The manufacturing industry is entering the digital age. Although many factory floors are already home to a wide range of robotics and other hardware offerings, manufacturers are now increasingly embracing a number of software-based IT solutions to improve efficiencies and reliability as well as automating processes. However as manufacturers introduce these complex IT solutions, a number of challenges, particularly around integration, can appear.

Manufacturers are now increasingly embracing a number of software-based IT solutionsClick To Tweet

Overcoming SAP challenges

Many manufacturers choose SAP systems for their IT infrastructure, but even with the proven success of the IT modules, challenges still arise. Fortunately, IBM Sterling B2B Integrator, as delivered by Bluebird IT, can help businesses securely overcome these challenges, allowing them to modernise and improve their manufacturing processes.

One of the primary issues that manufacturers face is missed service level agreements, or SLAs. Inefficiencies when converting file formats to Idocs (intermediate documents) can make order processing an unnecessarily long process. However, Sterling B2B Integration allows the exchange of a full range of SAP Idoc messages as standard, streamlining the process. Similarly, a number of SAP processes can be automated, removing the need for staff to get bogged down in repetitive manual tasks and decreasing the risk of error. Ultimately, by reducing these errors and speeding up the ordering process, manufacturers experience a lower cost of ownership and better return on investment.

Making your partnership productive

The key to creating productive relationships with your partners is becoming as easy to do business with as possible. At Bluebird we recognise that all of your partners are not the same, some are large & prepared for highly secure level Internet based transfer, and other smaller companies may be using faxes and emails. Your customers and partners are becoming more empowered, Sterling B2B Integrator offers you the agility to integrate with any partner regardless of size, protocol or file transfer sophistication, as well any partner mandates. All of this allows you to keep up with your ever-changing partner community. Plus, with new partners being on-boarded all the time, IBM Sterling helps you to manage your trading partners more efficiently and using fewer resources.

Compliance is complicated further still by supply chains crossing national boundaries.Click To Tweet

In an increasingly globalised business environment, companies need to collaborate across enterprise boundaries. With IBM Sterling B2B Integrator, processes can be automated even if they are shared between different partners with differing technologies, policies, procedures, preferences and priorities. When you consider how fragmented the manufacturing supply chain can be, moving all the way from supplier to consumer, this level of integration is vital.

Another key aspect for manufacturers to consider when integrating with a diverse range of partners, particularly when it comes to supply chain management, is visibility. A step to improving partner integration is through real-time visibility, letting manufacturers oversee and audit product, information and finance flows. The B2B Integrator offers a dashboard that helps foster compliance with SLA’s and alerts you to transactions & events that fall out of bounds, as well as offering real time information to auditors and more importantly your partners.

Even if the technical challenges of integration have been overcome, manufacturing firms could still find themselves facing a number of regulatory hurdles. The issue of compliance is complicated further still by supply chains that cross national boundaries. Failure to meet these regulations could have devastating consequences for businesses, leading to fines, lost business and long-term ‘reputational’ damage.

Sterling B2B Integrator can help manufacturing businesses meet their customer, partner and industry demands. Even if your supply chain is operating across disparate document definitions, systems and compliance standards, our comprehensive solution can give your manufacturing business greater visibility into file transfers, reduce task complexity and boost automation, giving your company the tools required to collaborate with its partners, wherever they are in the world.

Bluebird is an IBM Premier Partner specialising in IBM Managed File Transfer, Business to Business Integration, Enterprise Content Management and Business Process Management solutions.  We sell IBM software and deliver services including design, development, implementation, project management, training and technical support. More about Bluebird IT here.