Such tools and technologies go beyond physical processes. They also produce vast amounts of data, and this is extremely valuable in various ways.
Some automating packaging systems have built- in printers and can easily integrate with enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems and process management software. They make it possible to manage batch numbers or order information, enabling you to successfully track the location of products. This supports quality control and customer returns, along with production planning. We’ve delved more into traceability here, but its value in building a Christmas strategy is clear.
Technology can help monitor productivity and efficiency in your people, and highlight any bottlenecks in your processes. Take Fox Timber, who make timber products. They spotted a few issues with their delivery service – orders were being delivered twice, and specific instructions that customers had given were being ignored.
With our support, they identified software that ensures their delivery drivers have all the information they need to complete their jobs successfully. It also gives the business a crucial insight into how efficiently they’re doing this.
Another way data helps is through demand forecasting. This draws on AI and machine learning to identify trends from previous years’ sales and predict future customer demand. You can then anticipate seasonal fluctuations, making it easier to plan your team capacity, inventory and production for peak periods such as Christmas. It can show both demand under normal conditions and demand after a variable has been introduced (such as weather or a spike in social media activity).
Specific software can help you take orders, automatically creating the bills of material (BOM) and saving you a considerable amount of time. You could also use it in the opposite way – to check the stock of items and place orders with your suppliers of raw materials. Pearsons Glass is one such example of a maker who has implemented stock management.
They’ve had a grant confirmed for software that integrates with their webshop and automatically generates a pick list for the operator. It tells them where the products are kept in the stockroom, along with the most efficient route to collect them.