What do we still manufacture in the UK?

Pop stars? Possibly. But Technology Management’s long list of Manufacturing customers is testament to the fact that Manufacturing in the UK is still big business. In fact Manufacturing output accounted for nearly 12% of GDP according to the office for national statistics in 2010, making it the third largest sector in the UK economy.

Manufacturing is of course a global enterprise but Technology Management’s home, the West Midlands was once known as “the Workshop of the World.” In the late 18th century the industrial revolution began in the UK and subsequently spread through Western Europe, North America, Japan and eventually the globe.

But just because we were there first doesn’t mean we’re the most successful. In 2011, the UN ranked the UK’s manufacturing output at number six, behind the US, China, Japan, Germany and Italy. As new economies grow, this position will slip and the UK won’t hold back the tide forever.

To compete on a global scale we have to do more with less, using finite resources intelligently and economically. Technology Management share this goal with our customers throughout the project lifecycle. The product I work with, Dynamics AX, has expanded its industry focus in recent years, but it has always had a deserved solid reputation in Manufacturing. Manufacturing capability was woven into the DNA of Dynamics AX from the beginning, but customers (and indeed consultants!) are often daunted by the breadth and depth of functionality on offer.

Over the coming weeks and months I will help the readers of this blog understand Dynamics AX manufacturing from end to end, covering the various approaches- Discrete, Process and LEAN and, the depth of functionality that is available with Dynamics AX2012. We’ll start with the basics, but I’ll move on to advanced setup pretty quickly- as that’s where Dynamics AX can help you manage your finite resources most effectively.

The aim of this series of posts is to show our customers the power and agility of AX and stimulate an informed conversation on applying AX to your business. Every manufacturing customer shares a few common processes, but all customers (and Dynamics implementations) are unique.  With this in mind you can always discuss specific applications by contacting us directly- where we can help you do more with less, using Dynamics AX.

Next week we’ll start with the fundamental building blocks (literally) of manufacturing- Bills of Materials, or BoMs.

Our AX2012 top ten features: #6 Excel data upload

A significant portion of Microsoft’s annual $9bn R&D spend goes into integrating their products. In post number 6 of our AX2012 top ten, see how easy it is to import data directly into Microsoft Dynamics AX using Microsoft Office Excel.

So what's new about using Excel to import data into AX? Haven't we had this option since the Axapta days?

Yes, but this involved the creation of templates in AX first, and importing anything remotely sizeable or complex typically required the writing of scripts.

Now this process is much simpler and definitely warrants an entry in our top ten.

As mentioned in entry number 9, of our AX2012 top ten, it is possible to pull AX data directly into Excel.

To push data back the other way- it's as simple as this:

1.    Open up Excel and click on the Microsoft Dynamics AX tab. Click "Connection" and check the legal entity you are connected to. Use the dropdown to change this if you wish.

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2.    Click Add Data, select Tables and in the filter box, type the name of the table you want to populate. In this example we'll add a couple of customer groups by selecting the CustGroup table.

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3. Drag and drop any other Customer group fields you wish to populate.

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 4. Click the Design Mode button, to exit the design mode. Then click refresh if you wish to view existing data.

5. Enter data into the table, optionally using the Field Lookup button to view existing data in lookup tables. In this example, I've added customer group 50 and 60.

6. Click Publish Data to send this data to Dynamics AX.

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7. Let's switch over to AX to view the results

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 Simples!