The Role of Procurement in Smart Manufacturing

Industry 4.0 is revolutionizing the way the manufacturing sector operates. It includes disruptive manufacturing technologies that support automation and drive seamless data exchange. It encompasses techniques such as the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), cloud computing, and Artificial Intelligence. With Industry 4.0, digital tools are empowering manufacturing to move to the next level of efficiency.

The Industry 4.0 ecosystem has contributed to the growth of smart manufacturing facilities that connect multiple supply chain networks. Since the connectivity extends beyond the four walls of the manufacturing plant, suppliers and customers also benefit from the manufacturer’s digital transformation. Investing in disruptive technology and tools is one of the first steps in transitioning to a smart manufacturing plant, which involves the procurement department.

The Role of Procurement in Smart Manufacturing

The role of the procurement division comes into the picture when smart manufacturing facilities need to be leveraged for the growth of the manufacturing company. Companies may need to invest in sensors, actuators, controllers, and other hardware and software necessary to set up the smart ecosystem. In addition, procurement teams need to understand the technology tools, so they can choose the right suppliers for them.

A few important procurement criteria to consider when setting up smart manufacturing facilities are listed below.

1. Integration & Reliability

Although the procurement process is not too different for Industry 4.0 technology solutions, purchasing managers need to understand the integration features of tools and solutions before making a purchase decision. This is because smart manufacturing facilities need to work in unison with existing systems and software to bring out the desired high levels of connectivity. An incompatible device can cause outage issues that may cause a ripple effect throughout the plant.

2. Safety & Security

Security features of devices and software solutions are important factors that procurement managers have to check before making sourcing decisions. Companies may also need to purchase other safety devices or additional software to protect their networks from cyber-attacks, malware, and other security threats. 

3. SaaS Options

After the new hardware and software have been implemented, the data that is generated from the smart manufacturing ecosystem can be connected to an IIoT platform or a cloud computing tool, for further processing and analysis. Purchase managers can consider SaaS (Software as a Service) models that are a cost-effective option for the company. SaaS allows the “pay-as-you-use” option (to pay only for the time the analytics engine is in use) which is highly beneficial for manufacturing companies that are slowly making the transition to the smart manufacturing setup.

4. Reliability

When evaluating products for a smart manufacturing setup, reliability is an essential factor to consider. It is not only about meeting the specs required to integrate the device into the existing system, but it is also about how reliable it will be for long-term success, and the role it will play in generating business results.

Industry 4.0 is here to stay, so it is important for purchase managers to maintain a long-term relationship with smart manufacturing device suppliers and technology providers to keep the ecosystem working efficiently. Moreover, since technology is always pushing its limits, the purchasing department must also be ready to accommodate the next wave of technology soon.

Are you ready to take the leap forward into a smart manufacturing ecosystem? InApp offers custom digital transformation solutions that leverage disruptive technology, empowering manufacturing companies to stay competitive and overcome industry challenges. With 20+ years of experience in the manufacturing sector, InApp is a technology partner for the long haul. If you want to explore the various digital solutions that we offer, drop us a line and we’ll get back to you.