Big Data, Bigger Results: Manufacturers Are Winning in the Cloud


From inventory tracking to supply chain transparency, manufacturers have always been pioneers in the capture and use of data for real-time business operations. But today’s leaders are taking that up yet another notch: to gain a competitive advantage, manufacturers must have tools and systems in place to collect, combine and analyze vast volumes of product, production, customer and market data in order to inform business strategy.

Fortunately for forward-thinking manufacturers, the cloud and the Internet of Things have intersected to provide exciting new sources of intelligence. That’s why companies such as Caltherm and FloraCraft, now have real-time, accurate data at their fingertips.

Caltherm designs andbuildscustom thermal and pressure control solutions. In spite of a long history of innovation and market leadership, the company was saddled with an ERP system that forced awkward business processes and made data collection a largely manual process. This led to inaccuracies in inventory recording, barcode printing, shipping and quality management. It also made higher-level data analysis effectively impossible.

FloraCraft grew from a small, family-owned organization into a major craft supplier by shifting its strategy to focus on mass-market production. Today, the company has a portfolio of 3,500 SKUs. But in the process, the company outgrew its data management technology.

“We had fortified our logistics and supply chain capabilities but we were quickly outgrowing our technology needs,” says Jim Scatena, FloraCraft’s President and CEO. “The expansion of new products brought increased lead times for our overseas manufacturing operations.”

Both of these manufacturers found the solution to their data challenges in the cloud. By deploying a cloud ERP system from Plex Systems, they connected their best minds to analytical tools and real-time data that make faster, smarter decisions possible.

At Caltherm, the data capture rate is now 100 percent and efficiently automated. The ability to collate real-time information has given decision-makers a totally new perspective on business operations. For example, Caltherm can now measure overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) in an additional 30 percent of its business. After determining that its OEE had recently decreased from 74 percent to 68 percent, the company is targeting areas for greater effectiveness in the long run.

FloraCraft is using Plex’s business intelligence tool to improve decision-making. Managers and operational staff across all departments now have greater access to insights.

“We’ve created production dashboards for associates that provide real-time data on rates per hour, fill rates, and shipping metrics,” says Scatena. “This is something we could only dream of before, and it’s something that is really motivating our staff.”

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