The software industry has changed dramatically since the turn of the century. The first wave of consumer-facing software was built on the premise that software was a tool, just like an air conditioning unit or a dishwasher. This software had to be reliable, easy to use, and simple to set up. If you can plug it in, use it for a few minutes, and then unplug it, the software was successful.
The second wave of consumer-facing software was built on the premise that software is a service. This software had to be responsive, friendly, and it had to move with the user. Software had to accommodate for changes, like the new device that the user might be using. If you can use your favorite software on your favorite device, then software was successful.
Over time, software has become more and more important to people's lives. It has given rise to new, highly specialized fields. Software has become so important to our culture that people have started to see it as a human right.
Software is used in every aspect of our lives. No matter what you do for a living, there is most likely some form of software that is critical to your job. Software is used to manage inventory, to manage customer relationships, to manage the logistics of your business, to manage your finances.
When it comes to the manufacturing industry, companies need to be able to make decisions quickly and get results without compromising quality, and custom software can help them do it.
With software and applications, decision-makers can get the information they need about the processes happening within their company and help them take action quickly and efficiently. It can help manufacturers analyze the performance of a product, make important operating decisions, and even keep track of every single piece of product that they have in their inventory.
In this article, we'll take a look at the different types of apps and software solutions available to the manufacturing industry and the features these apps should have.
The State of Tech and Apps in the Manufacturing Industry
The manufacturing industry is one of the largest clients seeking software and applications to streamline their operations. Manufacturing companies are considerably more complicated than most service-based businesses because they require tightly integrated operations to deliver their final product. Manufacturing processes are also more complex than other types of operations—they require the efficient assembly of parts, the precise measurement of materials, and the consistent quality of final products.
In most manufacturing companies, employees work in a large factory with many different parts of the product assembly process. For example, a car company has a separate department for design, a separate department for assembly, a separate department for quality control, and a separate department for production. As a result, they need custom software to connect all of the departments in their company and keep operations moving like a well-oiled machine.
The Market for Manufacturing Apps Today
The manufacturing operations management software market size for software that helps teams manage end-to-end processes was valued at $7.21 billion in 2018, and is projected to reach $15.21 billion by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 9.5% from 2019 to 2026. And while Asia's market is projected to experience the most growth in the is arena, the North American market is expected to grow with a CAGR of 8.3% from 2019 to 2026.
This has a lot of positive connotations for software development in this industry as a whole, and there will be lots of opportunities for developers to create commanding software in this space as manufacturers start to shed their outdated, legacy systems.
In the next section, we'll take a look at some of the most popular software being developed for this industry.
Types of Manufacturing Apps and Software Being Built Today
Now that we've discussed how custom software can be useful in the manufacturing industry, it's time to break down the kind of software that is being made for companies in this space.
Manufacturing Operations Management Software (MOMS)
Manufacturing Operations Management Software, or MOMS, is a type of SaaS (Software as a Service) that connects companies to their suppliers and customers. MOMS allows manufacturers to design and schedule production, reduce costs, and manage inventory. MOMS also helps manufacturers to communicate with their customers and suppliers about scheduling, production, and inventory updates. These features can save manufacturers time and money by streamlining their production and inventory processes.
Manufacturers have a lot of costs associated with their production process. They have to pay their employees, buy materials and parts, rent or buy a facility, and pay for utilities. They also have a lot of responsibilities to their employees and to their customers. MOMS can help them manage all of these costs and responsibilities.
Quality Management System (QMS) Software
Quality management software is a set of tools that enables companies to manage their quality control efforts. It is especially useful in industries where companies need to maintain stringent quality control standards. In the manufacturing industry, for example, companies need to ensure that their products are in line with government regulations, that they are safe for customers, and that they meet certain quality standards.
Quality management software can help companies maintain these standards by tracking data about their products and by providing a secure system through which they can share this data across multiple teams. It can even help companies predict when a product will be ready for shipping.
Integrated Supply Chain Software
Integrated supply chain software connects all of the separate applications used in a company to help them run more efficiently. In a manufacturing environment, this may include a variety of different tools.
For example, a company may have an inventory management system to keep track of all of its raw materials, a quality management system to ensure that its products meet a certain standard, a production management system to schedule the construction of a product in a factory, a shipping management system to track inbound and outbound shipments, a customer relationship management system to manage the company's client base, and a human resources management system to manage the company's employees. Integrating these tools allows a company to make sense of its data, to make better decisions, and to improve its operations.
Process Manufacturing Software
Process manufacturing software is software that manufacturers use to organize their daily tasks and to monitor the performance of their production equipment. The software is broken into two categories: Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software and Manufacturing Execution System (MES) Software:
- Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Software - The first category, ERP, is typically used by large companies with many departments. It a type of enterprise software that integrates data from multiple internal and external sources in order to automate processes and manage the supply chain. ERP software for manufacturers is custom-built for the industry, and it contains important features like inventory management, order processing, accounting, and shipping.
- Manufacturing Execution System (MES) Software - The second category, MES, is used by manufacturing companies that are smaller than large enterprises. It is designed to collect data directly from machines and equipment, and to control machines and equipment based on that data. A MES differs from a traditional ERP system in its ability to be deployed at the enterprise level, to interface with production equipment, and to be integrated with the rest of the enterprise software stack.
Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM) Software
Computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) software for the manufacturing industry is software that helps manufacturers design and manufacture products. It helps manufacturers by providing them with the tools they need to automate the design and fabrication process and the ability to integrate the design and fabrication process with their other processes. There are many different kinds of CAM software, and they can be broken down into two different categories:
- Computer-aided design (CAD) - CAD software is used to create 3D models and to design the physical products that will be manufactured.
- Computer-aided engineering (CAE) - CAE software is used to simulate and optimize the production process.
Asset Monitoring Software
Asset monitoring software for the manufacturing industry provides real-time information about the state of a company's equipment. While traditional manufacturing software focuses on production and supply chain management, asset monitoring software is more concerned with the health and status of the machinery and tools used to create a product. Asset monitoring software is designed to minimize the risk of production delays and to prevent machinery and equipment from breaking down and failing. This software can be used to monitor machines, robots, and factory equipment in real time.
Predictive Maintenance Software
Predictive maintenance software uses sensor data to predict the future health of a piece of machinery. Smart manufacturers deploy predictive maintenance software when they notice that an expensive piece of equipment is showing signs of wear. The software then predicts the equipment's future health based on measurements that are taken during routine maintenance. A predictive maintenance software program will alert the manufacturer when the equipment is in danger of failing.
Inventory Management Software
Inventory management software for the manufacturing industry allows companies to manage and track their product inventories. For many businesses, inventory management is a critical part of the product development process, and software can help them keep track of and keep an eye on their inventory levels. Inventory management software helps businesses to avoid overproduction and to make sure that they aren't running out of inventory before they can start production.
There are many different kinds of inventory management software, and several options for the manufacturing industry. Some programs track literal inventory levels, such as how much of each product is currently in stock, and how much of each product is in production. Other programs track inventory in a more abstract way, such as how many hours of production time remain in a given time period.
Features That Manufacturing Apps Should Have
Most manufacturing applications and software have a few common features that allow them to integrate with other manufacturing software and hardware:
- A User-friendly Interface - Most manufacturing software is designed for non-technical users. It must be simple enough for product designers and marketing managers to use, but it must also be powerful enough for engineers to use in more complicated situations.
- A Clear Workflow - Most manufacturing software is designed to drive a specific workflow. It must help users stay on task and avoid leaving any steps out of the process.
- A Streamlined Product Development Process - Most manufacturing software allows users to focus on a single product design. It is tailored to the needs of a single project and assumes that the product will go through the same steps every time: design, build, and test.
- Networking & Real-time Collaboration - Most manufacturing software and hardware features networking and real-time collaboration with other users and devices. This allows product designers to share their designs with others and to receive feedback in real time.
- A Connected Database - Most manufacturing software and hardware includes a database that records every step of the product development process. It is usually accessible by all users and can be used to track revisions over time.
- Data Analytics - Most manufacturing software and hardware includes data analytics that can be used to track how long it takes to move assets from one point to another, and that information can be useful when they're making operation decisions.
Build Custom Manufacturing Software Solutions with Crowdbotics
Crowdbotics is a full-service app development company with an abundance of experience working with enterprise clients to build the solutions that they need. Whether you're looking for applications to help you streamline your operations or more efficiently handle client relationships, manufacturing staff and inventory, and accounting, we can build the high-quality tools you need 3x faster than manual development. To learn more, get in touch with us today for a detailed estimate!