MANUFACTURING

Optimize Manufacturing Processes with Microsoft Dynamics

Optimize Manufacturing Processes with Microsoft Dynamics

Optimize Manufacturing Processes with Microsoft Dynamics 700 500 Xcelpros Team

Introduction

Pressing on after the height of the pandemic, the manufacturing industry continues to struggle with workforce and supply chain challenges at every level, including increased costs for both physical goods and employee wages.

While we continue to be hopeful for large growth in U.S. manufacturing, for many, optimizing their manufacturing processes has been vital to improving their bottom line and productivity, and to get more out of their operations, helping them remain more profitable overall.

Today, working with the right partner can make manufacturing easier in many ways, whether it’s lower costs or increased productivity. A partner that understands manufacturing software and understands your business is most likely going to be able to deliver solutions that fit both your present needs and your future goals.

Technology and Modern Manufacturing

Technological advances have always been a boon to manufacturing businesses, helping them to increase efficiency and optimize even the smallest processes.

With rapid changes in consumer demand and the rise of globalization, companies need an integrated enterprise system that helps them manage their data more efficiently and productively. With a robust ERP solution and reliable hosting infrastructure, we’ve helped companies in industries like automotive, paper processing, consumer goods, textiles, distribution centers as well as oil & gas manage global growth.

Today, most manufacturers choose Microsoft Dynamics to further streamline their operations.

Microsoft Dynamics is built on cloud architecture, which means no matter where you are or where your company is located, you can access the same tools and resources on any device. And because Microsoft Dynamics is built on Azure – one of the world’s largest clouds – customers get access to Azure’s security features including comprehensive firewall protection, DDoS protection, and secure data transfers so critical information stays safe from cyber-attacks.

This flexibility is essential for manufacturing industries because it allows them to work anywhere in the world without having to worry about backups or even localized power disruptions. That said, businesses should also consider offline capabilities when selecting a cloud ERP vendor as they will help mitigate downtime while ensuring uninterrupted production flow during natural disasters or other types of emergencies.

Reasons For a Technology Partner

If you’re a manufacturer in business even a few years, it’s fair to say that you know having a partner to help you optimize your processes can be the difference between success and failure.

By working with the right partner who understands both your business needs and software like Microsoft Dynamics 365, you can ensure that you’re getting the most out of your technology.

Here are seven reasons why working with a partner who understands manufacturing and has experience with Dynamics 365 is so important.

  1. 1.Dynamic process optimization – It’s impossible for one person or team to optimize every process in their company. However, by collaborating with experts who understand how Dynamics 365 can integrate with other systems like transportation and compliance management, they can find ways to streamline business operations while cutting costs and increasing efficiency.
  2. 2.Better visibility – Some companies keep their inventory data in spreadsheets instead of a centralized system like Dynamics 365 which makes it difficult for managers to see where all the parts are coming from and going to. With the right kind of partners though, these manufacturers gain better visibility into their inventory levels which helps them avoid costly mistakes.
  3. 3.Outsourcing capabilities – Manufacturers often outsource work because there simply aren’t enough skilled workers available to do the job themselves. By outsourcing with a Microsoft certified partner, they can save money on labor expenses while ensuring quality control standards are met.
  4. 4.Streamlined processes – No matter what industry you work in, complex operations require expertise and knowledge outside of just one person or department. An expert will be able to map out an entire workflow more efficiently than someone without any experience at all.
  5. 5.Training & development opportunities – Manufacturers often have trouble finding time to invest in training because there always seems to be too much work on their plate already. A qualified partner will provide access to trainers who specialize in Dynamics 365, allowing employees to develop skills that benefit both the company and individual employee.
  6. 6.Saves time – Time is arguably one of the most valuable resources we have as humans. Working with a partner who knows what they’re doing saves everyone involved time and effort since it won’t take as long to figure out new software or new problems when they arise.
  7. 7.Builds relationships – The nature of manufacturing requires tight partnerships between manufacturers, distributors, suppliers, contractors, etc. One example is cross-training employees across multiple departments to create less bottlenecks and increase efficiencies throughout the whole production process.

The Case for Microsoft Dynamics 365

If your main goal is optimizing your manufacturing processes, it’s important to utilize software that works for your business.

Figure 1:Technology of Industry 4.0

Technology of Industry 4.0

The world is changing and so is manufacturing. Industry 4.0, also known as the Fourth Industrial Revolution, is transforming the way we live, work, and communicate. It’s characterized by several new technologies and trends, including big data and analytics, cloud computing, IoT, artificial intelligence (AI), and 3D printing. Microsoft Dynamics 365 can help prepare your company for Industry 4.0 by providing features that support these new technologies and trends.

For example, Dynamics 365 can help you collect and analyze data from your manufacturing processes using IoT sensors, use AI to automate tasks and make predictions, and take advantage of cloud computing to improve scalability and flexibility.

In our experience, the best way to Optimize manufacturing processes has always been with Microsoft Dynamics 365. The reasons why more manufacturers are turning to Microsoft ERP solutions are simple: They’re designed from the ground up to streamline production and minimize errors – saving time and money in the long run.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 helps streamline several manufacturing processes:

  1. 1.Workflows – These automated tasks make day-to-day operations more efficient. You don’t have to remember everything since our system takes care of it for you.
  2. 2.CRM – Customer relationship management helps sales reps stay on top of their customer data, contacts, leads and follow-ups. All customer info is stored securely in one place instead of scattered across emails or office documents which makes customer interactions easier than ever before. And if they’re not contacted within 24 hours after submitting a lead form, an email reminder is automatically sent to them.
  3. 3.Inventory – Keeping track of inventory items has never been easier. Just upload your item list and watch as they move through each stage of the production process until they are ready for shipping to customers. And if an item runs low on stock, there’s an automatic notification that lets you know when its reorder point has been reached.
  4. 4.Automation – Microsoft Dynamics 365 allows you to take advantage of pre-built integrations that save you time and effort. You can export sales orders directly into your ERP which will automatically trigger production or assembly lines, or schedule work on manufacturing machines. When products are finished, simply send them to the appropriate warehouse and receive notifications when they’ve arrived. Plus, you can set up alerts to notify key personnel whenever an order arrives at any given point during production.

No matter what type of manufacturer you are, there’s a Microsoft Dynamics 365 solution available for you. At Xcelpros, we consider the types of manufacturing processes you use and the size of your company before recommending the best solution. We’ll work closely with you so that we can be sure to understand all your needs before implementing a solution.

Additional Considerations

There are a few things to keep in mind when working with partners to optimize your manufacturing processes. In addition to software considerations, like licensing and security, you’ll also want to consider things like reporting, data governance and compliance.

Here are a few tips to help you get started

  1. 1.Determine if you need more than just business process automation – this is where Microsoft Dynamics 365 can be used for other use cases such as supply chain optimization or digitizing field services.
  2. 2.Understand that any IT project takes time, so start planning early on by partnering with a company that has experience working with manufacturers and knows how to consider your specific needs.
  3. 3.Consider if what is being offered will integrate well into the business processes you currently have in place or if it will require additional resources for training or customizations to make it work seamlessly within your existing systems.

Next Steps

There may seem like a lot of things to consider when you start optimizing your manufacturing processes but taking the time to understand the challenges can make all the difference to the future of your business. While Microsoft Dynamics 365 is a powerful tool that can help you streamline your operations – it’s often more about working with a partner who understands your industry and unique requirements.

Do your research, ask peers for referrals, and know what you want. With the right partner, you can optimize your manufacturing processes and take your business to the next level.

Contact us today to learn more!

About XcelPros

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company and delivers transformation through technology. We offer business and technology solutions with deep industry experience in Chemical, Pharma, Life Sciences (including Medical Devices, Bio-Medical & Biotech), Insurance, Discrete Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing, Distribution and Food & Beverage.

XcelPros is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Direct Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) and a Systems Integrator (SI) offering software licensing, implementation and consulting services for Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Business Intelligence & Analytics (Power BI), SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure (Cloud, IOT, Microsoft Flow amongst many others).

Our mission is to provide integrated technology solutions that amplify impact and empower our customer’s businesses. We believe technology is the key enabler of exponential growth for us and our customers.

Contact XcelPros today to transform your business.

Call us toll-free – 1.855.411.0585 (or) visit www.xcelpros.com

The need for data to transform industrial operations

How Data Management Helps Optimize Manufacturing Process

How Data Management Helps Optimize Manufacturing Process 700 500 Xcelpros Team

Introduction

What side of the Covid-19 divide is your company on? Are you still trying to do business the same way you were before the pandemic? Or are you adapting to a more modern world, ready to use technology to help your business grow?

Either way, it’s clear the effects of the pandemic are still being felt throughout the business world and were likely to see the same results for much longer.

45% of respondents were dealing with sudden materials shortages

41% percent saw sharp drops in demand

30% percent were experiencing worker unavailability

Source: McKinsey

Each of these effects adds increased strain to supply chains worldwide. One such issue saw 111 cargo ships off Long Beach, California, on November 10, 2021. No matter what your company produces, odds are some of your products were stuck on those ships. Newly enacted—but not imposed—“container dwell” cargo container fees reduced the line of ships.

Four foundational technologies can be applied to the value chain, according to McKinsey:

  • Connectivity, data and computational power, which includes the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing and blockchain
  • Analytics and intelligence in the form of advanced analytics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence
  • Human-machine interactions using virtual and augmented reality plus robots and automation
  • Advanced engineering, which includes using renewable energy and additive manufacturing

Some companies are using these technologies to drive growth through process optimization.

Benefits of Process Optimization

Process optimization in manufacturing covers three vital areas:

  1. 1.Improved machine uptime. Using a data-based approach, companies can reduce downtime and increase the overall use of their equipment, Machine Metrics states. Using advanced analytics, companies can determine the causes of unplanned downtime. Clean, clear data lets manufacturers attack the worst offenders first.
  2. 2.Faster responses to issues at the machine level. Analytics looking at alarms and where workers are when they occur helps improve training, equipment layout, and other issues.
  3. 3.Improved maintenance. Using IoT sensors, the equipment can be used until it nears—but does not reach—the point of failure. Parts are replaced when needed instead of too early or only after a key machine is shut down.

Each of these steps involves digital manufacturing operations applied to the overall manufacturing process.

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Digital Equipment Is Critical

The only way to achieve these goals is by collecting and thoroughly analyzing data. Objectively analyzing data lets managers discover where bottlenecks are occurring and what’s causing them.

Downtime analysis lets managers analyze why some machines are down more often than others. Are they not operating because of unplanned maintenance, a lack of personnel, jobs, or machine setup, or is it something else?

Having computers perform predictive analysis, companies estimate when a tool will need replacing before it damages a machine or wipes out products.

Lean Manufacturing

Lean manufacturing is another way of looking at the production process. Lean manufacturing looks at a plant’s current process and asks: how can it be done more efficiently? How can the company’s goals be achieved while paying less for energy, such as by using energy from renewable sources, and also generating less waste? How can waste items be used to lower operating costs?

Examples include using “waste” to create new products, replace existing packaging, or fueling an on-site power plant.

Companies following a lean strategy seek to reduce and ideally eliminate waste, improve quality, cut costs and reduce time, according to TWI Global.

In an online article on Lean Manufacturing, TWI Global states there are now eight “wastes” in lean manufacturing:

  1. 1.Unnecessary transportation
  2. 2.Excess inventory
  3. 3.Unnecessary movement of people, equipment or machinery
  4. 4.Idle people or equipment
  5. 5.Over-production of a product
  6. 6.Making a product overly complex by adding unneeded features
  7. 7.Defects that are expensive to repair
  8. 8.Unused talent and ingenuity

While lean manufacturing has three benefits—saving time and money, being environmentally friendly, and improving customer satisfaction—it also has three disadvantages. These are:

  1. 1.Placing employee safety and wellbeing below achieving company goals
  2. 2.Focusing on the present and not on the future
  3. 3.Lacking a standardized method

Companies will want to balance the benefits and the costs to see if lean manufacturing works for them.

Recycling and Green Manufacturing

Green manufacturing seeks to reduce environmental impacts while still producing quality products. This includes source reduction to reduce the waste initially created. Recycling—using or reusing wastes as ingredients in a process or as a substitute for original feedstock—and green product design are key components.

In a report by two Carnegie Mellon researchers, the top waste minimization actions cited by large hazardous waste generators include:

  • Improved maintenance schedule, recordkeeping or procedures: 8.9%
  • Other changes in operating practices other than different equipment: 8.0%
  • Raw materials substitution: 7.1%
  • Unspecified source reduction activity: 6.5%
  • Stopped combining hazardous and non-hazardous waste: 5.1%
  • Ensuring materials were not in inventory past their shelf-life: 4.1%

Each of these green methods involves cost. They provide opportunities to expand a company’s supply chain in terms of raw materials sources while opening the door for new and different products.

Determining What Works Best

Ultimately, companies must find a combination of production process optimization methods that work best for them and their customers.

One common requirement shared by Industry 4.0, process optimization, lean manufacturing, and green manufacturing, is a requirement for data: the more accurate the data, the more accurate the forecasts and predictions.

Obtaining this information requires sensors that can measure flow and wear. On top of that, you need software that aligns the entire operation, from executive suites to the shop floor. It requires a digital network to help ensure consistent product quality, integrates with the shop floor, control waste, and spot opportunities.

Final Thoughts: Five Ideas to Spur Innovation and Growth

Competing in today’s technological world requires a willingness of top management to examine the production process and ask:

How can we do more with less? Consider these five ideas that may help your company achieve its goals.

  1. 1. Work with an innovation partner that can help your company gather the data it needs to grow.
  2. 2. Create a plan that covers your immediate needs while allowing room for growth, including in unexpected directions.
  3. 3. Include training existing employees and hiring new ones with the skills you need not only today but will require in one, two and five years. These people can help ensure you grow the way you want.
  4. 4. Invest in IoT sensors, especially at critical points in the production process. The sensors provide the data you need to make the hard decisions.
  5. 5. Spend the money now on modular software that provides the necessary control and data analysis. A modular system lets you start with one piece, such as Supply Chain Management, and then add others when the budget permits.

About XcelPros

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company and delivers transformation through technology. We offer business and technology solutions with deep industry experience in Chemical, Pharma, Life Sciences (including Medical Devices, Bio-Medical & Biotech), Insurance, Discrete Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing, Distribution and Food & Beverage.

XcelPros is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Direct Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) and a Systems Integrator (SI) offering software licensing, implementation and consulting services for Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Business Intelligence & Analytics (Power BI), SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure (Cloud, IOT, Microsoft Flow amongst many others).

Our mission is to provide integrated technology solutions that amplify impact and empower our customer’s businesses. We believe technology is the key enabler of exponential growth for us and our customers.

Contact XcelPros today to transform your business.

Call us toll-free – 1.855.411.0585 (or) visit www.xcelpros.com

Grow Your Manufacturing Company With Microsoft Dynamics 365

Grow Your Manufacturing Company With Microsoft Dynamics 365

Grow Your Manufacturing Company With Microsoft Dynamics 365 700 500 Xcelpros Team

At a Glance

The top enterprise application companies in terms of market share are:

  • SAP: 8.05%
  • Microsoft 7.18%
  • Oracle: 5.6%
  • Salesforce: 3.48%
  • IBM: 2.51%

Towards the end of 2020, Microsoft reported 258 million monthly active business users. Today, 1.2 billion people in 140 countries speaking 107 languages use a Microsoft product.

Introduction

Very few businesses decide, “today is the day we shrink.” Instead, most small and medium businesses focus their attention and resources on growing their market share or expanding into new markets.

Successful companies use every available tool to get an edge on their competition. This is especially true in a world where the success of a supply chain can rest on a single freighter or a lack of manpower at a key port. All leaders need to do is look at what happened in the Suez Canal and the One part of the problem impacted goods going to Europe, while the other continued to affect products going in and out of the US.

One tool many companies use is enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. The top-tier versions of these products go beyond looking at spreadsheets and mountains of data. One of the world’s most used ERP platforms is Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 line of products, which is used on 73 percent of all computer systems.

Modular Design of Dynamics 365

Figure: 1Microsoft Dynamics 365 modules

Dynamics 365 module designs

Dynamics 365 has been designed as a modular solution with five main sections. Each module has its own unique functions and depending on your company’s needs, one module may be enough.

Dynamics 365 Finance

Dynamics 365 Finance is Microsoft’s flagship ERP that includes artificial intelligence designed to help assess the health of your business, improve financial controls, optimize cash flow, and make strategic decisions faster. The result is driving growth by using real-time, unified global financial reporting, embedded analytics, and predictive insights.

Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management

Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management is designed to accelerate inbound and outbound processes such as put-away and pick-pack-ship, and identify potential machine issues before they occur.

Dynamics 365 Business Central

Dynamics 365 Business Central can manage all core business functions and help deliver projects on time and under budget.

Dynamics 365 Sales

Dynamics 365 Sales is designed to improve responses, conversions and win rates, helping you provide more personalized, meaningful engagement. It also helps examine your sales data, delivering insights with the power of AI.

Dynamics 365 Marketing

Dynamics 365 Marketing creates seamless customer experiences through marketing automation, shared data and business processes connected to Dynamics 365 Sales. It increases lead generation.

Preferred solutions like Integrated Chemical Management (iCM) and Integrated Quality Management (iQM)—add insights to pharmaceutical and chemical manufacturing companies.

These programs work seamlessly with Azure, Microsoft’s cloud computing platform. Azure provides a key link when manufacturing companies want to use the Internet of Things (IoT) and share information across far-flung enterprises.F

D365 Finance: The Heart of Microsoft’s Modern Solutions

Sitting at the core of Microsoft Dynamics 365 builds on the company’s history of creating multi-user accounting software, which began nearly 30 years ago. Dynamics Release 1.0 made its debut in February 1993.

Since its debut as 32-bit software, Dynamics 365 Finance—previously known as Finance and Operations—has grown significantly with the times. Artificial intelligence is now part of its ability to examine financial reporting, analyze data and provide meaningful insights.

For midsize to large companies, the finance module is designed to be used, especially by people who are already familiar with Office products like Outlook and Excel.

Accounting elements of D365 Finance are:

  • General ledger, accounts payable, accounts receivable, and bank reconciliation
  • Asset management
  • Month and year-end closing
  • Budgeting and planning

The Finance module also includes management functions covering operations, sales and service, projects, and reporting and analytics.

Get a free consultation to learn how Microsoft Dynamics 365 can boost your manufacturing operations.

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Automating Payment Processing is Part of D365 Finance

Many companies are adopting D365 Finance because of its ability to efficiently automate payment processing, allowing you to “create a predefined schedule with a combination of payment proposal criteria to create payment journals with less user intervention,” according to MSDynamicsWorld.

Process automation in D365 begins by setting a schedule under Accounts Payable > Setup > Payments > Process Automations.

The most interesting and advanced feature lets you schedule automation across companies (payment journals would be created in respective companies) without changing the company’s day to day activities of using Dynamics 365 Finance,Source: MSDynamicsWorld

Users can set up batch jobs, define alerts, set amount limits and include invoices from other companies using the included Centralized Payments option, where filters are easily set.

D365 Finance payment process automation lets you:

  • Schedule payment process using different requirements for each day or time of day
  • Reduce manual journal creation
  • Monitor activity with a dashboard view, which informs you of any errors so you can resolve them

Integrating Finance with Supply Chain Management

Keeping track of your products is critical, especially in today’s highly regulated world. Pharmaceutical and chemical companies are under a microscope in terms of regulations. When it comes to shipping medicines or chemicals, the word “complex” doesn’t come close to managing and meeting these requirements.

One important feature in Supply Chain Management (SCM) is its ability to store information related to hazardous materials. Information on these materials is stored in the Product Information section.

  • ADR: Covering the international shipment of dangerous goods by road
  • CFR 49: Regulating dangerous goods by road in the US
  • IMDG: The International Marine Dangerous Goods code
  • IATA: The International Air Transport Association dangerous goods regulations

Handling hazardous materials is a comparatively minor feature in D365 Supply Chain Management, though. Its primary functions relate to inventory management and automating inventory controls.

For example, SCM lets companies create barcode labels for individual products and license plates for pallets and larger shipments. These barcodes can be read by handheld scanners and cellphones letting workers know exactly what is in each container.

In terms of warehouse management, knowing precise quantities of each item allows management to order exactly what it needs. This information management ensures enough materials for production runs without running out of storage space. SCM helps companies walk that fine line between having too little inventory to meet customer needs and tying up funds on extra products. Built-in stock and inventory management functions provide a wealth of data for manufacturing companies.

When dealing with shipping finished goods to customers, SCM’s same labeling and tracking functions, combined with business intelligence, helps route shipments.

Imagine you need to get two pallets from a factory in China to Los Angeles. When shipping by sea, this would normally take about 16 days. That time frame normally works for the product’s 30-day shelf life. However, problems related to Covid-19 mean the delay at the San Pedro docks is now 36 days. When adding Power BI (business intelligence) to your software solution, you are warned about the delay in finding another route.

The Bottom Line

Today’s business world is much different than it used to be. It is running not on gears, widgets and gadgets but big data and mountains of information. Bytes and bits in the form of 0’s and 1s provide insight that today’s organizations rely on to grow. The Microsoft Dynamics 365 line of modular ERP products includes essential information on when it can do its best: before a situation becomes critical.

These robust, modern products offer different functions but share a common goal – helping your company stay competitive in today’s digital world.

About XcelPros

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company delivering transformation through technology. We offer business and technology solutions with deep industry experience in Chemical, Pharma, Life Sciences (including Medical Devices, Bio-Medical & Biotech), Insurance, Discrete Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing, Distribution and Food & Beverage.

XcelPros is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Direct Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) and a Systems Integrator (SI) offering software licensing, implementation and consulting services for Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Business Intelligence & Analytics (Power BI), SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure (Cloud, IOT, Microsoft Flow amongst many others).

Our mission is to provide integrated technology solutions that amplify impact and empower our customer’s businesses. We believe technology is the key enabler of exponential growth for us and our customers.

Contact XcelPros today to transform your business.

Call us toll-free – 1.855.411.0585 (or) visit www.xcelpros.com

Best Practices in Quality Management and Control

Quality Management and Control – Best Practices

Quality Management and Control – Best Practices 700 500 Xcelpros Team

Introduction

Reducing the percentage of defective products saves manufacturers money by cutting raw materials waste, using labor and equipment more efficiently and reducing returns from unhappy customers. Boosting quality control in manufacturing can also lead to an enhanced customer experience, supercharging your brand while lowering the need for more raw materials to replace that which is wasted.

Three common ways any industry can improve quality control include:

  1. 1.Reducing human mistakes by automating repetitive actions. Automation also improves accuracy and increases visibility. Combined with internet of things (IoT) sensors, automation creates data that can be analyzed for hidden incremental improvements.
  2. 2.Inspecting through measurements, testing and comparing products to defined standards. Products that meet those standards are shipped. Those that don’t are recycled. Adding computerized sensors in the inspection and quality control phase also provides an opportunity for insights into ways to create and build quality control standard operating procedures (SOPs).
  3. 3.Tracing inventory from the material supplier through warehouses and production to the end customer’s door. Accurate labeling lets manufacturers trace everything from essential ingredients to sub-assemblies and completed products. Using barcodes combined with automated and hand-held scanners provides a third data entry point into your firm’s network, ensuring most of what goes in comes out as salable products.

Using these three primary quality control methods in production helps companies create an efficient production cycle that reduces machine downtime, defects, waste rework. The result is better merchandise and less waste, which benefits end customers and manufacturers alike.

Quality Control Starts with Quality Planning

For many, focusing on quality control(QC) means creating an efficient, repeatable manufacturing process to produce the same results, time and time again. The only way to ensure you get this consistency is with a well-formulated quality plan.

Any manufacturer or company looking for a contract manufacturer will focus on two critical elements: quality and cost. The best way to deliver the highest quality at the lowest cost is to start with quality planning. The American Society for Quality defines these plans as “A document or set of documents that describe the standards, quality practices, resources and processes pertinent to a specific product, service or project.”

A quality assurance plan for manufacturing ensures:

  • Conformance to your customer’s requirements, which may include meeting government standards.
  • Verification of your own standards while confirming your internal procedures work as expected.
  • Traceability of every product from the moment raw materials or sub-assemblies enter the factory to their delivery at your customer’s door.
  • Objective evidence your quality control methods in production work as designed and as expected.
  • Deficiencies in worker training are identified, allowing them to be corrected.
  • Insights into ways to further enhance your quality control standard operating procedures (SOPs).

Major components of a quality plan are stated and defined:

  • Responsibility for distribution in terms of which manager or department ensures each step in the process conforms to the companies goals.
  • Process steps and individual procedures for each step in the overall production process.
  • Responsibility distribution in which manager or department ensures each process step conforms to the company’s goals.
  • Testing requirements vary by the industry and the amount of government oversight. For example, medicines have much more significant oversight than furniture.
  • Methods of tracking changes and modifications, regardless of the cause.
  • Quality process measurement in terms of value provided by the quality plan.

The final and most essential components of a quality plan are standards: What practices and procedures must be followed in your quality assurance plan for manufacturing to meet your customer’s needs, demanding requirements, and government oversight?

The Value of SOPs

A key part in quality control in manufacturing is having repeatable standard operating procedures (SOPs). Each step in every procedure that makes up the entire production process is checked, re-checked and confirmed by workers following it. The final test is having a new hire follow a procedure and reviewing their work. When the work of new hires is able to meet set production quality control standards, the SOP can be considered a success. When it doesn’t, the fault lies with the document, not the worker.

“SOPs establish a systematic way of doing work and ensure that work is done consistently by all persons who are required to do the same task. SOPs must be well written in order to provide an effective control of GCP and prevent errors from occurring, thereby minimizing waste and rework. Poorly written SOPs are a source of misinformation,” according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine at the National Institute of Health.

These documents must be user-friendly and written in a way that prevents errors. Preventing errors improves quality, reduces waste and when written with input from people involved in the actual manufacturing process, boosts efficiency.

The Role of Quality Assurance

In manufacturing, quality assurance (QA) refers to “the processes manufacturers utilize as part of a quality management system to maintain consistent, expected quality levels on the items they produce,” according to Machine Metrics.

When paired with QC, QA works to ensure customers receive products that meet specific standards in terms of defects and tolerances. QA is a proactive method that works with team training, defining processes, writing SOPs and selecting the right tools for each job. QC looks at the results and determines if a product passes or fails.

Having effective quality control and quality assurance plans, plus quality auditors to ensure standards are met, results in:

Figure: 1 Role of Quality Assurance

Role of Quality Assurance

  • Cost savings in terms reduced waste
  • Efficiency boosts, such as using equipment more effectively
  • Boosting customer satisfaction, which aids in word of mouth marketing

Quality standards vary by the industry though one of the most common is ISO 9000. ISO 9000 is a set of international quality standards covering many different industries and approaches within them.

Book a free consultation to learn about the best practices in quality control.

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Quality Management Systems

The ASQ defines a quality management system (QMS) as “a formalized system that documents processes, procedures, and responsibilities for achieving quality policies and objectives. A QMS helps coordinate and direct an organization’s activities to meet customer and regulatory requirements and continuously improve its effectiveness and efficiency.”

An effective QMS helps manufacturing companies:

  • Define production processes
  • Reduce waste
  • Prevent mistakes
  • Lower costs
  • Engage staff
  • Set an organization-wide direction
  • Communicate a readiness to customers that it wants to produce consistent results

In today’s digital world, QMS doesn’t stand alone in a silo: it’s part of a company’s overarching software linking QA and QC to inventory, sales and other departments. One example of a versatile QMS, which is part of a modular enterprise resource planning package, is Quality Management for Business Central from Microsoft. Part of its Dynamics 365 ERP, iCM works with Dynamics 365’s Business Central to provide a scalable, easy to use overarching management tool. Business Central helps deliver products on time and under budget, providing a host of measurements and reports.

When merged with internet of things (IoT) sensors on production machines, iCM and Business Central manage and massage data. Among the results are ways to make incremental quality improvements that long-term boost overall quality scores, resulting in more sales.

Summary

For any company, producing higher-quality products takes forethought, patience, and serious effort. This means having a documented quality assurance plan that includes step-by-step directions for every procedure and every part of the production process. It includes having quality assurance inspectors watch the production process from start to finish, finding ways to boost efficiency, and reducing waste.

When it comes to manufacturing, an effective quality assurance plan also looks at quality control, examining and testing various stages of the production process to ensure everything meets your demanding standards.

Helping measure these results is a modern quality management system like Integrated Quality Management from Microsoft. When used as part of an overall ERP software plan, iQM helps companies find ways to improve quality while reducing costs. For many, this leads to an overall effect is a boost in profitability, helping power additional growth.

No one knows how long the coronavirus crisis will last. Taking the time to plan how to function in these uncertain times is essential. Using software tools like the Microsoft Power Platform and its many apps will help companies continue to operate in rapidly changing conditions.

About XcelPros

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company delivering transformation through technology. We offer business and technology solutions with deep industry experience in Chemical, Pharma, Life Sciences (including Medical Devices, Bio-Medical & Biotech), Insurance, Discrete Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing, Distribution and Food & Beverage.

XcelPros is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Direct Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) and a Systems Integrator (SI) offering software licensing, implementation and consulting services for Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Business Intelligence & Analytics (Power BI), SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure (Cloud, IOT, Microsoft Flow amongst many others).

Our mission is to provide integrated technology solutions that amplify impact and empower our customer’s businesses. We believe technology is the key enabler of exponential growth for us and our customers.

Contact XcelPros today to transform your business.

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Challenge of Manufacturing Transformations

The Challenges of Manufacturing Transformations

The Challenges of Manufacturing Transformations 700 500 Xcelpros Team

Introduction

“Cutthroat and quick.” Those two words sum up the state of the modern manufacturing industry. Customers want the lowest possible prices, abandoning long-term relationships to save money. They also want their products and they want them Now. It makes no difference to some companies that the containers that move their goods are stuck on a freightliner offshore: the client wants their goods this instant.

So how can an older company known for producing quality merchandise compete with the upstarts? The answer is by digitally transforming its operations.

Key parts of this transformation involve:

  • Automation
  • The Internet of Things
  • Using AI (artificial intelligence)
  • Upgraded equipment
  • Enhanced cybersecurity
  • An emphasis on “going green

The good news is each of these challenges can be overcome, leading to a company that is leaner, greener and in terms of the competition, meaner. The bad news is doing it requires planning, forethought and a willingness to disrupt the “we’ve always done it this way” mindset.

There are three key components for a successful digital transformation:

  1. 1.A change champion to push, prod, cajole, criticize and even complain to keep the project moving on track.
  2. 2.A trained consultant, one experienced in performing similar upheavals at other companies in the same or related industries.
  3. 3.A suite of products that can be customized to meet your specific needs.

1.Change Champions Drive Innovation

One of the reasons why some businesses fail when attempting to modernize is mindset: leadership is unwilling to abandon the old ways, not only of doing business, but of thinking. A change champion who has the authority to drive modernization is a key player in bringing any company from the 20th Century into the always-changing 21st.

Often described as “a mono-maniac with a mission,” change champions are the people who ensure new technology gets adopted. They work-hopefully with the support of top management-to drag their company forward.

“A good champion is passionate about their cause or change. They are staunch, zealous, and even fanatic. A great champion is emotional, irrational, irreverent, impatient and unreasonable. They want the change – no matter how big – to happen this week, this month, or certainly by the end of this quarter. To an impassioned change champion, the sky is often falling and the situation is desperately urgent,” Innovation Management states.

Overcoming management inertia is one challenge facing digital transformation in manufacturing. This is critical because AcqNotes looked at several studies and concluded that the failure rate of software projects range between 50 percent – 80 percent.

Causes of failure include:

  • Lack of user participation
  • Changing requirements
  • Unrealistic or unarticulated project goals
  • Poor communication among customers, developers, and users
  • Poor Project Management
  • Stakeholder politics
  • Lack of Stakeholder involvement

Some of the worst software acquisition practices include:

  • Using schedule compression to justify new technology on a time-critical project
  • Expecting to recover more than 10 percent schedule slip without a reduction in delivered functionality
  • Putting items out of project control on the critical path
  • Planning to achieve more than 10 percent improvement from observed past performance
  • Burying as much of the project complexity as possible in the software as opposed to the hardware
  • Conducting critical system engineering tasks without software expertise
  • Believing that formal reviews alone will provide an accurate picture of the project
  • Expecting that the productivity of a formal review is directly proportional to the number of attendees above five

Effective change champions working with top management backing-president, board level and/or owner-can overcome these hurdles.

Change Champions work with consultants experienced in helping manufacturers adopt a digital mindset. Knowledgeable consultants with a good track record for installing well-known, proven enterprise resource planning (ERP) products like Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance can help change champions in their goal to convince naysayers to the project.

2.Digital Transformation Consultants

Before looking at the role of a consultant, examine one of many definitions for digital transformation.

Figure: 1Digital transformation for manufacturing

Digital transformation for manufacturing

“Digital Transformation is the profound transformation of business and organizational activities, processes, competencies and models to fully leverage the changes and opportunities of a mix of digital technologies and their accelerating impact across society in a strategic and prioritized way, with present and future shifts in mind,” several websites state.

Digital transformation for manufacturing has several important-and ultimately, profitable-benefits.

They include:

  • Greater efficiency through streamlined processes and decisions
  • Improved productivity as automation lets skilled workers spend their time and attention on critical, rather than mundane, tasks
  • Insights letting executives understand why projects failed and how they can succeed the next time
  • Enhanced customer service aimed at a global, 24/7/365 audience
  • Finding competitive advantages where they may not have existed before

Once Change Champions help executives understand what a digital transformation is and what it can do, the next key step is hiring a consultant to help them plot a course. A lack of any plan, or even deviating from the plan is a recipe for disaster.

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A digital transformation consultant’s role is helping an organization understand how it can achieve its medium and long-term goals, ultimately becoming more profitable by using technology to implement strategic changes. Common steps taken by consultants, such as the technology strategists and road mappers, begins with:

  1. 1.Assessing each customer’s current position and its needs.
  2. 2.Developing implementation strategies specific for each client company.
  3. 3.Convincing management and staff that while change is always hard, their lives will be easier and more productive in the long run.
  4. 4.Working with the firm to ensure the implementation meets the company’s goals, offering advice and potential fixes for any roadblocks that appear.
  5. 5.After the implementation is complete, they review what happened. What went right? What didn’t go as planned? How can we learn from any failures in this phase to make the next phase smoother?

3.The Software

Whichever software package suggested by consultants that the company accepts, must be:

  • An industry leader
  • Safe and secure from digital threats
  • Easy for employees to use
  • Expandable when growth occurs
  • Customizable to meet company-specific needs
  • Flexible to meet the needs of a changing world economy, one currently suffering major supply chain disruptions
  • Able to be implemented in stages that allow the company to keep operating during the installation

Microsoft Dynamics 365 checks all of these boxes. Built on Microsoft’s Azure platform, it offers flexibility by having individual modules such as Sales, Finance and Supply Chain Management that can be installed as needed. More than just easy to use, D365 offers a familiar look and feel with most administrative staffers using Office 365. Security is built-in both through extra layers in the Azure platform and in Microsoft’s cloud architecture. D365 is also easily expandable, letting the software expand as the company grows.

The Bottom Line

Overcoming the challenges of a digital transformation in manufacturing requires having a Change Champion with the power to keep the company on track. It requires trained, experienced consultants that help the company understand what it wants to do and how to achieve its medium and long-term goals. And it requires software that can meet a company’s needs today, tomorrow and in the foreseeable future.

About XcelPros

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company delivering transformation through technology. We offer business and technology solutions with deep industry experience in Chemical, Pharma, Life Sciences (including Medical Devices, Bio-Medical & Biotech), Insurance, Discrete Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing, Distribution and Food & Beverage.

XcelPros is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Direct Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) and a Systems Integrator (SI) offering software licensing, implementation and consulting services for Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Business Intelligence & Analytics (Power BI), SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure (Cloud, IOT, Microsoft Flow amongst many others).

Our mission is to provide integrated technology solutions that amplify impact and empower our customer’s businesses. We believe technology is the key enabler of exponential growth for us and our customers.

Contact XcelPros today to transform your business.

Call us toll-free – 1.855.411.0585 (or) visit www.xcelpros.com

How Sustainable Operations Helps Manufacturers Grow

How Sustainable Operations Helps Manufacturers Grow

How Sustainable Operations Helps Manufacturers Grow 700 500 Xcelpros Team

Introduction

Every business leader has heard the term “sustainable manufacturing,” but not all know that practicing methods that help the environment can also grow their business.

“Sustainable manufacturing is the creation of manufactured products through economically-sound processes that minimize negative environmental impacts while conserving energy and natural resources,” the United States Environmental Protection Agency states. These same practices enhance employee, community and product safety in part by producing less waste that pollutes the air, water and soil.

According to the EPA, companies that use a methodical, planned approach to sustainable manufacturing processes:

  • Increase operational efficiency by reducing costs and waste
  • Respond to or reach new customers and increase competitive advantage
  • Protect and strengthen brand and reputation and build public trust
  • Build long-term business viability and success
  • Respond to regulatory constraints and opportunities

Fostering Growth

These environmentally friendly sustainable manufacturing practices help companies grow by reducing production costs long term. For example, instead of paying thousands of dollars each month to an electric company to light and cool a 300,000 square-foot manufacturing plant, consider covering a flat roof with efficient solar panels.

The average payback time for a home solar electric installation (industrial estimates were not available) is roughly 6-10 years, though it varies depending on the climate and other factors. Solar panels also tend to last 25-40 years meaning roughly three-quarters of their useful lives is spent generating free electricity. The most recent designs are much more efficient, producing more power in a smaller size, than those made 10 years ago. The result is greater efficiency, allowing manufacturing facilities to cover less of their roofs while producing as much or more power than the older models.

Production plants can also reduce their massive electrical bills with skylights. The waterproof domed coverings help illuminate work areas, reducing the need of electric lighting. Extended exterior shelves can reduce sunlight, cutting cooling costs.

Figure: 1 Sustainable Manufacturing – a Big Picture

Sustainable Manufacturing - a Big Picture

Turning Trash Into Treasure

Other sustainable methods look at ways to reduce waste, especially by converting some “trash” into new products or using it for new methods.

One website alone lists 35 artful ways homeowners can recycle wooden pallets. These new uses include making tables, bed frames, stairs, mounting frames for heavy electronic display monitors and a host of other uses. Many of these same methods work for industrial companies in terms of outfitting conference rooms and other non-work areas.

From an industrial perspective, worn pallets can be repaired, cleaned and reused. They can also be sold, recouping some of the cost. Other uses for worn pallets include chipping them, turning them into wood pellets. The pellets can then be burned, generating heat and electricity.

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Cascading Chemicals

Recycling is a large part of the sustainable “green” economy. Industrial chemicals can be recycled. They can also be reused through a process known as “industrial symbiosis,” greenbiz.com states. One example cited uses ferric chloride, which is a byproduct of steel pickling in hydrochloric acid, to treat water.

“Frequently, recycled chemicals are not only cheaper than newly produced ones, but they also reduce resource consumption, waste generation and greenhouse gas emissions. The carbon emissions through solvent recycling are 46 percent – 92 percent lower than those of new solvent production,” the website states.

When the article was written in 2019, industrial giants Siemens and Evonik were conducting research to convert the most common greenhouse gas—carbon dioxide (CO2)—into common industrial chemicals such as ethylene.

Other methods used to reduce chemical and industrial waste cited by greenbiz include swapping what might be one manufacturer’s trash with a different nearby business. That business can use these materials in its products.

Another environmentally friendly industrial method is “leasing” chemicals. In this model, a manufacturer sells the functions performed by the chemical using functional units, not the chemicals themselves.

Large manufacturers with their own wastewater treatment plants can redesign those facilities in ways that help the company turn a profit and grow. Companies interested in practicing sustainable manufacturing practices can modify existing equipment to produce energy, clean water and chemicals because, “the future of sewage is power and profits.”

The greenbiz.com article ends with a quote made in 1848 by the former president of the London Royal College of Chemistry, R.W. Hoffmann: “In an ideal chemical factory there is, strictly speaking, no waste but only products. The better a real factory makes use of its waste, the closer it gets to its ideal, the bigger is the profit.”

Technology Can Spot Opportunities

One way a company can practice sustainable operations management is by using its data wisely. Especially in forward-thinking firms that use internet of things (IoT)-enabled devices, they have access to mountains of information.

Combining a well-thought plan with the right software lets these firms look at everything coming into their warehouse—including packaging—as potential profit sources. Enterprise resource planning (ERP) products such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 and its Supply Chain Management Module let companies of any size keep accurate track of their inventories. Add in the Integrated Chemical Management component and chemical manufacturers have an accurate label management solution that also produces safety data sheets.

By understanding the chemicals involved and working with sustainability experts, plant managers can evaluate their current conditions.

Executives interested in sustainable production and consumption—and being more competitive—will want to ask questions similar to these: What current waste products and materials can we use for secondary purposes or repackage and sell to someone in a different industry? Can we reuse packing materials we receive to pad and protect outgoing shipments? Are we using our raw materials effectively or are there ways we can become more efficient? How much power do our plants use? Are there affordable ways of reducing that consumption while also generating some of our own power all while meeting our long-term business goals?

Asking questions like these, and then using powerful software to find the answers, help innovative firms generate more money. That in turn can use sustainable practices to fuel growth.

The Bottom Line

Sustainable manufacturing involves looking at everything a company has, from a different angle. More office employees are working from home, freeing up space. Can we use that space for a different purpose instead of looking at empty desks? Can we move items around and expand our production facilities or our warehouse without having to build or buy new facilities?

Operations managers wanting to fuel growth by reducing power consumption can use ERP software to find ways to save money and new ways to make money. All it takes is a little outside the box long-range thinking.

About XcelPros

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company delivering transformation through technology. We offer business and technology solutions with deep industry experience in Chemical, Pharma, Life Sciences (including Medical Devices, Bio-Medical & Biotech), Insurance, Discrete Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing, Distribution and Food & Beverage.

XcelPros is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Direct Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) and a Systems Integrator (SI) offering software licensing, implementation and consulting services for Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Business Intelligence & Analytics (Power BI), SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure (Cloud, IOT, Microsoft Flow amongst many others).

Our mission is to provide integrated technology solutions that amplify impact and empower our customer’s businesses. We believe technology is the key enabler of exponential growth for us and our customers.

Contact XcelPros today to transform your business.

Call us toll-free – 1.855.411.0585 (or) visit www.xcelpros.com

Pharmaceutical Quality Control : Improving Methods & Systems

Pharmaceutical Quality Control – Improving Methods & Systems

Pharmaceutical Quality Control – Improving Methods & Systems 700 500 Xcelpros Team

By the Numbers

Ensuring pharmaceutical products meet regulatory quality standards is critical for business success, especially now. Companies that consider quality an afterthought do so at their peril. Companies meeting those standards are finding more of them approved at a faster rate than ever before.

  • 209 new drugs were approved by the FDA from 2000 – 2008
  • 302 new drugs were approved by the FDA from 2009 – 2017
  • 59 new drugs were approved in 2018, an all-time record
  • 53 new drugs were approved in 2020, #2 all-time
  • FDA review times decreased from more than three years in 1983 to less than one year in 2017
  • Between 2011 – 2015, the FDA approved 170 new drugs compared to 144 for the European Medicine Agency, while also doing it 60 days faster
  • The FDA approved 168% more drugs in 2018 than in 2016 because companies met quality standards

Figure: 1FDA Approvals for Pharmaceutical Products

FDA Approvals for pharmaceutical products

Introduction

Quality plays a pivotal role in the success of any business. Shipping delays now are often caused by products not meeting mandated quality standards. This adds stress to production environments and can potentially impact a company’s public perception. For example, 2018 saw 73 drugs subjected to FDA recalls, market withdrawals and safety alerts.

Companies saying yes to sub-standard products to the market are finding the results can be catastrophic. Some of the damage can be irreparable.

Those embracing modern-day Quality Management by supporting technology initiatives are finding success. These firms ensure that the right systems are in place to allow a product to pass all quality checks.

Continuing to embrace changing technology can help manufacturers in highly regulated industries leveraging it to stay ahead of their competition.

Figure: 2Classification of Quality Management

Classification of Quality Management

The Evolution of Quality Management

Today, quality management has evolved from being an afterthought to a rigorous self-discipline that most modern manufacturing companies embrace. Quality control in the 1960s has evolved to become today’s “total quality control.”

The US FDA is tightening its norms to ensure higher quality standards before approving medicines for sale. Pharmaceutical manufacturers are responding to such challenges by increasing their quality standards as shown in the graphic below.

Figure: 3 The Evolving Definition of Quality Management

Process Improvements in Quality Control

Improvements always start by understanding departmental issues. Some typical activities in a pharmaceutical company’s Quality Control department are highlighted by:

  • Managing quality control tests
  • Managing quality control specialists and their workload
  • Allocating and calibrating test instruments
  • Establishing appropriate test methods
  • Documenting test specifications
  • Performing tests in priority order
  • Accurately recording test results

Following up on this involves analyzing trends and quality data plus running stability studies on batches. This is just a quick and simplified view; in reality, all of the activities listed above have many details involved. Ensuring that all processes and procedures are handled with precision ultimately reflects on how well a company maintains its quality standards.qc pharma

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Processes in the Quality Department

A typical day in the life of a Quality Control department could start with lab analysis and paper requests to perform quality tests on a sample batch. There could be multiple batches for different products produced in-house or received from third party manufacturers.

The quality lab prepares test instruments for each test. It accurately records the test results along with any digital signs-off recorded for each work order. Taking a quick view of what is involved in “getting it right,” an understanding of all essential requirements for an optimal quality process could change.

“Use cases with digitization and automation have demonstrated a more than 65% reduction in deviations and over 90% faster closure times.” The Future of Quality Control, Pharma Manufacturing

Achieving optimal quality requires precisely following standard—and possibly regulated—operating procedures. Deviations are not allowed unless the “method to deviate” is clearly spelled out.

Getting staff to meet the optimal quality goal is challenging without a stringent system in place. For example, using a paper-based system requires adding laborious tasks with corrections and piled up paperwork. Every time an audit occurs using this system requires digging through stacks of paper to find the right answers.

Figure: 4: A Central Filing System to Manage Documents and Information

Quality Control Systems

Pharmaceutical companies that are implementing an electronic system need to decide how tightly to build their system. Some users may be uncomfortable with various systemic restrictions or uneasy when user errors are found.

People could start feeling anxious about making mistakes since every change has a digital stamp tying the person modifying the data. Fixing errors can become cumbersome especially when using a controlled and validated system that is 21 CFR part 11 compliant.

Effective QC systems replace discomfort by getting users to develop good habits. This starts by providing them with clear, accurate and thorough information about how the overall system works. A well-planned training plan can help users move from discomfort to being champions promoting the process in the organization.

People with a basic understanding of compliance prefer an electronic system for its strength and ability to capture real-time data. Instead of continuously fixing errors, workers proactively do it right from the start.

When the goal is to boost efficiency throughout an entire organization consider evaluating a reliable process that can be quickly adapted by the QC department.

Elimination of up to 80% of manual documentation work will improve productivity. The Future of Quality Control, Pharma Manufacturing

What Plant Managers Look for in Quality Management Challenges

Plant Managers have specific views of the business since they oversee the overall plant operations. Key concerns plant managers or general manager address include:

  • Quality Management
  • Compliance with evolving regulatory standards
    • Taking control of documents such as Certificates of Analysis (COAs)
  • Safety
    • Corrective and Preventative Actions management (CAPA)
    • Location directives
    • Raising flags when two reactive chemicals are placed in proximity
    • User adaptability and training to conform to the new Quality standards

These concerns are typically addressed by:

  • Efficient Document Management. It allows you to centralize documents into a secure repository that is seamlessly accessible. This ensures quicker decision making and effective change management. It also helps in ensuring document visibility, enhances product traceability by tracking amendments and documents safety with revision control features.
  • Addressing non-conformance. Meeting this requirement can be done through a unified platform to log non-conformance, noting the quality of incoming raw materials plus reviewing complaints, delays and other issues. This helps in addressing compliance at an early stage, paving the way for corrections and registering them in the system.
  • Corrective & Preventive Actions. Having software that documents these while adding built-in advanced analytical features built in helps companies learn from past actions. Registering a non-conformance incident into the system initiates a workflow for corrective measures. This system learns from past incidents and recommends preventive actions to prevent or reduce similar incidents from occurring again.
  • Implementing the right kind of tools and technology such as can help with process automation and reduce data entry errors while also tracking process efficiency.

Identifying the right system to help make the most impact is the first essential step to moving in the right direction. After crossing that hurdle, it’s important to build a “to be” mindset instead of worrying why the system doesn’t perform as it did in the past.

Evaluate how stringent you want your process to be based on your company’s needs and then accommodate a well-defined method that is native to the application.

Key Takeaways

Quality management is no longer an afterthought. It has evolved to become a discipline in most prosperous manufacturing organizations. Once considered a business function that hindered speed to market and product launch, quality management now embraces modern technologies – fueling innovation, adding efficiency, eliminating the scope of incidents within a plant, and offering better predictions for the future.

  • Pharmaceutical companies that evolve to modern, automated quality control systems are able to empower their workforce to rapidly adopt process improvements and optimize all the functions in the department.
  • Adopting better tools in one department typically sets the standard for the entire ecosystem. It includes functions such as regulatory compliance, procurement, demand management, research & development plus inventory and warehouse management.

About XcelPros

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company delivering transformation through technology. We offer business and technology solutions with deep industry experience in Chemical, Pharma, Life Sciences (including Medical Devices, Bio-Medical & Biotech), Insurance, Discrete Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing, Distribution and Food & Beverage.

XcelPros is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Direct Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) and a Systems Integrator (SI) offering software licensing, implementation and consulting services for Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Business Intelligence & Analytics (Power BI), SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure (Cloud, IOT, Microsoft Flow amongst many others).

Our mission is to provide integrated technology solutions that amplify impact and empower our customer’s businesses. We believe technology is the key enabler of exponential growth for us and our customers.

Contact XcelPros today to transform your business.

Call us toll-free – 1.855.411.0585 (or) visit www.xcelpros.com

How an ERP system can help improve Manufacturing performance

How an ERP system can help improve Manufacturing performance?

How an ERP system can help improve Manufacturing performance? 700 500 Xcelpros Team

At a Glance

  • Installing modern enterprise resource planning (ERP) software comes at a high cost for manufacturing companies. They want to use their software investments to maximize manufacturing performance.
  • Manufacturers can best use their ERP model by letting their production line and vendors work in tandem with the software to streamline processes.
  • ERP systems are no longer a part of the business backend. Newer tools and applications like cloud computing, Internet of Things (IoT) and Machine Learning are changing ERP systems. All of these technologies affect overall return on investment (ROI).

Introduction

The general benefits of using a comprehensive tool like ERP are well known by most manufacturing organizations regardless of size. However, there are still ways with which ERP systems can be used to better overall operational efficiency in manufacturing, streamline existing processes and improve the production line. How solutions like ERP become the catalyst in generating ROI are usually the difference-makers for the manufacturing sector.

Mid-size businesses’ adoption of ERP software will grow at a CAGR of 7.9% from 2014 to 2020.– alliedmarketresearch.com

As more companies modernize their ERP, they want to understand how they can adapt and manipulate their current practices to maximize their technology investments. First, understand how ROI is calculated in terms of ERP in the manufacturing industry.

Figure 1:Determining the ROI of Manufacturing ERP

Determining the ROI of Manufacturing ERP

Calculating the ROI for ERP Manufacturing: A Comprehensive Look at the Benefits of Installing an ERP System

Every organization has specific short and long term goals in mind when installing an ERP system. While the ROI might be a relative concept for every manufacturer, certain common areas can help decide the benefits an ERP system brings to your company:

  • Does the ERP system help streamline production processes and improve overall production line efficiency?
  • Does it reduce human intervention, lowering the cost of labor for data management and analytics?
  • Does it help better manage purchases, procurements and inventory?
  • Does it provide real-time visibility across the production line for improved communications and faster response times?
  • What other tangible benefits in terms of cost savings and profit gains can you see after installing the ERP system?

Answering these questions lets you calculate the ROI for your ERP.

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The Road to Better Manufacturing ROI: Improving Manufacturing Performance with ERP

01.Efficient Machine-to-Machine and Machine-to-Human Interaction

In today’s cloud-dominated software world, everything is connected through the Internet. Manufacturers can enhance their ecosystems by making real-time connections between the workforce and machines. When everyone from the top floor to the shop floor can view the entire production line, it lets skilled workers use smart manufacturing techniques to save time and effort.

Using ERP software to adopt smart manufacturing techniques helps manufacturers avoid production delays while efficiently tracking material and equipment. Using these methods will generate significantly more revenue.

Figure 2:ERP in the Manufacturing Industry

ERP in the Manufacturing Industry

02.Better Inventory Management

Large-scale manufacturers can afford to hire a larger workforce to manage their inventories. Small and mid-scale businesses lack that luxury so inventory problems can cause financial losses. Efficient larger companies are looking for a centralized network that can keep track of raw materials, incoming and outgoing shipments plus maintenance schedules.

A sturdy, modernized ERP system is designed to handle these tasks where older legacy platforms fail.

ERPs allow companies to get real-time data on their inventory, allowing them to better predict and manage inventory. Every manufacturing company—large or small—understands that accurately managing inventory is a must if it wants to avoid stock-outs and related production delays. A robust ERP system improves ROI by helping manufacturers more accurately manage inventories.

03.Forming a Competent Skill Base

Advanced software and or mechanical tools can only help boost ROI when the workforce is trained in how to use them. An ERP system is no exception. When an ERP is integrated with cutting-edge applications like IoT, machine learning, advanced analytics, and artificial intelligence, training becomes critical. Having a well-trained, expert workforce lets companies take full advantage of their ERP. Taking the time and spending the money to train staff reduces problems and provides long-term profit gains.

Key Takeaways

Making these changes in your manufacturing ecosystem will help you maximize the benefits of your ERP system. They will also solidify your work standards and technical competencies.

  • The cost of installing a modern ERP system for manufacturers is countered by improving the return on investment.
  • Regardless of size, manufacturers should look at ERP software as an integral part of their production line. Training their workforce in how to use its many features will boost overall profits.

About XcelPros

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company and delivers transformation through technology. We offer business and technology solutions with deep industry experience in Chemical, Pharma, Life Sciences (including Medical Devices, Bio-Medical & Biotech), Insurance, Discrete Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing, Distribution and Food & Beverage.

XcelPros is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Direct Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) and a Systems Integrator (SI) offering software licensing, implementation and consulting services for Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Business Intelligence & Analytics (Power BI), SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure (Cloud, IOT, Microsoft Flow amongst many others).

Our mission is to provide integrated technology solutions that amplify impact and empower our customer’s businesses. We believe technology is the key enabler of exponential growth for us and our customers.

Contact XcelPros today to transform your business.

Call us toll-free – 1.855.411.0585 (or) visit www.xcelpros.com

ERP in Inventory Management

The role of an ERP system in Inventory Management

The role of an ERP system in Inventory Management 700 500 Xcelpros Team

Introduction

A previous article on enterprise resource planning software (ERP) mentioned the benefits of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) in business software. This article covers how Inventory Management functions as part of an ERP.

The common purpose of any ERPs is to integrate, centralize and streamline all business operations. The most common ERP inventory management functions are:

  • Supply Chain Management including tracking and managing raw materials, work-in-progress and finished products
  • Integration with logistics, shipping and B2B ecommerce
  • Managing procurement and sales orders
  • Distributing orders across channels
  • Warehouse management and stock transfers using serialization
  • Integration with Payment gateway
  • Managing accounts
  • Dashboarding and report generation using analytics
  • Quality Management
  • Demand forecasting using AI and ML

Executive Summary

  • ERPs have a broad range of application areas. Inventory management is the most sought out functionality (67%) among users after Accounting (89%).
  • Inventory management helps companies organize and plan their production strategy, along with maintaining ideal stock levels.
  • Effectively managing inventory promotes more efficient use of precious working capital, helping to maintain optimal stock frees working capital and prevents losses due to stock-out.
  • The average manufacturer has 10% – 20% of its revenue committed to inventories. Reducing inventory by 20% – 25% can cut the revenue impact by 2%- 5%. For a $6 billion company, that inventory reduction frees an estimated $200 – 500 million in working capital.

ERPs perform many inventory management functions, supporting the entire supply chain from order and storage of raw materials to final delivery.

Today, the importance of inventory management has continued to evolve. It no longer deals only with keeping track of what’s currently in the supply, production and delivery pipelines. It also has a significant effect on business strategy.

ERPs are now equipped with artificial intelligence and machine learning. These additions transform a tool first appearing in the late 1990’s into an invaluable piece of technology. For example, using historical data, a modern ERP can more accurately predict future demands and current inventory levels.

All businesses are realizing the benefits of going digital. Traditional companies that once shied away from adopting technology are now embracing it.

Connecting businesses, such as a pharmaceutical manufacturer with its internal and external suppliers, generates massive amounts of data. ERPs help chief executive officers and other leaders make sense of the numbers. The software lets leaders compare historical behavior with current trends, making accurate inventory predictions. ERPs can reveal important insights by leveraging data across business functions.

Benefits of ERP In Inventory Management

A SelectHub survey found that Inventory Management (67%) was the most used part of a modular ERP package after accounting (89%).

Figure: 1A 2018 Survey by Select Hub Found That The Most Important Function in an ERP was Inventory Management

Inventory Management functionalities

Functions of ERPs in Inventory Handling

ERPs perform six primary inventory related functions. These include:

  1. 1.Better forecasting accuracy
  2. 2.Segmenting, clustering and classifying materials
  3. 3.Making warehouses more intelligent
  4. 4.Permit accurate, timely inventory planning
  5. 5.Reduce waste
  6. 6.Manage returns and order cancellations

Improving Inventory Accuracy: Some modern ERPs like Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 Finance come with many built-in AI and ML capabilities. This functionality lets executives review sales data, seasonal demand and other information to predict inventory needs. By comparing historical and current data, companies can devise a robust plan to increase or decrease inventory and storage capacity suiting anticipated market conditions. D365 Finance also accepts variables for greater accuracy.

Key benefits include:

  • Artificial intelligence helps predict future demand using historical data
  • Comprehensive inventory planning translates to higher customer serviceability, boosting customer satisfaction

Segmenting, clustering and classifying materials

Isolated data is only valuable to that portion of the business. To help the entire business and provide insights, data must be visible to other departments. Using an ERP’s Inventory Management module lets companies tag, cluster and analyze each item or stock keeping unit (SKU). It produces labels that can be read by mobile phones and other portable devices, providing access to a wealth of information while tracking every item. Classification options include:

  • Units of measurement
  • Product usage
  • Material source
  • Alternatives or substitutes
  • Allocation
  • Cost and price
  • Demand
  • Supplier or vendor

Classifying inventory items lets users analyze each item based on the business needs, and prioritize the ones that are most critical.

Making Warehouses More Intelligent

When products are given machine-readable barcodes or QR code labels, companies can track material movement in real-time.

Modern ERP lets warehouse managers create an operative warehouse plan with access controls at every level. This is particularly crucial for manufacturers with multiple production sites. Setting access controls ensures the right people can move inventory items at the right time.

ERPs allow warehouse managers to efficiently allocate more space to the items that need it and reduce space from those that do not.

Combining the functionality of an ERP with robots and other forms of automation reduces human efforts. For example, beverage giant Coca-Cola uses AI to count the varieties and volume of bottles stored in cabinets or display units by analyzing a photograph clicked on a mobile device.

Other benefits of an efficient warehousing plan include:

  • Tracking each stage of a product from raw material to work-in-progress and finished goods
  • Preparing accounts for stock transfer
  • Reducing human effort in mundane tasks, such as manually counting inventories, letting workers perform more valuable jobs
  • Maintaining ledgers of opening and closing stock balances
  • Reducing dead stock by efficiently managing expiring inventory

Permit Accurate and Timely Inventory Planning

An ERP system ensures companies maintain ideal stock levels, permitting more efficient use of working capital.

Today’s ERPs come with features that help with material requirements planning (MRP). This includes production scheduling, setting up reorder-levels and establishing inventory minimum and maximum levels. The business application tool records lead times related to purchases of raw materials, manufacturing time, quality checking, packaging, logistics and other functions. All of this data combined helps the planning engine create better forecasts.

Reducing Waste

The combined benefits of classifying items and inventory planning helps reduce waste. The inventory management module of an ERP provides complete visibility of all inventories, including clusters and substitute products. Module users can also sort inventories by batch numbers or serial numbers.

When a particular product has an unanticipated surge in demand, companies can easily identify substitute products in an attempt to reduce lost sales. Aligning substitute and primary products lets customers looking for affordable alternatives or shorter lead times find workable options, further boosting revenue.

Waste reduction benefits of an ERP include:

  • Offering alternative or substitute products when primary product levels are low.
  • Provides options for price sensitive customers, increasing customer loyalty.
  • Uses attributes assigned to each SKU to make it easy to locate substitute products.

Managing returns and order cancelations

ERPs manage returns with greater ease than older methods. ERPs reconcile sales credit memos and accounting letting companies issue refunds or shipping fresh products.

Return benefits include:

  • Easier tracking of refunds and reshipments.
  • Quicker return decisions by providing a complete view of sales, current inventories, cash balances, shipping availability and other issues.
  • Automatically calculates foreign exchange rates.

Conclusion

The primary benefit of an ERP system is the ability to track inventory, reduce stocking costs and maximize working capital accurately and efficiently. This significantly reduces administrative and operational costs without sacrificing functionality.

Organizations looking to optimize inventory planning and become more competitive must implement a modern ERP system. The cost of implementing a modern ERP is easily made back in overall savings with included inventory controls that are more accurate, reduce waste, and produce happier customers with much greater flexibility.

Book a free assessment on how to use an ERP in Inventory Management to improve efficiency.

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About XcelPros

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company delivering transformation through technology. We offer business and technology solutions with deep industry experience in Chemical, Pharma, Life Sciences (including Medical Devices, Bio-Medical & Biotech), Insurance, Discrete Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing, Distribution and Food & Beverage.

XcelPros is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Direct Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) and a Systems Integrator (SI) offering software licensing, implementation and consulting services for Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Business Intelligence & Analytics (Power BI), SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure (Cloud, IOT, Microsoft Flow amongst many others).

Our mission is to provide integrated technology solutions that amplify impact and empower our customer’s businesses. We believe technology is the key enabler of exponential growth for us and our customers.

Contact XcelPros today to transform your business.

Call us toll-free – 1.855.411.0585 (or) visit www.xcelpros.com

Formula Management Scales Up Process Manufacturing

Formula Management Scales Up Process Manufacturing

Formula Management Scales Up Process Manufacturing 700 500 Xcelpros Team

Introduction

Formulas are at the core of process manufacturing and managing them is a critical function in the product development cycle. However, we see manufacturers show little effort in how they store and access their formulas, often keeping them siloed. However, today’s connected world makes sharing information across business units critical.

Seldom are formulas managed with any regularity. We find them in manual logs or at best, Microsoft Excel files. Companies spend years perfecting a single formula, ensuring it is scalable and able to maintain consistent quality across all batches and then restrict access to it.

At Xcelpros, we help our clients modernize their formula management. Keeping these formulas updated and secure from prying competitors results in higher productivity. That translates into a stronger bottom line.

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software such as Microsoft System Dynamics has the ability to manage formulas. An ERP brings consistency, product scalability and improved efficiency to formulas while achieving better compliance scores.

Formula management (FM) includes the ability to optimize formulas. It also creates and manages workflows, creates formula variants, manages labeling content, plans inventory for scaling up production and validates the formulas to meet regulatory requirements.

An essential part of electronic batch processing, FM helps modernize the product development process. The resulting efficiency increase results in shorter times to market.

Automating formulas ensures consistent products. It removes manual calculations of ingredients, their properties and costs, thereby removing a source of error.

This process also causes better regulatory compliance. It reduces the chances of recalls, rejections and fines. Each of these actions costs your firm money while negatively impacting brand value.

The Downstream Impact of Formula Management

As discussed above, formula management is at the core of process manufacturing. Using the chemical industry as an example, formulas are at the center of each company’s assets. The research and development (R&D) section likely has an “n number” of formulas and variations. When each formula is processed, it delivers a unique product. Having related formulas scattered across multiple locations increases the compliance hazard, reducing efficiency.

An integrated FM system gives top executives control of:

  • Transparency in terms of cost – An integrated business application such as an ERP includes ways to control formulas. The software also shows costs associated with the manufacturing process. ERPs give you a holistic picture. They provide the downstream impact of a formula from raw materials procurement to setting end product pricing.
  • Visibility of formula properties – ERPs let you analyze the change in physical properties of key ingredients in real-time. For example, you can vary the quantity or substitute one raw material for another. Making these changes in the ERP lets you see the impact on areas such as the nutritional value of products.
  • Authentication and formula protection – This security feature helps an organization define access rights to each formula. It allows you to limit modification rights to a select few while giving master control to the administrator. The administrator can reverse any changes to the formula.

Your business deserves the power of a unified system for formula management.

ERPs are the Way Ahead

ERPs provide an effective solution with the ability to unify production processes with research and development formulation in a common, secure platform. ERP systems can transform the way formulas are managed by players in industries such as chemical, pharmaceutical, food & beverages, etc.

Keeping formulas confidential is critical for every manufacturer in every industry. Managing formulas efficiently can be a competitive advantage, especially when a company is growing.

Instead of making FM a daunting task, using an ERP ensures your manufacturing processes are standardized across your production units regardless of their location.

ERPs are Transformational

Modern businesses generate gigabytes of data every single day. That number continues to increase as handheld devices and connected systems add to it. ERP software is designed to handle massive volumes of data. It generates insights letting top executives gain deeper understanding of core business functions. Using an ERP, top leaders can see the data behind critical decisions.

Looking at batch processing, which includes FM, leaders have a centralized information source covering all products that being processed, manufactured or stored. Having access to this data in one spot lets leaders generate important business insights.

Batch size, quality, quantity and components are essential items captured by ERPs. The system allows organizations to set security controls ensuring only authorized personnel can access the firm’s trade secrets and formulas. The ERP also maintains a version history of all changes made to the formula, letting authorized people go back to a previous version in case of unauthorized access.

Connecting Silos

In many businesses, data is captured and stored in stand-alone “silos.” A problem with this approach is its inability to share data. This is especially true when data from multiple business functions is captured in different systems.

Siloed data is not easily accessible from systems outside that area. It doesn’t give key executives enough variables to make informed decisions. The silo approach causes inefficiencies and lower returns on investments from technology assets.

Today is the age of connected business ecosystems, not stand-alone silos. Collaboration is the key to efficiency, transparency and easier operations. Sharing data means quicker and informed decision making, all of which eventually leads to success. Only an ERP can break the silo walls, connecting your data to provide a complete 360-degree view of your production process.

A connected system helps you calculate formulas and break down the costs of each product, percolating down to provide improved competitive and operational advantages.

ERP Software Systems and Formula Management

Some areas where ERPs are instrumental in formula management include:

  • Versioning formulas
  • Scaling formulas to create larger batches
  • Determining and establishing coproducts or byproducts
  • Categorizing active ingredient formulas by
    • Weight
    • Percentage
    • Operations related to ingredient consumption
    • Approvers
    • Batch sizes

Figure: 1ERP Software For Process Manufacturing

ERP Software For Process Manufacturing

Versioning Formulas for Compliance

Process manufacturers are continually updating and improving their formulas. Updates are driven by changing industry trends, customer demand and most importantly, ever-changing regulations.

Keeping up with rule changes is a constant task, especially for companies with multinational manufacturing and distribution operations. They must be compliant with the laws in each country where they operate.

Compliance impacts formulas directly, making keeping different versions a “must have” feature. For example, formaldehyde is a chemical agent dangerous to humans at levels of 100 parts per million. It is banned for use in cosmetics across the European Union but is found in hair-straightening products and nail polish in the US. Atrazine is used as an herbicide in the US, but was banned in the EU since 2003 over concerns of it polluting water bodies.

Differing regulations requiring different formulas—even with minor alterations—can be intimidating. Formulas must be managed properly to meet the regulations in each country or region.

Scaling Formulas for Consistency

Another formula function ERPs automate is scaling. When a customer changes its order size, the quantity of raw materials varies. Formulas do not.

To the uniformed, the impression of an ERP at a manufacturing location is like taking a widget, adding some gadgets plus a few man hours and presto, you have a finished product. This is at best oversimplification and at worst a mathematically challenging extrapolation.

Why is scalability a challenge? Consider a scenario where you are preparing soup for a family of four. Something happens. Now you need to make soup for your neighborhood, maybe your city or even your county. Most people realize your raw materials will increase as you add people, but what about making your soup look and taste the same or ensuring your serving quantity is right?

To accomplish all of this requires software that can scale production while maintaining consistency in product composition. An ERP solution such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operation can help categorize all your formulas based on parameters such as: weight, percentage, ingredients, production size, approvers, etc. Top executives have complete control of their manufacturing operations regardless of how many customers one product serves.

Creating New Efficiencies

In addition to providing consistent products regardless of batch size or manufacturing location, ERPs can help manage your formulas to create new levels of efficiency by:

  • Ensuring changes made to a formula have real-time implications to raw material procurement, production, inventory management and planning.
  • Scaling formulas regardless of production size.
  • Adjusting user fields to suit current requirements and configurations.
  • Keeping tabs on production costs such as raw materials, labor and other variables based on changes to your formula.

Conclusion

Most chemical manufacturers have a legal pre-defined volume to weight ratio for using certain ingredients. The process becomes more complex when using multiple measurement units of such as dry and wet volumes. Adding to the complexity are when different measuring systems are used, such as imperial in the US compared to metric elsewhere. The complexity increases when adding storage temperature or acidity of the ingredients into the mix. How will a particular chemical or ingredient react when it comes in proximity or contact with another agent? Will it lose effectiveness at a specific temperature?

An ERP’s formula management function allows companies to automate the production process. The integration process also means firms can publish relevant labels. These labels are pasted on the products providing required information.

Using FM in an ERP lets companies concentrate on the business of selling products. They can avoid the costs and headaches caused by an inefficient formula management process. Powered by a self-sustained connected ecosystem hosting a universe of business applications, Microsoft Dynamics 365 offers a secure and holistic formula management suite. Dynamics 365 ensures your formulas are secure, scalable, compliant and most importantly, strategically placed to elevate your organization to the next level of efficiency.

Scale up your manufacturing process with formula management, book a free consultation with our expert to learn more.

Book Now

About XcelPros

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company delivering transformation through technology. We offer business and technology solutions with deep industry experience in Chemical, Pharma, Life Sciences (including Medical Devices, Bio-Medical & Biotech), Insurance, Discrete Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing, Distribution and Food & Beverage.

XcelPros is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Direct Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) and a Systems Integrator (SI) offering software licensing, implementation and consulting services for Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Business Intelligence & Analytics (Power BI), SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure (Cloud, IOT, Microsoft Flow amongst many others).

Our mission is to provide integrated technology solutions that amplify impact and empower our customer’s businesses. We believe technology is the key enabler of exponential growth for us and our customers.

Contact XcelPros today to transform your business.

Call us toll-free – 1.855.411.0585 (or) visit www.xcelpros.com