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2014 has flown by! I can hardly believe that it is the middle of April. The major league baseball season is underway, Easter egg hunts were enjoyed by many last weekend and the weather has been calling it in at a consistent 75 degrees. With the first four months of this year passing by so quickly, I know it will be November before I can blink an eye. Looking ahead, what does the rest of 2014 appear like for the greater manufacturing industry, the IQMS company as a whole and my manufacturing department? Let’s begin with the global picture and work our way down to a more micro level:

The Manufacturing Industry:
Manufacturers are on the hunt for an increase in accuracy, data and the ability to do more with less. The answer to this quest lies in the use of automation on the shop floor. Automation applications, such as real-time production and process monitoring systems or PLCs that gather data directly from your work centers, can deliver valuable benefits for improved decision making, a reduction in human error and an increase in productivity.

IQMS is directly addressing the manufacturing industry’s need for automation with a special team of developers called the Automation Group. Responsible for pushing the boundaries between factory hardware and IQMS’ software, the Automation Team works collaboratively with our clients to automate processes and find solutions to individual business needs. You will be hard pressed to find a dedicated development team of this size at any other ERP vendor.

The concept of the Internet of Things is also making waves in the manufacturing industry. Through highly connected IP networks, manufacturing shop floors can now relay vast amounts of data collected to an extended enterprise-based system, such as ERP and MES solutions. You can read more about the Internet of Things and its contribution to the manufacturing sector here.

The manufacturing industry is on an upswing, which can only mean more manufacturers in need of solutions for their shop floors. In response, IQMS is simultaneously experiencing an upswing with our extended ERP and MES solution that guarantees you will only have the best available data from a single database solution!

I see tremendous continued growth for IQMS as we become more of a force with larger manufacturing companies in our market space. We don’t just fit the little guys anymore! In fact, IQMS’ standalone MES solution can interface with all of the major Tier 1 ERP vendors, such as Oracle and SAP. With our manufacturing-specific MES solution, manufacturers can gain the shop floor control that they desire, even if they are tied to a separate corporate ERP solution.

My Manufacturing Department:
There are always challenges associated with forecasting. No one has a magic eight ball, but we try to forecast the future every day in manufacturing when it comes to predicting material and part needs, incoming sales and other costs related to running a business.

As IQMS’ customer base continues to grow, I face the challenge of being prepared to increase manufacturing quantities as demand increases. I handle all of the IQMS proprietary hardware, including the RealTime Production and Process Monitoring systems, RTStations, PMIU88 PLCs, LightSticks, etc. So when it comes to forecasting, I have to consider lead times when increasing buy quantities as well as the important question of, “How much is too much?” Finally, I have to consider staffing needs and forecast the need to staff up in 2014 to handle IQMS’ growth.

Many manufacturers deal with this same exact problems that I face. I hope that they are using our ERP software, specifically our forecasting module, to help solve these challenges. EnterpriseIQ is an extended system, meaning all of the modules are tightly interconnected, so you can analyze real-time sales order and inventory information to forecast with actual data for accurate budgeting and capacity planning.

While forecasts are most often just an educated guess, I can confidently say that I believe the rest of 2014 is going to be a good year, both for the industry as a whole and IQMS.