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Manufacturing consists of a variety of production approaches ranging from discrete, process, mixed-mode, and engineer-to-order to make-to-order, etc. In this competitive world, manufacturers cannot rely on just the high quality of their products, on-time delivery, or innovative product design to stay ahead of the competition—they must move beyond these attributes. As manufacturing industries mature, the rules of the game change. Manufacturers are confronted with increasing globalization, more competition within specific industries, and constant changes in customers demand and expectations.
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Manufacturing companies are faced with a great number of challenges, such as how to
  • increase operational efficiency without jeopardizing the quality of the product;
  • innovate without increasing the cost of the product;
  • shorten the product life cycle and keep go-to-market times on schedule;
  • be flexible about manufacturing the product according to customer requirements;
  • provide customers with real-time visibility into global operations from product manufacturing to shipping details;
  • incorporate all regulatory and compliance standards within operations;
  • link products manufactured globally without creating gaps between processes, systems, and services;
  • collaborate between manufacturers and suppliers globally (to pass on products' rapidly changing requirements);
  • communicate and direct changes in product engineering, demand, and process without losing creditability; and
  • create a harmonized network of production and logistics facilities capable of providing the right quality and quantity, at the right time, and at the right price globally.
The list of challenges can seem endless, but the objective for manufacturers is to find answers that will meet these challenges head-on. To overcome these issues, numerous software solutions are available with features and functionality that can help meet the needs of manufacturers. A few industry-specific solution areas that can help centralize information for quick access with respect to global operations are enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, supply chain management (SCM) systems, manufacturing operations management (MOM) systems, or manufacturing execution systems (MESs). For project collaboration and managing the product life cycle, it's important to have project portfolio management (PPM) systems and product lifecycle management (PLM) systems. For successful execution, visibility into multiple sources and departments is important, and can be accomplished by integrating ERP with quote-to-order (Q2O) and SCM applications.

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