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The #1 Trend in Manufacturing May Surprise You

North America Manufacturing Excellence Summit

Artificial intelligence. Predictive analytics. Was this a tech conference or a manufacturing summit? At this year's North America Manufacturing Excellence Summit (#NAMES17), the coming convergence was clear.

Participants at NAMES came looking for best practices for improving manufacturing performance. What they got was a view into companies at the cutting edge of manufacturing's digitized future.

Digitization impacts manufacturers at many different levels, from social media to supply chain. The concept harnesses data to increase connectivity, visibility, and productivity.

On this theme, here are my key takeaways from this year's NAMES.

We're Entering the Age of Smart Manufacturing

Presenters from Unilever and Hitachi both emphasized the importance of data analytics for smart manufacturing. Data can be used for more efficient monitoring and continuous improvement, tracking and maintenance of product, and improved service.

Through data aggregation and Internet of Things (IoT), a manufacturer can pre-emptively determine that a product will not meet specifications. Instead of producing a nonconforming product, manufacturers can use different ingredients, make a different product, or adjust the environmental conditions. Not knowing these capabilities existed, I was quite impressed. There’s an exciting future ahead!

Our Supply Chains Will See Around Corners

Digitization in the supply chain was also a critical point. Predictive analytics for risk management can be implemented through real-time monitoring of weather alerts, local events, or social unrest.

Using this data to predict what might happen on a shipment route allows a manufacturer or shipper to determine right amount of protection. Based on the data, they can choose to use temperature controlled trucks, humidity controls, or reroute to avoid certain areas helping to eliminate waste, reduce carbon footprint, and avoid customer delays.

We'll Increase Productivity Through Dynamic Scheduling

Predictive analytics and machine learning of production and customer data also enables dynamic scheduling and increases productivity. Through the aggregation of customer data and production analysis, manufacturers can predict and reduce bottlenecks. The use of digital technology is intended to supplement lean programs and helps to increase productivity and lead time.

Cloud-based Software Can Digitize Your Manufacturing System

Manufacturers are doing amazing things with technology by using it to eliminate silos, improve efficiency and quality, thereby reducing waste and saving money. We at Veeva couldn't be prouder to be a part of these significant leaps forward. That's why we offer manufacturers in any industry Vault QualityOne, a unified system that enables collaboration and partnership with external associates, streamlines quality processes and document management, and empowers organizations with reporting and dashboards that provide real-time monitoring of product, process, and customers.

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Sophia Finn has over 10 years of quality experience in regulated industries. She began her career with the FDA working in CBER’s vaccine lot release program and later moved to the FDA's office of regulatory affairs as a regulatory microbiologist. Additionally, Sophia has managed CAPA, complaints, audit, and deviation programs in the medical device industry. Sophia has a master of science in bioscience in regulatory affairs from Johns Hopkins University and is an ASQ Certified Quality Auditor.