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Why ECM solutions are crucial to Manufacturing 4.0

by Amit Sharma, on Oct 16, 2019 8:34:19 PM

Estimated reading time: 3 mins

Modern manufacturers are facing pressure from myriad directions – stricter compliance norms, shrinking margins, global competition, faster time-to-market and reducing product cycle requirements, rapidly changing customer demands, and more. While these challenges are not limited to manufacturing, the additional document-driven challenges are unique as manufacturing processes typically generate a large volume of documents that have to be printed, stored, shared and used.

Why ECM is crucial to Manufacturing 4.0

In a typical manufacturing process flow, document-based information intersects with the manufacturing cycle at various steps. While manufacturers have embraced digitalization, most companies operate with the traditional dichotomy between data management and content management. As a result, their digitization efforts are silo-ed and digital documents scattered in disparate environments. Digest this:

  • Technical workers in the manufacturing industry are forced to spend 20-60% of their time gathering information they need to perform their work rather than actually doing what they are trained for.
  • 75% of organisations struggle to access information locked in legacy systems.
  • 79% of organisations struggle to connect information from disparate systems.

To succeed in the new paradigm of ‘always on’ businesses, manufacturers need a single comprehensive and intelligent information management system for both data and content. A robust Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solution, built on IBM FileNet, is therefore emerging as the must-have manufacturing tool to ensure lean operations, reduce waste and drive profits, revenue and growth.

ECM in Manufacturing: Five key use cases

From ERPs to human resources systems such as SAP, manufacturing enterprises comprise various systems that create, leverage and store data. ECM complements ERP systems to improve efficiency.  An ECM solution, such as IBM FileNet, also leverages Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) capabilities to bridge the gap between business processes and other systems by analysing and categorising unstructured information on a unified platform. Automation of the manufacturing workflows enables employees to simplify document management, easily submit/process change requests, maintain an auditable history of all changes/approvals, and meet critical quality control goals through automated checklists.    

Here’s how ECM solutions enhance various manufacturing processes:

  • Compliance: A high-end ECM solution powered by IBM FileNet ensures that all necessary information is quickly accessible, easily auditable and securely stored without the fear of theft/physical damage/expenses of managing physical storage space. The ECM system can even enforce proper routing for signatures/approvals, so manufacturers never have to worry about missing critical steps in the process.
  • Contract management: ECM streamlines contract creation, amendment, renewal/expiry, and ensures secure global access to legal documents.
  • Employee relationship management: From simplifying and accelerating employee onboarding to ensuring transparency in performance reviews, and managing disputes, ECM helps manufacturers manage their human resources effectively, besides enabling secure and globalised web access for HR documents.
  • Project finance: Having all documents in a centralised platform with ECM helps secure financing for large scale manufacturing projects – from pre-appraisal to appraisal, sanction, post sanction, and project monitoring.
  • Invoice processing: ECM solution powered by IBM FileNet enables automated multichannel automatic capture of paper based invoices, touchless data extraction and validation, and comprehensive monitoring, control and audit. The result: superior compliance, waste reduction, and improved efficiencies.

Modern manufacturers also have specific certification requirements and have to provide hazardous materials and safety procedures training to their workforce. ECM can help in both by ensuring that the right documents are stored and managed correctly.

Transforming information management with next-gen ECM:

Data is paramount for every professional today, regardless of the function they work for. Next-gen ECM systems, such as IBM FileNet, are therefore being designed for use by anyone, anywhere, and on any device. ECM is evolving from being a standalone service to a connected ecosystem of services that help organisations derive the maximum value from their information assets. AI-driven ECM solutions enable intelligent records management, intuitive document integration and collaboration, breaking organisational silos and paving the way for a truly connected digital workplace. The global ECM market is set to grow to USD 67.14 billion by 2022, at a robust CAGR of 16.2%. As agile becomes the new norm across industries, ECM systems such as IBM FileNet can prove to be an invaluable asset for manufacturers.  

Topics:Enterprise Content Management (ECM)

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