Process manufacturing companies, whether they be food companies — chemical companies or other
segments — are most successful in an
environment of innovation — whether this
be in new products, new technologies or
even new ways of going to market.
One big driver is that consumer tastes
and expectations are continually evolving.
Never before has there been a greater
demand for information about products
being purchased — whether it’s knowing the environmental impacts (e.g., CO2
emissions) of manufacturing a particular
product, awareness of genetically free
organisms in food or the country of origin.
Both consumers and business customers
are taking a broader look at all aspects of
what they're buying and companies that
can meet these expectations are seeing
the results in increased sales.
Addressing these new needs requires
greater investments in R&D and likely the
processing and packaging equipment, too.
This is not just an internal issue, though.
It also depends on improved visibility and
communication with suppliers and cus-
tomers which ultimately places a greater
demand on the data process manufactur-
ing companies need to manage. Add to
this the continually changing, and some-
time conflicting, regulations and reporting
requirements globally and the challenges
can become unmanageable without sig-
nificant changes in IT infrastructure.
Frankly, the complexities of most process manufacturers continue to grow and
the IT solutions that were selected just
a few years ago, whether they be ERP,
Supply Chain, Quality Management or others, are often not up to the tasks required
to be as agile. So companies find themselves either plodding along with additional manual activities or trying to find time
to upgrade their existing solutions.
The reality of this was shown in a June
survey by Gatepoint Research of chemical
companies in the U.S. The results indicated that their current ERP system was
holding them back — with 45 percent
stating they needed better business intelligence and 25 percent saying they were
struggling with poor planning and scheduling tools.
The question is: How do you get to a
point where your IT solutions can be a
catalyst for growth versus a hindrance?
The idea of a major IT transitional invest-
ment though, such as a new ERP solution,
may seem too much for a company to
take on — both financially, as well as the
time required for implementation. When
the business already feels swamped, why
would a company purposely burden itself
with another project?
Almost any seasoned executive has
gone through an ERP implementation and
while they likely recognized significant
business value, the experience is not
something they are in a hurry to repeat.
They most likely experienced a project
that took longer than expected, cost
more than was estimated and ultimately
required a number of modifications to
meet their specific business needs. In the
The Catalyst for Process
By Mike Edgett, Industry & Solution Strategy Director, Process Manufacturing at Infor