How Can the IIoT Improve Your ERP System?

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Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems help companies manage numerous operational necessities, including maintaining inventory levels, processing orders and dealing with accounting needs.

However, it is a relatively new option for people to connect an ERP system with Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) equipment. That emerging approach can help users improve their ERP software’s effectiveness and achieve better company outcomes. Here are some of the potential IIoT benefits associated with integrations into ERP tools.

IIoT

1. Enabling Better Billing for Goods

Many ERP systems allow for taking care of necessities like accurate invoicing when customers buy things. However, adding the IIoT into the mix could eliminate the natural delays that occur when a company’s client reorders supplies.

Ohio’s Jergens Industrial Supply did that by installing smart vending machines stocked with supplies on their customers’ shop floors. Those additions allow employees to get preapproval for products like goggles or wrenches.

They scan barcodes associated with their current projects and automatically get all necessary tools and equipment from the machine. The manufacturer then receives a bill based on negotiated prices. The supplier achieved a 30% productivity boost after installing the dispensing equipment. 

Restocking the machines is straightforward, too. Drivers receive routes based on which locations need replenishment. They also use iPads that confirm where to bring more supplies. This arrangement saves time compared to the previous methods of manual restocking. Customer service improved, too. Agreeing upon prices in advance eliminated the need for price quotes and purchase orders.

2. Reducing Manual Supply Replenishment Processes

A conventionally deployed ERP system can help company representatives look at stock-related statistics and use that data to decide when to reorder. Such a process provides improved visibility that could help prevent shortages and outages. However, associated IIoT benefits exist for enterprises, too.

One option is to use smart sensors that measure the available supplies based on a characteristic such as weight. Users could set a threshold for automatically reordering those items once the total amount dips below the indicated parameters.

This approach removes the possibility of someone forgetting to order supplies once the ERP interface alerts them to do it. Bringing connected sensors into the process also avoids situations where a person might accidentally order more or less than necessary or carry out those transactions at the wrong times. Thus, using connected sensors with the ERP can save companies money while avoiding situations where they run out of essentials.

3. Allowing More Data-Driven Decisions

Though ERP systems have always facilitated using data to guide business decisions, IIoT offerings have substantially accelerated that process and reduced the likelihood of errors. Employees used to enter data into ERP systems manually. Such a process proved time-consuming, and there was always the chance of making an incorrect keystroke, entering data into the wrong column or making another type of mistake.

Combining an ERP product with IIoT equipment lets data collection occur automatically and in real time, allowing people to make accurate decisions based on the most recent information.  These advantages help company leaders become more responsive. They can also transition into proactive instead of reactive actions.

Consider a widely used preventive measure, such as electric motor testing. Factors such as temperature changes and excessive vibration can weaken a motor’s insulation and hardware, increasing the risk of failure. A motor’s compact casing can also prevent adequate heat dissipation. Electric motor testing is an effective way to understand your machine’s condition before faults happen. It can even detect small and developing issues that some tools may not.

Since IIoT sensors collect data continuously, they can alert plant managers to immediate maintenance or repair needs. Getting that information may encourage those professionals to schedule motor tests and other forward-thinking measures sooner than they otherwise would. The data enables them to act quickly and avoid problems.

4. Minimizing Defective Products While Maintaining Quality

An increase in faulty products tends to lead to an influx of returned items, too. An ERP system typically has tools to expedite returns processing and track goods as they move through the system. Such features are essential, but adding IIoT equipment could get to the heart of what causes defects. Manufacturers and supply chain managers can then identify and target those issues before products reach customers. IIoT sensors expand a company’s insight into the production process by analyzing multiple data streams.

The goal is to use data to keep quality high and drastically reduce problems that result in defects. An ERP system can provide valuable information about trends in returned products that could indicate machine failures or the need for better monitoring.

Consider the example where a company invests in IIoT equipment to deal with a known, relatively new problem concerning lost customers who complain about malfunctioning products and take their business elsewhere. The ERP can show which items people returned over a given period due to defects.

Those records could provide reliable starting points for how and where to apply IIoT sensors to see what’s going wrong with machines that potentially contribute to flawed products. If people can connect most or all the recent quality issues to one or a few pieces of equipment or production lines, it becomes much easier to confirm the problems, fix the flaws that caused the defects and get the company back on track.

Then, the ERP system does not merely confirm that product returns occurred. It helps company leaders see what’s going on and use their IIoT setups more effectively.

Taking an ERP System to Greater Heights

The IIoT benefits listed here highlight why companies should strongly consider using connected industrial equipment to make their ERP tools better than ever. Both IIoT equipment and ERP platforms can give users invaluable information to support their operations and goals. However, when used together instead of separately, these resources can enable company leaders to act based on reliable data.

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