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You and Yours – How ERP is helping drive digitalisation in UK manufacturing

Last month saw the publication of an interim report from the Industrial Digitalisation Review, with the final recommendations due to be presented to Government later this year. So far, over 200 companies from throughout the UK have been involved in the review, which aims to identify and ‘unlock’ the opportunities that Industrial Digitalisation could create for the UK.

The report makes for interesting reading, but one of its findings which particularly caught our eye was the fact that the UK is behind other countries on overall productivity (output per worker). This is being attributed, in part, to lower levels of adoption of digital and automation technology, particularly among UK SMEs. The report suggests that the faster adoption of industrial digital technologies (IDT) could become a key driver of improved productivity, global competitiveness and increased exports, but it also highlights the fact that a number of barriers are hampering widespread adoption of automation among SMEs.

So how can we as a nation reverse this trend, boost overall productivity and encourage our SMEs and other businesses to embrace the myriad of benefits that automation and digitisation have to offer? In my view, rather than talking about the rather abstract ‘big picture’ of digitalisation at a national level, we need to help business owners understand what automation can do for them and their individual business. That’s why I’ve called this blog ‘Y is for You and Yours’ – I want to look at the role that automation, specifically ERP, can play in moving you and your employees forward on your own digitisation journey.

Making ERP work for you

The key to increasing a business’ productivity is improving efficiency. And in turn, the key to improving efficiency is better workflow visibility. If digitisation was a puzzle, then improved workflow visibility would be the first and most important piece. Technology and software that deliver a better understanding of workflow visibility put businesses in a much stronger position to move closer towards digitisation and Industry 4.0. And this is where ERP comes in. Solutions such as SYSPRO ERP, and our add-on K3 Equator family of products, help with visibility of workflow from the shop floor through to senior management, delivering clarity, transparency and integration throughout your entire operation.

Let’s take a look at some of the ways in which ERP systems can help improve workflow visibility:

  • Information from the shop floor can be collected and collated automatically. Our Equator HR Shop Floor Data Collection module, for example, quickly and easily captures information about each operation or activity as it is performed
  • Via our Time and Attendance module, you can electronically capture time and attendance details for any number of employees
  • You can control and monitor employee movements through any internal or external doors by using our Access Control module
  • Our Equator Employee Portal enables you to free up your HR professionals from routine administrative tasks as employees can view or modify their own personal information from a web browser. The portal also tracks holiday bookings and training days, so workloads can be easily delegated to avoid any potential skills gaps on projects

Another area where ERP really comes into its own is its ability to integrate all the individual parts of a business together. Different departments using different software is recognised as being a big barrier to digitisation. If you are introducing a vital piece of technology it needs to be able to connect all parts of the business together, from HR and accounts, to compliance and document management. SYSPRO ERP has been designed with this challenge in mind and we work with a number of best-of-breed partners who can bolt on to our ERP system to deliver an all-in-one solution for any manufacturing company.

Putting you in control

So what does all of this mean for your business?

A comprehensive ERP system gives you a much more complete view of your business.

Rather than being designed, as many other systems are, to support either management or shop floor staff, SYSPRO ERP ensures that everyone is involved and understands how the workload is being shared out and delivered.

Your employees reap the benefits of greater visibility at the shop floor level, improved performance, greater efficiencies in their jobs, and the feeling of being more in control and empowered in their roles. If your employees feel comfortable and confident about where they are on any given project at any given time, then there is less scope for things to go wrong.

From a management perspective, being armed with instant, real-time access to all of this information means that project workflows are easily traceable and manageable, work can be assigned with ease, and you never lose track of what should be completed and when. It makes it much more difficult for projects to get forgotten or left behind as tracking and delegation is all built in to one system.

Hopefully we’ve helped to highlight why, rather than shying away from automation and digitalisation, there has never been a better time to explore the opportunities that it can deliver…for you and yours.

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