Business moves fast. In order to keep up with the ever-increasing speed of the modern global economy, business owners are forced to make quick decisions. How can a manufacturer be sure he or she has access to all necessary data to make decisions in the moment?

Uninformed decisions
Information Age magazine recently conducted research with the ICM group, finding the majority of workers they surveyed felt like they had made an uniformed decision during their careers. Of the respondents who participated, a third of them said they were being forced to make decisions without the necessary data on a weekly basis and 14 percent said it was a daily occurrence.

When it comes to manufacturing, research suggests most management isn't utilizing real-time information provided by the production floor when making decisions. In 2014, the Rockwell Automation Group released a report indicating only 14 percent of executives have their plant floor data integrated with their enterprise systems.

Risks of missing data
Efficiency is the key to manufacturing success. The ability to create high-quality products as quickly as possible without any time or resources lost to mistakes can make or break a company. If a manufacturing head makes decisions that affect the production line, inventory, shipping, floor workers or any other aspect of the company, visibility of these processes is of the utmost importance.

The Information Age report found that individuals who were forced to make decisions or fix mistakes without all the available information were much more likely to make errors and fear for their jobs and professional reputations. This could lead to higher employee turnover and inefficient production.

Automation World shared the example of an aluminum extrusion company in need of better data sharing practices. In order to create products, the company's operators needed to consider temperature, pressure and speed of their assembly lines. When the management of the aluminum business realized their production was falling behind competitive standards, it insisted on improving production time but didn't know which element of the process was causing the delays. The aluminum extrusions company turned to software solutions to provide the necessary data.

Opportunity provided by ERP solutions
Enterprise resource planning software provides decision-makers with automatic data capture to instantly receive the information they need to improve manufacturing efficiency.

Every piece of data generated by a production process can be captured to a single source and shared with those who need it. The information can be pulled up in any office or on the production floor using a mobile device. It means floor operators and management are working with the same data set and can see the same results of process changes.

Manufacturers effectively using ERP solutions will have insight on end-to-end production practices in real-time. The second a problem is detected, a solution can be shared across the company. As soon as a decision is made, the results can be measured and quantified using factual data. It is an effective way for users to compare actual performance vs. planned performance. There is no reason for any member of a company to have to make a blind decision.

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