The Biggest Missed Opportunities in Manufacturing and Distribution

  • Innovation and disruption
  • 3/10/2023

Key insights

  • Using technology to manage manufacturing operations is just as useful (or more) as using it to optimize production.
  • Manufacturers see the biggest benefits from the fourth industrial revolution when they extend it from the assembly line to the administrative suite.
  • Thanks to smarter tools and better data integration, manufacturing accountants can now automate some of their most time- and labor-intensive routines.

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The fourth industrial revolution is well underway, and much of the attention is on the technologies revolutionizing the factory floor: internet-connected sensors that facilitate predictive maintenance, advanced robots capable of complicated assemblies, or 3-D printers redefining production.

These advances (and the many more we left off the list) are impressive, exciting, and no doubt important. But they overshadow that the biggest innovations in manufacturing and distribution aren’t happening on the ground — they’re happening in the office.

Accounting automation is a great example. Thanks to smarter tools and better data integration, manufacturing accountants can now automate some of their most time- and labor-intensive routines. Tasks like manual reconciliations that take hours and create high risk for errors can now run on autopilot — and this isn’t the only example.

Solving bigger picture problems

Technology on the factory floor helps companies manufacture goods faster, cheaper, better, or more consistently. Unfortunately, improving production isn’t the only issue manufacturers are dealing with now or in preparing for the future.

The entire manufacturing industry is changing as supply chains shift, competitive forces evolve, and markets move. Production that’s lean and agile certainly helps a manufacturer remain relevant. But in this climate, having a smart strategy, a plan to achieve it, and the management capabilities to carry it out matters much more than whether output improves.

Technology for administering and managing manufacturing helps decision makers navigate a manufacturing and distribution industry in flux and solve problems bigger than production such as finding labor, stabilizing sourcing, and keeping costs competitive. Production technology can help with these issues — but the decisions of managers ultimately determine the outcome, and technology improves the odds of a favorable outcome considerably.

Accounting automation helps financial professionals save time, prevent errors, and access updated financial information faster, freeing them to focus on more important work. Automation can improve just about everything accountants do.

The same is true for most other aspects of manufacturing management. Technologies that integrate data and systems, automate routines and workflows, and forecast with clarity and accuracy give decision makers a tremendous advantage.

The potential of digital transformation in manufacturing

Technologies for managing manufacturing are not just an important addition to the digital devices proliferating across the factory floor — they’re complementary. As these devices continue to generate data, managers must have the means to collect that information, analyze the performance, and present the results. In turn, managers can put their data-informed plans into action more easily by programming production technologies with very precise instructions.

How we can help

Technology on both sides of the equation work together to make manufacturers even more capable — provided they emphasize both sides equally.

CLA’s Noel Hopkins and Brendan Kurvers will discuss this and more in this webinar. For every manufacturer eager to capitalize on the fourth industrial revolution — faster and to a greater degree — this session is enlightening and actionable.

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