Technology can be both a boon and a bust, depending on how well companies use and maintain their systems. A proactive modernization strategy is a must to ensure businesses don’t become hindered by the very tools they deployed.
Since the days of the Industrial Revolution, manufacturers have traditionally relied on technology to help them be more efficient. However, with the unrelenting pace of change, the technology of today can often become outdated quickly, with the solutions deployed to improve processes becoming impediments as companies try to pivot to better serve their customers.
Fortunately, savvy manufacturers that routinely audit their technology infrastructure can catch these hang-ups as they arise and respond accordingly. New technology can be stacked on legacy solutions to upgrade their functionality or old systems can be ripped and replaced entirely to keep up with the times. Being proactive is the key to any modernization effort.
Few manufacturers understand the importance of responsiveness more than Parker Hannifin. The Tube Fittings Manufacturing Division of the company recently underwent a huge effort to rebuild the infrastructure around its legacy mainframe-based computer systems.
Parker Hannifin’s business model had changed rapidly over the years, from serving OEMs to taking direct customer orders—and that meant the company went from doing two or three large jobs a day to 200 or 300 smaller jobs a day. The legacy mainframe systems that drove the backend of Parker’s business were extremely limited and the shift in the business model required a system that could process information in real time to promote better decision making.
In 2015, Parker upgraded the Manufacturing Execution System that drove the front-end, resulting in a significant improvement. But the ultimate goal was better decision making, and to achieve that objective, the company needed to modernize the system's user interfaces and dashboards to promote usability and data visibility.
To get the front-end up to snuff and promote greater data visibility, Parker turned to Telerik DevCraft by Progress. With the help of Progress Services, Parker was able to deploy the dashboards the MES needed within months.
The result was a night-and-day difference in operations. Just a year ago, data was being captured manually and rolled up to Excel spreadsheets—a major impediment to Parker’s responsiveness and agility. With the new dashboards in play, the company has been able to expedite operations considerably, saving two hours daily.
“We were always in a reactive role,” said Adam Burleson, IT Manager for Parker’s Tube Fittings Division. “We had to wait until the next day for data, preventing us from proactively driving improvement. The Progress dashboards have created a waterfall effect enabling us to make real-time adjustments to drive productivity improvements.”
Parker is looking to continually improve on the MES, with mobile support on the horizon. Having access to mission-critical data on smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices will improve the agility of Parker supervisors that much more.
Technology has traditionally been one of the greatest tools that manufacturers can wield. However, it’s important for companies in the industry to always keep one eye to the horizon to make sure today’s tools don’t become tomorrow’s shackles. Proactive business starts with a proactive approach to technology.
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