When looking at the practice of information technology in the manufacturing industry, a wide range of use-cases are revealed. Everything from the robotic lines of an automobile plant to the accounting software used by a small parts shop falls under the umbrella of IT. When a managed service providers looks at expanding their business portfolio to support manufacturers, what are some of the things they need to consider?
Operational Excellence Key to many Large Manufacturing Companies
The drive for operational excellence and continuous improvement leads many larger enterprises with a factory production presence to implement a variety of programs to meet these goals. Six Sigma is one obvious example of a program earmarked to achieve operational improvement at a company. In many cases, Six Sigma benefits from a variety of software applications to help measure, analyze, and control factory processes.
Whether or not an enterprise implements a Six Sigma program by name, the same principles important for process improvement become part of the daily routine at companies striving for a competitive advantage in their sector. An MSP planning on supporting manufacturers need to familiarize themselves with the operational concepts behind process improvement, as well as the software systems that support Six Sigma and other similar programs.
ERP Software is used by many Manufacturers
Many companies with a factory presence leverage enterprise resource planning (ERP) software to provide another means of operational improvement for their company. The German company, SAP, is arguably the biggest player in ERP software, with many large companies — either in or out of the manufacturing industry — relying on SAP ERP for their daily operations. While different modules of SAP ERP handle accounting or HR functionality, the software’s operations module supports the processes around procurement, logistics, and manufacturing, with analytical tools providing the optimization of the entire operation.
Managed service providers supporting these manufacturers need to become experts in SAP and its entire range of modules from financials to operations. There are copious opportunities for MSPs providing SAP business analysis, programming, and general information technology services to the manufacturing sector.
Staying ahead of the Advancing Technology Curve
The potential that 3D printing brings to manufacturers is something that managed service providers need to pay close attention to. This is an entire new area of equipment and applications that looks to revolutionize the entire sector over the next 10 years, if not sooner. Obviously, information technology service providers will play an important part in companies successfully implementing and benefiting from 3D printing, and as such must focus a portion of their daily efforts to researching new technologies and their potential effects on the MSP role of supporting business.
The manufacturing industry requires a unique set of skills from the managed service provider. MSPs in this sector must know their Six Sigma, be well-versed in SAP and other ERP software systems, all while staying abreast of the latest and greatest in technology, like the advent of 3D printing. The MSP able to do all three of those things has the potential for a very lucrative business.