Companies in the manufacturing vertical have a lot on their minds. Ever-increasing operating costs, new global competition, regulations and uncertainties pertaining to materials (e.g., metals, electronics) have placed added pressure on organizations. Today, many are looking to use auto-ID technology to:
- Reduce costs
- Increase safety
- Adopt a more agile just-in-time (JIT) process
- Improve quality
- Modernize legacy systems
- Become more efficient
Summed up, these needs have led to the pursuit and creation of new smart factories. Smart manufacturing focuses on heavy use of computers, IoT devices and automation to add intelligence and efficiency to the manufacturing process. It’s a complicated, costly, but effective paradigm shift reserved mostly for larger manufacturers. However, the concepts that go into smart manufacturing can be applied to smaller manufacturers.
Hardware, software, services opportunities abound
According to Daryl Schuster, Ingram Micro’s barcoding and RFID expert, there currently exist many lucrative opportunities for you to sell barcoding, RFID and IoT technologies to manufacturers. Indeed, depending on the needs of your customers, you could be offering barcode scanners, handheld mobile computers, rugged tablets, RFID and label printers, consumables (labels and tags), RFID readers, antennas, wireless infrastructure, IoT sensors, software, services and more.
Identify customer pain points
Schuster’s advice is to sit down with your customers to develop a 3–5 year plan. By having a detailed conversation about each of your customers’ needs, you can uncover what technologies can be implemented to solve their problems. Even if a customer is small and can’t afford the most effective technology today, you can find potential stop-gap measures to partially address the issue while costs continue to drop. Eventually, today’s technology will be affordable to even the smallest manufacturer—most likely within the 3–5 year window you’ve planned with your customers.
Slow, methodical process improvements
Upon creating a multiyear plan with your customers, you’ll probably uncover numerous areas for improvement. However, even if a customer has the financial resources, time and inclination to address all the areas at once, Schuster advises that you have a separate implementation and testing period for each process. “It’s a common mistake to roll out too many changes at once,” he says. “Not only can it become too overwhelming for affected employees, monitoring, troubleshooting and refining the rollout can become quicksand for a solution provider.”
The auto-ID world is like many others in that new advancements and the convergence of various technologies is having a profound effect, creating powerful innovative solutions for end customers, while generating exciting new opportunities for solution providers. The key, for you, is to ensure that you’re positioned to capitalize. If you’d like help in delivering smart factory technologies and capabilities to your customers, contact Daryl Schuster today.