In their recent study, according to Gartner, 74% of manufacturers that believe smart manufacturing will increase competitiveness are redesigning their manufacturing organizations. Yet when the report expands what lies behind this reorganization in terms of building capabilities and overcoming hurdles, there are gaps to address in order to meet the needs of the modern supply chain and customer.

So, what can your manufacturing organization do in order to keep business going whilst preparing your workforce, leadership and processes for inevitable change? There are best practices that form the foundation of manufacturing that will help and support your digitization journey. It is all about integrated, continuous improvement.

And it is not just a big overhaul of your shop floor machinery that will make the difference in terms of transforming your operations, there are business processes and quality changes which also support your readiness to embrace “industry 4.0”. Let’s take a look at modern ERP for manufacturing as an example.


Manufacturing operations such as assembly, inspection, or material handling can be automated to enhance efficiency, boost quality compliance and develop your workforce to embed digital processes as part of their daily work.

The challenge: For example, before production takes places, an important task is the master data creation in your ERP. Items, Bill of Materials, Routings, production constraints etc.; all such information used on the shopfloor must be created without error. This step is often time consuming and needs the validation of several key users.

The solution: If your item structures always use the same scheme, automatic processes and technologies can be used within your ERP, in order to save time and guarantee high data quality. That’s why in Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central, Prodware developed additional functionality called the Item Generator within our Manufacturing solution and it is being increasingly used within our customers’ daily work as a result.

Similarly, within Bill of Materials (even Formulae in the semi-process industry) or Routings, if constraints can be modelled in order to be automated (you can also find this within our solution). What is common across these examples is the same objective: saving time for the user, enhancing the quality of data in the system and synchronized with the machinery on the production shopfloor (for example the capacity of a production tank to be taken into account as a limit for a production order from the beginning).


If we look at the packaging end of the manufacturing world, the market is seeing not just a shift that concerns ingredients and materials to account for mass personalization but this affects package production – customization and smaller pack sizes.

The challenge: With the increase in changeovers of the packaging process, comes additional downtime and set ups required. Manufacturers are looking to accommodate these requirements without impacting on productivity.

The solution: To meet this growing demand, manufacturers are finding it easier if, all these attributes are managed at the master data level. Defining the correct item architectures with relevant semi-finished levels, assigning the correct component depending on the final customer (for personalised labels or packings for example).

These are just some of the scenarios where building a flexible master data model reveals benefits to help manufacturers improve production efficiency and flexibility. This is why Master Data Sharing and indeed Packaging Management were key areas of our development process for the Manufacturing solution.

So in summary, when you hear the term “smart manufacturing” or “industry 4.0”, don’t think it’s all robotic arms on the production floor and perhaps beyond your strategies right now, there are business and manufacturing processes that can be enhanced right now in order for your operation to meet modern needs.

I’d be happy to talk with you about how we developed the Manufacturing solution for Business Central, to answer such challenges and to hear your thoughts on what you’d like to see in future releases.

Originally published on LinkedIn.