Manufacturers set to increase production process efficiency through adoption of Enterprise Portals

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Manufacturing companies are increasingly recognising the need to optimise the flow of information around the organisation to increase production process efficiency, according to United Planet, developer of Enterprise Portal software in Europe. Manufacturers rely on information being distributed and processed quickly to meet tight deadlines, but this is only possible if the right information reaches the right person in the right department at the right time. Sophisticated information management has the potential to improve all aspects of the manufacturing process and there is growing acceptance by forward looking manufacturers that Enterprise Portals can enhance internal information flows and deliver all important competitive edge.

Enterprise Portals enable manufacturers to store all information centrally and to distribute information in a targeted manner. They enable employees to access the most up-to-date data about a contract or order at any time. Modern Enterprise Portals also allow read and write integration of information from external systems such as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software, which means that production planning and control, or inventory management can be integrated in the portal in exactly the same way as information from a SAP system or Lotus Notes.

Integration of all business critical information in a single location greatly simplifies the search for information, data retrieval and, in turn, the decision making process. For example, an employee can check the stock levels of a particular product simply by keying in the product reference number into the portal. All available information about the product is immediately displayed for review on a comprehensive summary page on the portal. The employee can find out how the product is selling, what revenue the company is generating from sales of this product, whether there have been any complaints about production quality, how much time has been estimated for producing this product, and how much time is actually needed to manufacture a single item. A photo of the product can also be stored on the portal. The data for this comprehensive information page is collected from various systems, such as the ERP and document management systems.

Web-based portal solutions such as United Planet's Intrexx provide manufacturers with a cost effective way to guarantee consistency of information throughout the organisation, across different departments, multiple locations and even different countries. Intrexx also simplifies the development of external portals or extranets which makes it much easier to supply customers and suppliers with the most up-to-date information on a continuous basis. Users can also create their own Web applications to increase production process efficiency across different locations. For example, a Web application that enables employees to make direct entries into the company's ERP system online, from any location, via a virtual 'production pool' (with important information such as prices, work schedules, design drawings, 3D models etc. attached) could enable a manufacturing company to dispatch orders to different manufacturing plants, based on individual workload in order to guarantee delivery dates.

"Efficient management of knowledge and information through the development of an Enterprise Portal can contribute greatly to the overall competitiveness of an organisation," says Axel Wessendorf, managing director at United Planet. "Integrating business critical information on a portal and making it available to employees at all levels of the organisation, at all times, can eliminate many time-consuming tasks and dramatically improve data integrity. This is vital for manufacturing companies that need to avoid production errors, optimise customer-oriented transactions and accelerate business processes in order to bring products to market faster and at lower prices than their competitors."

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