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Remote monitoring is not a new phenomenon. The technology is already established as a standard part of control in manufacturing. By providing real-time insight into operations, remote monitoring enables manufacturers to make better decisions regardless of where they are located.
Today, manufacturing facilities are no longer a singular entity. Globalization has created sprawling supply chains, often encompassing multiple production sites and several countries. It should not be surprising then that the Annual Manufacturing Report for 2018 states that 80 percent of manufacturers believe that investing in smart factory technologies, like remote monitoring, is key to improving supply chain relationships. But what are the consequences of a poorly managed supply chain? Consider the following example.
An automotive manufacturer hasn’t received an order of electronic control units (ECUs) for its vehicles. Upon investigating, the manufacturer discovers its supplier has experienced a machine breakdown, delaying delivery by a few weeks. The delay means customers won’t receive their vehicles on their promised delivery dates, creating a backlog of complaints.
If a better relationship with the supplier had been maintained and remote monitoring been used to observe the supplier’s operations, the manufacturer could have been warned of the breakdown in real time. In this instance, the manufacturer could have minimized the financial and reputational damage, either by informing customers of their postponed deliveries or by finding a new supplier.
However, remote monitoring is not solely about error recognition and alerts. The technology can be used to create improvements in the supply chain. For sectors like food and beverage manufacturing that are volatile to changing customer trends, this network-wide insight can increase efficiency, competitiveness and profit.
For example, say a food producer has received negative feedback on a new and improved product recipe. Following an unsuccessful launch, the producer returns to the original formula, requiring immediate changes to raw material orders. When integrated with enterprise systems, like enterprise resource planning (ERP), remote monitoring can identify which suppliers have the capacity to deliver quickly, efficiently and at the best price.
Some manufacturers may be skeptical about the security risks associated with connecting their entire supply chain, but modern software is designed with various permission layers and encryption between the chain and the cloud, making it possible to adopt these technologies while remaining safe from security breaches.
Maintaining a reliable and efficient supply chain is the backbone of successful manufacturing, regardless of the industry. With more than 80 percent of manufacturers investing in smart factory technologies to improve their supply chains, facilities simply cannot ignore the opportunity to maximize efficiencies with remote monitoring. While it may not be a new invention, failing to expand this technology across your networks could leave your supply chains lagging behind.
Jonathan Wilkins is the marketing director at EU Automation, an obsolete parts manufacturer.