IT will be a key factor in the ability of manufacturing companies to cope with a downturn by enabling them to cut costs, build longer and more complex supply chains and respond faster to changing demand. Technology already underpins the move to offshore and demand-led production by making it possible for manufacturers to communicate with far-flung suppliers, manage shorter product lifecycles and collaborate more effectively with business partners.
ARC Advisory Group, a manufacturing technology specialist, recently completed a worldwide enterprise IT survey into how manufacturing companies will be spending their IT budgets in the coming year. Top of users’ shopping lists are systems to support supply chain processes, followed by technology to run their manufacturing operations better.
A hot topic among manufacturers, according to ACR, is analytics—software containing algorithms for analyzing manufacturing processes. Previously expensive analytical software, affordable by only the biggest companies, has got a lot cheaper. But its wider application has brought the problem of information overload. Business analysts struggle to interpret the flood of data now available to them.