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4 minute read • published in partnership with NexSys

Insight: Digital transformation holds the key to manufacturing resilience

UK manufacturers have always shown resilience in the face of adversity. Whether it is rising energy costs, supply chain constraints, or price volatility, they now face considerable pressures within a tough global market. Digital adoption will prove critical in future proofing operations and equipping businesses with the tools they need to adapt to a shifting landscape. NexSys has been supporting digital transformation for four decades and is now helping today’s manufacturers harness the powers of ERP.

At NexSys we’ve had a busy start to the year supporting a new cohort of manufacturing businesses on their digital journey. A growing number of businesses are recognising the value of upgrading their ERP to supercharge operations and with our wealth of experience and industry knowledge, NexSys is ideally placed to act as a trusted provider.

NexSys Sales Director Chris Burnett says: “These are uncertain times, but savvy and forward-thinking manufacturers understand the need to embrace technology as a means of building resilience. Digital solutions help them work smarter, overcome challenges and exploit opportunities.”

He adds: “We have for instance received several enquiries to support machine integration to monitor up-time, to use data to monitor margin shrinkage in the face of price volatility, or to put the digital infrastructure in place to access low-cost Industry 4.0. Having real time data at your fingertips is critical to strategic decision making.”

Digital adoption will prove critical in future proofing operations and equipping businesses with the tools they need to adapt to a shifting landscape / Picture: Getty/iStock

Made Smarter

There is a national drive to support digital transition and better equip Britain’s manufacturing base to compete on the global stage. The Made Smarter movement is helping drive digital adoption across the UK’s manufacturing sector.  Backed by the government and world-renowned businesses, it sets out to improve the development and adoption of emerging technologies, helping makers embrace new digital tools.

According to the latest survey by the manufacturer’s organisation Make UK, over three-quarters of manufacturers have increased spending on digital technologies. More than two-thirds of respondents said that past investment in digital technologies had left them better able to cope with the current challenging economic conditions. Some 58% reported that they were able to move quickly and provide new critical components where needed and a further 40% said it helped their business increase productivity by streamlining processes using powerful big data analysis tools.

Make UK Chief Executive Stephen Phipson said: “Despite the current climate, I am still hugely optimistic about the future of UK manufacturing. There are great opportunities and scaling up the adoption of digitalisation is key to achieving our goals.”

Phipson spends much of his time talking to manufacturers about the need to build resilience and investing in a digital backbone can help them overcome some of their greatest challenges. He explained: “Take energy for example, I know of businesses that have gone from 20% to 60% energy efficiency through digitalisation. That brings huge savings at the same time as supporting decarbonisation.”

He added: “Digital adoption also helps with the management of supply chains, providing valuable insight and equipping businesses with the information they need to adapt and respond to volatile pricing.”

Phipson went on to say that digital tools can help address other issues, including tackling skills shortages through automation and supporting the drive to Net Zero. He has called for government to roll out the Made Smarter programme across the UK to support companies with digital adoption.

NexSys has been supporting digital transformation for four decades and is now helping today’s manufacturers harness the powers of ERP / Picture: Getty/iStock

The power of NexSys solutions

Many manufacturers are still held back by legacy systems that don’t give them access to reliable real time data. This lack of insight stunts growth, making it difficult to pivot or adapt and deliver on strategic priorities.

At NexSys, the manufacturers we work with see first-hand the transformative power of ERP. Manufacturers are adopting digitalisation for a host of reasons: from driving efficiencies to drive down costs, dealing with price volatility, and ongoing supply chain disruption. For others, ERP offers an opportunity to deliver on ambitious growth plans and ensure their organisation is future-fit.

For instance, Wrexham-based Platts Agriculture is celebrating its 50th anniversary manufacturing sustainable animal bedding products. The family business employs 65 people across three sites in North Wales, and on the back of strong demand has set a target to increase its turnover from £8 million to £20 million over the next three years.

Managing Director Caroline Platt said: “We believe digitalisation will be the real catalyst for our future growth. Over time we have accumulated lots of bits of software that aren’t properly connected. People are working with bits of paper, numerous spreadsheets and dashboards and getting the information you need can be very time consuming.”

She added: “If we are to meet our goals and hit our KPIs, we need accurate data so that we know whether we are on track and where we need to flex and pivot. It is important that information is accurate and can be accessed from anywhere at any time.”

Platts plans to use its new SYSPRO ERP system to help improve performance through areas such as predictive maintenance, energy monitoring, inventory management and financial reporting. It also intends to exploit that improved visibility for effective sustainability reporting as Platts continues on its decarbonisation pathway.

The business sees NexSys as a long-term partner to support them on their digital journey. Platts said: “NexSys shares our vision and values and took the time to understand our business. They have the expertise and agility to help us deliver our plans and we are very glad to have them at our side.”