Big Data

Adopting a Software Mindset in Manufacturing

Automation Alley
January 5, 2023
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Photo by ThisisEngineering RAEng on Unsplash

Photo by ThisisEngineering RAEng on Unsplash


Manufacturers can succeed in the future of the industry by adopting a software-centered approach today. This overview goes over software deployed in the manufacturing industry and how to use it to its fullest potential.

The adage “work smarter, not harder” has held true over the years in many respects. This is especially true of manufacturing, where companies are now turning to software to help them stay ahead of the competition. From improving efficiency and quality control to helping manufacturers scale operations, digital transformation has become an essential tool for staying competitive in today's market. In this article, we'll explain the relevance of manufacturing software, the options that exist to businesses, and what benefits are in store for those that adopt it.

Why Software Is an Inevitable Part of The Manufacturing Sector's Future

Anyone who doesn't have their head in the sand knows that technology is quickly revolutionizing the manufacturing sector. It, like practically every other industry to date, has become increasingly influenced by the trends of digital transformation and begun ditching age-old ways of doing things for newer, more advanced processes.

The proof of this is everywhere, from IoT-integrated factories to biometric safety gear for technicians. Most places have gotten to the point where everything, or almost everything, they use to get work done is digitally connected, and experts only expect that reality to further solidify in the future.

With these changes in mind, it's impossible to deny the fact that software is now an essential need in the manufacturing sector. As a program that coordinates the functions of digital tools, it's the missing piece of the puzzle that will be necessary for organizations who want to use these parts together, and to their full potential. Statistics back this up: big data in the manufacturing industry was estimated to be worth $3.22 billion in 2018, while the manufacturing operations management (MOM) software market's size is expected to hit $15.21 billion by 2026. This beckons a mass change in where dollars will go in the future, and likewise where manufacturers’ priorities should be.

Exploring the Different Types of Manufacturing Software and How They're Used

Manufacturing software is a broad term used to refer to digital tools that streamline a factory's operations. Not all products perform the same function — some will handle specific needs pertaining to procurement, while others address risk or compliance. Below is a breakdown of some of the most popular forms of manufacturing software and what each does.

  • ERP Manufacturing Software: Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software helps manufacturers deal with the administrative side of business operations, from inventory management and financials to supply chain operations, project management, and regulatory compliance.
  • CMMS Software for Manufacturing: Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS) centralize a facility's maintenance information to ensure processes are administered as efficiently as possible.
  • Computer Aided Manufacturing Software: CAM works with various pieces of software and computer-controlled machinery (like 3D printers, laser cutters and milling machines) to automate manufacturing processes.
  • EHS Software for Manufacturing: Environment, Health, and Safety (EHS) tools offer a range of functionalities designed to help companies comply with EHS regulations.
  • ETO Manufacturing Software: Engineer To Order (ETO) software helps manufacturers create accurate quotes for custom goods.
  • Inventory Management Software: This software helps facilities keep optimize their inventory with tracking tools and analytics features.
  • Manufacturing Process Management Software: Compiling manufacturing data, Manufacturing Process Management Software identifies ways existing processes can be made more efficient.  

What Performance Gains Does Software Have to Offer?

Manufacturing software isn't always an easy investment or transition. Despite its growing popularity, some businesses have yet to fully embrace the technology and its potential to change the status quo. They reason their decision with arguments like cost, time and the risk of disrupting existing operations.

However, the fact remains that digital transformation is here to stay, and the performance benefits of software are too great to ignore. Here are a few key areas where manufacturers can gain significant competitive advantages by investing in the right solution:

Efficiency Gains  

Manufacturing software provides a number of solutions that make processes more efficient, from reducing manual data entry to automating complicated tasks. By doing so, they help manufacturers reduce costs and improve production times. As an example, CMMS software automates the scheduling of maintenance tasks to ensure factory equipment remains operating at its peak efficiency. The software can also detect problems before they disrupt operations, preventing downtime. By being proactive with this technology, manufacturers can improve the production line without needing to hire more staff or invest in additional resources.

Improved Quality Control

The ability to monitor and regulate production quality from end-to-end is one of the key benefits of manufacturing software. Quality control modules can track and manage quality assurance across the entire production cycle, from raw material procurement to the delivery of finished goods. This ensures quality is maintained throughout and any discrepancies are flagged up quickly, enabling manufacturers to apply rapid corrective action.

Operational Scalability

Manufacturing software helps businesses scale their operations quickly and efficiently without needing to invest in additional tools or labor. By tracking production in real-time, manufacturers can make informed decisions to scale up or down operations quickly depending on demand. This also helps them keep their costs low while maximizing profits.

Remaining Competitive

Ask any manufacturer, and they'll tell you that the industry is competitive. Those with foresight will also probably realize the fact that it's only set to become more so in the future. As technology continues to evolve, facilities will have the opportunity to increase their output, reduce waste and provide more value to customers than ever before. Those that fail to rise to the occasion are likely to be swept away by those who do.

There's no doubt about the fact that technology will lead the world's growth into the 21st century. Whether we're talking about manufacturing in particular or any other sector, the importance of software and digital transformation in helping businesses stay competitive can't be overstated. By making a point of getting started now, manufacturers can enjoy the early-mover advantage and put themselves in a position to succeed in the coming years.

Automation Alley
Automation Alley

Automation Alley is a World Economic Forum Advanced Manufacturing Hub (AMHUB) for North America and a nonprofit Industry 4.0 knowledge center with a global outlook and a regional focus. We facilitate public-private partnerships by connecting industry, education and government to fuel Michigan's economy.

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