A recent headline in our national newspaper “ Manufacturing Contracts” refers to the third month in arrow where the manufacturing index has fallen. July 2008 experienced an indicator of 48.8, with a level of 50 being stagnation or no contraction and no growth.
This downturn comes at a time when manufacturers are struggling with the pressure of globalisation, and competition from lower prices gained by other manufacturers outsourcing all or part of their requirements to low cost regions. This is where business intelligence alone is not the sole decision platform. Social responsibility and moral reckoning come into play as businesses seek to avoid reducing their staff numbers. Since manufacturers often employ large numbers of workers, closing a production line or regional factory can significantly impact whole communities.
Many believe these forces cannot be included in business intelligence programs – yet data around the historical impact of closures, down-sizing and outsourcing can be gathered, and included in ‘what-if’ scenarios.
The threat of employment redundancy causes a great deal of confusion and insecurity within a workforce. Sharing statistics about production, profitability etc with staff can help alleviate the ‘fear of the unkown’ and can often trigger great ideas for improvements and support from the factory floor.
Sharing information helps not only your managers make decisions, but also your workers. Their attitude towards their job is a decision. Their input and dedication to your business is a decision. Thus, business intelligence in manufacturing is not only about intelligent planning and scheduling. It is also effectively applied to HR issues.
Manufacturers will find detailed insight into how business intelligence is used in the manufacturing industry in my soon to be launched [September 2008] book “The Logical Organization: A strategic guide to driving corporate performance using business intelligence” The book will be available on this site and on Amazon.com