Industry 4.0 begins in the office

By A+W.

Industry 4.0 refers to the digtalisation of production, where machines and workpieces can communicate digitally, alongside robots and predictive maintenance.

However, the digitalisation of communication is often overlooked; people dream of automated production while stacks of faxed orders still characterise their everyday business.

Digitalisation of the quotation, PO, and ordering processes between market partners must be the highest priority. For one thing, it reflects customers’ changed purchasing behaviour in the private sector. You can order online around the clock, and increasingly on mobile devices. Why not also in the commercial sector?

Many companies in the glass and window industry understand this and have started to build webshops. A+W iQuote from A+W Software is a product in great demand, for it was developed especially for use on mobile end user devices.

Ordering with A+W iQuote provides customers with flexibility, mobility, and time savings. They don’t have to install ordering software or an office terminal; all they need is a mobile end user device on which they can use a web browser.

Users can work with the end customer on-site, playing through product variants, prices, and other options, and create correct quotations, for they are always working with the current data in the producer’s ERP system. A+W iQuote guides the user through the configuration process, right on through to the quotation or order.

Managing director of Swedish insulated glass manufacturer Osby-Glas Joel Rosenqvist said: “With A+W iQuote, our customers cannot make any more entry errors – what they order can also be built. The entire order runs through a restriction check based on our master data stored in A+W Business. Customers only send us technically correct orders. There are no queries and time-consuming clarifications on the telephone or via e-mail. This is how we achieve much greater efficiency throughout the ordering process.”

Unproductive work is eliminated, and most online orders can be transferred to production directly or after a brief check, entirely without any duplicate order entry. This saves time and money in order processing and results in shorter throughput times; if customers order online, their products are delivered faster.

The savings on the producer’s side are so significant that some producers are granting discounts for orders placed with A+W iQuote. In addition, customers can get an idea of where their orders are at any time and they can download all necessary documents (invoices, delivery notes) via the integrated info portal.

Another familiar sight is employees armed with pen and paper wandering through the warehouse and checking whether the necessary materials for an important order are in stock.

Digital materials management and stock keeping should therefore be a fixed component of your company’s software, and they should be used consistently.

With optimal configuration, minimum inventories can be stored in your materials management. When stock drops below the minimum level, your software sounds the alarm and triggers the necessary re-orders automatically if you so desire.

The prerequisite for this is that all employees play their part in digital materials management. This means that all inputs and outputs must be booked consistently and stored in the system. This is easy with an appropriately configured barcode solution. Only then can your digital stock keeping ensure that all necessary parts are always available.

Good materials management, as with the A+W systems A+W Business and A+W Enterprise, must be integrated completely into the order entry system. This way, you cannot confirm any delivery dates if you haven’t gotten the ‘OK’ from materials management. If your system is configured properly, the system queries the stock situation automatically before you confirm an order and can plan it for production in production planning.

For such automated stock and procurement processes, companies have to be networked internally. Otherwise, it is impossible to assemble real-time information about the material and procurement situation.

To simplify order communication, digital platforms for communication and the provision of critical information are arising, so all partners in the supply chain have to be networked digitally. This way, it is conceivable that your procurement system will be able to compare various suppliers’ delivery capability at lighting speed and react independently to the current situation.

With ‘materials management 4.0’, you not only guarantee your flexibility and delivery capability, you also save a huge amount of unproductive work, for the colleague who previously had to run around with paper and pen in the warehouse can now do more productive things in this time.