In April 2014, Microsoft released a new update of its multi-currency and multi-language ERP solution designed for global businesses, Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R3. This new version, with a special focus on supply chains (and, therefore, of great interest for manufacturing and distribution companies), is aimed at further engaging customers in an Omni-channel experience (social, web, mobile, in-store, etc.), whilst enabling businesses to surpass their customers’ expectations, run cost-effective operations and fuel growth.
Being the first system to be integrated with Azure, in line with the current and future trends, a new importance is bestowed upon the cloud. This is not surprising as, due to global markets and large-scale operations, handling big data and enabling constant collaboration between teams based in multiple locations is the order of the day. In such a dynamic and complex scenario, the integration with tools like Office 365 and Lync is imperative to maximise efficiency.
In particular, interpreting Big Data, transforming it into meaningful insights and taking action accordingly and consistently across all departments and subsidiaries, represent a big challenge for international manufacturing and distribution companies, where real-time and end-to-end visibility are vital. Facilitating these tasks is the goal Microsoft has set to achieve with its Dynamics AX 2012 R3. Let’s see how.
Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R3: the features designed for manufacturing and distribution
What’s new in Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R3? And why should manufacturing and distribution companies care? This ERP solution allows businesses to simplify and streamline their operations, whilst ensuring a multi-channel customer engagement and a deeper single view of the customer. The main new improved features relevant to these industries are the following:
- Demand forecasting – Planning is essential to minimise errors and meet customer’s requirements. For example, poor demand forecasting can cause out-of-stock or overstock issues, which create unnecessary costs for the company and slowdown the overall production process. This lightweight but powerful tool will deliver real-time, accurate and integrated information, essential to run agile operations. It will, enable businesses to forecast demand according to historical data through Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Services, adjusting demand using the familiar Excel tool and importing the values into the Microsoft Dynamics AX forecast models.
- Warehouse management – This is one of the core challenges for manufacturers and distributors that heavily affects the business: effectively managing the warehouse space can help to avoid relocation to bigger premises; organising stock according to size and usage and optimise routes can speed up the put away and picking processes; and accurate inventory control and the integration with barcode and radio frequency technology can minimise mistakes. This AX function enhances visibility and allows warehouse managers to easily manage and optimise their workflow, their put away, quality control and picking operations. New scenarios such as product variants, partial and batch reservations, cross docking and retail kit management will allow greater agility and increased efficiency.
- Transportation management – The business aim of distribution companies is making the product available to the customer, where and when he demands it. Ensuring punctual, accurate and undamaged shipments is crucial to gain customer satisfaction and retention. At the same time, it’s essential to reduce expenses and ensure, therefore, high profit margins. Microsoft has introduced new capabilities to facilitate even global enterprise transportation allowing businesses to promptly respond to customers’ demands while reducing costs. Order automation consolidation into shipments, advanced load, rate (e.g. fuel charges) and routes planning tools are just some of the features that will ease the transportation operations.
- Product change management – In such a competitive and complex marketplace, manufacturers need to constantly improve their products, ensuring quality, cost-effectiveness and compliance with the current regulations. Product changes are a must within those companies who aim at promptly answering to customers’ needs and maximising profitability. However, accurate planning, communication and control are important in determining the success of such changes. The AX product change management allows businesses to initiate, approve and monitor any change to the product through a dedicated formal process. Managers will enjoy full visibility and agility, being able to create a product change case and integrate it with all the information required (formulas, routes, bills of materials, etc.)
Quite simply, the new Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R3 features allow manufacturing and distribution businesses to retain complete control of their operations, establish a one-to-one relationship with their customers and increase integrated collaboration within the business.
Speak to Prodware about how we help manufacturing and distribution businesses to deliver customer experiences that set them apart from their competition, through the implementation of an ERP solution such as Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R3, for mid-size and large companies, and the new Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2015 for small businesses.