How Companies Optimize Their Manufacturing Operations with Cloud Inventory®
Listen to the full podcast on Cloud Inventory’s website: https://www.cloudinventory.com/podcasts/bill-branit-podcast-optimize-manufacturing-operations-cloud-inventory
Full Transcription below:
Welcome to Enterprise Radio, the signature show of the Enterprise Podcast network, featuring some of the most prominent business professionals in the world today. And now your host, Eric Dye.
Dye: This is Eric Dye and once again, welcome to Enterprise Radio, a part EPN, the Enterprise Podcast Network.
Today, we’re speaking with Mr. Bill Branit, the director of product management for Cloud Inventory®, to learn more about how Cloud Inventory’s manufacturing materials inventory management solutions can optimize your manufacturing operations.
As a technology and supply chain leader, Branit is here to explain how manufacturers can utilize mobile first cloud based technology to realize the benefits of real time inventory, visibility and control.
Mr. Branit, thanks for joining us here today on Enterprise Radio.
Branit: It’s my pleasure.
Dye: And of course we certainly do appreciate your time and thanks for coming out today. So for starters, tell us about how Cloud Inventory Manufacturing Material solutions helps manufacturers manage inventory and increase productivity, which is so important?
Branit: Well, manufacturers have always been under pressure to increase their productivity, reduce costs. I mean that’s perpetual, but the last year in particular with COVID, that’s made it even more so.
So the goal of the software product, Manufacturing Inventory, is really all about getting the transactional activity, the things that happen on the line and out in the warehouse and they move stuff around to make it real time. The benefits of those are really just unlimited from the standpoint of being able to get information quickly, making sure that there’s fewer errors, to no errors. We also want to make sure that we’re giving them the information that’s required to make decisions. At the end of the day, productivity is the result of decision making and process changes and so forth.
And the manufacturing materials in our Cloud Inventory product is designed to really give that information to the people that make those decisions within the manufacturing world.
And of course, some great information to set the stage for today’s topic and conversation. So also, what are the advantages of implementing a mobile first, cloud based approach to inventory management for manufacturing applications? Talk to us about that.
Branit: Sure. So at the end of the day the flexibility is really the key word these days, right. I mean, you need to be able to adjust with the markets, you need to be able to adjust what changes in your supply chain. You need to be able to make those changes very quickly. Cloud allows for those kinds of things and it allows for the information that’s generated there to be out there and be used by more people in a more flexible manner. By doing this mobile combined with the cloud, it basically means that I can now get that information in real time, as it happens. I no longer have to worry about filling out forms and typing information into a spreadsheet or anything along those lines. I can get it as it happens.
And the value of that really comes down to the fact that I can now see how things happen in real time. So I can make adjustments if I need to. And one of the advantages of being mobile and cloud is the fact that I can make those adjustments without having to go back and pull my IT staff in and say, okay well we need to make these change and they say, well that’s six months worth of work, which obviously nobody wants and nobody can wait that long.
Dye: For sure on that, up to minute information and live information is so important, and especially in your field. Now, how can companies integrate manufacturing materials with their existing ERP Systems, get into some of those details?
Branit: Well one of the values of our product and our company is the fact that the product isn’t restricted by the ERP system. So we’ve used it in conjunction with just about every ERP system out there because of the way that we have sort of made it a standalone product in and of itself it has its own functionality. And then the integration back to the ERP system is really just based on standards that are out there for integrating to any given ERP system, be it be Oracle or SAP, or Microsoft, it really doesn’t matter.
We can integrate to any and all of them using the nature of our platform. Our platform, which is a low code platform, allows us to make those changes and adjust to the different ERPs very quickly and based on the project requirements. So everybody has different project requirements, and all that has to do with basically some of the limitations of what ERP systems have.
So every ERP system out there will only do so many things, but there’s always a need and requirement that go beyond what and ERP system wants, and that’s where we come in. So we sort of fill in those gaps. And as far as integrating into the ERP system, it’s a little bit of, I’ll call it a translation that kind of goes there, based on what their language is speaking and what they want to speak on the manufacturing floor. That allows us to basically just put things into the places, into the ERP system that are required, which are generally financially related or actually inventory volumes or inventory levels and those kinds of things.
Dye: Certainly appreciate all the information and details here today, quite insightful so far. Today, we’re speaking with Mr. Bill Branit, he is the director of product management for Cloud Inventory, a company that empowers organizations with real time inventory visibility at all points in the supply chain, from the warehouse to the field. And he’s joined us here today on Enterprise Radio, a part of EPN, the Enterprise Podcast Network.
Now, looking at COVID-19 and the pandemic, do you think that the pandemic has changed the way that companies approach manufacturing, either in the short term or in the long term, and if so, how does manufacturing materials fit that change in approach? I’m sure listeners would like to hear some information on that.
Branit: Well, COVID did an interesting thing really to the manufacturing supply chain. It exposed every problem out there, things that were sort of hidden by the fact that we were just sort of rolling along, happy campers figuring out everything was just fine. But the minute COVID came along and you had people shut down even for a few weeks, it exposed the fragile nature of the supply chain out there, for every manufacturer. And you hear about this on the news, just constantly. You hear about the car manufacturers that are shutting down because they don’t have the computer chips to put in a car.
And you think — well, computer chips, car, what is that? Well, that’s all part of the supply chain, and COVID basically broke all those chains. And it’s true, like I said, every manufacturer out there…. You go out there and you talk to any of them, regardless of what it is and it’s broken. And it’s broken all the way through.
So when you look at something as complex as a car, some of the problems go all the way back to the steel manufacturing levels. So it’s not even just the fact that chips are missing, but it’s the fact that steel manufacturers aren’t doing all the things that they used to be able to do. So, we talk about, are these things changing, sure in the short term, it has really caused some huge problems, an enormous amount of stress when you talk to manufacturing people, particularly in the supply end of the companies, they’re just stressed out to no end because they can’t find what they need.
But I think this in the long term is going to be a big deal, because it’s really like I said, shown up all the flaws in their system. You hear things about just-in-time manufacturing that the auto industry was famous for is now broken, because they’re shutting down plants and even the auto manufacturers are now looking long term to say, just-in-time may not be the best way to go. And they are even talking about how they’re going to change their supplies to have more of a cushion for when things happen like this. So, studies have been shown that a lot of companies are thinking along these lines too, they’re looking more and more into how they get their materials.
So for us, the goal was to help enable that activity, to give them the flexibility to look at how they get materials and where the materials are in the supply chain with that real time data that I spoke about. So having real time data allows somebody that actually is doing that raw material acquisition in the manufacturing to know when and where and how those raw materials are being used, and also which of their suppliers are coming in and fulfilling their promises and which ones are not. It gives them just all kinds of information that is again, real time in a manner that is now more usable.
Like I said, the days of dealing with a lot of the stuff on spreadsheets is just over and gone with. You need to be able to make these changes on a very current and regular basis. In some cases you’re making daily decisions and say, you know what, we can’t get this from them, we’ll need to get it from somebody else, or we need to improve or increase the number of suppliers that we’re dealing with. Our goal really is to provide that information as to what’s really going on in conjunction with the actual activities. So there can no longer be a delay or a fog around what that information tells you.
So, with Cloud, you can also hook up to your suppliers and actually see what’s going on with them, assuming that they allow it. But it’s one of those things that now you can actually have a visual viewpoint that’s much larger, more accurate, much clearer than you could in the past.
Dye: Certainly some good news on that front. And yeah, of course, life has certainly changed in a big way in business and in personal life since the pandemic. And this in these regards certainly is some good news on that front, for sure.
Now, where do you see the most room for innovation in inventory management approaches for manufacturing?
Branit: Well, I think the next way that you will see is you will see inventory management will no longer be just within my four walls. You will see it that goes well beyond that, and it will be something that I as a consumer of any kind of raw material will not just see what I’ve already bought, what I’ve had delivered, but also what’s going on with my suppliers and what’s going on with their supply chain. Because like I said, in some cases, the supply chain is very deep. You know, you’re buying from somebody, who’s buying from somebody who’s buying from somebody, who’s buying from somebody, and you need to be able to see those kinds of things all along the way because you may ask your supplier well, what does it look like? And he’ll say something, but he doesn’t know that his supplier is now going to fail him, and consequently that has ramifications all the way up and down the stream.
So I see really a lot of that innovation is going to be about information flow that’s going to be more demanded up and down the entire supply chain, not just really in the one step behind you.
Dye: Bill, certainly appreciate your thoughts on innovation in your space. Now. I’m sure listeners would appreciate some advice. Would you give some advice to companies that are looking to optimize their manufacturing operations? I’m sure those that this would apply to would appreciate hearing from you in those regards as well.
Branit: Well, the place to start is sometimes with the obvious. I’m still amazed at the number of people that are still using paper and spreadsheets. If you’re in that world, you need to really seriously consider getting out of it. If you’re past that point, you need to start looking at everything that you’re doing with fresh eyes — no longer think, well that worked in the past, it’s okay to continue down that road. Because it’s not true. things will break, the conditions will change and you will need to adjust. So the whole, we have always done it this way mentality no longer really works.
So the biggest advice really is for optimization is to look beyond the places that they’ve always looked at before. Be prepared to have conversations with your suppliers and even within your own building, you need to think about, well, how does the material move from the time that it shows up to the time that it’s consumed? Are there areas in there where we’ve got too many steps, and why do we have those steps?
Every step should have a question of value applied to it. Does that step have value and what is it? And then compare it to what the cost of that step is? And if the value doesn’t outpace the cost, it needs to be gotten rid of. And that’s something that you have to do on a regular basis. You can’t just sit there and say, well, we’ve we’ve got this up and running, now let’s just let it go. You constantly need to be looking at these things, trying to decide.
And one of the advantages really with our product is the fact that it’s built on a low code platform which allows for those changes. So we have customers going back many, many years that have over the course of time changed their processes and changed the way that they use our software based on that low code platform allows them to make those changes in very short periods of time. We’ve actually had customers that have said on one day, you know what this this part needs to change, and within days they made those changes.
That’s really the biggest thing about optimizing manufacturing operations is you can’t sit on your laurels. You need to constantly question, you need to constantly review, you need to constantly look at things and say, what can I do different here to cut out a cost or a step? And how do I use the information that I’m getting to do those things? How do I look at that information?
Information is the key to making all decisions, and getting it real time in an accurate manner and being able to trust that data can make all the difference in the world when you’re looking at making changes.
Dye: No doubt about that. That real time and up to minute information makes all the difference, is the difference maker, for sure. Thanks for making mention once again on that.
Now, lastly, what do you think makes manufacturing materials unique as a provider of inventory management solutions for manufacturing applications? Let’s conclude with that.
Branit: Well, the probably the biggest thing is the fact that basically all of the product is based on a low code platforms. So when you need to make changes to a process you can do it quickly. And also, even when we’re doing this for the initial implementation for a new customer, no two manufacturers do everything the same way, right? There’s always those unique elements. And even though there are a lot of things that everybody does, there are always those unique elements and it’s always in the 10-20% range, and everybody needs to adjust for those things.
That’s really where we come in with that low code platform. It allows us to make those changes in a manner that that isn’t costly. And by costly, I mean, not just right now, but for maintaining it going forward. Software is one of those things you buy once and you pay for on and on because of the fact that you’re always making changes, doing upgrades and those kinds of things can get expensive if you don’t have the right kind of foundation for it. A low code platform means that I don’t have to sit there and hire expensive programmers to come in and make those changes for me, I can do it relatively easily and I can do it quickly and I can test very quickly, and I can make those changes as my environment changes.
That’s probably one of the biggest elements for us is the fact that we’ve always allowed our customers to get those specific things that they need done, done, even when their ERP system wouldn’t allow for it. Their ERP systems are big, they’re very complicated, making changes in there is just something that’s not going to happen. We are sitting outside of that and allowing the customers to basically make those changes and letting the ERP system stay standard. But we can make the changes and we can make all kinds of interesting things happen that are just not possible in the amount of time that ERP systems would allow for.
So the flexibility of really being able to do those kinds of things is really probably the single biggest thing in Manufacturing Materials that makes us unique.
Dye: Mr. Branit, we certainly do appreciate your time and all the information and insight shared here today, much appreciated. I’m sure listeners are definitely wanting to know where they can get more information online on Cloud Inventory and how they could be best in touch. Where’s the best place online to do so?
Branit: Well they can go to cloudinventory.com and that’ll take you right to where you need to go. And there’s all kinds of information on that site, including phone numbers to contact our implementation teams and the engineering teams that will help you make the kind of decisions that you need to make.
Dye: And that certainly is easy enough. Again, folks, that is cloudinventory.com.
Mr. Branit, all the best and thanks so much for joining us here today on Enterprise Radio, much appreciated.
Branit: Well, thank you for the opportunity. I greatly appreciate it.
Dye: And you’re more than welcome, and the pleasure was certainly all ours. We’ve been speaking with Mr. Bill Branit, the director of product management for Cloud Inventory, a company that empowers organizations with real time inventory visibility at all points in the supply chain, from the warehouse, to the field. And for all the details visit cloudinventory.com.
This is Eric Dye and you’ve been listening to Enterprise Radio, a part of EPN, the Enterprise Podcast Network. Tune in to our live location as we are streaming live 24/7 around the world at the epodcastnetwork.com/live. You can also find our livestream on iTunes radio and TuneIn radio as well as the TuneIn radio app for your listening convenience. And as always, we thank you for your support and for tuning in.