Article: 7 Ways Microsoft Power Platform Can Solve Manufacturing Industry Challenges

6 -minute read

At a glance:

  • Automating Tasks
  • Integrating AI for Manufacturing
  • Ensuring Brand Consistency and Quality Control
  • Managing Employees
  • Enhancing Safety and Security
  • Making Data-Driven Decisions
  • Innovating Solutions

The Power Platform is Microsoft’s answer to complex business solutions. It empowers developers and decision-makers to use cutting-edge self-made software to identify and solve pain points and drive innovation in the manufacturing industry. Power Platform essentially connects those disparate and traditionally unrelated parts like customer engagement and production into one cohesive unit.

In an era of data-driven decisions and empowerment, Microsoft Power Platform is here to change the manufacturing landscape from paperwork and legacy systems to intelligent apps and cloud-based AI.

Here are seven ways that Microsoft Power Platform can solve manufacturing industry challenges:

 

1. Automating Tasks

Manufacturing requires efficiency. Repetitive tasks and long paper trails hinder production delays. These bottlenecks and downtimes are costly. Research conducted by Aberdeen Strategy & Research has shown that in 2016 alone, $260,000 was the average cost per hour of downtime across all businesses.

The more time a factory can spend on more productive efforts, the smoother it can work toward its goal, and the greener the bottom line.

Power Platforms offers a perfect solution with Power Automate. The traditional manual process can begin with little to no human intervention when an event occurs. Power Automate can even integrate with existing legacy systems and applications.

Electrolock, a premier provider of insulation products, used the comprehensive Power Platform to automate non-value-adding tasks. Before Power Platform, spreadsheets ruled their inventory levels and customer shipments for parts.

Today, Electrolock floor technicians are no longer beholden to submitting paper forms. Instead, they use mobile tablets with their new “Inventory App” customers use to order parts. Electrolock can see the orders on their books in real-time, and the manufacturing floor responds quicker to fulfill these orders.

The app makes listing inventory, drafting POs, and sending invoices seamlessly. Very little time is lost in manual data entry and rework. The reconciliation process can even be done within the app as it automatically views databases for verification and delivery reports.

Suppose you’re looking for a way to free your production from tedious repetitive tasks. In that case, Microsoft Power Platform offers an automated solution that you can tailor to your specific needs.

2. Integrating AI for Manufacturing

Artificial intelligence is the future of manufacturing. The ability to analyze data and respond to scenarios far more quickly can improve factory dynamics.

Power Platform enables manufacturers to build new AI solutions with low-code development. Gone are the days of heavy programming to build intelligent software.

G&J Pepsi, in Cincinnati, Ohio, has 1,600 employees in manufacturing. The company used the Power Platform’s AI Builder to create the “Store Audit App.”

A photo is all it takes to automatically identify and track Pepsi products on customer shelves. Field workers no longer need to do intensive inspections as the AI builder now does the heavy lifting. Data from the AI builder can even predict long-term supply demands and help adjust production schedules accordingly.

Microsoft Power Platform’s AI integration includes form processing, data classification, and object detection. Leveraging these can free up valuable time and power your manufacturing production forward into the future.

Provided by Unsplash.com

3. Ensuring Brand Consistency and Quality Control

Quality control is an essential part of a manufacturer’s success as customers demand only the best from the production line. The struggle is maintaining quality every step of the way. Changing hands between different processes and departments shouldn’t affect quality in a long production cycle.

Custom Air Products & Services, Inc. (CAPS) produces bespoke heating, air conditioning, and ventilation (HVAC) solutions in Houston. Before using the Power Platform, every unit had an attached “traveler” document that detailed its quality checks.

This system is prone to breakdown due to loss of documentation and subject to time loss because of manual data entry into different tracking systems. A new solution was found using a custom-built app in Microsoft Power Platform called “CAPS Traveler.”

CAPS Traveler helps project managers and stakeholders keep quality checks throughout the process. All data is now within the app and is visible to all. Managers can checkoff every quality control step that was taken.

Checklists from each department are also within the app to help debrief issues and failures that may arise. This visibility allows managers to seek solutions to bottlenecks and problems associated with every step of the production.

The underlying success of manufacturers is customer satisfaction. Power Platform can help manufacturers achieve production consistency and predictability with its vast array of software tools and AI.

4. Managing Employees

Employees are the beating heart of manufacturing. It can be daunting to make sure they are happy, trained, and safe. A well-motivated and happy workforce can work wonders to ensure the production line is running smoothly and the driving continuous progress.

Power Platform can simplify recruitment. With its ability to automate and analyze, manufacturers can rest assured that their people are valued and are getting the job done. As labour shortage is rapidly spreading, employee retention strategies are key.

Kajima, a significant construction manufacturer in Japan, uses Power Platform to train its new artisans and codify the existing knowledge base of its workforce acquired from years of experience. This helps preserve the quality of work over time, as the younger generation is slowly occupying factories.

Even Microsoft HR uses a Power Platform-built app called “Thrive.” All employees have a centralized dashboard to access company news, tasks, and communications. Thrive even measures vacation times, pay stubs, and which coworkers work together the most.

Power BI and Power Apps can evaluate employees, showing immediately available results such as which employees are top-performing or those at risk of leaving the company.

Taking care of your people is a must in manufacturing. The more connected the workforce is with management, the better the results. With Power Platform, the strong connection with your workforce is made simpler.

Provided by Pexel.com – Photo by Cleyder Duque

5. Enhancing Safety and Security

Factories are often dangerous places. Large machines and moving parts can cause severe injuries if left unattended. Safety and security measures must always be in place to prevent accidents from happening.

Power Platform has been used to build apps that help monitor and secure manufacturing environments. An app called “Vehicle Inspection” is used by Ardent Mills to ensure that logistics trucks are safe, clean, and ready to be loaded.

As more companies decided to return to the workplace during the pandemic recovery stage, Power Platform offered a comprehensive solution that enabled manufacturers to return to work safely.

The app integrated worker health and safety with location readiness to ensure that factories were ready for hotspots and hazards. Workers and third-party visitors now had the power to check-in remotely before entering facilities. Certain areas could even be geofenced to monitor occupancy levels.

Safety and security in manufacturing are paramount priorities. Manufacturers can enhance existing safety protocols with the Power Platform with a data-powered approach.

6. Making Data-Driven Decisions

Decision-making can be complex and there may be times when you feel as if you are flipping a coin. Not leaving things to chance and getting things right the first time around is key to ensuring improvement.

At the heart of decision-making lies information. More accurate data can make it easier to respond and react to problems. Being agile and responsive in manufacturing is crucial for long-term success.

Microsoft Power Platform can help organizations make better decisions by providing them with the ability to collect, analyze, and act on data. This can be done through various methods, such as creating custom reports and dashboards, using AI and Machine Learning algorithms to detect patterns and trends, or integrating with third-party applications to get real-time insights.

Executives at Rockwell Automation use dashboards from Power Platform to visualize data and acquire more profound insights into their consumers and financial reports. They’ve achieved their goal of attaining agile and data-driven solutions for their customers while changing the company’s culture to look at the data first. When you have data to back up your decisions, you can be confident that you’re making the best possible move.

 Provided by Pexel.com – Photo by Karolina Grabowska

7. Innovating Solutions

Perhaps the greatest benefit of Microsoft Power Platform for the manufacturing industry is the ability to create solutions on the fly. The platform is designed to be easy to use, with a simple interface that makes it easy to get started.

Power Platform provides all the necessary tools to build apps, including a web-based integrated development platform (IDE), a source control system, and a deployment tool. The platform is also easy to scale for larger projects.

Microsoft Power Platform is built on Azure, benefiting from all of Azure’s features and services. The applications can be deployed to Azure App Service or Virtual Machines. Power Platform also integrates with other Azure services, such as Azure Active Directory, Azure SQL Database, and Azure Storage.

For example, Toyota Motor North America (TMNA) uses Power Platform to empower their employees to design solutions. TMNA employees have developed over 400 applications that are used across the company.

During the height of the pandemic, Power Platform was used to build the “Fast Approval System.” The system automated factory visit checklists and collated travel requirements. Because of Power Platform’s low-code technology, all it took to build the app was a single-day introduction and another two weeks of iteration before deployment.

Traditionally, software solutions were a complex and mystical field. With Power Platform, manufacturers can empower their employees and solve problems effectively.


Manufacturers can improve their efficiency and production using the Microsoft Power Platform, gaining insights into their business, increasing customer engagement, driving innovation, and empowering employees.

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