Until quite recently, small and medium-sized manufacturers didn’t have the capital to be able to invest in purpose-designed manufacturing software.
This created an imbalance between major enterprise-level manufacturers and smaller operators, leading many of them to seek out more affordable (but inherently less efficient) solutions.
Fortunately, there is now a wide market for small and medium-level manufacturing software, including our own product, Opto Software. However, many smaller manufacturers are still unsure whether investing in purpose-designed software is worth it.
One of the major misconceptions that dissuades manufacturers from putting aside the capital for this kind of software is that they can manage without it – but just as a CNC machine runs on software, so should a manufacturing process.
Listed below are just a handful of the situations that can be solved by opting for specialist software over manual fixes.
1. My processes or workflow are complex
It’s the complexity of your process, not the size of your operation, that should dictate whether you invest in software or not. Too often, smaller manufacturers presume their size disqualifies them from finding value in high-grade software.
They should first consider the complexity of their process – even a huge factory with basic processes would only need a basic software solution. On the other hand, a small factory with complex processes and inventory needs would require a far more powerful software solution.
2. Use of multiple software products is creating errors and inefficiencies
Instead of dedicated software systems, many small and mid-size manufacturers opt for retail-grade software to manually manage their whole workflow, from inventory to purchasing, reporting and scheduling.
This creates problems on multiple levels. Double-handling, manual data input and migration and human error make this a time-consuming affair in all but the simplest of situations.
Manufacturing businesses need to objectively calculate the real cost of errors and inefficiencies, and weigh this up against the projected costs and benefits of investing in a specialised manufacturing software solution.
3. Manufacturing and business operations aren’t integrated
Many manufacturers, up to around the mid-size level, separate the manufacturing aspect from their business operations – not necessarily by choice, but because this is how their businesses have organically developed.
The issue with separating these two sides of a manufacturing operation are similar to those outlined in the previous point: if multiple sources and inputs for data aren’t integrated, they cause errors and inefficiency.
No matter how skilled your staff or software operators are, errors will occur and man-hours will be wasted. The smaller the business, the more impact this will have on your day-to-day financial performance.
4. I experience stop-start workflows and processes
One of the most common problems manufacturers experience is interrupted workflows, which occur while waiting for inventory, BOM updates, and so on.
Whether you are operating on a lean basis or not, an efficient mating of all purchasing, inventory, order management, scheduling, etc. is vital. This is true for manufacturers of all sizes – small or large.
If your manufacturing business experiences any of the above realities, it is recommended that you start to research the possibility of investing in a dedicated, purpose-designed manufacturing software solution.
At the very least, performing a detailed analysis of your processes and workflows will help you identify areas of inefficiency or error-prone double handling.