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    Thriving manufacturers leveraging emerging IT solutions

    Investments in IT are proving to be a boon to manufacturers.

    While the outlook for American manufacturers has been bleak for the last decade, the sector is making a notable comeback, and information systems are taking on a critical role. The 2014 McGladrey Manufacturing & Distribution Report found that 36 percent of American manufacturers reported that they are thriving.

    This is a notable improvement over 2013, when 31 percent of respondents felt that they were thriving. Both numbers, however, are a stark improvement from the nadir of manufacturing confidence in 2009, when only nine percent of respondents claimed to be thriving.

    While top manufacturers have a host of qualities that are allowing them to grow and stay ahead of the competition, McGladrey noticed that a commitment to leveraging emerging IT solutions was among the core traits that they shared. 

    Investments in IT lead to stronger relationships
    McGladrey found that thriving manufacturers invested heavily in a wide berth of functional areas, and chief among these is their IT team and infrastructure. These investments have allowed them to take advantage of the benefits that come with the agility of the latest IT solutions.

    The report showed that the group of thriving manufacturers used their improved IT infrastructure to manage relationships with suppliers and internal personnel. The ability to quickly share data and business intelligence has allowed these companies to better meet the needs of both new and existing customers and stakeholders. In fact, McGladrey found that the 36 percent who claimed to be thriving posted pre-tax and pre-interest profits are much greater than companies that were declining and even the ones just maintaining their position. 

    Further optimization through emerging IT
    Machine-to-machine communication is likely to have a massive, industry-changing impact on manufacturing. TechTarget reported that intelligent machines with the ability to communicate with one another and a central database can keep managers aware of any changes in equipment uptime, utilization rates, average time-to-failure, and other key metrics.

    This kind of real time data feed can give managers valuable insights into exactly how their plant is running and allow them to identify avenues for improvements and further optimization. Being able to predict failures, or at least quickly react to them and redeploy personnel and resources will bring about noticeable time and cost savings.

    Top manufacturers already know that investing in a solid IT infrastructure now will position them to be more agile than the competition in the future.