Dynamics Matters Podcast Ep 103: A journey from manual to automated manufacturing

With special guest Stefan Aleksandrowicz, ERP Systems Manager, William King

✔ Automation in manufacturing

✔ Why change demands change management

✔ Transformation, automation, ERP ... starts with data

Introduction

In a recent podcast conversation with Stefan Aleksandrowicz, the ERP Systems Manager at William King, we gained valuable insights into the changing landscape of manufacturing operations. Over his 23-year career, he's witnessed a significant evolution from manual processes to cutting-edge automation, and he shared some compelling thoughts on how these changes have impacted the industry and his company.

The shift in customer expectations

At the outset, Stefan described a manufacturing world that relied on archaic systems. Picture this: printed job cards, manual data entry, and an absence of real-time production data. Such a scenario left manufacturers vulnerable to disruptions. But times have changed, dramatically.

Today, William King boasts live production data that offers real-time insights into machine statuses, run times, and job progress. Thanks to automation, the days of printed job cards and manual information gathering are long gone. This transformation proved especially crucial during the COVID-19 pandemic when remote work was necessary. Without automation, they would have struggled to continue operations effectively.

When asked about the challenges currently facing the manufacturing industry, Stefan emphasised the push towards automation. Streamlining processes and improving agility are essential to meet customer demands. In an era where customers expect to receive information even before a truck arrives, the ability to provide such real-time data is a competitive advantage. It's clear the improvements within William King also benefit their entire supply chain.

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Technology has played a pivotal role in this transformation. Stefan highlighted the shift from their old Navision system to Microsoft Dynamics 365 to meet their ambition to improve connectivity with customers and suppliers. With the Microsoft Power Platform, including Power Apps and Power Automate, William King is well-prepared for future advancements. Looking ahead, the company has ambitious plans. They aim to expand to two new sites and create a seamless system that links all operations. This interconnected approach ensures that developments made in one location can be extended to the others, creating a unified and efficient operation.

What's most striking about this transformation is how it liberates human resources for value-added activities. Automation frees up employees to focus on building customer relationships, generating new business, and effective stock planning and forecasting. It's not just about efficiency; it's about elevating the role of employees in driving the business forward.

In conclusion, Stefan offered two invaluable pieces of advice for organisations considering a similar transformation journey. First, emphasise the importance of data migration. It's crucial to clean and migrate only the data that's necessary for your operations. Second, invest in change management. Preparing your workforce, training them thoroughly, and ensuring they are comfortable with the new systems are paramount to success. Stefan's insights showcase the transformative power of technology in manufacturing. William King's journey from manual to automated operations not only positioned them as industry leaders but also highlighted the importance of staying agile and embracing change. As we look to the future, these lessons will undoubtedly serve as a beacon for other manufacturers seeking to thrive in the evolving landscape of the industry.

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