ERP

How Embracing IoT Enables Business Growth

How Embracing IoT Enables Business Growth 2400 900 Xcelpros Team

At a Glance

  • $5.5 – $12.6 trillion: The estimated dollar impact on the world economy from the Industrial Internet of Things by 2030
  • 26%: The impact of IoT in manufacturing, hospitals, and other areas
  • 10 – 14%: The impact of IoT in human health-related companies
  • 55%, down from 61% in 2020: The economic value potential of the developed world

Source: McKinsey Digital

IoT in Production

The Internet of Things is continuing to have a growing impact on all industries, including the production of medicines and other pharmaceuticals.

“The IoT enables devices to connect and exchange data. In manufacturing, the IoT connects assets to processes, systems, and people. This enables better integration of plant processes, achieving higher levels of productivity and taking manufacturing to the next level of transformation, Industry 4.0,” a blog post from IBM states.

“IoT for manufacturing can harness the data from machines and equipment to transform the processes and systems of the modern factory environment. By denying or ignoring the transformation that the IoT (internet of things) will inevitably bring, manufacturers risk falling behind competitors and losing clients that value speed and innovation,”

Today, the world is in the midst of the fourth Industrial Revolution following 1783’s use of water power and steam, 1870’s introduction of electricity and the 1960’s switch from analog to digital technology.

Industry 4.0 embraces cognitive manufacturing using a combination of connected sensors, big data, predictive analysis and robotics. With the industrial internet of things (IIoT) on the rise, human workers are moving away from repetitive, mundane tasks. Instead of people dipping thermometers into vats or manually counting products, sensors can monitor temperatures in real time. Barcode labels attached to everything from individual packages to pallets let handheld devices not only identify the contents, but also where they belong.

This information flows from sensors to device controllers for each machine. Each controller sends information into a plant’s internal computer network. From there, it’s passed into individual workstations that can be anywhere in the world.

Digital Controllers for IoT

Walk into any production plant anywhere in the world and regardless of what the plant produces, changes are high you’ll see controllers made by Siemens.

“Siemens is a pioneer in framework and energy arrangements, just as computerization and programming for the Industrial Control And Factory Automation Market. Being one of the world’s greatest makers of energy-effective, asset sparing advancements, this organization gives research center diagnostics, clinical imaging hardware, and clinical IT solutions,” Verified Market Research states.

VMR lists Siemens of Germany at top of its list of seven industrial control and factory automation companies. The others are ABB of Sweden, Emerson Process Management of the U.S., Rockwell Automation of the U.S., Schneider Electric headquartered in France, Honeywell of the U.S. and Mitsubishi Electric of Japan.

Siemens markets the SIMATIC IOT ® gateways, which make it easy to, “implement forward-looking production concepts in your existing plant with SIMATIC IOT gateways – they’re open, versatile, and retrofittable,” the company states.

One of Siemen’s products is a controller aimed at cloud computing: the SIMATIC Cloud Connect 7. These types of controllers help companies with far-flung operations in multiple countries share information in real-time, letting workers know what’s going on in a machine a continent away. Industrial manufacturers sending this information through the Microsoft Azure cloud computing platform can easily access data from—or send commands to—devices using these controllers.

Siemens’ industrial robots “help manufacturers grow and develop new applications that were once unfeasible with previous robotics technology.” Combining different Siemens controllers and robots is one way small and medium businesses can boost their production and efficiency. By automating formerly repetitive steps, companies can run production lines longer with reduced errors. Fewer human interaction is required, allowing production runs without anyone in the building.

Information from these controllers produces what’s commonly referred to as “big data.” Terabytes of data can be routed from individual sensors through machine controllers into your network. Unfortunately, this information is almost worthless if you can’t make it work for you.

Figure: 1IoT Enterprise Spending Forecast

IoT Enterprise Spending Forecast

IoT Data

When it comes to IoT data, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software is the next logical step in the flow of information. ERPs are designed to organize the data sent through your controllers and present it in useable forms such as graphical dashboards and reports.

“ERP systems bridge information gaps across different departments within a business allowing managers to see a more holistic view of a company’s finances and critical issues. With easy access to all company processes and data, managers can make quick and informed decisions to improve the productivity of the business,” according to Omniaccounts.

One important ERP feature is resource allocation. Modern sensors and controllers might be able to tell you what each machine is doing, but not which sequence of machines is most efficient. That’s where your ERP comes in.

Omniaccounts states “When ERP systems are implemented correctly across a business, they transform the financial, operational, and human resource aspects of an organization. Companies at the forefront of innovation are implementing ERP software to improve the way data is shared across an organization, reduce internal costs, increase efficiency, and improve processes across their organizations. An ERP system fits in with any industry, be it retail, corporate, industrial, and even small businesses, assisting with the day-to-day operations of the company and the ever-changing industry needs.”

Effective ERP

Picking the right ERP for your business can make a big difference when it comes to functionality. Among the many benefits of modern ERP for manufacturing is the ability to improve supply chain efficiency by helping track raw materials from the supplier to your warehouse. Once the essential items arrive, an ERP designed with labeling in mind makes it easy to efficiently store, trace and track products throughout production, and on to customers.

The right ERP also boosts production by enabling more efficient resource allocation.

Imagine your factory is running a dozen different jobs and one of the orders is smaller than normal. When that job completes, the ERP can indicate that a machine is available. The remaining time can then be used for preventive maintenance, to run a low-volume order for one customer, or increase production for another.

On top of resource allocation, especially when coupled with IoT data, an ERP with predictive analysis helps companies.

  • It lets you know when a part is showing wear so you can replace it before having to shut down a production line
  • It helps predict where new markets will emerge through evaluating business intelligence
  • Supply chain information, coupled with business intelligence, can predict where the next Suez Canal-type fiasco might occur, giving you the option to route your shipments through other ports

Get a free consultation to discover more about Embracing IoT powered applications.

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ERPs and Pharmaceutical

Today’s modern ERPs are a great way to boost the business of any small, medium or large business. ERP Research lists six ERP software makers whose products are especially good for pharmaceutical companies.

“Many pharmaceutical companies are beginning to explore Microsoft Dynamics as their pharmaceutical ERP. The solution provides a great degree of flexibility plus a large partner ecosystem that has developed many pharmaceutical industry add-ons,” ERP Research states.

An important advantage of using Microsoft Dynamics 365 products is the company’s focus on security. Using Azure, Microsoft’s cloud computing platform provides an additional layer of data security as propriety information travels from one company site to another.

Labeling solutions that can print either barcodes or QR codes lets pharmaceutical companies embed any and every piece of required information in each label. A scan of an individual product’s label can then provide all data required in order to meet the regulations of each country or state that item moves through after leaving the factory. Even safety data sheet (SDS) information and instructions can be embedded in a label, quickly and easily.

Final Thoughts

IoT in the pharmaceutical industry is sure to be a defining factor as more use cases develop. Any company wanting to take advantage of modern technology and move to Industry 4.0 need to look at investing in at least three types of products:

  1. 1.IoT sensors to gather information at the machine level
  2. 2.Controllers to guide that data into your network
  3. 3.A modern, efficient and scalable Enterprise Resource Planning tool like Microsoft Dynamics 365 to turn that data into information for helping your company run more efficiently and profitably.

This combination gives your company an edge over competitors locked into older products and programs. Is your business IoT ready?

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 for Managing your ERP Data

ERP Data Management Best Practices

ERP Data Management Best Practices 2400 900 Xcelpros Team

At a Glance

  • 53%: The percentage of IT decision makers saying ERP is an investment priority in addition to customer relationship management (CRM) products
  • 50%: The number of companies that are acquiring, upgrading or planning to update ERP systems soon
  • 9%: The amount the enterprise resource planning (ERP) software market grew in 2019
  • 8%: The combined annual growth rate (CAGR) for ERP software worldwide in the next five years
  • $49.5 billion: The total ERP market size is expected to exceed this figure by 2025
  • $10 billion: The size of the North American ERP market alone

Introduction

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software is one of the top priorities—if not the top priority for many manufacturing companies. Depending on the specific product or package, ERPs can do everything from help track inventory to providing insights into new markets.

One area where ERPs excel is in handling large volumes of data. Before adding Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and devices, some chief executive officers may have thought they were dealing a lot of byte and bits. Until IOT was introduced, this group had only seen the tip of the iceberg.

  • 79.4 Zettabytes (one zettabyte equals 1 trillion gigabytes or approximately 30 billion 4K resolution movies): the amount of data that will be created in part by the IoT by 2025
  • 75 billion: The number of IoT devices reaching consumers by 2025
  • $11 trillion ($11,000,000,000,000): The economic impact of the Internet of Things by 2025 as predicted in 2016
  • $1.1 trillion ($1,000,000,000,000): The global spending on (IoT) by 2023

How big is all this data though? Picture a child at the beach with a small shovel and pail compared to a convoy of large dump trucks: the sheer volume of data created by a production plant is enough to bury many people.

That’s where a good ERP data management plan becomes a necessity so your company can turn the numbers into an action.

ERP Data Management Best Practices

According to Predictive Analytics Today, the best practices for managing today’s huge volume of data include:

Figure: 1ERP Data Management Best Practices

  • Consolidating master data objects from different systems
  • Harmonizing master data records focusing on global attributes
  • Using business context groupings to determine which objects belong together
  • Having a complete object definition, including dependencies on other objects, on the master data server
  • Using client-specific data control at the local (machine) level so individual systems only deal with the data they need when they need it
  • Using content consolidation to locate master data objects across linked systems, identify similar or identical objects and cleanse objects as needed
  • Constantly checking for duplicate information during master data maintenance while safeguarding data quality and not interrupting time-sensitive work
  • Using workflows to check master data for accuracy and duplication while enriching objects based on individual requirements before releasing it

What these practices do is ensure your data accurately represents your production facility. If three separate systems each count the same product and say you have three of them when you really have one, your numbers will be wildly off.

Using an ERP For Data Management

“Because an ERP solution puts all of your data in one location, and there’s no longer the administrative burden of manual data entry, workers can finally focus on the responsibilities they were hired to complete,” according to Aptean.

ERP data integration is critical, especially with companies modernizing their systems. Older products create data unique to its specific task. Sharing data with systems from other companies is not easy. For example, having an inventory package producing barcodes for easy product identification from individual items to bulk lots is great. So is an integrated quality management platform. What’s not good is when the two don’t communicate, you won’t know how much product you have.

Using a modular ERP that can integrate each of these programs, share data and from a user perspective, have a similar look and feel, makes managing your data much easier. Using an integrated data model becomes essential when working with massive amounts of data.

Schedule a free consultation to learn more about ERP data management best practices.

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The Integrated Data Model

The integrated data model uses concepts from three information disciplines: database systems, artificial intelligence, and programming languages.

The Integrated Data Model (IDM) provides a more general and flexible foundation for the manipulation of information than models underlying traditional database management systems. “The facilities provided by the model can be employed not only for database queries, updates, and report generation but also for managing the arbitrary data structures used by systems programs and application programs,” according to a research paper by David Beech and J. Samuel Feldman.

“One issue is that most systems support their own datatypes,” the authors state. Using the integrated model and programming language ideas, new datatypes can be defined as needed. The data types are stored as abstract objects, letting permanent and temporary data share the same kinds of data structures.

From a business perspective, having the ability to support and extend datatypes beyond one program’s limited range lets analysts examine information from more sources.

Effective ERP solutions not only process this information using AI, they also focus on keeping the data secure.

An Integrated ERP Solution

Running on top of software designed to protect your data as it moves from one location to another through the cloud—Microsoft Azure—an integrated data solution such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 is ideal for companies of any size.

It has the power to harness information from IoT sources such as Siemens controllers, organize it and then use artificial intelligence (AI) to make sense of the numbers, giving users access to contextual cues and actionable insights.

For example, “Dynamics 365 AI for Market Insights is able to interpret web and social media based data streams to deliver insights regarding an organization’s customers as well as its competitors and industry at large,” according to Into Cloud News.

“AI has the ability to tirelessly process intricate data streams and convey the information to human beings in ways that they can intuitively interact with, through the use of dashboards, user interfaces, templates and visualizations. AI can present highly complex and inter-dependent data sets to human decision makers, either as simplified depictions they can easily grasp or actionable insights driven by pre-engineered responses to parameters,” Into Cloud explains.

Included in the benefits of using AI with Microsoft Dynamics 365 modules are:

  • Real-time insights for sales professionals
  • Enhanced internal communications
  • Better customer engagement
  • Taking actions that are more likely to produce optimal outcomes

The Bottom Line

Having accurate information about when your raw materials are going to be delivered is worthless if that information doesn’t match what your production department needs. A lack of accurate communication occurs when different software packages don’t interact effectively, leading to a siloing of information.

Taking advantage of an integrated approach, especially one that takes advantage of artificial intelligence, provides your company with accurate, real-time data you can use to generate real-time forecasts and adjust schedules, boosting your companies overall efficiency.

An integrated ERP, like the Microsoft Dynamics line of products, lets you share information across departments and continents. The result is far-flung enterprises being able to work as a unified whole.

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

Grow Your Manufacturing Company With Microsoft Dynamics 365

Grow Your Manufacturing Company With Microsoft Dynamics 365

Grow Your Manufacturing Company With Microsoft Dynamics 365 1876 704 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 ongoing problem with ships lined up off the Southern California coast. One part of the problem was an impact on goods going to Europe while the other continues 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.

Each of these programs works seamlessly with Azure, which is 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.

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.

Designed 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

One reason why many companies are adopting D365 Finance is its ability to efficiently automate payment processing, allowing you to, “create a predefined schedule with a combination of payment proposal criteria to be able 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.

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 time to find another route.

The Bottom Line

Today’s business world is much different than it used to be. Running not on gears, widgets and gadgets but on 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 provides essential information when it can do the most good: before a situation becomes critical.

These powerful, 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

How Azure helps SMBs grow

How Azure helps SMBs grow their businesses

How Azure helps SMBs grow their businesses 2400 900 Xcelpros Team

Azure is

Small and medium businesses and enterprises(SMBs/ SMEs) looking to make the move into a secure and versatile cloud computing environment need to take a closer look at Microsoft’s Azure platform. About to enter its 12th year, Azure has provided a wealth of open source programs, renown security, cloud computing services and scalability to help small and medium businesses grow.

Microsoft’s Azure is:

  • Hybrid cloud computing, letting companies create virtual machines on Linux or Windows platforms
  • Application development including E-commerce and mobile products
  • AI (artificial intelligence) aimed at helping mine knowledge from your existing data
  • Cloud migration and modernization, moving information from an on-premise server farm to a distributed cloud
  • Data and analytics, including blockchain
  • The Internet of Things, allowing manufacturers to attach sensors to machine components and be alerted before critical failures strike
  • Security, including disaster recovery
  • Industry solutions covering financial services, government, healthcare, manufacturing, retail, energy, media, entertainment and space

Azure features are useful in all of these situations, and more. By using open source programs, companies can create custom applications for their unique needs and run them through Azure. Additionally Azure can seamlessly share data with other Microsoft products like Dynamics 365, Microsoft’s flagship enterprise resource planning (ERP) suite.

Azure and IoT: A Perfect Match for Manufacturing

IoT in manufacturing most commonly refers to a set of smart machines and equipment that communicates in a network. There can be hundreds of connected sensors that monitor wear on equipment, relate temperature and pressure settings, and monitor flow rates.

Each of these sensors feed information into a computer network. The data then needs to pass from its source where it can be analyzed and turned into actionable intelligence.

This is a huge benefit if your company has a manufacturing plant in another country. Every team is aware of what the other is doing, and if there are any issues in the manufacturing process.

Connecting other Microsoft programs, like Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management on top of Azure ensures your small to medium enterprise (SME) has accurate control of its inventory. With the global supply chain issues ongoing, knowing what’s where and how to get your products to your customers has become critical.

Azure is Open Source

The benefit of Azure’s being open source means your developers can create programs that help your business along with other companies’. As a bonus incentive, as of Sept. 28, 2021, your company can even earn Azure credits for open source projects for one year.

Among the programs already taking advantage of Microsoft’s incentive are:

Figure: 1 Advantages of Microsoft’s incentives

Advantages of Microsoft's incentives

  • FreeBSD, a Unix operating system for servers, desktops and embedded platforms. The credits help developers work on custom kernels.
  • Alma Linux, an enterprise distribution system.
  • Snakemate, a workflow management system for creating scalable data analyses. The workflows can be scaled to server, cluster grid and cloud environments.
  • Promitor discovers Azure Metrics for easy use anywhere.

Often, taking advantage of open source technologies like these helps SMBs getting just started with Azure identify a number of new opportunities for growth. Quoting a 2020 McKinsey and Co. report, Microsoft states, “organizations that adopt open source technologies score 30 percent higher on innovation and 20 percent higher on developer satisfaction.”

One of the oldest open source programs around is Linux. Linux virtual machine(VM) images make up 60 percent of Azure Marketplace VM images. Pairing Linux with Microsoft’s Azure lets developers and businesses:

  • Spend less time on administrative tasks
  • Streamline the creation of fully governed environment using Azure blueprints
  • Protect your intellectual property (IP) and digital assets with the Azure IP Advantage program.

Among the seven products listed on the Azure Linux home’s website is one that lets you provision Windows and Linux virtual machines in seconds, one letting you migrate your current on-premise virtual machines to Azure, and another letting you gain deeper insights into your data.

Azure is IoT

Azure is designed for the Internet of Things (IoT). Azure IoT Central is an app platform that’s secure, industry-focused, enterprise grade and scalable. As your business grows, your investment can scale with it.

Since IoT is able to create stacks of big data in real-time, Azure has been designed to provide quick connectivity between IoT devices and the cloud. This lets you track what’s happening and modify commands when unexpected situations occur, like an unexpected breakdown on the production line.

Azure’s IoT-based design provides a bridge between business applications, such as the Dynamics 365 ERP suite and your IoT data. Complex custom intermediate software is not required to interpret what your IoT sensors are telling so it can communicate with your ERP. Azure handles it for you.

The IoT Plug and Play app helps simplify device interactions, enabling easy device-to-cloud integration. This cuts development time, cost and complexity. It lets you build devices that integrate easily with Azure IoT cloud solutions without writing embedded code.

Azure is About Making Data Useful

One of the programs built for the Azure cloud services program is Azure Databricks. Azure Databricks offers three environments for generating data intensive applications:

  1. 1.Databricks SQL for analysts wanting to run SQL (structured query language) queries, letting them explore your data from different perspectives.
  2. 2.Databricks Data Science & Engineering, providing collaboration between data engineers, data scientists and machine learning engineers. Ideal for big data pipelines, Azure Databricks can turn information from multiple sources into insights your SMB can turn into profits.
  3. 3.Databricks Machine Learning is an end-to-end machine learning environment for experiment tracking, model training, feature development and management plus feature and model serving.

Book a free consultation to learn how Azure can accelerate your business growth.

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Azure is Innovation

Being open source, Azure has access to a host of shared programs.

CsharpCorner lists nine ways to run an application in Azure. They include virtual machines, Azure Kubernetes service, Azure Container Instances service, Azure Batch, Azure App Services Web Apps or Mobile Apps, Azure Function Apps and Logic Apps.

With more than 180,000 open source projects and more than 1,400 unique licenses, the odds of finding pre-built, easily customizable open source software are in your favor.

For example, the Azure Marketplace is promoting featured apps that support innovation and software needs in several industries:

  • Digital Factory: Digitize manufacturing processes such as performance tracking, production scheduling and log-keeping quickly and cost-effectively
  • Exact Globe: Designed for financial services, it integrates financial and operational processes creating best-in-class financial administration
  • Personalization Platform: Made for online retailers, it lets your customers have a personalized, relevant and intuitive experience

The Bottom Line

Azure provides security and flexibility with unparalleled potential growth in terms of computing. This in turn will help your company grow, especially if it wants to digitize production. Designed with the IoT in mind, Azure has features that let it seamlessly move information from machine sensors to ERPs. Any SMB considering moving beyond on-premises computing to the cloud should take a long, hard look at Microsoft Azure, and the growing number of open-source solutions. What’s your next move?

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

Five Steps to Transforming Manufacturing Operations

Five Steps to Transforming Manufacturing Operations

Five Steps to Transforming Manufacturing Operations 2400 900 Xcelpros Team

Introduction

Lasting effects from the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic continue to disrupt numerous manufacturing operations as the year draws to a close. Companies not only surviving, but thriving were those already undergoing a digital transformation to their manufacturing operations.

“Digital transformation is the transformation of business, industrial products, operations, value chains and services that are enabled through the augmentation of people, knowledge and workplaces through the expanded use of digital technologies. It’s about the people in the workplaces, the processes, the technologies and services,” Janice Abel wrote in an ARC Advisory Group blog post.

Today, digital transformation is all about rethinking the way your company functions. Is it a series of departments that act like independent nations, each competing for scarce resources and seldom sharing information? Or is your company a unified operation, one where department names are merely labels and the data created by one is open and accessible to all?

At the end of the day, digital transformation in manufacturing is all about enhancing customer service. Taking good care of your customers leads to more sales, better growth opportunities and higher profits. Achieving that goal requires breaking down barriers and ensuring free-flowing information between all employees, period.

Sharing this data in a timely, relevant fashion most often requires a manufacturing execution system (MES) and a manufacturing operations management (MOM) process. MES is computer software while MOM may be software or an overarching process. A material resource planning (MRP) package helps you ready your inventory for production. An MES helps track raw material consumption during production.

According to an ARC survey, most manufacturers are deploying MES solutions to connect information in different silos and plants. While there is some visibility, data silos still remain even though artificial intelligence, (AI), machine intelligence (MI) and other digital methods were being used to varying degrees.

Driving Digital Transformation

Ongoing supply chain disruptions are having a huge impact on manufacturing companies. When questioned about the resilience of their manufacturing and supply chains, the overwhelming response was “not very,” according to a recent blog by Forbes.

Forbes posted some response numbers from the Fictiv 2021 State of Manufacturing Report about existing supply chains:

  • 94% of respondents had some concerns
  • 55% worry that increasing digital operations increases security risks
  • 47% state that supply chain management overhead costs are too high
  • 42% believe that working with global markets creates intellectual property risks
  • 31% think that lack of visibility into operations creates risks and uncertainty

The Fictiv report quoted by Forbes came to one simple conclusion: “The way we manage supply chains and manufacture goods has been forever altered.”

Cost overruns were a key concern for 81 percent of recipients while 55 percent were worried about information technology security with their current supply chain.

“Whatever the issue, it’s clear the old way of operating is no longer optimal,” Forbes states. Using digital methods to manage manufacturing has essentially replaced the older methods, at least according to this survey.

  • 95% of respondents believe digitally transforming their manufacturing operations is essential to their company’s future
  • 91% of respondents reported an increase in digital transformation spending
  • 77% defined their digital spending boost as “dramatic” or “significant.”

A Different Perspective

Digital technology enhances productivity, reduces costs and boosts innovation. Manufacturing companies that pay careful attention to their data are able to use it more efficiently to help find and develop new revenue streams.

Figure: 1 How the Internet of Things (IoT) is integrated with Operating Technology (OT)

How the Internet of Things (IoT) is integrated with Operating Technology

At its core, the currency of automation, optimization and profound transformation at its core can help turn new business models to an “as a service” economy, I-scoop suggests.

One way many companies transform their manufacturing operations is by using the internet of things (IoT) coupled with operational technology (OT) and automation on the production floor. IoT sensors in many devices let computer programs track data as each potential product makes its way through the production process.

Mechanical engineers are able to maintain equipment to finer levels of precision. Software engineers are using the data provided to reduce waste and find new ways of boosting efficiency. Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software is using the data to ensure machines are scheduled efficiently. The ERP software helps ensure a near continuous flow of material, even when humans aren’t present.

Learn more about the impact of digital transformation on manufacturing operations.

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Roadmap to Your Digital Transformation

The first step for companies yet to embark on their digital transformation is creating a roadmap. Without understanding what direction you want your business to go and how to get there, any results are likely to be far less than desired.

At a bare minimum, formulating a plan ahead of time helps:

  • Set priorities
  • Manage change
  • Identify and allocate resources

A well thought-out roadmap can help plan your entire journey, or identify problems and new opportunities as you work towards your goal.

Major steps in creating a digital manufacturing roadmap include:

1.Clearly defining your company’s current position and its digital strategy. Stating concrete, achievable goals and then communicating them with partners, employees and clients helps everyone understand what they need to do so that everyone benefits.

2.Defining your financial baseline. Making demands of whatever system you choose to go with, only to balk at the resulting price is no benefit to anyone. Having a plan to only move to the next digital manufacturing transformation phase when you reach certain financial goals makes financial sense, and provides motivation to reach those incremental goals.

3.Ensuring internal Agile processes are ready to go. Breaking your production process into smaller chunks lets you create products and services faster by having processes run concurrently instead of sequentially.

4.Assessing your technology and talent. Understanding what equipment you need, and what skills are required to operate it, lets you start training existing staff or adding new employees ahead of time. Having people who know what they are doing as you implement each phase ensures your digital transformation proceeds smoothly.

5.Choosing the right digital transformation partner. Having a partner experienced in your industry means they’re likely familiar with any problems you may face. Having seen them before, they already know what solutions work and what are a waste of your money. The right partner can also help you set short- and medium-term goals, making sure your transformation is progressing according to plan.

Final Thoughts

Embarking on a new digital transformation pays numerous benefits in the long run. One of the biggest benefits is the ability to rapidly respond to customer requests for new or unique products, resulting in more efficient MAAS (manufacturing as a service).

The most important things to remember when looking to complete your transformation is the need for a detailed roadmap and ensuring you have a digital transformation partner who understands your industry and can help you overcome any hurdles along the way.

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

AI in the Pharmaceutical Industry

Using AI & ML in the Pharmaceutical Industry – Key Considerations

Using AI & ML in the Pharmaceutical Industry – Key Considerations 2400 900 Xcelpros Team

Introduction

Artificial intelligence is one of those science-fiction sounding phrases but what does it mean to people in the pharmaceutical industry? What is the difference between AI and its cousin, ML, which means machine learning? How can the two types of computer software make pharmaceutical companies more efficient and more profitable?

The answers are in what they do and how AI and ML work together.

AI can be defined as using computer algorithms—math—to perform tasks requiring human intelligence. IBM defines AI as “leveraging computers and machines to mimic problem-solving and decision-making capabilities of the human mind.”

“It is the science and engineering of making intelligent machines, especially intelligent computer programs. It is related to the similar task of using computers to understand human intelligence, but AI does not have to confine itself to methods that are biologically observable,” John McCarthy was quoted as saying in a 2004 paper.

So if AI acts like somewhat like a human mind to solve problems, how is machine learning different?

“Machine learning is the study of computer algorithms that can improve automatically through experience and by the use of data. It is seen as a part of artificial intelligence,” Wikipedia states.

In essence, the two types of programs work together to analyze information.

For example, say the first 100 production runs of product XYZ1000 have a 70 percent success rate in terms of meeting basic quality standards. Analysis shows the difference between success and failure is one step. Every run where the temperature was kept with a 0.2 degree range succeeded. Every run where the temperature exceeded 0.5 degrees failed. Logic says that keeping the temperature within that narrow range boosts success which in turn, improves productivity.

Machine learning tells operators, “keep the temperature within 0.2 degrees for this one step.” Artificial intelligence builds on machine learning. It says, “by keep everything else the same and keeping the temperature in this single step within 0.2 degrees,” the company will see:

  • More efficient use of raw materials
  • Less waste
  • Greater profits
  • A host of other benefits

So how does a pharmaceutical manufacturing company benefit by using AI and ML? Let’s look at the numbers

By the Numbers

  • $100 billion: The amount of money AI and ML can generate in the US health care industry alone.
  • $161 million – $2 billion: The estimated cost of getting a new drug all the way through clinical trials and obtaining FDA approval.
  • 72 percent: The percentage of healthcare companies believing that AI will be crucial to how they do business in the future.
  • 62 percent: The percentage of healthcare companies considering investing in AI soon.
  • 61 percent: The percentage of companies believing that AI will help them identify opportunities they will otherwise miss.
  • 13.8 percent: A study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s estimate of the amount of drugs successfully passing clinical trials.
  • 11 percent: The percentage of businesses who have not considered investing in AI.

Sources: Digital Authority Partners and PharmaNews Intel.

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How AI Helps the Pharmaceutical Industry

Add in a third element—large data sets created by Internet of Things (IoT) sensors wired into a company’s network—and the result is a technology savvy company that can see ways to improve efficiency. AI runs computations that estimate probabilities based on known numbers.

Going back to our earlier example, 30 percent of the production runs failed quality standards. That’s the new baseline. Having computers that can finely tune machines reduces tolerances.

Another way pharmaceutical companies are using AI is to speed up drug discovery. It sifts through large datasets from clinical studies and other sources to detect hidden patterns, performing tasks in seconds that once took months. Learning every time they perform a task, AIs run through millions of tasks.

“Drug discovery is being transformed through the use of AI, which is reducing the time it takes to mine the vast amounts of scientific data to enable a better understanding of disease mechanisms and identify new potential drug candidates,” says Karen Taylor, director of the Centre for Health Solutions at accounting and consultancy group Deloitte. “Traditional drug discovery has been very fragmentary, very hit and miss,” she adds in The Guardian article.

The rapid creation of effective Covid-19 vaccines is a direct result of AI and ML in the pharmaceutical industry, Taylor states.

Figure: 1 Funding in Artificial Intelligence in the Pharmaceutical Industry

Funding in Artificial Intelligence in the Pharmaceutical Industry

How valuable is AI to big pharma? Britain’s two largest drug makers—AstraZeneca and GSK—recently funded the Cambridge Center for AI in Medicine at the prestigious university. GSK already opened a £10 million (roughly $13.5 million) in central London. This lab is near Google’s DeepMind AI lab.

DeepMind founder Demis Hassabis recently unveiled Isomorphic Labs, which intends to use an AI-first approach to discovering new drugs. DeepMind’s AlphaFold2 AI system solved the 50-year-old challenge of protein folding. AlphaFold is capable of predicting the 3D structure of protein directly from its amino acid sequence to atomic-level accuracy, Hassabis said in a recent Isomorphic blog post.

“One of the most important applications of AI that I can think of is in the field of biological and medical research, and it is an area I have been passionate about addressing for many years,” he said.

Hassabis considers biology an extremely complex and dynamic information processing system, making it a perfect match for AI.

“But just as mathematics turned out to be the right description language for physics, biology may turn out to be the perfect type of regime for the application of AI,” he said.

The Guardian article also looks at the money: Using older methods, nine of every 10 drugs in development will fail. The average drug development time is 10-12 years. With AI, the success rate is expected to at least double and possibly boost success from 1:10 to as high as 1:2.

How Can SMBs Benefit from AI?

While have $13 million labs devoted to research is a great idea, many companies don’t have that large of an R&D budget. At least one well-known company has enterprise resource planning modules that integrate AI: Microsoft.

Figure: 2 AI Powered Insights by Microsoft

AI Powered Insights by Microsoft

AI Powered Insights by Microsoft

One example is Microsoft Dynamics 365’s Customer Insights is one of several modules that has AI built in. When pharmaceutical companies combine Dynamics’ Business Intelligence module with its Integrated Chemical Management (iCM), the two work together to mine your pharmaceutical data.

iCM is specifically designed to handle tasks like System of Record (SOR) for chemical and regulatory data plus compliance with cGMP regulations.

Add in Dynamics’ Supply Chain Management module and pharmaceutical manufacturers and suppliers can know to the second how much of any given product they have. Using AI and other information mined from a thorough inventory review, companies can accurately predict how much of any given precursor chemical they need to meet forecast demands. With this information in hand, companies can place orders when costs are low or keep just enough on hand.

The Bottom Line

Pharmaceutical companies already create mountains of data. Instead of losing valuable nuggets of information such as trends and insights, artificial intelligence can sort through it. AI can:

  • Perform comparatively mundane tasks extremely fast
  • Provide your company with ways to create new products at lower costs
  • Produce new drugs much faster than before
  • Reduce the number of new drug failures

Using Microsoft Dynamics 365 modules equipped with the power of AI ultimately will help boost your bottom line.

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 a Cloud-Based ERP Helps Chemical Manufacturers

How a cloud-based ERP helps in Chemical Manufacturing?

How a cloud-based ERP helps in Chemical Manufacturing? 1920 1080 Xcelpros Team

Introduction to Modern Manufacturing

We’re seeing a radical change in production methods overtaking the chemical industry. Technology is gaining more attention in almost every sector, including manufacturing and distribution. The introduction of this new technology is forcing business leaders to upgrade their stack and replace outdated processes to meet the changing demands of the market. Today’s market requires a rapid transformation of the chemical manufacturing value chain to improve customer service, efficiency, productivity, quality, precision and pricing.

Complexity serves no purpose for business, yet it’s been part of the chemical industry for decades. Many companies still suffer from siloed department structures, disparate systems, inefficient data management and a lack of streamlined processes. Each of these complexities creates roadblocks that can affect a business’s bottom line. Most companies don’t realize how their complex independent system affects them until the lack of integration between the floor and functional areas becomes an issue. The lack of system integrations can lead to lost orders, or lower quality products because of suboptimal production runs or poor capacity planning.

Many of these companies are suffering these effects for one reason: lack of an agile enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution. Chemical manufacturing companies must take action by redefining their business models and re-evaluating their IT roadmaps. The most successful chemical companies invest in transformation projects such as integrating a cloud-based ERP solution with operations to streamline processes, drive collaboration and efficiency and offer informed decision-making.

Figure 1Agile ERP Solutions in Various Phases of Chemical Manufacturing

Agile ERP Solutions in Various Phases of Chemical Manufacturing

Unforeseen Circumstances: COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic is still having an effect on every industry. Production and shipping departments are still facing challenges nearly two years after Covid-19 first appeared. Hundreds of companies have been forced to scale down their manufacturing operations by as much as 40%-60% in part because shipping containers are not where they’re needed. A lack of adequate containers, coupled with the loss of port workers and truck drivers means fewer raw materials are arriving at production plants. By February 2021, the global production of chemicals fell by 2.4%.

The inability to make products is still severely impacting the revenue of chemical companies. Rising transportation costs along with a lack of raw materials means priority has shifted to essential functions. This financial pressure is forcing companies to downsize their workforce while continuing operations. The result is added pressure on leadership to implement a rapid technology transformation.

An Agile Manufacturing ERP

Unlike other sectors, chemical industry businesses can’t simply stop production and send workers home, though some are pivoting operations to meet the demand of the market.

The chemical industry is facing a unique set of challenges including:

  • Fluctuating raw materials prices and their impact on margins
  • The need for constant product innovation
  • Increasing risks in supply chain and manufacturing
  • Tightening regulations
  • Market uncertainty, budget and controlling costs
  • Difficulty in resource management

To overcome these complexities, companies need to possess a detailed overview of the market. Having accurate information lets them identify shifting customer dynamics and plan their production runs appropriately. Cloud-based ERP systems for manufacturing can help identify market needs, shape the manufacturing processes, and inform a chemical company’s financial business processes.

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6 Ways Implementing an ERP Improves Chemical Manufacturing Operations

01.Improved Visibility

An agile ERP unifies data across departments, increasing the visibility of information. Organizations can share information, eliminating unnecessary infrastructure costs while providing higher data security. In a chemical company, process automation add-ons to a cloud ERP can ease resource overload by optimizing workforce utilization on the shop floor. All departments across the company—including inventory management, purchasing, accounting, human resource management, production and finance—function together with a minimum breakdown and maximum operational clarity. Versatile cloud-based ERP systems for manufacturing help companies access real-time data on a uniform platform, boosting throughput and reducing downtime.

02.Enhanced Flexibility

As market conditions fluctuate, the manufacturing supply chain needs to be highly adaptable. Using the right ERP solutions provides this needed flexibility. For example, a chemical company can share important updates plus revised manufacturing plans and schedules using an ERP’s supply chain planning system to plan stock availability.

An effective agile ERP system for chemical manufacturing should follow a tiered approach that includes:

  • A Secure database
  • A Simple user interface with easy access to key functions
  • Easy integration with external tools

Along with basic business requirements, the chemical industry needs to accommodate health and safety regulations aimed at protecting workers and the environment. Cloud-based ERPs give these companies the flexibility to customize solutions to suit their needs without moving data or altering the entire piece of software.

03.Better Collaboration and Transparency

Having the right computer software designed for your industry leads to better collaboration across a company. Complex business procedures are simplified, making them understandable to more people. These procedures can then be modified to meet changing government regulations. All modern systems have enough access controls to enable a disciplined method of functionality. A process and rule-based system improves transparency, helping organizations operate more efficiently.

04.Better Supply Chain Efficiency

Companies investing in newer, more robust and flexible ERP systems find that managing their supply chain becomes easier. They have access to more accurate, real-time data letting them plan shipments based on accurate demand forecasts. Data insights collected from an ERP system designed for chemical manufacturing can reduce inventory costs, enhance supply chain efficiency and optimize production processes. These improvements help build a robust, efficient supply chain, with the added benefit of reduced raw materials spending, increasing profit and capital growth.

05.Improved Production

Chemical companies often pay a hefty price when the system they use lacks functionality. The typical end-to-end chemical production process contains many steps with data moving between multiple hands and devices. Every time your data moves from one silo to another, it increases the chance of errors. A poorly designed manufacturing execution system can drain resources and add unplanned costs to the company. An agile, cloud-based ERP system for chemical manufacturing eliminates many of these unplanned costs.

06.Enhanced Customer Service

With the right ERP and customer relationship management (CRM) solutions in place, companies can more easily meet customer-centric objectives, including understanding the customers’ needs, improving service levels and enhancing their experiences. An agile ERP that helps companies meet the needs of their customers makes a huge difference in customer retention.

Final Thoughts

Every day, chemical manufacturing companies face challenges. What matters the most is how these challenges are handled. Whether you produce specialty chemicals, bulk chemicals, private-label, co-pack or you’re a contract manufacturer, having the right cloud-based ERP systems for manufacturing helps to build operational efficiency. Having software helps you bring products to market faster and reduce your operational costs while adding flexibility and responsiveness to any future market changes.

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 to Choose the Right ERP Platform

How to Choose the Right ERP System for your Business Growth

How to Choose the Right ERP System for your Business Growth 2400 900 Xcelpros Team

Introduction

Imagine your company’s software vendor has just announced it’s no longer supporting a program your staff uses, one that over the years has helped you grow your business. Processes continue to get more complicated with data continuing to expand at astronomical rates leaving older systems behind. Your company is left with no choice: It’s time to pick a new enterprise resource planning (ERP) system for your organization.

There are two major questions that need to be answered: Which solution best suits your company right now? Is there a different solution that will help your pharmaceutical or chemical company grow from a small or medium business (SMB) to a level able to challenge the industry giants?

Choosing the Right ERP System

Before your company can evaluate products on the market, you need to understand what will work best for you. ERP News suggests that if you do nothing else, it’s important to understand the needs of your business.

Before starting the ERP selection process, it is a good idea to analyze the business processes correctly and reveal the areas that you find incomplete or that need to be improved. Source: ERP News

Figue: 1 ERP selection process

ERP selection process

There are 10 critical steps to selecting the right ERP software package:

1.Ensuring it fits your company’s business needs. It’s important to understand what the needs of your organization are now, and in the future; short, medium and long term.

2.Planning an effective budget. You want to get the most effective business ERP system for your organization. What’s the total cost of ownership? What kind of return on investment (ROI) can you expect? Which is most likely to help your company profit and grow?

3.Verifying flexibility and scalability. Just because a package is a top-rated ERP solution today doesn’t mean it can keep up as your needs grow or as market conditions change.

4.Ensuring it can adapt to new technologies. Can your solution of choice support internet of things (IoT) data? Is it compatible with cloud computing? Does it allow work from any location? Is it usable with tablets, laptops and even mobile phones?

5.Is it compatible with your existing business software? Can the new system communicate with your legacy software and devices? Will your users be able to easily access old data alongside new orders and processes?

6.What do similar-sized competitors use? Is there a standard ERP used in your industry? What do your clients, suppliers and business partners use? What do they like and what would they change if given the chance to start from scratch?

7.Research your implementation partner. How much experience do they have in your industry? How flexible is the software and how capable is your partner? Can your implementation partner customize the software to meet your specific, demanding needs?

8.Will it grow with your business? Can the enterprise resource planning application expand, not only in terms of users but into other areas you don’t need today, but might in the future?

9.Does this project have support from upper management? If not, going through all of the other steps is an exercise in futility. Effective research will make it impossible for top management to say no.

10.Does it have a familiar look and feel? Don’t underestimate the effect changing ERP systems will have on your worker. If you don’t have user support, making it work will be tough. One way to achieve that goal is by using software similar to other programs they already use.

One last question to continuously ask along the way might be “What do we have that works well right now? What do we need to function better?”

Top ERP Systems in the US

All of the software giants have ERP systems. Depending on who you read, different companies will be on top. The dominant players are well-known software companies: Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, Salesforce and others. In no particular order, the most frequently mentioned top ERP systems are:

  • Epicor ERP
  • IFS
  • Infor
  • Microsoft Dynamics 365
  • Oracle JD Edwards
  • Oracle NetSuite
  • Sage X3
  • Salesforce CRM
  • SAP Business One
  • SAP ERP
  • Syspro
  • Workday Financial Management

Researching offerings from each one of these major companies will take time and manpower. At this point, you’ve moved on to the next stage: evaluation.

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Evaluating ERP Software

According to SelectHub, choosing the right ERP system includes evaluating criteria based on your company’s needs. Typically, evaluation criteria includes:

  • Customer Relationship Management / Account Management
  • Accounts Payable Reporting
  • Bank Reconciliation
  • Benefits Administration
  • Capacity Requirements Planning
  • Material Requirement Planning
  • Bill/Build of Materials
  • Logistics Management
  • Inventory Management
  • Module Integration
  • Installation Type
  • Network Flexibility
  • Employee Training

Companies in the pharmaceutical and chemical industries should add:

  • U.S. Regulatory Compliance
  • International Regulatory Compliance

Not included in this list is one other critical criteria that can help determine if your company would be vulnerable to attacks: data security.

Where to Start

A great place to start your search for a flexible, versatile, secure and ultimately valuable ERP software package solution is by connecting with an experienced consulting service with a thorough understanding of highly-regulated industries. This should include upgrades and migration, which are commonly ignored.

There are many partners that can suggest a modern upgrade path including an in-depth migration assessment that is risk-free and cost-effective. Whoever you team with, you’ll want to make certain they have extensive experience in your industry with respect to project planning, risk management and strategy.

Our Recommendation: Microsoft Dynamics 365

Microsoft Dynamics 365 ERP solutions are easily expandable, extremely secure, and backed by Microsoft’s Azure platform. Microsoft Dynamics 365 (D365) modules include Finance, Supply Chain Management, Business Central and other related—and integrated—products. D365 can be customized and enhanced with other functionality, including products specifically designed for chemical and pharmaceutical companies. Integrated Chemical Management is a perfect example as one of Microsoft’s preferred solutions for these industries.

As a Microsoft product, Dynamics 365 has an advantage over every other competing product: a familiar look and feel. Office 365 and its many predecessors are used by millions of people worldwide. This familiarity helps your staff learn new software without having to learn an entirely new method of working.

Final Thoughts

For every business, selecting the right ERP system starts with an honest evaluation of your company and its needs. Determining where you are and where you want to go are the first steps towards ensuring your investment ultimately turns a profit and helps your organization grow.

It’s a big job, selecting the right partner along with the right software package. Thorough research and proper planning will be key to a smooth transition, but the result will be a much better implementation of a much better product. Are you ready to get started?

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

handling hazardous chemicals

The role of an ERP System in Handling Hazardous Chemicals

The role of an ERP System in Handling Hazardous Chemicals 1920 1080 Xcelpros Team

At a Glance

  • The chemical manufacturing industry is constantly scrutinized for its impact on the environment. Organizations in this industry are required to maintain numerous documents including safety data sheets and hazard labels with pictograms.
  • Hazardous chemicals produced and used by the industry must be properly tracked and managed in compliance with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) and others.
  • The right ERP systems can help companies keep accurate records of these hazardous chemicals, in order to meet changing requirements.

Chemical Manufacturers – Managing Compliance

The chemical manufacturing industry is required by law to responsibly use, transport and dispose of hazardous chemicals.

According to a 2016 Harvard University report, “There are currently more than 85,000 chemicals in the US that make up the products in our daily lives and few, besides medications and pesticides, have been assessed thoroughly for safety.”

While prescription drugs and pesticides are carefully examined for their effects on humans and the environment, few other chemicals were not. That changed in 2016 with the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act. The Act gives the EPA, “the authority to ban new and existing chemicals that pose a risk to human health and the health of the environment.”

Manufacturers are an integral part of the chemical value chain. The overall supply chain— from raw materials to finished products—now requires hazard visibility that was lacking until recently.

How can manufacturers meet these compliance standards and document what happens to hazardous chemicals?

One way is through the use of an enterprise resource planning (ERP) software system that makes record maintenance, compliance and visibility easy to maintain. A reliable ERP system is no longer an option but a requirement for chemical companies wanting to act proactively and avoid environmental or human mishaps.

Adding Xcelpros’ Integrated Chemical Management solution to the One Microsoft Ecosystem provides a comprehensive way of ensuring compliance. ERP components cover Supply Chain, Finance, Manufacturing, Quality, Document Management and Chemical Data and Documents.

Being proactive

Business processes would be simpler for bulk chemical and toll manufacturers if they could regulate hazardous substances using inventory receipts from a purchase order or production order system. Dangerous chemicals can be monitored more closely, though, when using an integrated chemical management system that tracks each chemical in every stage from raw material to finished product and wastes.

Unified systems like ERPs can help identify hazardous substances and evaluate them. Manufacturers are then informed of the risk levels regarding the use and distribution of their chemical products.

Identifying these hazardous substances early also allows manufacturers to act proactively, resulting in better safety.

Book your free consultation to learn how an ERP system can help handle hazardous chemicals.

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Developing a Prototype/ Standard Operating Procedure for Worker Safety

Even after manufacturers implement hazardous chemical safety procedures, theres still room for error. Mishandling and mismanaging these chemicals can jeopardize workers’ safety. Since working with these chemicals is a part of the job, production and distribution becomes a serious business challenge. Documenting safe handling steps and ensuring dangerous products meet all current regulations helps protect the companies when accidents occur.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 and its suite of business tools integrates into SharePoint and OneDrive. SharePoint is a document collaboration system. OneDrive is more storage oriented. Combined with Dynamics 365, they provide the ability to develop a standard operating procedure or prototype process to handle chemicals. The result is a series of documents that help avoid chemical accidents and enhance worker safety on the shop floor.

Better Equipment Maintenance

Documenting equipment maintenance in a chemical plant is a tedious task. Microsoft Dynamics 365 boosted with Internet of Things (IoT) sensors eliminates much of this drudgery. It lets workers know when to take preventive actions. These maintenance “calls-to-action” are generated automatically by D365 systems. By removing the potential of errors from manual entry, the automatic notifications also boost regulatory compliance. This integrated system also lets chemical manufacturers create a complete equipment maintenance, repair and operations plan.

Figure: 1How an ERP System Helps Manage Hazardous Chemicals

How an ERP System Helps Manage Hazardous Chemicals

Systematic Record Maintenance

Many chemicals used by manufacturing companies require detailed labels. These labels include their chemical composition, risk factors, expiration dates, safety procedures and special handling instructions. Government agencies require a consolidated record listing the chemicals, their quantities, distribution, costs, etc.

Manually tracking the massive volume of data in legacy systems leads to errors. Microsoft Dynamics 365 with Integrated Chemical Management is one way to properly maintain that chemical data. Information is made visible at the individual chemical or consolidated level. Chemical companies are assured of safely using, distributing and disposing of their hazardous chemicals through an automated workflow that makes it easy to add and edit chemical data.

Meeting Compliance Standards

The ERP systems described earlier apply to regulations at many levels, not just those from the federal government. They can include notifications of additional requirements based on the shipping destination. That location can be one community within a nation or a different country.

Chemical companies looking for an ideal ERP solution that helps meet local and international documentation requirements should take a close look at what D365 and ICM have to offer.

According to the 2017 Hazard Communication Survey:

  • 70% of participants pointed to compliance as the single largest priority for their company.
  • 80% of them cited monthly obligations to create, print, or affix workplace labels to containers in their inventory as a challenge.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 and ICM provide an embedded chemical management solution for storing chemical data. That data becomes a globally harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) compliant labels and Safety data sheets. Using D365 and ICM is an ideal way to reduce GHS-related compliance issues.

Summary

An advanced ERP system like Microsoft’s D365 can easily become the backbone of an organization’s hazardous chemical record keeping. This sophisticated software system helps the company function and grow while also keeping the environment and communities safe. Microsoft’s Chemical Manufacturers Supply Chain solution provides a cutting-edge system to ease record maintenance, streamline the overall chemical supply chain, track inventory and warehouse management processes and create a platform for productivity and growth.

Key Takeaways

  • Integrating chemical data into an ERP system is necessary for chemical manufacturers to comply with rules and regulations from many sources.
  • Microsoft’s integrated ERP software working with ICM provides a smooth flow of records. It tracks hazardous chemicals, prints GHS labels and generates safety data sheets.
  • Chemical manufacturers concerned about worker safety, protecting the environment and avoiding government penalties will only benefit from the right ERP system.

Explore our Products page to learn about the different ERP Solutions available to jumpstart your evaluation process.

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

Time to Explore Pharmerging markets

It’s Time to Explore Pharmerging Markets

It’s Time to Explore Pharmerging Markets 2400 900 Xcelpros Team

Introduction

A relatively new term making waves in business is “pharmerging markets.” What does the term mean and why should pharmaceutical manufacturers care? The short version is these markets are expected to grow at a faster rate than the rest of the world.

Add in potentially catastrophic supply chain issues and it’s now a great time to invest in markets closer to where active pharmaceutical ingredients are produced. This includes China, India and those in Southeast Asia.

One definition is, “a group of countries having a low position on the pharmaceutical market, but having a fast pace of growth. Those are China and India and to a lesser extent, Brazil, South Africa and other countries,” IGI Global states.

Imarc adds Russia, Mexico, Indonesia, Turkey and others, placing them into three tiers. China is the lone Tier 1 entry.

Tier II contains:

  • India
  • Brazil
  • Russia
  • South Africa

Tier III pharmerging countries include:

  • Argentina
  • Mexico
  • Poland
  • Ukraine
  • Turkey
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Egypt
  • Algeria
  • Nigeria
  • Thailand
  • Indonesia
  • Pakistan

All of these countries share two important characteristics:

  • They have a per capita gross domestic product (GDP) threshold of $25,000.
  • They saw a spending increase of at least $1 billion from 2012 – 2016, though only part of that was in medicines.

Growth Rates

Figure: 1 Expected Growth Rate of Pharmerging Markets by 2025

Integrating the Purchase Order Process

Key Changes in the Outlook

  1. 1.2020: -1.8% (-$23Billion)
  2. 2.2021: +0.6% above pre-COVID-19 growth; +2.3% above 2020 growth
  3. 3.Current outlook including vaccines +4% over outlook that excludes vaccines due to ~$50-55billion vaccine spending in both 2021 and 2022, later reduced as volume shifts to biennial boosters and price drops over time
  4. 4.Expected budget pressures will emerge from longer-term pressures of sustained pandemic
  5. 5.Vaccine spending declines as biennial boosters and costs decline in endemic phase, followed by overall growth returning to expected levels

The 6-year cumulative delta on 2020-2025 spending excluding Covid-19 vaccines is -$4 billion globally.

Sources: IQVIA Market Prognosis, Sep 2020; IQVIA Institute, Mar 2021

Pharmerging markets are expected to have a combined annual growth rate (CAGR) from 6% -9% through 2025, reaching $1.4 billion by 2024. By comparison:

  • Developed nations will grow at no more than 3%
  • The rest of the world will grow 2% to 5%
  • The overall global growth rate is anticipated to be 3% – 6%
  • The U.S. market will grow no more than 3%, possibly less

Pushing the need for prescription drugs and targeted medical therapies in these countries are aging populations, more public hospitals and a heavier burden caused by chronic disease, Pharmaceutical Processing World states. The result is increased pharmaceutical spending since 2016.

A key note, industry research firm IQVIA states, is this growth excludes spending on Covid-19 vaccines. The cumulative spending on Covid-related vaccines, treatments and related products should hit $154 billion.

Get a free consultation to learn more about the essential factors to consider when exploring pharmerging markets.

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Fueling Pharmerging Growth

Access to healthcare has historically been a driving force in the use of medicines within the Tier II and Tier III countries. However, IQVIA sees a slowing trend with volume decline across many markets.

However, China’s use of non-Covid pharmaceuticals is expected to accelerate, especially once the pandemic dies down. Changes in the use of medicines, with demands for new vaccines plus shifts in demand for existing therapies and patient behaviors, will also have an impact on the global pharmaceutical market.

These same countries with lower incomes also have dramatically lower access to medicines. The result is an increased demand, especially in those countries where access to quality healthcare is improving.

Highlights of IQVIA’s report include:

  • The largest aggregate contributors to growth in the next five years are immunology, oncology and neurology.
  • Oncology and immunology are forecast to grow at 9-12% CAGR through 2025.
  • Oncology is expected to add 100 new therapies for migraines and possibly Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s along with other, rare neurological diseases.

Selling in pharmerging markets may sound like a “no brainer” to some corporations but it comes with a critical catch right now: Covid-related issues have the world’s supply chains on the brink of collapse.

Supply Chain Failure?

In areas that pre-Covid rarely saw more than one or two ships waiting to dock, the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach had 72 ships at sea on Oct. 4, 2021, an Oct. 6, 2021 story on CNN.com states.

Before Covid, most ships went straight to a berth. Now? There’s an average 10-day wait to get in, unload and reload.

“It’s like taking 10 lanes of freeway traffic and moving them into five when the cargo gets here to the port,” Gene Seroka, executive director of the Port of Los Angeles, told CNN International on Oct. 5. “We’re having difficulty absorbing all of that cargo into the American supply chain,” CNN states.

Adding to port woes are a lack of truck drivers to move containers along the supply chain into warehouses. Delays in unloading also cause problems with getting empty containers where they are needed. Manufacturer’s can’t send large volumes of goods overseas when they don’t have containers to ship them. It’s either not enough empties or having empties in one port when they are desperately needed in another.

The effects of these supply chain issues are quickly reverberating back to consumers.

“Say hello to your pandemic price increase,” the headline of an Aug. 12, 201 column in SupplyChainDive states.

Gaps in the supply chain cause buyers to look at smaller suppliers to meet raw and unfinished materials demands. The result is procurement professionals are finding new suppliers, sometimes at a better price than their old standbys, the article states.

Now comes the question many pharmaceutical companies need to ask: Can they keep production on schedule even with a uncertain supply chain?

Technology is Part of the Solution

Enterprise Resource Planning products like Microsoft Dynamics 365 and its Supply Chain Management module can help. It makes tracking essential precursor materials pharmaceutical companies much easier. It can track APIs from the time they leave a factory in India to the moment they land in a production warehouse. From there, accurate labeling using barcodes and QR codes lets these companies know where every item, batch, lot and pallet goes.

Other software equipped with artificial intelligence can quickly produce usable supply chain information. When did we order this? Was it delivered in time to meet our needs? Is there someone else closer, either to our production facilities or our customers, that can ensure we meet our contractual obligations?

ERP software can also help forecast not only supply but demand and where that demand might be the greatest. If demand is in a pharmerging market close to where a company gets its raw materials, there might be a justification to build a new facility. Not having to cross oceans will reduce shipping costs and extensive delays.

Final Thoughts

Businesses don’t run in a vacuum. Supply chains that affect cars and consumer goods also impact pharmaceutical companies. Keeping very close track of where raw materials are produced, how long it takes for them to arrive are just as important as the time spent producing finished goods and then shipping them to the customers.

Implementing a solution like Microsoft Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management goes a long way to removing the guesswork.

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