Preparing for the Future: Are You Ready for the Next Step?

As we’ve stated before, the future is here. We now have the technology to converge manufacturing and the digital world.

But where do you start? No matter what type of improvements are needed, what is the process to ensure:

  • Wise decisions are made at every juncture.
  • Investments yield the return you expect.
  • Risk of change is minimized.

Even more, how do you know you’re ready to move closer to the future?

In the information that follows, we’ve outlined key considerations for manufacturers in relation to their unique needs, goals and budget. We’ve also included a downloadable Move Toward the Future of Manufacturing Readiness Checklist to help you determine out how ready your company is to take action.

Before ascertaining that, though, it’s important to understand the three basic strategies for implementing manufacturing intelligence specifically, and, interestingly, the first two strategies are also relevant when implementing other types of improvements:

Strategy #1 – Begin on the Plant Floor: Implement technologies or make other types of changes that improve plant floor tasks and then integrate those with enterprise resource planning tasks.

Strategy #2 – Start on the Top: Begin at the enterprise resource planning level and then integrate that technology or other solution with plant floor applications and/or processes.

Strategy #3 – Lay the New Solution on Top of What Already Exists: Include a smart manufacturing solution as a second layer of technology and integrate that with the plant floor systems, enterprise resource planning systems or both.

The strategy you select will depend on your company’s needs, challenges and goals – and these will also help you determine if its time for action – whether you are considering implementing manufacturing intelligence solutions or any results-focused improvement.

The steps that follow outline the implementation process and will aid in determining which strategy is best:

Step One: Evaluate Where Your Company is Right Now

The first step in moving toward the future is taking hard look at your company today. What are your current performance metrics? Where is there room for improvement?

Step Two: Identify the Problem Your Company is Trying Solve

Based on your analysis of your company’s current situation, what are the most pressing challenges? What improvements would make the most difference in terms of profitability and the future health of your organization?

Step Three: Get Consensus from Management

Implementing manufacturing intelligence and general improvements that move your company toward the future in service of achieving better results require support from the highest levels of management. While on the surface it may look like you’re recommending a technology solution, equipment change or process rewire, etc., manufacturing intelligence and other results-related improvements are actually business solutions. This means that decisions need to be made in consideration of the company’s overarching strategic direction, current and future goals and strategies. So, plan on enlisting the support of key stakeholders by demonstrating the value of taking steps toward a new way of doing business.

Step Four: Clarify What You Want from Your Manufacturing Intelligence Solution or General Improvement

The more exactly you can articulate your needs to potential consultants and vendors, the more on target their recommended solutions will be. The evaluation you conducted at the beginning of this process will help you clarify what you want the business solution to help your company achieve.

Step Five: Test Drive Consultants & Providers

After initial discussions with potential consultants and/or vendors, ask for full proposals from the top three on your list and compare their offerings and processes. Request that each potential partner perform a proof of concept with your data. When you’ve collected all proposals, consider which one best addresses the challenges your company is facing and the results you want. Additionally, ask to speak with customers who are similar to your company and find out whether or not those customers were pleased with the consultant or vendor.

Now that you’ve reviewed strategies and the steps for making improvements (technology or otherwise) that move your company closer to the future, ascertain your company’s level of readiness.

In other words, is now the right time? And, what strategy and specific improvements will most cost effectively take your company to the next level?

Our Move Toward the Future of Manufacturing Readiness Checklist will help you answer the first question, and we are following up on the checklist with a complimentary conversation focused on understanding the challenges your company is facing and your best strategic next steps.

We think you’ll find both the checklist and the conversation with us extremely valuable as you consider how to best leverage new technologies and general improvement options for better results.

Download our Move Toward the Future of Manufacturing Readiness Checklist.


We hired EFI Group to help us figure out a project and scope it, and I felt confident they would keep a keen eye on it. They had to deliver quickly and they did it well. They are especially good at project management when you don’t have the resources to do it internally. Reliability is the word I would use to describe EFI Group.
— Coatings Industry Professional
EFI Group is timely. We’ve had a lot of situations when we’ve been in a time crunch and they’ve responded very quickly. They are detail oriented and efficient. They’re a good group of people who also have a lot of strength in pre-engineering — the thought process to get to preliminary design and making sure we’ve investigated all the potential asks of a project to ensure we didn’t miss anything. They have great attention to detail up front which is very important to any project because having that detail-oriented deep dive into the pre-engineering phase sets the stage for the success of the rest of the project, making the process smoother and making it much easier to keep the project on schedule and on budget.
— Mike Quigley, Engineering & Maintenance Manager, Food Industry
I’ve worked with EFI Group for a while, so I know they have a good, knowledgeable staff. We know we’re going to get the results from them we expect. From my interactions with all the different EFI team members I’ve worked with, I know they have knowledge across many industries. Equally, I never have to follow up with EFI Group and, in some cases, they keep me on track.
— Ryan Fredsall, General Manager, Pacer Minerals LLC
We view EFI Group as a team that can dimensionalize our capability to execute projects. We can articulate what it is we want to do and they can take that input and run with it without much intervention from us. They’re able to move a project along independently and only engage us when it’s time to bring us up to speed or get more input to drive a project to conclusion. That’s one of the reasons I view them as an excellent contractor.
— Environmental Engineering Industry Professional
EFI Group has good engineers and good customer service. We know when we get an EFI engineer on a project, we’re going to a get a good job from them and it’s been a productive relationship for both of us — I genuinely like the people.
— Corporate Director, Project Management in Food & Flavors Industry
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