change Management, Silence Isn't Golden

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silence-not-golden-in-change-management |Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-shut-up-girl/477302455 Any time you make changes in an organization, whether it's implementing new technology or reorganizing departments and personnel, some people won't agree with the ultimate decisions. Disagreement is normal, but effective change management helps keep it from developing into resistance while also bringing more people on board with the new direction.
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Understanding The Human Element Of Change Management

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focus-on-human-element | Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-diamond-eye/180793289 Change management isn't about event management, such as implementing new CRM software or a manufacturing ERP system. It's about managing organizational change at the human level, an article from McKinsey Quarterly explains. Change is about the journey that all the individuals impacted by the event are experiencing.
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Customizing Your Manufacturing ERP System To Provide Role-Based User Access

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tailored-roles-in-erp-software |Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos 
http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-scissors-and-old-manual-sewing-machine/187515804 When software vendors build a manufacturing ERP system, they need to accommodate hundreds of possible scenarios in standardized ways. As a result, the platform isn't usually tailored to your organizationÕs needs. But it is possible to customize the ways in which you access the ERP system, optimizing the user experience based on different employee roles.
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Upgrading Your Manufacturing Software? First, Take A Step Back

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step-back-evaluate-projects-before-implementing|Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-computer-key-evaluate/476220619 When you're introducing new technology or manufacturing software, people get excited about the future state. They focus on what's going to be different thanks to the new system and the benefits it promises. But a successful technology implementation starts with understanding your current state and the steps between where you are and where you want to be.
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Why You Should Approach Change Management Like A Marathon, Not A Sprint

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treat-change-like-marathon | Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos 
http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-people-running-in-city-marathon/456007567 A recent article in Supply Management details the essentials of a successful change management initiative. The key is to use data and facts to explain why change is necessary and help people embrace the transformation. It's also important to approach any change like it's a marathon. Focus on the big picture and don't skip any steps.
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Is Your Manufacturing Software Ready For Mobile?

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tablet-replacing-desktop-manufacturing | Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos 
http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-asian-engineer-man-with-yellow-hardhat-look/493997183 As tablets and smartphones become more common on worksites and shop floors, organizations are realizing there's a competitive advantage in being able to deliver mobile access to manufacturing software and data. But there's more to a successful mobile strategy than allowing people to log into your system from a smartphone.
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4 Steps For Optimizing Pricing And Profitability

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4-steps-Optimizing-Pricing-Profitability | Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos 
http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-teamwork/479213157 When raising prices, many companies opt for a flat percentage increase for all products. But a dynamic, data-driven pricing strategy that integrates transaction data, market research and competitor offers helps you charge what the product is actually worth to a given customer. Here are four steps to get started with optimizing your pricing and profitability.
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2 Threats To Big Projects And Your Profitability

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analysis-evaluation-helps-success-projects |Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos 
http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-illustration-creative-analysis-word/489774291 When embarking on a large project to spur profitability or manufacturing innovation, beware that compared to smaller projects lasting three to six months, these large capital projects tend to exceed budgets on a greater scale and are four times as likely to fail. The culprit is often poor project evaluation, rather than poor execution, according to an article on CFO.com.
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3 Factors For Success When Implementing A Manufacturing ERP System

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success-implementing-erp-implementation | Photo Courtesy of 
thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-hands-hold-puzzles-with-clear-blue-sky-and/453381445 Taking shortcuts often backfires, resulting in more work, and that's certainly true when you're implementing a manufacturing ERP system. Without adequate planning, resources and execution, you're putting the implementation at risk. To successfully upgrade your ERP system, you need three essential factors: people, process and technology.
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What Drives Your Profitability? Cost Centers Vs. Value Centers

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what-drives-profitability|Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos	
http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-coins/490689823 It's easy to identify cost centers that don't drive direct revenue. But what about cost centers that drive indirect revenue, such as your R&D division? With the right analytics and business intelligence, you have a much better understanding of which aspects of your business truly drive profitability and which are just costing you money.
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Workforce Management: Is Focusing On The "Squeaky Wheels" A Profitability Killer?

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squeaky-wheel-profitability-killer | Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-old-fashioned-oil-can/90667390 Perhaps it's human nature to address the "squeaky wheels" first in your workforce, but in business and manufacturing, that's a profitability killer. Most organizations spend too much time on the "squeaky wheels," instead of supporting top performers, reliable workers and quiet achievers, according to an article on PennEnergy.com.
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What Role Does Change Management Play In The Digital Business Shift?

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skills-needed-in-digital-business-shift | Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-education-concept-new-skills-on-digital/463234711 If your company is serious about moving in a digital manufacturing direction, you need to understand what that change means and have a plan for change management. When it comes to making the shift to digital business, or "d-business," a recent Forbes.com article questions whether most organizations are ready to embrace that change.
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Why Delegating Change Management Responsibilities Often Backfires

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delegating-change-management-backfires| Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-laptop-of-a-businesswoman-exploding/179692855 Many organizations are recognizing that change management skills are essential to remaining competitive. And while successful leaders need to delegate tasks, they shouldn't try to hand off their change management responsibilities to a consultant or their staff, according to a recent Harvard Business Review blog post.
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How Does Employee Engagement Drive Process Improvement And Profitability?

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culture-manufacturing-innovation|Photo Courtesy of thinkstockphotos http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-great-idea/466489967 True engagement comes from understanding how you contribute to your organization. Companies that invest in training and engagement efforts are seeing positive impacts on operations and profitability. While engagement itself might be difficult to quantify, it doesn’t need to cost a lot and the results are measurable — and too important to ignore.
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How Could Big Data Drive Process Improvement In Manufacturing?

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big-data-improves-process	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-illustration-big-data/466582229/ A survey highlighted in an article from IT Business Edge reports that nearly half of manufacturers want to use Big Data to improve their product and production forecasts. Smart manufacturers know to look to their data for hidden patterns that could enable better operational efficiency. It's becoming clear that Big Data offers great potential for the manufacturing industry.
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Is Your Manufacturing Process As Lean As Possible?

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lean-process	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-businessman-lunging-while-holding-laptop-and/124817888/ A recent article in IndustryWeek highlights a systematic overhaul that turned an aircraft repair facility into a leaner operation. While this situation was unique, the process improvement strategy behind the change is applicable to any manufacturing organization seeking to make its operation more efficient.
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Process Improvement 101: Start Manufacturing Closer To Home

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business-process-improvement-manufacturing	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-teamwork-of-businesspeople/466959515/ A recent article in IndustryWeek suggests that rising labor costs in China are leading manufacturers to shift their operations to Mexico and the U.S. But the takeaway from the story isn't just about lowering costs - it's about bringing your manufacturing process closer to your consumers, which reduces lead time, environmental impact and more.
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Using Sensor Data To Boost Operational Efficiency

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sensor-data-boost-efficiency	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-cpu-performance-concept/488915713 Sensor data is essential for protecting your assets on the shop floor. With data-monitoring systems in place, manufacturers are able to predict when their assets need service and take steps to reduce downtime. Learn how to achieve even greater returns by taking sensor data beyond the shop floor and into your entire operation.
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Is Wearable Technology The Next Big Trend In Manufacturing Innovation?

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wearable-technology-manufacturing-innovation	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-illustration-smart-watch-features-flat-illustration/492682277/ An array of wearable technology is available for todayÕs manufactures looking to make continuous improvement on the shop floor a priority. Badges that collect data from machines and operators, along with wearable temperature and vibration probes that allow for quick and easy diagnostics, are just the start. In the future, expect even more useful technology.
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Are You Embracing Manufacturing Innovation With Mobile Technology?

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mad_blog_post_image_190 A recent article on Manufacturing.net highlights process improvement steps for manufacturers to equip workers with mobile devices to access company data. To maximize profitability, ensure you have a solid implementation plan. If you do you'll not only attract the best young workers, but you'll keep seasoned employees happy, too.
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Why Are Some CFOs Pushing For Cloud-Based Manufacturing ERP Systems?

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executives-support-cloud-erp	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-cloud-computing-concept-close-up-of-young/480757595 A recent article in IndustryWeek hails CFOs as "technology evangelists" who champion cloud-based solutions for finances. But are technology-championing CFOs moving too fast for the manufacturing industry? Learn about what's motivating many CFOs to consider the cloud and why many manufacturers prefer to keep their ERP data on-premises.
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How Going Green Could Boost Your Profitability

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going-green-boost-productivity	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-tree-piles-of-coins-with-small-trees/481880759 As a recent IndustryWeek article suggests, going green isn't a fad - it's a paradigm shift that's sweeping across every sector of the economy. Consumers want to do business with green businesses. Plus, sustainable, energy efficient design is good for your organization, as it could help to improve your profitability.
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How To Improve Inventory Management With Manufacturing ERP Software

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improve-inventory-management	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-manager-in-warehouse-with-clipboard/177792084 Good inventory management boils down to eliminating excess. Discover how using real-time data from your manufacturing ERP software and pay-when-you-use buying options from vendors enable you to make better inventory management decisions while also lowering your expenditures and increasing profits.
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Use Manufacturing ERP Software To Calculate Your True Profitability

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calculate-true-profitability	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-analysing-balance-sheet-annual-report/492595227 The true cost of doing business involves more than just material costs. There are fixed costs, variable overhead costs, labor costs and much more. Manufacturing ERP software is able to account for each of these costs down to the individual customer, providing you a window to view your true profitability.
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Using Sensor Data And Analytics To Improve Asset Management

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Using Sensor Data And Analytics To Improve Asset Management	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-online-identification-and-security-with/477248759 Today's manufacturers are improving asset management and performance by using sensor data for remote equipment monitoring. Having visibility into asset management helps manufacturers reduce variability and drive continuous improvement. While sensor technology isn't new, the value of different applications is still unfolding.
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3 Signs Your Analytics Platform Is Holding You Back

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Analytics-holding-organization-back	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-stock-trader-talking-animatedly-on-the-phone/90957947/ A good analytics platform has the potential to dramatically improve your manufacturing process and operations. Yet the complexity of the typical manufacturing ERP system tends to discourage employees from taking full advantage of the technology. Learn three signs that your system's complexity is actually hindering your operations.
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Maximize Robot Productivity And ROI With Preventative Maintenance

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Maximize-Robot-Productivity	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-robot-hand/178506276/popup?sq=robot%20productivity/f=CPIHVX/s=DynamicRank Inevitably, robots on the manufacturing line break down or require maintenance. Managers striving for continuous improvement and profitability should find productivity gains through scheduling preventative maintenance on their robots, as well as knowing when the labor cost of repairing highly complex equipment outweighs the machinery itself, according to a recent article from The Economist.
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Visibility Is Vital: Managing Work-In-Progress And Process Improvement

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Visibility Is Vital: Managing Work-In-Progress And Process Improvement	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos When you're managing work-in-progress, it's helpful to differentiate between cooperation and collaboration. With cooperation, the manager gives employees rules and they follow them. Collaborative work goes beyond that, moving from independence to interdependence, and resulting in true process improvement.
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Avoid Conflating Data And Metrics To Make Better Business Decisions

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Avoid-Conflating-Data	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-illustration-abstract-techno-background/164550851/ Avoid the pitfalls that come by confusing data and metrics when making business decisions. Know exactly what information you're assessing and what you're looking to get out of it. According to an article on Manufacturing.net, hard metrics like employee productivity do not mix with soft metrics such as employee morale, and trying to glean meaningful information by a comparison of the two is ineffective.
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How To Protect Your Manufacturing ERP System Data With A BYOD Policy

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BYOD-Policy-Protects-Data	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-illustration-flat-design-concept-of-byod/485076865 Employees are increasingly likely to want to use their personal mobile devices to access company data to do their jobs. A bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy is linked to improved communication and overall productivity gains, but a straightforward and comprehensive technology security policy is necessary for BYOD to be truly successful, a blog post from IndustryWeek reports.
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Conquering the Data Mountain: Good Data Management Within Manufacturing ERP Software

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ERP-software-data-management	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-architect-with-digital-tablet/186662415 Your manufacturing ERP system contains a mountain of useful data, but it's not doing you any good unless the right people have access to it. By training staff on how to fully use ERP software and granting them the proper access, your business's profitability increases.
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5 Steps For Identifying Business Solutions With Optimal ROI

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identifying-business-solutions	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-solution-concept-in-word-tag-cloud/468878751 Successful business solutions must define the value they should contribute to your organization - increasing revenue or margins, business market development, or attracting more talent. Without this clarity, technology is often useless. This five-step method helps you define the key capabilities needed to move your organization forward.
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Roadmap to Technology Success: Don't Forget The Change Management: An Interview with Wipfli Change Management Expert Jeff Wulf

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Wipfli-Change-Management-Webinar Change management expert Jeff Wulf, a partner at Wipfli LLP, and Mark Stevens, Partner, Manufacturing and Distribution Consulting and Technology Integration at Wipfli LLP, recently discussed how manufacturers can improve the success rate and ROI of their technology implementations by integrating change management principles into the project. Join them as they continue the discussion during their webinar, "Roadmap to Technology Success: Don't Forget The Change Management," at 11 a.m. CDT on Thursday, July 10, 2014.
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Do Custom Workflows Improve Your Organization's Productivity?

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custom-workflows-improve-productivity	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-illustration-flow-chart-diagram/159381888 Problems within workflows are often caused by the need for multiple approvals or triggers, leading to excessive queuing and wasted time. By using custom workflows, your operation's efficiency and profitability improves, but be mindful that some processes, such as financial services, are often best managed with a standard workflow packaged within manufacturing ERP software.
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The Latest Manufacturing Innovation: Skilled Craftsmen?

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skilled-craftsmen-manufacturing-innovation	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-engineer-at-electric-power-plant-examining-a/460717941 In the search for efficiency and standardized work, many manufacturers become robotic in their day-to-day operations. These routines create barriers to manufacturing innovation. Toyota is re-examining the need for master craftsmen to drive efficiency and innovation in the manufacturing process, according to a recent article on Manufacturing.net.
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Digitizing Isn't Enough: Process Improvement And Rethinking Work

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digitizing-process-improvement	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-illustration-light-bulb-with-business-graph/466406321 Too many businesses focus on using technology to automate their existing processes rather than rethinking process improvement for a new digital environment, according to an Enterprise Irregulars article. At many enterprises, this results in information being disorganized and walled off in data silos instead of providing value as business intelligence.
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Managing By Metrics? Learn Why You Should Micromanage Processes

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managing-metrics-processes	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-young-businessman-looking-through-magnifying/186917388 If you're managing exclusively by metrics, you're not enabling your employees to be as successful as possible. Although "micromanage" has a negative connotation, an article from IndustryWeek actually recommends micromanaging your processes by respecting your people. Learn why focusing on processes is so important to successful management.
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IT And Business Leaders On Separate Pages? Realign With Change Management

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realign-business-leaders	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-illustration-people-arrow/178818265 Are IT and business executives at your organization on a completely different page? An article from Baseline Magazine highlights research that shows redefining how IT provides value to the enterprise is one of the main areas that IT departments are keying in on this year. Discover how change management helps to foster better alignment.
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3-Step Approach To Better Change Management

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better-change-management	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-multilevel-marketing/162534987 An article from InformationWeek outlines why it's time to move beyond the "to-do list" method when examining progress from a change standpoint. That method simply breaks down too fast as people become overwhelmed by the volume and speed of information in today's business environment. Learn how to embrace a three-step approach to change management.
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How Good Coaches Help Companies Embrace Continuous Improvement

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embracing-continuous-improvement	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-coach-sitting-in-locker-room-using-laptop/200068171-001 Many organizations underestimate the value of internal coaches in creating a culture of continuous improvement. Forward-thinking manufacturers are starting to be very selective in choosing internal coaches, identifying people with the right skills and demonstrated success in leveraging them. Good coaching has a real impact on process improvement.
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How To Use CRM Systems For Tracking And Targeting Customer Interactions

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targeting-customer-interactions	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-arrows-in-bullseye-of-target/73319340 In the past, manufacturers tended to look at customer relationship management (CRM) mainly in terms of the volume of activity rather than its quality. With today's CRM systems, organizations are able to not only manage customer activities but also to target them, aligning the right interactions with a targeted profile and customer base.
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Should You Use OEE To Measure Process Improvement?

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OEE-measure-process-improvement	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-illustration-vector-measurement-icon/480062077 There are lots of measures used in process improvement, but if you really want to know how an organization is working together, the one you need is overall equipment effectiveness (OEE). Especially in equipment-intensive manufacturing, how your equipment works is the main driver in productivity, according to a recent IndustryWeek article.
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Why You Need Analytics To Perfect Your Manufacturing Process

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analytics-manufacturing-process	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-man-looking-in-magnifier/455690757 When data has lots of variation, human intuition is a useful way to understand what's going on. But manufacturers now rely on high-tech solutions and tech-savvy personnel to improve efficiency and reduce errors, according to a recent SmartData Collective article. As your manufacturing process gets closer to perfect, you need analytics.
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How Human-Robotic Interaction Shapes Manufacturing Innovation

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human-robotic-manufacturing-innovation	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-smart-tools/167172837 You may not yet know quite how robots impact manufacturing innovation, but they clearly play a role. Robots already handle a lot of welding and pick-and-place tasks in the manufacturing process. We tend to focus on what robots are able to do, but overlook questions about human robotic interaction, according to a recent Harvard Business Review blog.
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Wipfli Brings Chinese Business Development Efforts To Alabama

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Chinese-Alabama-manufacturing-development	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-young-worker-in-protective-work-wear/464739887 Many Chinese manufacturers are seeking business development partnerships in the U.S., and Wipfli is supporting these beneficial relationships through experiential events and symposia. In late March, we hosted an event for 350 business and government leaders in Dothan, Ala. This is part 2 of a 2-part series on Wipfli's partnership with the SoZo Group.
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How Wipfli Guides Chinese Manufacturers Through U.S. Business Development

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US-Chinese-business-manufacturing	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-portrait-of-proud-worker-outside-factory/462431683 Many Chinese manufacturers are seeking business development partnerships in the United States, which offer opportunities to reduce costs and environmental impact. Wipfli is helping to build beneficial relationships between these manufacturers and U.S. communities. This is part 1 of a 2-part series on Wipfli's partnership with the SoZo Group.
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Integrating Pricing, Profitability And A Bill Of Materials Breakdown

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pricing-profitability-breakdown	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-businessman-holding-invoice-paper/186131431 The ability to generate a bill of materials (BOM) breakdown is important for manufacturers, helping them to produce accurate, timely quotes for jobs that take production time and profitability into account. Manufacturers run into difficulties when they fail to distinguish between a sales configuration process and true manufacturing configuration.
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How Does The 'Internet Of Things' Impact Your Manufacturing Process?

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manufacturing-process-influences	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-warehouse-worker-during-job/478748397 Reducing variability in the manufacturing process means production is more precise. Measuring that precision requires new ways of collecting data, such as near-field communication and the "Internet of Things." The possibilities of smart, connected products are also changing business models for leading manufacturers, according to an article in IndustryWeek.
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How Is In-Memory Technology Revolutionizing Business Intelligence?

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business-intelligence-memory-technology	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-illustration-flat-design-icon-set-of-analytics/476911109 Business intelligence platforms continue to evolve and improve, as an article from SmartData Collective reports. Traditionally, business intelligence solutions were queue-based, requiring users to decide up front which data needed to be pre-aggregated inside of each queue. But in-memory technology is changing that with true self-service capabilities.
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3 Keys To Creating Better Sales Forecasts Using Manufacturing CRM Software

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CRM-better-sales-forecasting	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-mechanical-pencil-point-to-bar-graph/480154375 As an article from Sales Benchmark Index explains, poor forecasting is one of the most pressing problems facing businesses, as bad forecasts often lead to bad decisions and cause management's confidence in sales to crumble. Learn how to properly use your manufacturing CRM software and follow defined practices.
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5 Ways To Reduce Paper And Boost Profitability Using A Manufacturing ERP System

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reduce-paper-boost-profitability	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-beautiful-woman-looking-dreamingly-in-the/459596589 If your company uses a manufacturing ERP system, you have an opportunity to reduce your reliance on paper. Reducing paper improves efficiency, encourages collaboration and streamlines business operations, all of which helps to boost profitability. Start by identifying the areas of your business that typically generate the most paper.
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How To Improve Your Manufacturing Process With An Integrated ERP System

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improve-manufacturing-processes	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-cloud-services-paper-background/485914203 Integrated ERP solutions are helping to eliminate data silos over time, thanks in part to common platforms and the greater functionality of today's manufacturing ERP software. This improved visibility has far-reaching implications for your manufacturing process, your supply chain and, in e-commerce situations, your customer relationship management.
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Do Hybrid Cloud Environments Represent The Future For Manufacturing ERP Software?

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hybrid-cloud-environments	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-businesswoman-touch-screen/478299529 When it comes to manufacturing ERP software, some vendors like to draw battle lines between on-premises systems and cloud-based solutions. But what's most likely to happen is that organizations are going to embrace a combination of the two, an article from SmartData Collective predicts. Discover why a hybrid cloud environment is so appealing.
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How Should You Approach Process Changes During A Manufacturing ERP Implementation?

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manufacturing-ERP-change-management	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-businessman-showing-a-growing-chart/175193353 As you're going through a manufacturing ERP implementation, you might feel a bit reluctant to embrace changes and new processes. At the same time, your ERP vendor may be pushing you to toss out all of your current business processes. An article from Panorama Consulting Solutions explains why a balanced approach works best.
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What Might The Manufacturing ERP Software Industry Look Like In 2020?

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manufacturing-ERP-future	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-think-about-the-future/463330041 What’s the manufacturing ERP software industry going to look like in 2020? Panorama Consulting Solutions recently offered several predictions for the ERP software industry over the next several years. Learn how the consumerization of ERP systems, mobility and business intelligence could have a big impact on the future of ERP.
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5 Signs Your Project Is Doomed (And How To Save It With Good Change Management)

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successful-change-management	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-two-handsome-businessmen-working-together-on/463613951 When manufacturers want to increase user adoption for technology initiatives and other major projects, they need effective change management. Aligning an organization behind a project dramatically increases its likelihood of meeting objectives, coming in under budget and staying on schedule. But with inadequate change management, failure is likely.
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Are You Doing Enough To Support Process Improvement?

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supporting-process-improvement	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-businesspeople-holding-jigsaw-puzzle/461149083 In a business, attention to learning is essential to process improvement efforts and creating a continuous improvement culture. Change management acknowledges this dynamic and uses active learning and research to drive people-centered changes, both in defined process improvement projects and in the context of an organization's culture.
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3 Steps To Using Change Management For Planning Staff And Leadership Transitions

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change-managemnt-transition	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-businessman-hand-stop-dominoes-continuous/469752653 The most successful companies are those that make change management integral to the organization. It gives them greater resilience to common hurdles like attrition, disruptive technologies, new market competition and tough economic times. An article in IndustryWeek suggests using change management to limit the damage caused by losing key employees.
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Are Businesses Getting Savvier About Change Management?

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change-management-efficiency	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-leadership/119557713 Change management was once applied primarily to operations, driving cost efficiencies and process improvement, but it now permeates much more, throughout the entire organization according to a Forbes.com article. Without a doubt, change management skills have become a requirement for leadership success. But that requirement doesn't stop at the top - change is everyone's responsibility.
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Using Change Management To Boost Lean Manufacturing Performance

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lean-manufacturing-initiative	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-business-man-drawing-graph/480339879 When a company launches a lean manufacturing or Six Sigma initiative, it often realizes that while performance improves, these changes are ultimately unsustainable or fail to make a true cultural impact. Too many companies focus on training but overlook the need for building a culture of motivation, according to a recent IndustryWeek article.
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Forget Cold Calls: Start A Customer Relationship With Social Prospecting

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CRM-social-prospecting	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-no-handset-allowed-sign/154212874 Building a good customer relationship requires a different approach than it once did. Social prospecting is feasible for most organizations and offers a fantastic way to pinpoint prospects. This effective, participatory approach to sales improves referral channels and boosts qualified leads, according to an article from Sales Benchmark Index.
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How Sensor Data, NFC and Geo-Fencing Are Driving Manufacturing Innovation

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sensor-data-NFC-geo-fencing	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-tablet-in-hands/462512671 It’s an interesting time in manufacturing innovation: The convergence of near-field communication (NFC), geo-fencing and sensor data technology in intelligent equipment has the potential to increase efficiency on the shop floor. It could also soon introduce manufacturers and consumers to new concepts that blur the lines between products and services.
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2 Manufacturing Innovation Predictions: BYOMD And Enterprise 'App Stores'

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BYOMD-app-stores	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-industry-workers-look-at-laptop-computer-in/138212802 A recent IndustryWeek article invited four technology industry leaders to share their thoughts on the next phases of manufacturing innovation. MIT's Michael Schrage, author of such books as "Serious Play: How the World's Best Companies Simulate to Innovate," offered two intriguing predictions for what's just around the corner in enterprise IT.
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How To Make Sense Of Your Sensor Data

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leveraging-sensor-data	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-business-graph-growth/462204883 Many manufacturers hope to use sensor data to improve processes and products, according to an article from SmartData Collective. But the Internet of Things (IoT) poses real challenges for human decision-makers. Organizations also need to understand how to process massive amounts of sensor data and convert it into something usable and actionable.
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Why Manufacturing Innovation Requires Collaboration, Not Just Resources

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improving-manufacturing-innovation	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-group-of-people-holding-hands-in-circle-low/74879093 The Digital Lab for Manufacturing is a new initiative intended to drive digital design and manufacturing innovation, according to the Chicago Tribune. While it's a great idea to bring together people, organizations, expertise and money to help solve business problems, it's essential to clarify how all of the players relate and collaborate.
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3 Keys To Developing Portals For Manufacturing Supply Chain Partners

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supply-chain-partner-portals	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-illustration-three-network-connected/155171648 Setting up manufacturing ERP software portals may help facilitate efficiency and collaboration along the supply chain, but portals are just tools. Organizations should first take time to understand how to collaborate and interact with partners in the manufacturing supply chain. A streamlined supply chain requires a culture of communication.
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Do Your Collaboration Tools Support Process Improvement?

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collaboration-process-improvement	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-illustration-vector-of-social-communications/178915467 When it comes to process improvement, you first need to understand how your systems work before looking to collaboration tools for solutions. Adding a layer of technology to flawed interactions won't automatically result in process improvement; in fact, it may just make communication shortcomings more apparent.
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Automating Your Manufacturing Process? Why You Still Need People

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automated-systems-need-people	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-two-chinese-construction-workers-shaking-hands/81929491 To counter the rising costs of Chinese labor and manufacturing, Apple plans to implement new automated production methods, according to an article on WebProNews. To successfully automate a manufacturing process, companies need to choose appropriate tasks and processes for automation, and leave high-level decision-making tasks to people.
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3 Tips For Taking Your Manufacturing ERP System Mobile

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mobile-ERP-system	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-businessman-using-smart-phone/187625854 The standard user interface for a manufacturing ERP system is usually glazed-eye overkill. Adding mobile functionality to your ERP presents an opportunity to reshape the user experience into something much more useful. Here are three tips for successfully adding a mobile interface to your ERP system and getting employees to adopt it.
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Integrating Your ERP And CRM Systems: Is It Worth The Effort?

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integrate-CRM-ERP-systems	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-wooden-puzzle-on-black-background-close-up/478859467 In manufacturing, CRM software isn’t just about customers. CRM systems help you manage important business relationships with vendors, banks, trade associations and more. By integrating CRM with enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, a company may also streamline relationships between sales personnel, the back office and production.
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3 Keys For A Successful Manufacturing ERP System Implementation

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manufacturing-ERP-implementation	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-mature-man-working-at-the-computer/466033993 Most ERP projects run late and exceed the estimated budget, according to an annual survey of ERP buyers highlighted in a recent ZDNet article. If you're planning a manufacturing ERP system implementation, what steps should you take to ensure that your project finishes on schedule, on budget and is ultimately beneficial for your organization?
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9 Steps To Successful Manufacturing Innovation

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successful-manufacturing-innovation	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-financial-symbols-coming-from-hand/462353407 Manufacturing innovation requires more than a bright idea. Many promising innovations suffer from outdated, flawed business market development. Today’s companies need to predict how an innovative product or service is going to perform in the marketplace. Business canvassing puts all of this thinking into nine steps and one sheet of paper.
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How To Estimate ROI When Implementing A Manufacturing ERP System

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ERP-implementation-ROI	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-risk-reward-graph/180977510 A manufacturing ERP system is no small investment. Every executive wants to know the expected return on investment (ROI) for implementing an ERP system. Fortunately, answering that question doesn't have to be a headache-inducing challenge, according to a post on the Panorama Consulting Solutions blog.
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4 Non-Market Risks To Focus On Using Continuous Improvement

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continuous-warehouse-improvement	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-hand-drawing-a-graph/174381855 Today's modern manufacturing organizations face an increasing number of challenges. While companies must focus on improving sales and the quality of their products or services, continuous improvement also applies to less-obvious challenges. An article from IndustryWeek highlights several lesser-known non-market risks you should be prepared to handle.
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Is Your Shop Floor Design Optimized For Agile Manufacturing?

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improving-shop-floor-design	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-portrait-of-female-industrial-worker-holding/159290171 In shop floor design, form follows functionality. A well-designed facility focuses on optimizing linear flow of materials, personnel and decision-making, minimizing bottlenecks and other inefficiencies, according to a post on the Gresham, Smith and Partners Dialogue blog. Efficient design is essential in lean manufacturing and agile manufacturing.
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Why Information Design Is Key To Shop Floor Process Improvement

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warehouse-process-improvement	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-businessman-with-digital-tablet-in-warehouse/163869640 When it comes to shop floor control, process improvement requires thoughtful information design. Today, three-ring binders and procedure posters are giving way to touchscreens and gesture control. Manufacturers must determine the critical content to provide to employees on the shop floor, and use the best mechanisms to convey that knowledge.
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Why Does Cloud ERP Adoption Remain Low Among Manufacturers?

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low-adoption-rates-manufacturing-industry	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-illustration-3d-red-business-decline-graph/452179737 Many manufacturers are reluctant to move their ERP systems to the cloud, even as businesses in other industries are flocking to it, an article on the Forbes website reports. Manufacturers have good reasons for being hesitant to move to the cloud. For one, they prefer to have a bit more control over their data.
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4 Questions To Ask Before Choosing An Analytics Solution

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business-intelligence-analytics-solution	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-illustration-businessman-confused/474740251 Context is critical when it comes to analyzing data. ERP systems collect massive amounts of transactional data. Business intelligence (BI) should be leveraged with that data to create operational improvements, but putting an analytics tool in place requires the right planning. We outline four questions to ask before choosing an analytics solution.
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What Role Should Machines Play In Manufacturing?

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machinery-role-manufacturing	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-factory-cleaning-and-filling-machine/101370177 A balance must be met when determining what roles humans and machines should play in the workplace. Computers that can think and act like humans will increasingly work alongside humans, according to an article on the Information Age website. Manufacturers need to ask not whether they could automate a process, but whether it should be automated.
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Why Is A User-Centered Approach Important For Manufacturers?

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user-centered-approach-manufacturing	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-problems-at-work/166620161 Taking customer feedback seriously and adjusting products accordingly can go a long way toward ensuring long-term success. Manufacturers need to take a user-centered approach to the products and services they offer. An article on the IndustryWeek website is a perfect example of why such a view should drive how you build your business processes.
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Is Your ERP System Tailored To Individual Users?

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tailored-erp-software	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-doctor-using-laptop-sitting-at-desk-in-modern/170083488 Monolithic ERP systems help businesses to consolidate and manage information, making them very appealing from an IT perspective. They’re tailored to meet the needs of the business, but that’s not always helpful for individual users. To get the most out of an ERP system, identify and support the needs of the individual.
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'Lean' Your Way To Better Productivity: An Interview with Lean Expert Phil Kirby

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Lean Manufacturing Webinar: Phil Kirby, Lean expert and noted author, and Mark Stevens, Partner, Manufacturing and Distribution Consulting and Technology Integration at Wipfli LLP, recently discussed how manufacturers can continue to drive value with their Lean initiatives. Phil has spent more than 25 years helping manufacturers learn to think process, not products or services, to define their competitive edge. Join them as they continue the discussion during their webinar, "'Lean' Your Way To Better Productivity," at 10 a.m. CST on Tuesday, March 25.
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Want To Get More Out Of Your Technology Solution? Focus On People First

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technology-change-management	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-explaining-idea/453957591 An article on the IndustryWeek website reinforces the idea that just implementing a new technology solution won't solve anything. You need the people who use the technology to understand and embrace the required changes. Show them why a new technology solution is going to help improve their jobs and the organization.
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Could Lean Help Your Brain Better Embrace New Perspectives?

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embracing-new-perspectives	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-illustration-head-line/462509867 For most people, learning a new way to do something - even if they realize it's a better process - is challenging. Our brains become hard-wired to the habits that we've created. According to an article on the IndustryWeek website, improvement hinges on the ability to break out of established cycles. Lean is a great way to do that.
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How Does Technology Support Change Initiatives?

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technology-change-initiatives	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-woman-with-laptop/166669809 Change is never easy, but technology is able to support manufacturers as they work to adopt new systems and processes. It's common to take on new initiatives but not see them through to the end. That's why businesses must ensure they provide up-to-date information on a regular, sustained basis to keep employees informed.
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Will Cloud-Based Solutions Replace On-Premises Manufacturing ERP Software?

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cloud-based-ERP-system	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-illustration-blue-clouds/163749759 Research firm Gartner predicts ERP systems will be replaced by a "more federated, loosely coupled ERP environment with much of the functionality sourced as cloud services or via business process outsourcers," according to an article on the ZDNet blog. But the trend won't have an immediate impact on businesses that use manufacturing ERP software.
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How Can You Successfully Implement A Manufacturing ERP System?

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implement-manufacturing-ERP-system	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-erp-business-concept/452569951 Panorama Consulting research shows that 63 percent of manufacturers exceed their budget for new ERP implementations, and most also go over their planned schedule, according to an article on the Enterprise Apps Today blog. Change management and avoiding excessive customization are vital to success when implementing a manufacturing ERP system.
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What's The Best Approach To Internal Auditing?

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internal-auditing-strategy	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-audit/176486419 Internal auditing is a good way to apply metrics to ensure that processes are completed according to established procedures. According to an article on the Manufacturing.net blog, internal audits allow organizations to identify potential issues and prevent them from becoming serious problems, and to ensure nonconforming materials don't reach customers.
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How Does Microsoft Dynamics AX Help To Support Green Initiatives?

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Dynamics-AX-green-initiatives	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-smiling-designer-working-on-graphics-tablet/175221689 Green initiatives present a great opportunity for manufacturers to seize a competitive advantage by adopting environmentally friendly practices. The Environmental Sustainability Dashboard by Microsoft Dynamics ® AX allows you to set energy consumption target levels and shows you how you're trending related to those goals.
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3 Keys For Manufacturers To Improve Profitability

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improving-manufacturing-profitability	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-money-tree/179479982 To successfully manage margins, manufacturers must truly know their customer and product segments, their markets, and the costs of production. The trick to managing margins is figuring out how you fit into the grand scheme of things. There are three key areas manufacturers should understand to ensure the highest profitability.
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Is Social Selling The Right Fit For Your Organization?

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social-selling-technology-solutions	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-illustration-social-media-background-of-the-icons/164467070 It's important for businesses to determine whether they should embrace social selling or continue with their current sales strategy. An article on the Sales Benchmark Index website explains that social selling will affect different industries in different ways, with the level of applicability high in some and low in others.
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How Can Manufacturers Use CRM Systems To Dig Deep Into Customer Data?

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CRM-business-intelligence	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-crm-concept/178707271 CRM systems are critical to truly understand customer data. As noted in an article on the Partners in Excellence website, data can be misleading. Businesses can get burned if they don't fully understand their data. You can't just take it at face value. Manufacturers must dig down deep into data or it will inevitably lead them down the wrong path.
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Why Will Data Monitoring And Preventive Maintenance Drive Future Business Models?

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preventitive-data-maintenance	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-illustration-business-research/95951935 Data monitoring and preventive maintenance will drive revenue in the future as business models increasingly revolve around asset management. It’s becoming more important to pull performance data off assets and combine that information with everything else you know about customers and their environment.
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How Is Technology Changing The Way Customers Buy Business Solutions?

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business-technology-solutions	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-purchase-process/187364186 While advances such as social media are making an impact on how consumers purchase business solutions, the buying process itself remains the same: You identify a need, look for solutions, review alternatives, purchase a solution, implement it and get support services to help maintain the solution. That all still happens — just in different channels.
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6 Areas Where Information Sharing Benefits Manufacturers And Their Customers

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manufacturing-information-sharing-benefits	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-illustration-people-in-social-network/164470626 In today’s fast-paced environment, businesses will find much to be gained by working together. Everyone does better when there’s collaboration, provided the right exchanges occur between business partners. There are six key areas where information sharing can be highly beneficial for both manufacturers and their customers.
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How Will Cross-Collaboration Impact The Manufacturing Industry?

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cross-collaboration-manufacturing-industry	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-industrial-engineer/457740641 In the past, businesses developed new products and innovations on their own, but that's an antiquated approach that won't work in the future, according to an article on the CNBC website by Andrew Liveris, chairman and chief executive officer of Dow. Businesses must begin to reach out in order to develop new and innovative products.
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How Can Lean Principles Be Applied To The Design Process?

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lean-principles-design-process	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-blueprint/89691839 According to an article on the IndustryWeek website, businesses have been slow to adopt lean principles in the design stage. The article highlights why it's important to make sure there's cross-communication between departments in the design process. Design often suffers at the hand of departmental or siloed thinking.
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3 Paradoxes Of Complexity In The Modern Manufacturing Environment

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manufacturing-paradoxes-of-complexity	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-businessman-and-problems/178635947 Consulting firm Deloitte conducted a study of nearly 400 manufacturers to gain insight into the new challenges they face as a result of the transition away from vertical integration, according to an article on the ThomasNet website. Here's a look at three paradoxes of complexity, as identified by Deloitte.
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Why Should Manufacturers Track Accumulation And Dock-To-Dock Time?

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tracking-dock-to-dock-time	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-assembly-line-supervisor/83066341 Accumulation is a key metric to track to ensure optimal productivity and efficiency, according to a post on the Manufacturing Digital website. Another good measurement to track is dock-to-dock time. That's used to demonstrate the velocity at which you're using raw materials, consuming work in process and consuming finished goods.
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How Can Executive Sponsorship Drive Change?

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leadership-driving-change	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-illustration-leadership-concept/174319634 Research by Prosci shows that active and visible executive sponsorship is the most important factor when it comes to successfully achieving change, according to an article on the IndustryWeek website. "Active" and "visible" don't always mean engaged, but it's critical that sponsors are engaged in understanding what's happening in the project.
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3 Keys To More Efficient Job Order Management

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efficient-job-order-management	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-businesspeople-with-digital-tablet-sitting-in/162947253 Manufacturers often shoot themselves in the foot because they don’t track the right information or provide it to the right people. Visibility is vital to ensuring you have a smooth flow between processes and operate as efficiently as possible. There are three key ways to implement better job order management and deliver more orders on time.
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How Technology Improves The 4 Stages Of Order Management

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order-management-technology	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-manager-using-headset-in-distribution/177825578 Providing visibility into processes throughout an organization will help to ensure more effective order management and customer relationship management. There are four stages an order goes through, and technology can help manufacturers to get the most out of each step by leveraging data. Here’s a look at the four stages of order management.
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6 Reasons 2014 Is Shaping Up To Be A Great Year For Manufacturers

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manufacturing-trends-2014	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-2014/177198162 The rise of technology will dominate the storyline in the manufacturing industry throughout 2014. According to an article on the IndustryWeek website, a slew of good news poured in late in 2013 for North American manufacturers, setting up what could be a great year for the industry. There are six trends in particular to watch for in 2014.
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Should Manufacturers Open Up More About Their Struggles?

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manufacturing-pains-transparency	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-frustrated-businessman/78651739 Many software-based companies publicly explain what went wrong following a failure and how they've responded in reviews known as "post-mortems," notes an article on the Manufacturing.net blog. Manufacturers could improve the industry using a similar approach by opening up about their struggles and outlining their solutions.
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Is It Possible For Manufacturers To Be Too Lean?

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lean-manufacturing-technology	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-woman-showing-how-much-weight-she-lost/178043795 According to an article on the Manufacturing.net website, many companies are questioning whether they've become too lean. When it comes to how lean you want to be, it's important to remind yourself that the ultimate objective in lean is to create perfect processes or flow while providing the highest customer value. That last part is the key.
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Should Manufacturers Consider Customized Technology Solutions?

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customized-manufacturing-technology-solutions	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-keyboard-with-customize-orange-button/185895589 Customization should be the last resort for manufacturers looking for technology solutions to support their processes. Often, existing technology can get the job done. In the rare instances where customization is the answer, it’s crucial to start with the minimal functionality necessary and build from there.
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How Can Manufacturers Leverage Robotics And Vision Systems?

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leverage-robotics-vision-systems	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-robotic-arm-for-packing/178464033 Manufacturers can use robotics and vision systems to greatly increase efficiency by streamlining processes on the shop floor and beyond. Robotics is especially useful where there are routine procedures that need to be done or there’s a shortage of skills in the workforce, while vision systems can optimize the inspection process.
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8 Manufacturing Trends To Watch For In 2014

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2014-manufacturing-trends	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-business-women-seeking-with-binocular/137954282 This year will see manufacturers looking for new ways to leverage technology to gain efficiencies and increase productivity. In 2014, technology should play a major role in this effort, either directly or indirectly, according to IDC Manufacturing Insights' annual list of the year's top trends. We take a closer look at eight trends identified by IDC.
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What Role Does Collaboration Play In Process Re-Engineering?

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collaboration-re-engineering	|	Photo Courtesy of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-illustration-cogs-and-gears/164870928 Recognizing your own limitations and seeking assistance where you lack expertise can be an important aspect of process re-engineering. According to an article on the Manufacturing Digital website, you must analyze processes from new perspectives and be willing to do things differently. Outside experts with specialized knowledge can help.
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Do Lean Concepts Apply To Back-Office Work?

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harnessing-employee-knowledge	|	Photo Courtesy of	istockphotos Lean concepts don't just apply to manufacturing products. According to an article on the IndustryWeek website, many companies mistakenly believe support services can't be improved by lean strategies. There's a lot of critical thinking that goes on in the back office, and it's important for people to keep the workflow as visible as possible.
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How Can Manufacturers Harness Employee Knowledge?

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lean-concept-office	|	Photo Courtesy of	istockphotos According to an article on the Manufacturing.net website, it's well worth the effort to capture the lessons learned by employees over the years so their mistakes can be avoided in the future. A learning channel is a powerful tool in any organization, especially those with longtime employees with decades' worth of knowledge that they haven't shared.
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5 Tips To Leverage Lean Manufacturing

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leveraging-manufacturing-technology	|	Photo Courtesy of	istockphotos Lean manufacturing is about examining how you consume time, labor and materials, and then identifying activities that are wasteful. It has been misinterpreted by some as another spin on corporate downsizing. The key is if you're able to increase volume at a plant while keeping overhead flat, the overhead starts to turn into pure profit.
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3 Keys To Getting The Most Out Of Your Equipment

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increasing-technology-longevity	|	Photo Courtesy of | istockphotos According to an article on the IndustryWeek website, companies often don’t understand the connection between capital purchases and operations. This is in part because there’s disconnect between the managers who decide what to buy and the employees who use the equipment. There are three keys to getting the most out of your equipment.
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How Are Smart Machines Driving Optimization?

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smart-manufacturing-technology	|	Photo Coursey of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-man-working-on-a-computer-in-a-warehouse/71261086 Smart machines are a valuable asset to manufacturers thanks to their ability to communicate with each other and drive real-time results. As noted in an article on the Packaging World website, smart machines share information that helps systems to increase efficiency, including speed variables and process variation.
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Is Your Shop Floor Set Up As Efficiently As Possible?

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shop-floor-efficiency	|	Photo Coursey of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-overview-of-factory-conveyor/dv179009 Reorganizing the shop floor to support workflow is a great way to increase efficiency and productivity. Processes should flow horizontally throughout an organization from one station to the next with as little travel time and as few stops as possible. Having a place for everything and everything in its place will work wonders to improve operations.
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Why Is Increased Visibility And Supply Chain Integration So Important?

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CAD-technology-supply-chain	|	Photo Coursey of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-worker-using-tablet-computer-in-distribution/177738192 An article on the Manufacturing Digital website highlights how supply chain integration and visibility will increase in the manufacturing industry in the future. The trend could provide a big competitive advantage, particularly if you're a contract manufacturer making products for an original equipment manufacturer (OEM).
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Why Are More Manufacturers Turning To Embedded Sensors As A Growth Opportunity?

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embedded-sensor-growth-opportunities	|	Photo Coursey of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-microchip-on-a-fingertip/139715890 Manufacturers are still searching for ways to add revenue streams beyond just selling hard assets. They're looking for services to provide and ways to offer their customers additional value. Embedded sensors are a great example of how to achieve those goals. According to a report by IndustryWeek, more businesses are using the technology.
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How Can Wearable Technology Increase Access To Data?

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wearable-technology-benefits	|	Photo Coursey of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-co-workers-with-blueprints-in-a-brewery/86499845 An article on the Wired website notes that data is only helpful if it can be accessed when it's needed. The key to making wearable technology useful in a manufacturing environment is that it must serve a functional purpose. It should improve productivity and provide information that's not otherwise easily accessible on the shop floor.
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How Is 3-D Printing Spurring Innovation In Manufacturing?

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3d-printing-manufacturing-innovation	|	Photo Coursey of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-3d-printer-concept-on-white-background/457547315 There's a tremendous amount of investment in 3-D printing going on today. What's so great about 3-D printing is that it'll encourage creative ideas and foster innovation. In an article on the IndustryWeek website, the founder of 650 Labs says technology and innovation will come together in 3-D printing, "propelling the sector to new heights."
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How a 25% Cost Reduction Sparked a 36% Increase in Productivity: An Interview with Lars Brunk

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Free Webinar: Brunk Industries' Secrets to Lean Success Lars Brunk, President of Brunk Industries, and Mark Stevens, Partner, Manufacturing and Distribution Consulting and Technology Integration at Wipfli LLP, recently discussed how 25 percent giveback requests from Brunk's largest customers sparked a lean initiative that helped focus the organization, improve efficiency by 36 percent and ultimately improve the bottom line. Join them as they continue the discussion during their webinar, "Brunk Industries' Secrets to Lean Success," at 12 p.m. CST on Tuesday, Jan. 28.
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3 Steps To Automate Front-Office Transactions

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wearable-technology-benefits	|	Photo Coursey of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-co-workers-with-blueprints-in-a-brewery/86499845 Business executives frequently look to technology first when trying to automate processes, but that can be a big mistake. Too often they create a workflow of wasteful processes and build inefficiencies into technology solutions. To avoid that, follow three steps to automate front-office work to drive efficiency and improve the customer experience.
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6 Ways Manufacturers Can Get More Out Of Analytics

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business-intelligence-analytics	|	Photo Coursey of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-business-analyzing/156473665 Manufacturers will get more out of enterprise resource planning systems if they use analytics tools that support how the human mind works naturally. Wipfli is developing an analytics solution that empowers manufacturers to use data in ways that make sense for individual users. There are six areas where this new product can benefit manufacturers.
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Why Less Is Best When Managing Information

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manufacturing-information-managment	|	Photo Coursey of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-situation-on-the-market/174109114 Knowing what metrics to monitor and data to collect is crucial for businesses that want to harness the power of knowledge without being overwhelmed. According to an article on the IndustryWeek website, manufacturers today are bombarded with too much information and should therefore take steps to ensure they don't drown in this sea of data.
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3 Ways Manufacturers Can Leverage Mobile Technology

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leveraging-mobile-technology	|	Photo Coursey of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-businesswoman-holding-cell-phone/80608334 Mobile technology is an important tool that enables manufacturers to leverage the power of information to their advantage. Real-time access to information anywhere, at any time, revolutionizes the way companies interact with customers and prospects. There are three key ways manufacturers can take advantage of mobile technology.
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Why Should Manufacturers Better Manage Product Quality Compliance?

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product-quality-compliance-management A holistic approach to product quality compliance will help manufacturers to ensure they achieve the best results possible. If quality compliance is critical to your business, it must be a part of the regular management system. Identify key indicators for compliance as laid out in ISO standards. The requirements are highly prescriptive.
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How Can Manufacturers Use Consumer Apps To Their Advantage?

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leveraging-consumer-apps The rise of consumer applications is complicating the way companies do business because it presents challenges to the status quo, chief among them how to manage data security. A balance must be struck so that you’re protecting sensitive data while allowing employees to use technology that they’re already familiar and comfortable with.
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Getting More From Your Reporting: 5 Perspectives To Evaluate Operations

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product-quality-compliance-management Technology solutions can help manufacturers improve their reporting practices by converting static reports into dynamic dashboards. The power of intelligence is the ability to have associative searching. In order to get the most out of reporting, manufacturers should evaluate their operations from five different perspectives.
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Is The U.S. Poised To Become A Nation Of Makers Again?

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product-quality-compliance-management A recent article on Forbes.com discusses the future of manufacturing and what will be needed in the next decade to restore America's place as a nation of makers. We've gotten away from that as production was moved offshore in recent decades, but more companies are now seeing the benefits of producing closer to the end market.
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How Can Technology Help Manufacturers Protect Profit Margins?

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protecting-profit-margins	|	Photo Coursey of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-hand-touching-screen-of-tablet-pc/179225848 In today's fast-moving manufacturing industry, it's crucial for businesses to be proactive in protecting their profit margins to stay afloat. Technology solutions like ERP systems can help manufacturers monitor and manage profits in order to ensure margins don't deteriorate. But to be effective, an ERP solution must be tailored to your business.
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5 Tips To Win Manufacturing Business That's Returning To North America

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onshoring-American-manufacturing	|	Photo Coursey of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-made-in-usa/178571980 Opportunities exist for manufacturers as the true cost of overseas production and the benefits of working closer to home become apparent. As an article on the IndustryWeek website notes, China's manufacturing sector is weakening as production in North America is rising. The article highlights five tips to get ready for the work headed this way.
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What Does Decline In Capital Investment Mean For Manufacturers?

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capital-investment-decline	|	Photo Coursey of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-illustration-falling-money/182096397 An article on the IndustryWeek website highlights how investment in new equipment and software has declined in the U.S. over the past few decades. For manufacturers, future revenue streams are likely to focus more on managing assets over their whole life cycle rather than producing new assets. That's where technology solutions can be of great help.
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How Can Manufacturers Get The Most Out Of Shop Floor Data?

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leveraging-shop-floor-data	|	Photo Coursey of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-businessman-using-pda-in-hallway/81754557 The importance of shop floor intelligence and drawing data from ERP, MES and EMI systems is highlighted in an article on the Manufacturing Engineering website. All of these systems are being used to provide better visibility into operations for not only internal employees but also external parties - including customers.
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How Can Manufacturers Reduce Complexity?

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manufacturing-reducing-complexity	|	Photo Coursey of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-illustration-abstract-draw-tree/187009530 Executives looking to reduce complexity can learn from the Serenity Prayer: Accept the things beyond your control, have the courage to change what you can and have the wisdom to know the difference between the two. Manufacturers often complain about the increased demands, but if there's nothing you can do about it, you simply must make the best of the situation.
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Why Is Nearshoring Gaining Popularity With Businesses?

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nearshoring-manufacturing-popularity	|	Photo Coursey of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-inspector-industry/166742744 Over the past decade, organizations have started to understand the true cost of offshoring, and businesses looking to bring production closer to home must decide whether they want to reshore or nearshore manufacturing. A post on the Manufacturing Trends and News blog explores the possibility that nearshoring may be the preference.
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What's The Key To Making Smart Manufacturing A Reality?

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smart-manufacturing-reality	|	Photo Coursey of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-office-leader-explaining-writing-on-the-glass/82821233 A blog post on the Wired website discusses smart manufacturing and many of the potential benefits it holds. Key to the implementation of smart manufacturing is the development of applications that employees can easily use. For too long, enterprise applications have been stereotyped as complex, difficult and frustrating for users.
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Does Strategy Trump Money When It Comes To Innovation?

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_____IMAGE_ALT Innovation requires a deliberate, thoughtful strategy to be successful. It's not something you can just throw money at and expect to achieve results. Money is often the focus when companies talk about developing new products, but the focus should be on the culture and process behind innovation, according to an article on the IndustryWeek website.
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5 Ways For Manufacturers To Become More Flexible

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increasing-manufacturing-software-flexibility	|	Photo Coursey of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-industrial-engineer/174390498 Flexibility is about leveraging people and equipment so they can be redeployed where the market demands capacity. You never know what orders will come in, but you can control how you prepare for and manage operational changes. Flexible manufacturers are proactive and understand their people and machines. There are five ways to become more flexible.
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How Is Technology Helping To Support Manufacturing Growth?

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technology-supports-manufacturing-growth	|	Photo Coursey of	thinkstockphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-foreman-in-a-factory-explains-something/164602636 A study highlighted in a blog post on The Economist website found that more manufacturers are providing services in addition to their products. They're pushing their boundaries to support vertical and horizontal integration, and as they do so, they're increasing the value of their business to customers. Technology is vital to supporting this growth.
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Why Highlighting Total Cost Of Ownership Will Help U.S. Manufacturers Close More Deals

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highlighting-cost-of-ownership	|	Photo Coursey of	Depositphotos	http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-partner-shaking-hands/179022694 In a recent survey, about 20 percent of respondents reported that they've started the process of bringing production back to the U.S. or will within two years, an article on the Bloomberg Businessweek website reports. The next step is for U.S. manufacturers to include total cost of ownership (TCO) in their sales composition when closing deals.
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Why Lean Solutions Aren't Just For Large Manufacturers

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large-lean-manufacturing-solutions	|	Photo Coursey of	Depositphotos	http://depositphotos.com/26978955/stock-photo-Happy-business-working-together-and-smiling.html?id=26978955 An article on the ThomasNet News website describes how lean manufacturing is generally thought of as applying only to large businesses. As a result of this perception, most lean tools are designed for low-mix, high-volume producers. But lean isn't really about the tools that businesses use. It's about how people approach and think about their work.
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How Can Manufacturers Use Data To Make Optimal Pricing Decisions?

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business-intelligence-pricing-decisions According to an article on the Data Informed website, "optimization is a decision-making process that employs data, algorithms and software to make recommendations faster and more accurately than humans." This is a great example of how technology can allow manufacturers to experiment without making broad assumptions.
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How Can The Internet Of Things Improve Customer Relations?

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improving-customer-relations The Internet of Things presents an opportunity to return to the old ways of interacting with customers — tailored to the 21st century, of course. Face-to-face interaction was lost as manufacturers transitioned from regional to global companies. But today’s technology enables companies to extend a “virtual handshake.”
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3 Ways Manufacturers Can Improve Customer Service

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improving-manufacturing-customer-service Manufacturers must know their operations inside and out in order to provide the highest possible level of customer service. You should be tuned into customers’ needs in addition to your own capabilities and operations. There are three key ways to improve customer service in the sales and production processes.
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What's Standing In The Way Of Innovation?

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manufacturing-innovation-roadblocks	|	Photo Coursey of	Depositphotos	http://depositphotos.com/11238831/stock-photo-Innovation-Idea.html?sst=100&sqc=270&sqm=84538&sq=29ckxr An article on the Manufacturing.net website links the declining capacity of manufacturing in the U.S. with its reduced capacity to innovate. The big question is this: What's getting in the way of innovation? In many cases, we've lost our focus as a nation when it comes to differentiating ourselves with the products and services we produce.
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How Are Mobile Solutions Transforming Manufacturing?

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mobile-manufacturing-solutions	|	Photo Coursey of	Depositphotos	http://depositphotos.com/18813489/stock-photo-engineer-oil-refinery.html?sst=0&sqc=11&sqm=271&sq=2ev8ur Mobile solutions are transforming the way manufacturers do business, allowing for more efficient operations and greater visibility. According to an article on TMCnet.com, more companies are using mobile devices to get data from the shop floor into the hands of executives anywhere and at any time. Greater visibility makes for better decision-making.
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3 Areas Where Manufacturers Can Use Workflow Visibility To Improve Accounting

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improve-visibility-workflow-accounting	|	Photo Coursey of	Depositphotos	http://depositphotos.com/25142551/stock-photo-Modern-business-workflow.html?sqc=10&sqm=31&sq=2evsql Manufacturers should leverage the workflow visibility that ERP systems provide to gain better insight and control of their accounting department. ERP systems allow manufacturers to formalize, automate and monitor the policies and procedures associated with accounting. Visibility can improve accounting practices in three areas in particular.
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Why Must Manufacturers Foster A Culture Of Innovation?

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fostering-culture-innovation	|	Photo Coursey of	Depositphotos	http://depositphotos.com/1298416/stock-photo-Energy-saving-lightbulb.html?sst=100&sqc=206&sqm=22737&sq=2cwuzd Innovation must be ingrained in a company's culture for it to actually develop innovative products. A blog post on the Manufacturing.net website argues that innovation is frequently misused to refer to any kind of product development, such as tweaking an existing product. However, "real innovation is developing something no one else dreamed of."
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How Can Manufacturers And Suppliers Work Together To Eliminate Inefficiencies?

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manufacturing-suppliers-eliminate-efficiencies	|	Photo Coursey of	Depositphotos	http://depositphotos.com/8935824/stock-photo-Refinery-workers-oil-and-gas-industry.html?sst=100&sqc=270&sqm=863369&sq=2e69nz Manufacturers and suppliers can team up to identify areas where waste occurs from end to end in the supply chain. According to a post on the Supply Chain Management blog, many businesses focus on what they can do within their walls to achieve leaner processes, but it's important to look outside as well.
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3 Ways Technology Can Help Bridge The Skills Gap

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bridge-skills-gap	|	Photo Coursey of	Depositphotos	http://depositphotos.com/6435973/stock-illustration-Bridge-to-join-diverse-network-merger-membership.html?sqc=22&sqm=258&sq=1xslnd An article on the Today's Energy Solutions website discusses the role technology plays in supporting lean operations. Even if manufacturers become leaner, it's unlikely they'll be lean enough to compensate for the skills gap in the industry. It's important to address the alternatives and realize how technologists can help program machines.
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4 Tips To Improve The Quote-To-Order Process

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improve-quota-to-order-process	|	Photo Coursey of	Depositphotos	http://depositphotos.com/34705167/stock-illustration-Modern-management-and-business-process.-Virtual-desktop.-Flat-design-style.html?sq=2e6681 Manufacturers should put their energy into pursuing clients that will be a good fit rather than wasting resources on long shots. You need to target the right work, determine whether you can deliver what a prospect wants, demonstrate how you can add value, and finally, be persistent so all that work doesn’t go to waste.
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How Can Manufacturing Executives Foster Innovation?

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fostering-manufacturing-innovation	|	Photo Coursey of	Depositphotos	http://depositphotos.com/24480971/stock-illustration-Innovation-concept..html?sqc=13&sqm=81673&sq=29ckxr When it comes to innovation and productivity, the best ideas are going to come from the people who are on the shop floor and closest to the processes every day. An article on the Manufacturing.net website illustrates why manufacturing leaders must allow those closest to the work to help define the greatest opportunities for improvement.
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How Can Barcodes And RFID Technology Increase Inventory Visibility?

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barcodes-rfid-technology	|	Photo Coursey of	Depositphotos	http://depositphotos.com/8737656/stock-illustration-Rfid-chip-radio-label-award-were-stolen-identification-label-copper-send-vector-data.html?sqc=0&sqm=623&sq=2daca5 Barcodes and RFIDs can give manufacturers increased visibility into inventory levels and have features that help increase warehouse efficiency. More companies are implementing RF-SMART technology into their visual inventory management systems. When employees see inventory has dropped to a certain level, they simply scan a barcode to reorder.
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5 Steps For Improving Design-To-Order And Engineer-To-Order Processes

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improving-order-processes	|	Photo Coursey of	Depositphotos	http://depositphotos.com/14170626/stock-photo-Female-hand-holding-up-the-number-5-from-the-bottom.html?sst=100&sqc=240&sqm=50189&sq=2dabvx Manufacturers can eliminate inefficiencies in their engineer-to-order and design-to-order processes. The key is to know where to look. To start making improvements, follow these five steps: define the process, evaluate information, track progress, configure parts versus creating new designs and re-engineer for efficiency.
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How Are Manufacturers Adapting To Technological Changes?

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manufacturing-technology-adaptations	|	Photo Coursey of	Depositphotos	http://depositphotos.com/29573211/stock-photo-man-operating-factory-machinery.html?sqc=59&sqm=24636&sq=2dac7b According to an article on the ThomasNet News website, manufacturers are increasingly open to adopting new technology to improve their operations. Companies have embraced new tools, such as mobile devices, and they must continue to move in this direction, particularly with the younger generation being so open to using technologies.
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How Is Automation Improving Manufacturing Jobs?

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manufactruing-job-automation	|	Photo Coursey of	Depositphotos	http://depositphotos.com/33434001/stock-photo-spinning-plant-machinery-and-equipment.html?sst=200&sqc=435&sqm=7004&sq=1xs8jv Contrary to popular belief, technology isn’t killing jobs in the manufacturing sector. An article on the Manufacturing.net website outlines a common refrain that automation is responsible for high unemployment. In reality, there’s a shortage of people in manufacturing. The workforce is exiting faster than the industry can replace them.
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4 Key Areas Of Expansion That Manufacturers Can Pursue

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manufacturing-expansion-opportunities	|	Photo Coursey of	Depositphotos	http://depositphotos.com/24396723/stock-photo-Growth-And-Expansion.html?sqc=14&sqm=2858&sq=2ccva3 Manufacturers looking to expand must take a long, hard look at their existing relationships, customers and operations. You can’t jump blindly into an expansion initiative. Once you’re tuned into yourself and your customers, you must identify the best way to expand. There are several areas of expansion you can pursue.
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Which Cloud Service Is Best For Leveraging Your Manufacturing Assets?

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leveraging-manufacturing-assets	|	Photo Coursey of	Depositphotos	http://depositphotos.com/33606639/stock-illustration-Business-Cooperation-Concept-with-Gray-Globe.html?sst=300&sqc=657&sqm=3149&sq=1tylp1 According to an article on the Manufacturing Digital website, "cloud computing is a powerful tool for manufacturers who must tightly control capital expenditures." While there are many cloud-based services available, the key is to pick one that is reliable and can support your business. The article explains SaaS, IaaS and DRaaS in plain English.
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How Can Analytics Help Manufacturers Turn Big Data Into An Advantage?

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transforming-big-data	|	Photo Coursey of	Depositphotos	http://depositphotos.com/33341489/stock-photo-Analyzing-Data-on-Computer.html?sst=300&sqc=665&sqm=3149&sq=1tylp1 Most manufacturing businesses lack the capability to drill down deep into Big Data, but new technology can help make sense of it all. According to an article on the Data Informed website, 90 percent of manufacturers struggle with increasing the efficacy of their supply chain. Improving analytics could help them overcome this hurdle.
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How Should Manufacturers Address The Skills Gap?

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manufacturing-skills-gap	|	Photo Coursey of	Depositphotos	http://depositphotos.com/18207475/stock-photo-Young-adults-in-training-course-using-touchpad-.html?sqc=18&sqm=200079&sq=29co6v An article on the IndustryWeek website says the manufacturing skills gap "is a very real and serious issue that threatens the bottom line, and, if left unchecked, the industry itself." Manufacturers need detailed plans outlining the diversity of skills they'll need, plus a focus on developing competencies such as problem-solving and leadership.
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Why Should R&D Be Closely Aligned With Manufacturing To Drive Innovation?

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research-development-manufacturing-innovation	|	Photo Coursey of	Depositphotos	http://depositphotos.com/11208375/stock-photo-Business-team-analyzing-market-research.html?sst=100&sqc=203&sqm=156705&sq=2bb759 Your ability to come up with new ideas is compromised if all you're doing is sitting in a lab while foreign workers build your products an ocean away. An article on the IndustryWeek website describes how the U.S. became the global leader of innovation following World War II, with manufacturing being closely aligned with research and development.
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How Can Partnerships With Suppliers Support Lean Manufacturing?

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lean-manufacturing-supplier-management	|	Photo Coursey of	Depositphotos	http://depositphotos.com/1148418/stock-photo-Handshake.html?sqc=1&sqm=74906&sq=1upaxb Forming alliances with suppliers can help manufacturers become leaner by cutting waste and improving overall product delivery. An article on the Manufacturing Digital website outlines how companies need to determine which expenditures represent waste. Innovation comes from a supplier and the parent company working together to provide value.
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5 Tips To Improve Order Management

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improving-order-management	|	Photo Coursey of	Depositphotos	http://depositphotos.com/30186895/stock-photo-Business-strategy.html?id=30186895 Manufacturers looking to improve order management should take a holistic approach that supports collaboration, communication and accountability. While improving order management is a major priority for companies, businesses often struggle with inaccurate or untimely data going into the system. Four tips can help improve order management.
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How Can Manufacturers Improve On-Budget Product Delivery?

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on-budget-product-delivery	|	Photo Coursey of	Depositphotos	http://depositphotos.com/24961269/stock-photo-Manager-on-the-warehouse.html?id=24961269 On-budget product delivery starts with manufacturers getting input from everyone in a project’s ecosystem. It’s common to see a lack of involvement from everyone in the value stream contributing to a product. As a result, businesses often don’t have the full perspective on a project. Communication and collaboration are essential.
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How Can Dashboards Effectively Communicate Data At A Glance?

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effectively-communicating-data	|	Photo Coursey of	Depositphotos	http://depositphotos.com/13742814/stock-photo-Touch-screen-technology.html?sqc=6&sqm=6084&sq=2a1q3l Manufacturers generally know what kind of information to track, but the trick is presenting it so that people can see it at a glance and actually retain it. If you want people to see things at a glance, your dashboard should have a single surface rather than a series of pages.
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Why Should Manufacturers Mine Equipment Data From Various Sources?

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mining-equipment-data	|	Photo Coursey of	Depositphotos	http://depositphotos.com/33193273/stock-illustration-Website-SEO-and-analytics-icons-.html?sqc=54&sqm=3028&sq=1tylp1 Manufacturers are gathering more information about their equipment and environment as they seek to improve operations. An article on the Sustainable Plant website shows how they’re pulling from different sources. The future is about drawing correlations between what’s happening at the machine level to the outcome of the product.
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9 Tips For Developing A Strong Workforce

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developing-strong-workforce	|	Photo Coursey of	Depositphotos	http://st.depositphotos.com/1743476/2446/i/110/depositphotos_24461953-Teamwork-and-support.jpg Processes and technology are often the focus when talking about improving operations, but people remain a critical element of any business. It’s important to foster a working environment in which people feel valued and want to contribute to the success of the company. An IndustryWeek website article outlines how to develop high-performing teams.
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Will Consumers Embrace 'Made In America'?

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american-manufacturing-acceptance	|	Photo Coursey of	Depositphotos	http://depositphotos.com/24573813/stock-photo-Made-in-america-stamp.html?sqc=5&sqm=3671&sq=2a1nql Domestic manufacturing is in vogue as more companies seek to take advantage of the benefits of being "Made in America." A recent article on the Forbes website highlights how major corporations are turning from overseas manufacturing to domestic production. It's important that there's branding going on around U.S.-made goods.
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What Role Will 3-D Printing Play In The Future Of Manufacturing?

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3d-printing-manufacturing-industry	|	Photo Coursey of	Depositphotos	http://st.depositphotos.com/1247246/1930/i/110/depositphotos_19300035-Machine.jpg The field of 3-D printing offers many benefits, but the technology also has limitations that ensure the continued presence of mass manufacturing. An article on the CNNMoney website questions whether 3-D printing "has finally reached its tipping point." That's a question many people are starting to ask. It's important that the industry has the right expectations.
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4 Steps To Achieve Real-World Results With Continuous Improvement

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achieving-real-world-results	|	Photo Coursey of	Depositphotos	http://st.depositphotos.com/1962533/2794/i/110/depositphotos_27943445-Success.jpg A post on Manufacturing.net explains how continuous improvement can help you realize real-world results quickly instead of trying to complete one major improvement project that takes months before you see any measurable benefits. To be successful, organizations need to follow a four-step process.
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How Can Wearable Technology Increase Efficiency?

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wearable-technology-increases-efficiency	|	Photo Coursey of	Depositphotos	http://st.depositphotos.com/1202217/2400/i/110/depositphotos_24000113-Womans-hand-and-two-finger-on-touch-screen.jpg | Photo Courtesy of Depositphotos Technology is bringing information, data and decision-making closer to the work performed on the shop floor. That's why manufacturers increasingly are bringing computers to people to record data where they do their work. A post on the Harvard Business Review website highlights several examples of how this technology can increase efficiency.
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How Can Manufacturers Capture Product Cost And Profitability?

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manufacturing-business-intelligence	|	Photo Coursey of	Depositphotos	http://depositphotos.com/21187195/stock-photo-Hi-tech-analysis.html?sqc=1&sqm=2885&sq=1tylp1 Manufacturers must identify the true costs of production and figure out how to manage the factors they can to maximize profitability. It's important to understand the drivers of cost and to realize there aren't many variables other than materials, labor and overhead. Start by identifying the most critical component.
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What's The Key To Improving On-Time Delivery Rates?

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improving-delivery-rates	|	Photo Coursey of	Depositphotos	http://depositphotos.com/1956873/stock-photo-Out-of-Time.html?sqc=15&sqm=321458&sq=27p7np Sharing information between people and processes is vital for manufacturers to improve on-time delivery rates. It all starts with production planning. The route that anything moves through a plant and the times associated with production at each work cell need to be accurate. Furthermore, that information must be available to relevant employees.
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3 Factors Manufacturers Should Consider Before Relocating

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manufacturing-relocation-management	|	Photo Courtesy of	Depositphotos	http://depositphotos.com/15337499/stock-photo-businessman-having-questions.html?sqc=2&sqm=32832&sq=16b3e5 Manufacturers looking to relocate should approach the matter scientifically to determine where they can find the most success. Many companies are recognizing that the geography of their customers and suppliers is changing. Before moving, any decision to relocate should be carefully evaluated in terms of location, performance and constituencies.
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3 Examples Of Industry Executives Working To Reverse The Stigma Of Manufacturing Jobs

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manufacturing-industry-jobs	|	Photo Coursey of	Depositphotos	http://depositphotos.com/12085693/stock-photo-Expalining-a-project.html?sq=27mt23 Hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs go unfilled in part due to misperceptions about the industry. On the Huffington Post website, Robert L. Breuder, president of the College of DuPage, writes that manufacturing is a major aspect of American life, but many people don't seek careers in the field due to the stigma associated with it.
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How Does Visibility Change Supply Chain Operations?

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supply-chain-operations-visibility	|	Photo Courtesy of	Depositphotos	http://depositphotos.com/26812479/stock-photo-Digital-tablet-showing-charts-and-diagram.html?sst=100&sqc=231&sqm=2875&sq=1tylp1 As visibility becomes more prevalent, executives should understand what it does and how to adapt to the changes that result. Employees have a lot of information, and the accuracy, timeliness and integrity of that information are crucial. You must make sure you're using the data so it supports the strategy, metrics and behavior you want to achieve.
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3 Areas Where Technology And Process Improvement Can Advance An Organization

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Companies looking to become leaner must look at how to best get technology, business processes and employees working in sync. There are three key areas where technology and process improvement can advance an organization: decision-making, collaboration and throughput. Improvements in these areas can significantly enhance operations.

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How Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) Can Help Quantify The Cost Of Downtime

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Everyone knows idle equipment due to disruptions is money lost, but according to an article on the IndustryWeek website, many manufacturers don't have technologies in place that could save them from the worst of unplanned downtime. Overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) is a critical measurement that people need to understand.

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Why Should Organizations Leverage Their Supply Chain Around Strategic Thinking?

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Manufacturers with an integrated distribution system are better positioned to assess their supply chain and take advantage of it. A study reported on the MIT News website found that companies with mature risk processes are more successful than those without. Organizations can truly start to leverage their supply chain with strategic thinking.

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How Can Value-Stream Mapping Help To Assess The Human Element?

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Value-stream mapping looks at all that goes into operations, but businesses often miss a critical element of the process: people. A white paper on the Lean Enterprise Institute website discusses value-stream mapping and how it can identify inefficiencies. It's important to look at the capacity, capability and engagement of your human assets.

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What's The Best Way For Leaders To Handle Operational Shifts?

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Executives looking to shift gears in their operations must ensure that employees understand what is happening, why and what their role is. Leaders need to understand what's going on in the minds of the people receiving the message to transition. A recent article on the Harvard Business Review blog outlines a real-world example of this.
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