Finding the right vendor for your new manufacturing technologies can take a significant amount of time. This addition of unnecessary time can not only lead to revenue losses, but also the decrease of throughput, productivity and overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) across your entire plant.
Meanwhile, plant floors that opt to build in-house software can be overwhelmed by the reality of how build projects may cost more compared to buying an out-of-the-box solution from a trusted vendor.
That’s why it’s integral to have best practices in place when it comes to searching for the right smart factory software. This post will guide you through the key steps you should take before fully committing to a provider.
Three key search phases
The first step toward finding the best smart factory software vendor is having a thorough understanding of your manufacturing floor even before approaching any provider. This involves being able to confidently define your operational objectives, the capabilities you’re looking for, as well as what the technological requirements are for your plant floor.
Next, ensure that you know how to evaluate not only the vendors themselves, but the products as well. There are plenty of software solutions available on the market, so it’s vital to have a good understanding of what each solution offers and how it can potentially play a significant role in your manufacturing business.
The final phase involves taking all the information and data gathered from the search and evaluation phases to make a final decision. In finding and selecting the right vendor, your manufacturing business can improve in terms of production quality, increase the safety of workers and have the agility required to exceed production targets while resolving any issues related to the machines on the plant floor.
Smart factory checklist
The right smart factory platform should result in a high return-on-investment (ROI). To ensure that a solution can result in an ideal level of profitability, manufacturing decision makers must consider several key factors.
In terms of ROI, one of the first key factors pertains to the number of machines that are in each manufacturing plant. By having this information available, you can later compare the different vendors by the percentage of improvement. If the vendor can enable universal connectivity, for example, then a significant infrastructure overhaul may not be required of your facility.
Next, it’s important to factor in the estimated yearly investment per vendor. Ask questions and get the numbers on how much the software and platform will cost in the long term. This type of information is vital when it comes to figuring business losses and gains. Other key factors to take into account include the number of scheduled weekly hours and the burden rate per hour. Ultimately, ensure that the ROI is reasonable for your business.
Remember that evaluating too many vendors can result in an overload of information. This can hinder the overall search process as well. Therefore, ensure that experts and software researchers are ready to select a few specific vendors.
By focusing on the quality of vendors as opposed to quality, a manufacturing business can more easily and thoroughly understand the differences among the costs and capabilities of each vendor. Make sure that other key stakeholders and decision makers are informed of the decision as well, as they can provide further insights and prepare their teams for any upcoming changes to the plant floor.
Moreover, after selecting the vendor, it’s appropriate to start the implementation process as soon as possible. This is so that delays and downtimes can be minimized within one’s own manufacturing plant and the selected vendor.
There are several benefits to finding and selecting the right vendor for your new manufacturing technologies. Some advantages include the capability to have ongoing enhancements, dedicated support, useful integrations and add-ons, as well as little to no development risk. This guide went over some best practices to follow when it comes to bringing your manufacturing plant to the next level.