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How data-driven technology drives innovation in manufacturing

9 November, 2017
Manufacturing supportive blog image - machining equipment
How data-driven technology drives innovation in manufacturing

“For this business, innovation is its lifeblood – and as Greg Rowe confirms – innovative internal systems that adapt with your business are just as important as product innovation.”

Since the invention of a mixer tap by Thomas Campbell all the way back in 1880, the market hasn't seen such a revolutionary product in the tap manufacturing industry as the «Omni». This new multi-patented four-way tap, which dispenses filtered boiling and cold water, as well as normal hot and cold flows, was developed by British family business Greg Rowe Ltd. The product was a hit – the company won a prestigious Red Dot Design Award in 2016 and this year it is a finalist in The Manufacturer MX Awards.

But what does innovatation have to do with  software solutions, you might wonder?

Well for Greg Rowe it is everything!

“For this business, innovation is its lifeblood – and as Greg Rowe confirms – innovative internal systems that adapt with your business are just as important as product innovation.”

One of their internal systems at the heart of their business is Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Not only does it give them a full overview of the business in real time, it also enables Greg Rowe to gain insights directly from their customers, that help bring new cutting edge products to market.

"When it comes to innovation, it isn’t just about engineering; it’s about practical issues like how the product is installed and used. Having that insight helps you identify what exactly consumers are buying from you. In our case, it’s not taps, per se, it’s the quality of water and the temperature buyers want, in an instant." Said Greg Rowe, Managing Director of Greg Rowe LTD.

Changes in manufacturing

It goes without saying that as competitive pressures push the manufacturing sector to become more agile, innovative, and cost-effective, companies need to embrace advanced digital and analytical technologies to overcome these modern challenges.

But while hot topics in manufacturing impose buzzwords such as Industry 4.0, IoT, AI, Robotics and 3D printing, it is often forgotten that for all those new technologies, first and foremost, a manufacturing facility needs to have a data-driven, technology platform that will help streamline operations and improve productivity and profitability.

A modernised “central nervous system” that facilitates the exchange of information from all parts of the company is crucial to the digital transformation of manufacturing.

Our customer Greg Rowe was just one example that proves how a central platform itself is one of the main drivers of improvement and innovation.

Transformation at Natures Way Foods

Another great example is Natures Way Foods, who have transformed their business from shop floor, to warehouse, to supply chain, with the help of a new ERP system based on Microsoft Dynamics. 

Keeping to schedule is essential in the food business, especially during the process of Materials Requirements Planning (MRP).

Before, Natures Way Foods found itself tangled in MRP for an entire day and if they didn’t get it right first-time, they didn’t have the time to do it again. With Dynamics, it takes them only 36 minutes to run an MRP with the highest percentage of accuracy, which further leads to the production of better quality products and increased customer satisfaction.

Another massive benefit is that the platform follows the stock all the way through the system, from purchase to shelf, and it successfully deals with complex customer requirements.

“Our warehouse workers now use handheld devices with Dynamics on it, to ensure that the right products are sent to the right customers. That accuracy of the process is critical to us. With our service levels now being at 99.96 per cent, we certainly think that we exceed our competitors in that area.” Said Natures Way Foods CEO Susan Barratt.

Recognition of business transformation

Nature Ways Foods has won the 2017 Food Manufacture Excellence Award in the category of Supply Chain Initiative of the Year.

“The award is reflective of the commitment of our people and relationships with our partners such as Columbus UK.  We look to them to help us to continue to improve and deliver core processes and systems into our ever changing business.” Said Stewart Wilmot, Head of IT at Nature Way Foods.

As Nature Ways Food's head of IT announces, the company will continue its digital transformation thorugh the modernisation of its workflow, moving from paper to digital. Working with us, they are currently defining a strategy and are aiming to have it delivered by 2020.

Embracing the potential of technology is key for manufacturers who want to lead with innovation, and drive automation efficiency and competitive advantage.

If you want to know more about how we can support your technology transformation, download our guide or get in touch.

Categories: Manufacturing

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