White paper: ‘Orchestrating’ global manufacturing operations requires more than ERP

Apriso and IDC study looks at integrating divergent facilities and people.


Apriso announced findings from the IDC Manufacturing Insights white paper. The document, “How a Modern Operational Platform Can Help Manufacturers Gain a Competitive Edge,” revealed manufacturing’s critical role in helping Germany better weather the recent economic storm. Looking forward, the white paper suggests that manufacturers can further improve manufacturing operations efficiency via continuous process improvement and better integration of global manufacturing operations.

Based on a recent survey of 445 manufacturers, two emerging trends are driving the need for more globally integrated manufacturing operations:

  • Increasing mass configuration, and
  • Growing reliance on dynamic, multi-plant production networks.

IDC Manufacturing Insights suggests better “global multi-enterprise orchestration” can effectively address these trends.

“Firms have evolved from being 'international,' with centralized management and operations with physical distribution channels, to 'multinational,' with each region having its own product variations and management. Now companies are looking to become globally integrated, with locally tailored products and services designed anywhere, produced anywhere and sold anywhere,” said Pierfrancesco Manenti, EMEA Head at IDC Manufacturing Insights.

“Customer fulfillment in globally integrated organizations depends on supply chain agility and visibility, which in turn depends on effective and efficient manufacturing operations processes that can be easily changed as the need arises,” said Tom Comstock, executive vice president at Apriso. “Supply chain process improvement won't work if manufacturing capabilities don't keep pace, pointing to the need for a flexible solution for manufacturing operations management, which Apriso customers are able to leverage.”

Typical manufacturing enterprises have an extremely diversified, disparate and disconnected IT application landscape on their plant floor, a situation manufacturers now recognize as counterproductive when striving to achieve globally integrated operations. These solutions do a fine job of managing local plant operations, but very often they are not interconnected with each other and are loosely integrated with corporate ERP and other business applications.

While the current deployment models for ERP may have been sufficient for the back-office needs of the "international" and "multinational" manufacturing enterprise, going forward the globally integrated firm should follow a new approach that balances the need for greater corporate coordination with the requirement for greater latitude in operating in local markets. According to the white paper, globally integrated manufacturing enterprises have two critical needs that a pure ERP approach simply can’t address:

  • Having a real-time visibility, intelligence and decision-making environment. These capabilities require non-transactional systems in addition to ERP's system of records in order to offer insights into operations management.
  • Achieving global multi-enterprise orchestration. This goes beyond the nature of a traditional ERP that is generally designed to serve a single enterprise.

IDC Manufacturing Insights suggests the industry needs a new complementary platform to ERP. “We believe a modern ‘operational platform’ is needed … a separate enterprise wide operational platform that is as important as the corporate ERP platform. Supporting a customer fulfillment driven approach to operations management in globally integrated organizations, the new platform dictates an evolution and elevation of the existing applications deployed to support operational processes,” said Manenti.

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