AI-based ERP systems take the manufacturing industry to new digitalization levels
The potential of artificial intelligence (AI) and robotic process automation (RPA) for the industry is huge, be it mobile robots that navigate the factory floor on their own, machines that conduct quality checks while producing and facilities that optimize their own energy consumption while running. These new technologies give you a real competitive edge thanks to added efficiency, flexibility and reliability.
We've prepared four examples to show you how manufacturing companies in particular can use AI for their enterprise resource planning – and not only on the top floor but also on the shop floor.
Reduce your workload in field service management
If a customer's machine fails, it's crucial to make a diagnosis and find a solution as fast as possible. This is a challenge to the service since the field service agent first has to draw on the colleagues from engineering to identify the problem and recommend a course of action. This takes a lot of time and resources, while every minute of downtime on the customer's side is one minute too much.
Quicker results can be achieved by combining an AI-based service solution with the ERP system. A global data and knowledge portal provides direct access to service documents, the complete machine documentation and information about similar service cases. The data and knowledge portal is integrated via a document management system, drawing on data pools with knowledge articles from the engineering and service department as well as the implicit knowledge of the technicians. The ERP system serves as a digital AI-aided process and data hub where all information is collected. Repair and maintenance work can therefore be carried out faster and ideally even before a specific service call occurs.
This also allows you to develop completely new business models. Customers should have direct access to the knowledge content so they can resolve an incident on their own at best.
Rely on a very efficient trio: robotics, AI and ERP
There's a clear trend toward using collaborative robots. The reasons are obviously decreasing costs and less effort for the programming and operation. Various fields of application are using an increasing number of mobile and autonomously controlled robots, for example collaborative assembly robots, welding robots and autonomous mobile robots that follow employees at every turn and assist them in tasks like warehousing. The robots are increasingly controlled directly with the ERP system. In the future, the main tasks of a good ERP system will also involve the real-time interaction with different types of physical robots in various business processes.
More and more AI services are used in robotics and IoT as well, for example for self-optimization, autonomous control and natural language communication. And there's more: The IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) and the environment data of the ERP systems allow for efficient monitoring and controlling of a single robot or a group of robots.
Moreover, the integration of robotics with IoT or IIoT also enable you to implement new business models, for example, charging customers for using robots with a pay-per-use model or even based on the production results. In this customer-oriented field, the ERP system ensures that the processes of this business model can be mapped. On the market places of the digital platforms, the customers have direct access to the production capacities of assembly robots or 3D printers through the ERP system, so that they can directly schedule and access the robots and receive feedback from them.
Optimize the system behavior with AI
AI can do even more. It can also assist you in monitoring and modeling the system behavior to optimize the overall equipment effectiveness (OEE). The AI tools draw on the massive data volumes of the machine systems connected to the ERP system, and the Internet of Things (IoT). The moderate costs for IoT equipment enable industrial companies to monitor hundreds of machine sensor readings in a production line in real time. These massive data volumes then form the basis for machine learning (ML) algorithms. This helps you to optimize your insights into the operating time, performance and quality of products.
Make your warehouses and production planning smarter
And there's more, for example in warehouse and production planning. AI technology can also be of benefit here, for example, for providing and moving materials and products in a warehouse. AI enables you to combine data from ordering, production and warehouse systems and hence determine the optimum stock level. You can also use AI to change configurations and support planning processes in production to meet the current demand.
When planning on macro level, you can use AI to predict how many products will have to be produced within a certain period of time. You can also gain additional insights on the buying behavior. The planning of the individual production processes also becomes smarter when it can access and react to dynamic order changes.
Conclusion: AI-based ERP is the backbone of the digital transformation
It's not a secret that AI is greatly changing the industry, especially the small and mid-sized enterprises in the manufacturing industry. AI already plays an important role in demand planning, IIoT projects and the digitalization of the supply chain as such tools are capable of predicting the effects of supply bottlenecks or price changes, and suggest alternative actions, for example.
Furthermore, an AI-based ERP system combines data from different units faster and more reasonably than ever before. Self-controlling and self-optimizing processes draw on a single source of truth that is the basis for further digitalization projects and new profitable business models. Therefore, you should go digital as quickly as possible to benefit from the advantages of an intelligent ERP system.