An automated process is a process you can trust

An automated process is a process you can trust

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An automated process is a process you can trust

Trust the process.

The phrase began as a sports mantra. It was something fans of the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers began saying almost a decade ago to justify their analytics-first approach to basketball team building.

But "trust the process” grew from there, transitioning through its origins as a sports cliché to a corporate philosophy with practical applications.

Its appeal is rooted in the fact that in business there are so many things beyond our control: whims of customers, fluctuating prices, unexpected trends, material unavailability, human error. We have little to no say in these matters, and yet, they have the potential to heavily influence outcomes we work toward. Results will always vary because of these factors, but there is something that affects results even more than unknowns and randomness, and it can be controlled: process.

Wood manufacturing industry

Perhaps now more than ever, emphasizing process over results is a necessary perspective-shift for the wood manufacturing industry. In a recent column for Woodworking Network, industry expert Don Shultz takes a long, hard look at the sector. While going over its history, he lists four key factors for why “the revenue generation of the wood products manufacturing industry stands at about half that of all other manufacturing sectors:”

  • Failure to anticipate consumer trends;
  • Shortage of skilled labor;
  • Lack of investment in degreed engineers and tech workers; and
  • Over-extending to meet consumer demand for custom products.

Wood manufacturing industry

Overall, Shultz says that “the problem may have been caused by a field of vision too limited to capture the entire opportunity – a two-dimensional view.” He then goes on to differentiate between working on the right things and doing things the right way, calling both “primordial partners in achievement.”

While worded a bit differently, Shultz’s column is endorsing a “trust the process” approach to wood manufacturing. Once the right process – or the right way to do things – is established, it not only mitigates the impact of the uncontrollable, but it also leads to consistently favorable outcomes. A business can’t help but do the right things once it’s figured out the right way to do them.

Automation

However, it’s easy to write vaguely about the “right process” without mentioning specifics. A problem isn’t really solved by merely saying a solution exists. To learn the actual steps to finding the right process, we can again go back to Shultz’s column where he makes an excellent point about automation in the wood manufacturing industry.

The tendency, he suggests, is to associate automation only with the manufacturing process and not in the entirety of the production process. “We often think of automation in terms of robotics and material handling,” Shultz writes. “Process automation, however, takes a different form.”


Process Automation

ERP and MES

t’s within an automated process where we can find solutions to the specific challenges Shultz identifies; more specifically, within an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system and a Manufacturing Execution System (MES).

With an ERP system in place, all manufacturing operations are integrated and automated. That means from the bid and order entry through to final installation, your business has the capability to automate pricing, order-entry, purchasing and inventory management. There are many benefits to the efficiency of such a system, but the ones that stand out are the elimination of redundancies and the increased speed of response.

Meanwhile, operating through the right MES will help ensure realistic production schedules and accurate tracking of materials and parts. Paired with ERP, MES is nothing short of transformative: streamlining the entire operations of a business.

Rising to the challenges

So, with this in mind, let’s go back to the challenges that Shultz identifies for wood manufacturers.

A failure to anticipate consumer trends is eliminated because the right automated system will integrate operational data into a financial and customer management system. You’ll spot trends as they’re happening and the system in place will respond accordingly.

The shortage of skilled labor, seemingly ever-increasing with retirements and limited replacement options, doesn’t impact an automated system nearly as forcefully when an ERP system is planning the use of resources and handling the whole process from design to delivery. As a bonus, such a system eliminates human error that even the most competent employee can’t avoid entirely.


Automated system

In his column, Shultz correlates a lack of investment in degreed engineers and tech workers with a general inability to innovate within the wood manufacturing industry at the same level as other manufacturers. An automated system makes up for this by creating time and space to think creatively about the future, while also providing the data and reports to know where that future is heading.

Finally, let's consider over-extending operations to meet the consumer demand for custom products. The benefits of an MES paired with an ERP address this challenge head on. Through Capacity Planning, the system can manage bottlenecks in production. Meanwhile, its Business Intelligence reports system capabilities so that intelligent business decisions can be reached. Ultimately, what an MES and ERP do is create a digital factory where the collection and distribution of data ensures a system in which capabilities are fully understood. Thus, reducing risks of being over-extended.

2020 Insight

When you compare industry challenges to the benefits of an automated production process, it makes a convincing case for automation. But what’s the next step? Where does a business go once it’s settled on automating its production?

We consider 2020 Insight, our industry-specific software, to be the best solution for any manufacturing business – especially in the wood industry. All the benefits we’ve laid out here – and more – are found in 2020 Insight. It’s a solution that turns “trust the process” into more than a mere platitude. And that’s what it ultimately comes down to: introducing an automated process that can be trusted to run your business seamlessly, efficiently and effectively.

That’s what 2020 Insight does. And that’s the trust it’s already earned throughout the industry.


2020 Insight

To learn more about 2020 Insight, you can check out a list of its benefits, see its modules and discover what sets it apart by clicking here. Or, if you’re already convinced, we’d love to offer you a demonstration of all that it can do.


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