Manufacturing Enterprise Resource Planning software is a much more advanced system than standard ERP systems. Before we have a discussion in regards to software however, we need to understand that Manufacturing ERP also consists of the business processes that are needed to run a manufacturing operation. Unlike distribution or service operations, there is a complete set of processes that enable the create of value from raw materials. These materials are supported by a supply chain which also needs to be managed.
Setting the software aside, there are inventory processes, shop floor processes, design processes, procurement processes, quality control measures and processes, and order management processes that need to be properly managed in the manufacturing ERP system. Many people have tried to solve the issues related to all of these processes by applying a new software solution to manage the process and have failed.
A blend of people, technology and process factors needs to be evaluated and optimized. If any of these three areas are missing or weak then the overall manufacturing process will not succeed. What will make you successful is improving the processes before you apply a manufacturing ERP software solution.
When evaluating Manufacturing ERP software, it is important that the functional requirements for each of the three factors needs to be evaluated. How will the people be managed and evaluated in the Manufacturing ERP system? How will controls on the machinery and other technology be managed in the manufacturing ERP system? How will the technology enable efficient operations?
A trend in manufacturing over the last decade has been to apply lean manufacturing principles. Essentially, you want to remove waste from a process before automating it. If you do not, you will make the inefficiencies operate faster, creating more in-balances in supply and demand. It really doesn’t matter what you produce in terms of products, or what you utilize as your input raw materials. Lean principles balance out your supply and demand and in doing so, create better throughput. With the advent of Lean Manufacturing principles, many ERP software systems have incorporated a lean thinking into their systems.
Using a combination of Lean principles and common sense, you can work at creating operational efficiencies that will help when you apply any manufacturing ERP software system to help manage the business processes. Bottom line: don’t automate a mess.