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With all the recent media attention about ChatGPT and other AI tools taking over our jobs (and our world), it’s easy to forget that technology — even AI — is a tool we can use to make our lives easier and our businesses more efficient.
At USCCG, we’ve been using software to help our clients harness and wrangle their data and transform it into usable insights in real time, and support their operational goals and aspirations.
The various software modules that make up our proprietary LINCS system, along with Microsoft’s Power BI, were designed to do just that. Here’s a look at the software we use to help you harness your data.
A cornerstone of the work we do at USC Consulting Group, the Lean Information Control System (LINCS) gives supervisors, managers and execs the operating information they need, when and where they need it. LINCS offers state-of-the-art tools and software applications that facilitate fact-based decision making in real time from the shop floor to the boardroom.
LINCS includes modules for advanced planning, manufacturing and logistics, value-stream mapping, time-phased production scheduling, inventory analysis and more. These modules can be used in combination or alone, based on the needs of your business. That’s because of another of our cornerstones: no cookie-cutter solutions. You can pick and choose which modules and features are most useful for your particular needs.
LINCS is designed to be a sophisticated decision support tool kit that is adaptable, affordable, easy to use and easy to configure.
We’re fond of saying companies need to “manage by the numbers.” This is the way to do it.
Here’s a closer look at the modules.
Performance Analysis and Reporting
This module collects and analyzes operating and production information in real time. Seeing how the work is stacking up as it takes place gives operators and executives powerful information by which to make decisions, prioritize activities and pivot when things aren’t going according to plan. It allows management to view operations at a glance or drill down to examine specific areas of opportunity via an executive dashboard. And it’s easy to configure and use.
- Acts as middleware, interfacing with enterprise-level and SCADA-level systems, as well as human input
- Identifies and quantifies improvement opportunities in your operation
- Provides accurate tracking and analysis of important key performance indicators
- Includes analytical and statistical tools to highlight performance problems
- Produces easy-to-read graphics and reports that allow you to understand operational performance at any level in your organization
- Provides actionable information from which to launch improvement initiatives
- Prioritizes needed action, then tracks and quantifies improvement effort
- Runs on Microsoft Windows® technology for ease of use and compatibility with existing systems
- Produces reports online and in hard copy at each level of the organization
- Interfaces easily with existing systems; does not require expensive software or hardware upgrades
- Does not require extensive in-house IT maintenance
- Is highly scalable; can grow with your business
No modesty here — this is a really cool software program. It’s a 3D simulation of new processes or practices before you roll them out onto the shop floor. It’s an object-oriented simulation software for processes like manufacturing, material handling and workflow. It helps engineers, managers and decision makers visualize and test proposed operations, processes or systems in “cyberspace” before trying it out in real life. The goal, like everything we do here at USCCG, is to boost productivity, eliminate bottlenecks and ultimately enhance your profits.
- Fully object-oriented with C++ integration
- Models created graphically using drag-and-drop
- Amazing 3D virtual reality using drag-and-drop
- Unsurpassed flexibility and power
- Cool factor: High!
Resource Capacity Planning
This invaluable tool gives you a realistic, real-time view of available versus required resources, including people, materials, tools and equipment. It helps you make sure you’re on track to achieve your production plan, each and every day and shift. It’s user friendly and can be customized for each client’s needs.
- Identifies equipment capacities required to meet projected demand
- Considers process maturity and operational learning curves when calculating resource requirements
- Performs long-range material requirements planning
- Adjusts for expected yield and scrap rates
- Provides rough cut (family-level) and detailed (product/line item-level) planning
- Summarizes labor hour requirements by skill set and work area
Microsoft Power BI
What good is the amount of data we have at our fingertips today if we can’t analyze it, interpret it and put it to use, right? That’s where Microsoft Power BI comes in. It creates news you can use. The program is designed to collect the various types of data generated within your business and coalesce it into useful, timely information by which you create actionable insights. It consists of a Power BI Desktop, an online software-as-a-service (SaaS), and mobile apps for Windows, Android and iOS devices. Together, those three components work to wrangle your data into insights you can share with your team.
- AI helps you create machine learning modules, accesses image recognition and more
- AI’s lightning-fast speed gives you actionable insights quickly
- Able to interface with the multiple data sources you may be using, like Salesforce
- Customizable, allowing users to create unique sets of information based on their needs
- Connects data on a dashboard that’s easily viewed and understood
- Includes Report Builder and Report Server features
By using the latest-and-greatest software out there, we help our clients enhance their operations, streamline their day-to-day, stay on top of inventory and create actionable decisions. It’s about managing by the numbers.
For more information about how this software technology can help streamline your operations, call us at 800-888-8872 or email us at email@example.com.
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The manufacturing industry is one of the most important sectors across the world. It’s instrumental in supporting a thriving economy, provides jobs to communities, and sparks innovations that improve lives. Nevertheless, it is also a sector that faces significant challenges.
The good news is that the rise of our digital landscape offers a range of supportive solutions. Over the last couple of decades, developers have committed to creating tools that help make the manufacturing industry more agile and impactful. These applications aren’t limited to improving productivity. Rather, the tools available right now are continuing to change manufacturing in profound and innovative ways.
Let’s take a closer look at how software and modern tech are changing manufacturing.
In manufacturing, as with most sectors, resources are finite and valuable. As such, it is vital to maintain control of what you have at your disposal. Effective resource management practices enable your company to allocate the best assets to address the most appropriate challenges. This may surround effective budget application, matching tech to tasks, and appointing time to activities. It’s worth noting that there is software and hardware in the industry at the moment that helps to make resource management more practical.
A key aspect of any good resource management strategy is data analytics. This helps you to make more informed choices about asset allocation and performance. Devices in the industrial internet of things (IIoT) are equipped with sensors that scan items at crucial points throughout the production, warehousing, and shipping stages. Paired with data analytics software, these tools can provide real-time information about how resources are being utilized, where areas of wastage occur, and how to enact improvements.
Another important consideration for how tech can help resource management is found in inventory control. Many manufacturing businesses struggle with getting the right balance of supply to meet changing demands. Artificial intelligence (AI) inventory management software can review data on your resources alongside that of the market. It can then produce forecasts you can utilize to better plan production changes.
Quality is key to a thriving manufacturing business. Unless your products consistently meet high consumer and industry expectations, you’re likely to experience reductions in engagement. Not to mention that faulty or substandard products are likely to be frequently returned. In either case, the result is likely to be a significant hit to your financial stability. It is, therefore, vital to adopt technology that helps you to boost quality standards.
It’s important to first recognize that many of the quality issues faced by manufacturers are the result of employee mistakes. Your business can mitigate drops in quality while bolstering safety and security by harnessing technological tools that reduce human error. One of the key resources you can utilize here is automated intelligent manufacturing processes. These largely remove the human element from unnecessary and repetitive tasks. It’s also vital that employees receive effective training on how to use these tools and systems so they can interact with them in a less risky manner.
You should also consider the potential of upgraded software and hardware for quality control procedures. Automated tools in the IIoT can be attached to production equipment and monitor the condition of each item. The software can be set to identify breaches in quality parameters and immediately notify workers when these occur. This empowers your company to address quality issues immediately, preventing widespread issues.
One of the common topics of discussion surrounding technology is the effect it can have on jobs, especially when it comes to which jobs will and won’t be replaced by AI. AI is among the tools often cited as instrumental in replacing all but trade roles in highly-skilled areas. The emotional connections made by healthcare workers and the dexterity of electricians are among the characteristics that shield them from unemployment throughout a digital transformation. While manufacturing employees aren’t usually considered to fall within these groups, modern tech can in some ways help to make their jobs more secure.
This is usually from the perspective of how technology helps to transform roles. Automated manufacturing, devices in the IIoT, and data analytics software can all be used to handle many formerly manual tasks. Nevertheless, rather than replacing human workers, these tools need collaborators. Tech-savvy manufacturing employees are in significant demand in the industry to utilize solutions more effectively and attend to software or hardware maintenance issues. This means that employees committed to upskilling can improve their career prospects, bolster their job stability, and impact their earning power.
Another way in which software and modern tech are improving manufacturing job stability is through the use of applicant tracking systems (ATS). This human resources (HR) software enables your company to more efficiently and accurately identify the most suitable candidates for a position. It also helps to assess candidate data so you can tailor the most appropriate training programs upon hiring to fill any skills gaps. This helps ensure workers have the best chance of gaining jobs that reflect their abilities and to progress through the business. It also means your business can spend less on hiring and training candidates that are later discovered to be unsuitable.
Enhancing Safety and Security
One of the most important responsibilities of any business is to reduce risks for staff and stakeholders. Manufacturing, in particular, is rife with potential hazards. Employees are often exposed to dangers to their physical and mental health. The business, investors, and consumers can also face risks from increased cybersecurity threats aimed at the manufacturing sector. Software and technology have an important role to play in providing protection.
Firstly, in particularly hazardous fields, virtual reality (VR) can help introduce new workers to realistic training scenarios. This provides employees with the skills they need to reduce risks without exposing them to unnecessary hazards early on in their training. Alongside this, devices in the IIoT can monitor conditions and activities in real-time, providing both workers and supervisors with data on present dangers to should respond to.
From the perspective of cybersecurity, it’s vital to recognize that the greater adoption of technology in the industry exposes businesses to potential risks. Each device can potentially act as a gateway for criminals into the company’s networks. As such, AI-driven cybersecurity platforms are being used to scan and monitor information passing through all systems. Machine learning protocols can also analyze data to make predictions about potential risk areas that need to be addressed.
Software and modern tech is improving manufacturing processes in a variety of ways. Devices in the IIoT are instrumental in improving quality and providing data for better resource management. The presence of AI software drives a need for more tech-savvy workers while also ensuring the most appropriate professionals rise to the top. VR and machine learning are also ensuring employees stay safe and protecting stakeholders from cybersecurity breaches. As more tools continue to be developed, it is likely that the manufacturing industry will continue to become more agile and innovative.
*This article is written by Ainsley Lawrence. View more of Ainsley’s articles here.
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Technology is essential for business tasks like tracking manufacturing and distribution, managing inventory and the supply chain, and handling administrative duties. Once business leaders establish technological systems, it’s all too common for no one to think about it again for a decade. This isn’t a great business practice.
Successful businesses are constantly updating their software to make processes more efficient and to improve the user experience for customers. Haven’t updated your company’s technology in a while? There’s no need to worry.
If you take a minute to analyze your business processes, you may find there are some tell-tale signs it’s time for an upgrade.
1. Your Team Uses Different Software for Different Processes
Do you find that your team is constantly jumping from one platform to another? Are there different applications your team uses for different business processes?
You can lose time and productivity if you are always having to change systems and platforms. Not to mention, using multiple applications can slow down your computer.
2. Team Members Frequently Complain About the Software They Use
There is nothing worse than not being able to do your job well because of technology.
Questions to ask yourself about your team’s experience are:
- Is your team having to do a lot of manual business processes?
- Is it difficult to access the data your team needs to access daily?
- Is your business data available on the cloud for easy access?
- Is your software slow enough to cause frustration among your staff?
If you notice your team complaining about outdated software, slow hardware, or systems that hinder everyday duties, it won’t be long before you start seeing a drop in morale and productivity.
3. Your Business is Shifting Gears
If you’ve decided it’s time for your company to change directions, you may need to also upgrade your technology to better align with your new business goals. Perhaps you want to acquire new laptops, smartphones, or tablets for your team. Perhaps you simply want to set up new systems.
When shifting directions, new technology can help you achieve your business goals. Research new technological solutions that might be a good fit for your business, and evaluate your options.
4. The User Experience is Convoluted and Difficult
Talk to your customers to find out what the user experience is like with your website or any other systems they use to purchase goods or services from your business. Is the whole process too chaotic? How is the workflow efficiency? Are your systems causing you to have difficulty when scaling your business and adding more customers?
These are all signs it’s time to improve the user experience. The last thing you want is for your website or app to be giving customers the wrong impression about your business.
5. Your Software Isn’t Secure
Security for your company is crucial. If you find the software is being threatened, it’s definitely time for an upgrade. Customers will be able to trust your business more if they know their information is secure in your system.
If you haven’t upgraded in a while and you’re using older technology, you may be more vulnerable to security breaches. This can put your company and your customers in a bad position.
How to Upgrade Your Business Software
Alright, so you’ve taken a look at your business, you’ve assessed your situation, and you’ve noticed the signs that you need to give your business technology an upgrade. So what are the next steps? How should you go about getting started with updating your business technology?
1. Make Things Simple
You want to take a look at your current processes and figure out how you can streamline as much as possible. Unfortunately, business leaders can tend to overcomplicate things.
Identify your business goals, and research the best software to help you achieve as many of those goals as possible. Automate as much of the business processes as you can.
When you have put your new systems into place, don’t forget to test the new workflow. You want to be able to identify any issues so you can work to improve the effectiveness of any new systems.
2. Hire a Software Developer
Hiring a software developer is often one of the easiest ways to update your business software. In most cases, these experts will be able to go into your software, diagnose any problems you are having, and help you to find the right solutions for your business.
You may find it helpful to keep the software developer on retainer so that if you run into issues in the future, you can consult with them to find the best solution. This way, they can help you to ensure that your business processes continue to run smoothly.
3. Take a Web Design Class
If a lot of your issues have to do with your website, you may want to take web design classes yourself. In a web design class, you can learn the basics about web development, web coding principles, web graphics, and user experience.
You may be thinking that you’re interested in running your business, not becoming a web designer. However, as technology becomes more and more intertwined with business processes, you are likely to be much more successful in your business if you have a basic knowledge of how software and web design can work to help you have more efficient business processes.
If you want to improve the technology in your business, there are a lot of things you can do to stay current. It’s important to regularly take a look at your business processes and assess whether or not your technology is working for you.
*This article is written by Ainsley Lawrence. View more of Ainsley’s articles here.
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