Manufacturing in Motion: A Look Towards the New Year

January 4, 2021

With 2020 behind us, Propel’s CEO, Ray Hein looks forward to the new world of manufacturing.

As we head into the new year, I wanted to take a moment to reflect upon this tremendous year.

This year has brought grief, joy, sorrow, and hope. 

We’ve all felt pangs of sadness for the loss of loved ones, job opportunities, and small businesses inside our communities. 

But, we’ve also felt overwhelming joy by seeing our communities come together to support and uplift one another.

Life is about playing the hand of cards you were dealt to the best of your abilities. 

And we’ve seen our customers and employees do just that this year. 

While many took a small hit, most came back stronger than ever and some have achieved incredible success. 

We’re proud to know them and even prouder to serve them.   

So, as we reflect upon the last year and look towards the future, we wanted to say a big thank you to all of our customers, employees, and partners. 

Building a Resilient Future 

Going into this year, we had a clear vision of the product features we planned to build. All of that changed in February when our customers first felt the impact of manufacturing supply chain issues. Immediately we knew Propel had to adjust our roadmap to provide customers with the capabilities needed to support a 100% remote workforce. 

Right away, we launched our Healthcare Manufacturer Community in an effort to help build ventilators and other medical devices as quickly as possible. From there, we talked with our customers to understand their needs in this difficult time.

Propel’s recent product launches include:

  • G Suite Connector: Propel’s seamless integration with Google Docs enables collaboration between a company’s entire workforce and provides a more productive, error-free, and unified user experience. The streamlined workflow provides real-time collaboration without in-person interactions, and enhanced control over sharing, revisions and retention policies, as well as compliance in tracking, training and retaining records.
  • Advanced Sharing Rules: Sharing information with suppliers can be time consuming for manufacturers who must ensure partners have the necessary information without compromising security. Propel’s advanced sharing capabilities enable streamlined and secure collaboration with partners by automating configurable sharing rules and access reports.
  • Workspace Parametric Search and Context Actions: One-click access to updated and relevant information helps teams move quickly across projects and tasks. Propel increases productivity by putting relevant information at one’s fingertips, and users can search across item and revision attributes, select fields by category, save custom searches, and share with colleagues. 
  • Audit Trail Anywhere: Detailed audit trail for custom and Propel objects, allowing regulated customers to comply with audit requirements for custom quality processes.
  • Enterprise Where Used: Updated “Where Used” capabilities make it easier to find, sort and take action on part data. 
  • Single Sign-On (SSO): Updated to include all Propel-related activities, as well as a simplified user experience for approving change orders, quality records, and training sign-off, while maintaining 21 CFR Part 11 compliance.

Early this year, Formlabs was one of the first companies to get hit with unwelcome news: the coronavirus was spreading across China, leading to unexpected closures of manufacturing facilities and severely limited travel. Suddenly, the company’s suppliers based in the impacted areas could not deliver components, putting the company’s entire production of 3-D printers and related products at risk.

While other companies were stuck in the midst of stalled supply chains, Formlabs found success. The company had recently transitioned its manual product lifecycle management and quality management processes to the cloud with Propel. We enabled Formlabs to quickly onboard new suppliers to its online product portal, where suppliers could remotely access critical information about products and components, including up-to-date specs, design files and quality control requirements. Propel’s platform is easy to configure and 70% faster to deploy than traditional on-premise PLM solutions, enabling teams to deliver high-quality products faster.

This year was the tipping point for the cloud. Many manufacturers were still behind the digital times with on-premise software including PLM, and ERP software that could not adapt quickly enough to the changes to the rapid changes of remote work. When the pandemic hit, these companies were at a loss and needed to quickly identify solutions that would keep their teams and systems connected. Even if they had web-based, hybrid, or cloud-converted solutions, they still felt pains of trying to collaborate using software that was not built for a remote value chain.

Cloud technology adoption has rapidly accelerated since, and it will not slow down anytime soon. 

But, cloud-based software solutions can’t just improve business resilience and processes - they must drive innovation, accelerate time to market and increase revenue. They must also be scalable and flexible to adjust with businesses as they grow and adjust to changing environments.

Tools like Propel enable Vizio to collaborate with their Original Design Manufacturer partners while reducing change orders to bring their products to market faster. ASP chose Propel not just for the solutions we deliver today, but for our promise to deliver even more product success in the future. 

Propelling the Future 

This coming year will only bring about more change for manufacturers. Consumer behavior has changed forever, and those who can deliver new products to meet customer’s new needs will be successful. Those who fail to truly adopt and utilize the latest technologies are already late and will begin to suffer the short-term and long-term impacts of being behind the times.

With the new administration, we expect a tax increase, meaning there will be less cash on hand to buy new technology. With less cash on hand, manufacturers will need to make decisions that benefit them both in the short and long term. Investing in software isn’t just about saving money, but increasing revenue. Find the opportunities that do both and you’ll find success in the next normal. 

By investing in the cloud, you’re investing in a collaborative, resilient, manufacturing future that will propel you into this next normal. 

We will continue to experience black swan events like the pandemic, and the most successful companies will adopt technology that is extensible, secure, and scalable. Propel is built on  Salesforce, the leading cloud application provider. More importantly, Propel delivers customer-centric product experiences by closing the loop between customers, engineers, sales and service. . 

As we head into the new year, we’ll continue putting our customers first by listening to their needs as we navigate the next phase of the pandemic. Our upcoming Spring release will highlight our ability to quickly adapt and add new features based on customer feedback. We look forward to continuing to innovate and create great experiences for our customers, partners, and employees. 

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Ray Hein


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