In manufacturing environments, vendor neutrality typically refers to software platforms and solutions that can operate regardless of machine or equipment vendors. The aim of this type of software is usually to improve performance as well as deepening levels of integration on the production line to enhance efficiency and productivity.
Even for software platforms and solutions that are not about integration, vendor neutrality is important as, without it, applications for the software become much more restrictive.
With vendor neutral software development, however, solutions can be applied to whatever machines or equipment you have in your production environment.
Vendor neutrality also makes it much easier to integrate not just machines, but units in the business other than production lines. For example, integrating production lines with the platforms and systems that manage your supply/distribution chain.
When deciding on a solution to enhance and upgrade your production capabilities, you have the choice to go with either a vendor-specific solution or one from a neutral third-party that doesn’t favour any particular vendor.
In many cases, both will deliver on your expectations, although you may have to make additional investments if you go for a vendor-specific solution to ensure all the machines, equipment, and systems in your factory are compatible with it.
In the longer term, however, the inherent restrictions of vendor-specific solutions can cause you problems.
Taking a Longer-Term View
Having vendor neutral software systems and solutions in place is important in your manufacturing facility because you will have much more flexibility to make changes, scale, or upgrade in the future.
This is why SL Controls adopts the vendor neutral approach to developing software. We develop software for manufacturers in the pharmaceutical and medical device industries. As with many other industries, pharma and MedTech advances at a significant rate. There is also a continual push for efficiency savings and productivity gains.
As a result, the companies we serve regularly introduce new products, refine their manufacturing processes to make them more efficient, or make changes to their production facility to ensure it continues to adhere to regulations in Europe, the USA, or in other jurisdictions.
In other words, there is constant flux in the field of play of manufacturing businesses, particularly those like pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturing.
Flexibility and the ability to quickly adapt are, therefore, key to success.
Return on Investment
While vendor neutral software platforms and systems will not make your manufacturing facility more flexible and adaptable on their own, they play an important role.
Crucially, vendor neutral systems make it possible for you to take decisions based entirely on the needs of your business. This is a significantly better position than being forced to take decisions on the purchase and/or use of equipment based on vendor, platform, or system compatibility.
So, while you do have the option of using vendor-specific software solutions, using a vendor neutral software developer will deliver a greater return on investment over the short and long-term, as well as helping you achieve your objectives.