How digital asset management boosts manufacturing efficiency

Mike Paxton from Canto explains how this cloud-based technology is improving teams’ workflow throughout the industry.

Digital asset management (often referred to as DAM) solves one of the biggest problems most firms have today – an ever-increasing volume of digital content. DAM allows you to store this content centrally for internal team members, and enables fast, secure access for outside suppliers, partners and customers too. And with the new world of hybrid working post-pandemic, better connected and more efficient file handling has never been more important.

Storing digital files is hardly new though – so what’s fuelling increased adoption of DAM and how are manufacturers from Leonardo (defence) to Pandrol (rail infrastructure), and Giant (bicycles) to Mitsubishi Electric (heating and cooling), benefiting?

What is DAM?

Typical digital assets in manufacturing include images, videos, design files, documents, graphics and presentations. These files often have intellectual property value and with associated rights, they are considered assets. Such digital assets are growing exponentially as content creation and sharing increases.

Put simply, DAM is a system that stores, shares and organises digital assets in a central location.

But why would you consider a dedicated DAM solution when a shared server or SharePoint can provide everyone access?

It’s the sheer volume of digital content now produced daily, as well as the need to easily navigate the archives of previous projects, that means content sharing and storage requirements go way beyond basic functionality.

As a dedicated solution to this challenge, DAM provides:

  • File management that requires everybody within the organisation, as well as third-party partners and suppliers, to work in the same way so that the security, organisation and searchability of digital assets is consistent.
  • Access to only the files people need. It can often be inappropriate to grant full access to the entirety of a folder, yet it’s time-consuming to have to regularly split files into multiple folders. With DAM, admins can allow approved parties access to only the assets they need. No need for clunky file transfers!
  • Dedicated features like auto image recognition and smart tagging. By recognising the nature of a file, including creator and content including metadata, DAM applies smart tags – these help people locate what they’re looking for, fast – for example a particular component. These features can’t be found on shared servers or cloud-based storage services like Google Drive and Dropbox.
  • Scalable storage for high quality, large files by using Amazon Web Services to offer ample secure cloud-based capacity.
  • Clear version control and integration with other software to help boost efficiency, for example, Microsoft Office and Adobe design programmes. This enables faster editing, particularly where quick and simple changes are required – and latest file versions immediately sync for everybody to access.

Why and how are manufacturing teams using DAM?

The primary use-case for manufacturers is centralised, internal storage for increased in-house efficiency. This means creating a consolidated area for all digital assets to be stored where individuals and separate project teams all have access and can send/retrieve assets to/from the DAM system.

There are many use cases, depending on the scale and nature of a manufacturing business. For example:

  • Aerospace, Defence and Security manufacturer Leonardo uses DAM to secure digital assets and manage user access among a global team of content creators. Product sales and marketing content spanning over 700 products and services is shared across multiple divisions including aircraft, cybersecurity and electronics.
  • Bike manufacturer Giant needed a way to deliver key assets quickly and efficiently to over 300 UK retail partners. They set up a branded portal linked to their DAM to automate the process, so that retailers can easily browse and download approved brand content.
  • Rail infrastructure specialist Pandrol uses DAM to manage a growing volume of components and ensure organisation and consistency.
  • Mitsubishi Electric needed to organise and distribute digital assets to thousands of external contractors. With so many outside users making requests for specific assets, DAM has made it easy to provide secure access to contractors to navigate the catalogue themselves.

Better productivity is continually pursued in manufacturing processes – a more efficient workflow across your team and partners is just as important.

More information on the use of DAM by manufacturers can be found here.

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