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Day three of the 2015 Manufacturing Industries Forum at the Westin Lombard Yorktown Center in Chicago saw numerous customer best practice presentations, workshops, networking opportunities, and SAP solution sessions.

Before the breakout sessions, Hans Thalbaurer, Sr. VP, Extended Supply Cain at SAP, kicked off the day with a keynote titled Connecting Your Company Strategy with Your Customer and Product Strategy. Hans outlined the importance of customer centricity and personalized products that can be delivered within a day. He gave the example of vending machines that now integrate with social media, and pointed out that 87% of supply chain officers consider IoT as important - up from 14% just a few years ago.

The extended supply chain – from design and manufacturing to logistics and operations – is now affected by the fact that consumers expect products to be personalized.  “Extended supply chain enables speed required for customer-centric fulfillment strategies,” said Thalbaurer. He also stated that to transform supply chain and logistics into demand networks, manufacturers need to Plan. Respond. Deliver.

With over 500 leaders in manufacturing from around the world discussing advancements in everything from connected logistics to predictive maintenance in one place, there were plenty of sessions to choose from. Here are highlights from just a few:

Dean Kosilla, Sr.IT Manager at Medtronic, lead a breakout session around the company’s journey to integrate manufacturing operations to the enterprise. Following a number or years of using SAP MII, Medtronic is now leveraging SAP ME to manage shop floor activities and enable process traceability. Mr. Kosilla highlighted real world insights on the value of SAP ME vs SAP MII in a regulated environment. He stated that SAP tools allowed Medtronic to simplify operations adding, “The simplest solutions are often the most powerful. Simple is powerful.”

Later in the morning, Susan Rochen, Principal Application Analyst at IDEXX, talked about the critical importance of integration from the enterprise to plant operations, along with the controls for execution, data collection and electronic batch records. Ms. Rochen discussed the dynamics of both process and discrete manufacturing within the IDEXX facilities in the U.S., France and Switzerland. When describing compliant manufacturing execution with SAP, she said that the best features include the fact that there’s “one icon and one interface” for their SAP ME, as well as “real-time visibility of all shop floor activity.”

After lunch, Bob Zukis, Sr. Director Cloud with Genband, described how the company has improved their customer experience using the cloud. Genband replaced an older system with SAP Cloud for Service. “What SAP is doing with the cloud is a leap frog over what our experience has been,” said Zukis. He also stated that not only do Genband internal users love it, but the SAP HANA Cloud Platform also enriches every service and support experience in real-time. Mr. Zukis added that the solution is “moving service from a cost of doing business to a source of doing business.”

Todd Alexander, Inventory Control Manager at Ford, lead a session around aftermarket optimization and the experience of implementing SAP Service Parts Planning for Customer Service. He described how complex the aftermarket sector is due to the high number of parts, large supplier/customer base and segmented network. Alexander went on to provide the highlights of the company’s launch strategy, and the transition from ramp up to post go-live support. “Significant new capabilities for planning and procurement have been built into the new SAP Service Parts Planning Engine (SPP), and it’s going global.” 

Discussion among attendees around building the perfect enterprise included learning more about the rapid advancements in IoT, as well as the associated ability to transmit data from thousands of machines in multiple locations to the SAP HANA platform for advanced analytics and Big Data insights.

Indeed, the 2015 Manufacturing Industries Forum was about helping manufacturing companies Run Simple and Smarter by connecting innovations and business networks with industry best practices.

Check out the Day 1 and Day 2 presentations for yourself by clicking here.

Be sure to continue the conversation at @SAPIndustries and #SAPMIF15.