IT in the Stone Industry
Information Technology (IT) has not left untouched most aspects of our business and life. In the eighties it made its inroads in the arena of the stone industry, and India being a leader in software business, software solutions found its applications here too from the early eighties. Software solutions today can be successfully put to use in acquiring accurate and faster status of business operations and thereby, help in making more informed decisions. The stone industry that has been there since time immemorial stands to gain by adopting man’s most recent invention – IT, in its business operations. This is an attempt to attain a perspective of how IT can make value additions to the stone industry.
Challenges from the Stone Industry
Despite the fact, that IT have made inroads into major industries, this is not true for the stone industry where only the big players have adopted IT to assist their business operations. However, in recent times the stone industry is undergoing technological transformation as companies are increasingly going for efficient machines to enhance production. The deployment of large scale heavy machineries increases productivity with reduced costs, but this comes along with complexity of operations, especially so since it operates in multiple locations with multiple deadlines. This notwithstanding, there are constraints like restricted lease period and other unnoticed costs which affects the profit margin. Again environmental concerns have to be kept in mind. Optimization of resources and performance in all these areas can be facilitated by incorporating software solutions within the business system.
- However, the stone industry presents certain challenges which have made it difficult for them to adopt IT readily:
- Inaccessible locations of quarries and mines in difficult terrains
- Family run businesses with traditional set-up without professional management
- Lack of seamless integration of systems
- High cost of computerization
- IT companies were initially restricted to purchase orders
- Inadequate IT training and knowledge of IT
- Doubts about the usefulness of IT
- IT experts well versed in the stone industry are wanting
While these challenges present a constraint, they outweigh the potential benefits that IT can bring to the stone industry. The procedure once initiated and implemented can be simply and easily tailored to fit into the requirements of individual organizations. Indeed, the day-to-day business operation of the stone industry is such that it calls for customized software solutions to fit into organizations and not the other way through. Such a process will allow IT to complement their operations processes. It is worth noting, that the client need not buy the entire software, but can pick and choose modules to make a package which is applicable to it, thereby cutting down on unnecessary expenses. Where the cost vs. value additions, customers clearly stands to gain.
The process can be initiated by going for a detailed study of the client’s needs, and the client in turn going for a detailed study of the system, which will help them understand and analyze how to cover all the functions in the organization, and thus enable them to understand what changes they want to be made in the software. The customer can ask for cost effective analysis, training of their staff, phase-wise implementation, check the modules prior to installation and after and ask for help file and manuals.
Benefits and Offerings
Software solution for the stone industry can be so designed that it covers the entire business operations and proves to be an invaluable asset in enhancing business efficiency. IT can tremendously help the top management in acquiring the live status of business and thus facilitate in making more informed decisions quickly. The hardware and software devices work together in generating reports and in bringing about benefits in areas of:
- Production management
- Inventory and purchase management
- History on the performance and maintenance of machines, including calculating the downtime
- Stockyard management
- Sales and dispatch management
- Corporate MIS, report generation
- Maintaining attendance, payroll, performance appraisals and other HR related work
- Entire Financial management with costing
Industry Experts Recommendation
The primary concern of the industry today to grow while simultaneously focusing on cost reduction through production enhancement, efficiency increment, optimum utilization of resources and customer satisfaction. To achieve these in today’s globally competitive market it is strategic to combine these objectives with IT. The need of the hour is to pursue beyond conventional business standards and strive for newer business approach that will ensure solid business results. IT enabled ERP solutions (Enterprise Resource Planning) does just that – it helps the stone industry in improved planning and production, while increasing efficiency and cutting down on expenses. The benefits of an ERP solution is that it integrates the various departments in an organization like financial and cost accounting, production operations, material management, plant and equipment maintenance, supply chain management, customer order management, project management, etc. under a single platform. It allows for transparency whereby the different levels within the organization can access information readily and accurately. Research indicates that by incorporating IT the stone industry can reduce 15% of operational costs. Business trends indicate that IT has a major role to play in the stone industry in the near future, especially so in this age of global competition.
Global Visibility across Supply Chain
Stone companies with a traditional set-up are increasingly feeling the pressures of supply chain management. This is aggravated by costlier transport and raw materials arriving from various part of the world. It is therefore crucial for companies to have an accurate knowledge of their supply chain and related operations. IT ensures through sophisticated techniques that it is possible to forecast demands while integrating supply chain and production business processes within an organization. By integrating various business processes of an organization it can make accurate deliveries and achieve enhanced customer satisfaction. With ERP solution it is possible to attain precise insight into supply operations and production capacity potential.
A major handicap the stone industry today faces is that it possesses very negligible real-time visibility into their production and maintenance information. This more often than not compels the management to make decisions based on inconsistent and half-baked information. This affects the organizations ability to adapt itself swiftly to changing market trends and accelerate their production to meet increasing demands. IT smoothens the way to acquiring accurate information providing live data within an integrated platform. An ERP makes it possible to bring together the information generated by disparate systems, and thereby share this integrated comprehensive information among the various departments. With this improved visibility into crucial information, the middle and top management are in a position to make better decisions, thus enhancing their confidence and tremendously gain value additions through collaborative business processes. ERP solution provides the essential backbone to the entire production process which also includes within its ambit production planning, status of mines and quarries, stockyard management, and other subsequent processing steps. The analytics functionality of the IT enabled software ensures that applications and analytics access the same data and information.
Downtime of machinery for any company can cost heavy and affects the profit and loss ratio. Even a minor halt in production can be very disturbing since raw materials are expensive and delivery deadlines have to be met. The time consumed till an appropriate technician is found to redress the problem affects production negatively while fueling higher costs. ERP provides improved maintenance planning and scheduling that can significantly cut down on the downtime for machineries. An ERP solution by integrating maintaining processes with production facilitates preventive and predictive maintenance. With the help of alerts and inventory analysis, maintenance and production managers can make fast, accurate decisions. This assists in minimizing the time and cost of maintenance and reduces breakdowns. Thus, with IT enabled enterprise asset management, the stone companies can optimize asset condition at the lowest cost. Overall, it impacts the stone industry to better manage capital expenditure, reduce operating cost, optimize resource utilization and collaborate with engineering and maintenance contractors.
Improved Asset Management
In quarries and mines, production units and factories, the assets operate and are exposed to harsh conditions and difficult terrains. Precision in maintenance for equipments and other capital assets are mandatory. Yet many companies have inefficient maintenance information which leads to un-optimized performance of assets and thereby proves cost ineffective. ERP solution enables the stone industry to employ analytical dashboards that allows for planned maintenance and assists in building new assets.
Efficient Decision Making
Today’s globally competitive market necessitates that companies make faster and correct business critical decisions even at the local level, without waiting for the middle or top management who in all likelihood could be operating from different locations. A company thus needs to have sufficient local information in place which at the same time should be in sync with the company’s central information. ERP solutions precisely share central information resources while integrating the same with local ERP and other business applications. This makes the information authentic, consistent and up-to-date with the organization’s primary ERP repository. Integration is also possible across different companies, business processes and IT systems. The analytics and reporting functionalities allows companies to identify where they are incurring production costs or missing key performance indicators. This strengthens the management to respond quickly to changing conditions and make better decisions.
Need of Change
The time for change has come. It is high time the stone industry renounces business processes that were developed many years ago. Though to adopt the change might be initially difficult, and will not happen instantly, yet they are essential and needs to be pursued. For such sweeping changes to be successful across departments and divisions, a strong passion to see it through must come from the top. Once the process is implemented results can be seen in terms of:
- Enhanced efficiency of performance
- Effective asset management thereby minimizing inventory investment
- Optimum resource utilization
- Improved decision making with efficient analytics and MIS reporting
- Raw material recovery and reduced wastage
- Prevention of redundant data entry thereby proving time-effective
- Data consolidation from different sources to improve production, planning, scheduling and adherence
- Forecast market demands thereby reducing inventory holding cost
- Increased transparency of information
Need for a Center of Excellence (COE)
Just as the major companies are benefiting from IT advancements, it is time the smaller enterprises too starts reaping the benefits. Portals and collaborative hubs can initiate improved communications among companies, leading to better sharing of information and in understanding changing trends better. It will also drive information internally and contribute to employee interaction. Thus, the need for a Center of Excellence (COE) which will usher maturity among the end users. The COE can act as a one-stop solution for operational excellence which the industry lacks in the present scheme of things. The principal objective of a COE is to provide an assemblage of ERP service offerings that focuses to co-ordinate and align customer’s IT services to their business goals. The CEO deals with varying functions of an organization allowing attention to be focused on specific issues and complex operations to be performed. It could include within its ambit Application Development, Enterprise Infrastructure Integration, Business Intelligence and Process Maturity. At the end of the day, the COE addresses the industry oriented needs in the ever growing stone business industry, and by collaborating with industry giants create innovative solutions that leverage the value of business. Besides, integrating the supply chain management and offering unparalleled customer service a COE can be the central hub in maintaining and empowering the knowledge networks.
Rising Solutions, a software solutions company headquartered in the USA with forte in unique software solutions, development services, boutique software services and outsourcing takes pride in certain global Centers of Excellence (COE)
Rising Solutions has developed a unique customized solution for the stone industry – Kubix Stone. It is an ERP solution which in a single platform provides you with the best business solutions in every department of the stone industry and assists in the control of the entire business processes.