In manufacturing, constantly increasing demands apply immense pressure to supply. According to a Deloitte report, ever shorter product life cycles must be delivered. To achieve this, agile manufacturing practices are a necessity. On the other hand, the facilities management (FM) and the property sector carry the heavy burden to reduce costs, while adding more value to clients’ core businesses.
In both industries, continuous operational efficiency improvement is largely being achieved through technological innovation. Those who are shying away from the digital transformation journey will soon be outpaced, living in a world of Model T Ford while their competitors hightail it to success in a Tesla Roadster.
According to Heilet Scholtz, Executive at EOH Infor Services, “This digital revolution is giving businesses the power to deliver value with connected intelligence, greater access to reliable information, and the implementation of exceptional, automated systems that work.”
One of the largest manufacturers of wood based, raw board, plywood and decorative panel products in South Africa, PG Bison, took part in a panel discussion at the event. PG Bison has embraced Industry 4.0, and recently completed the upgrade of its Infor LN software. “We previously had a highly, highly customised system in place, which prevented us from actually gaining value from the maintenance fees we were paying every year,” explains Christy De Abreu, Group Information Services Manager at PG Bison. “Despite the cost, we were not able to utilise bug testers and the new technology. We had to change the way we deploy solutions and put down the building blocks so that we could upgrade all the time, as fast as we can, as soon as there’s new technology available.” Extracting value is the company’s focus, and with this upgrade it is being achieved.
The manufacturer uses innovative technology to integrate its enterprise resource planning (ERP) system into its lead time quoting tool. This helps the company to determines the best turnaround times that can be offered to clients. “We can now gain access to the price immediately, feeding information back into the lead time quoting tool to raise orders automatically,” adds De Abreu. With automated document management and warehouse mobility solutions also now in place, optimal operations ensure enhanced profits and greater customer satisfaction.
In the real estate and FM space, location-based services are becoming increasingly critical to business operations. As an expert in the field, the Managing Director of the FM Institute, Hellen El Haimer, shared some examples of digital disruption in the FM and property management sector.
“In the retail industry location-based analytics are required to predictively understand customer behaviour and determine what is required in the next cycle for that customer. This is as important in the real estate space because it is all about locating tenants,” states El Haimer. “It’s about agility, which is challenging in the property sector. The visibility of information is one thing, but how do you use that information? Big data is becoming bigger, there’s a whole lot of it available and at certain points it can overwhelm.”
Adding that analytics and diagnostics are critical components of the digital journey, she confirms that synergy must be found between a digital era of wearable technology and working remotely, and the investment that has already been made in physical office space. This is often a barrier in the industry when considering a move to cloud-based business.
“In this industry, it’s not a simple solution. It is about understanding what exactly the next curve is going to be. Location based services are extremely important, both for understanding how your customer functions and tracking the health of your employees,” adds El Haimer.
“The biggest question that our clients are asking about technology is, ‘Is it modular – can it be scaled up or down?’. This is why we must create an understanding of the client’s DNA to create the right digital fit,” concludes El Haimer. “Stakeholders want to know that their technology acquisition will have a direct impact on growth, and they want to see it in the numbers.”