The main difference between process and discrete manufacturing is that process manufacturing deals with products that pour and are measured by weight or volume, whilst discrete manufacturing deals in materials that can be counted. Therefore, ERP software for process manufacturing naturally requires different functions from ERP software for discrete manufacturing. This article explains how process manufacturing ERP software can significantly assist manufacturers, and compares some of the best solutions available.
An essential facet of process manufacturing ERP software is the capacity to deal with ingredients such as liquids and powders. This involves handling different units of measurement and altering recipes in order to use available inventory or to produce a certain amount. Quantities of the ingredients, whether on order or stored by the company, must be tracked, especially if the materials in question have a limited shelf life. The finished products and packaging have to be managed by inventories as well. Every step of the manufacturing process has to be planned, and the best possible production schedule has to be worked out and stuck to; it’s risky for a company to wait to order ingredients when its stock has been completely depleted. The lead time of each material has to be worked out, and the possibility for the wait time being longer than expected has to be factored in.
As production environments become more modern, the immediate interpretation of data becomes more and more important. Companies that are unable to process their data in real time are forced to rely on forecast targets for every batch. Dealing with a bad batch of raw materials is an inevitability in process manufacturing, and each item in such a batch needs to be accounted for. A company can lose a significant amount of income if it can’t do this effectively.
A lot of process manufacturers that do not have the aid of process manufacturing ERP software have to enter data manually into spreadsheets. This is a less reliable method, as the entries may not be accurate due to human error, especially as keeping track of ingredient lot numbers that have been used in multiple finished products and sent to different places is a complex task. Many companies also require the ability to recall products at any time, such as those regulated by a government health agency, and trace any food safety issues.
Without an integrated system, companies often waste a lot of time cobbling together parts of different sales orders, accounting sources, spreadsheets and batch tickets to work out their financial situation. This also runs the risk of dual entry of information and knowledge gaps between different departments.
How Can ERP Help Process Manufacturing?
Inventory control is a critical feature of ERP software for process manufacturing – a company needs to maintain the correct amount of inventory in order to keep its customers satisfied. An ERP system for process manufacturing displays the inventory counts needed to improve a business’s production planning. The inventory is calculated directly from sales orders, and any changes are automatically logged to prevent extra sales requests. An inventory control application can also provide information on item usage, balance, and inventory status.
ERP systems work in real time, and accounts for data instantly after entry. Virtually every function useful to a process manufacturer benefits from real time data. There is no need to use forecast production for each batch as the system provides up-to-the-minute information and reporting.
Forwards and backwards lot tracking is feasible with ERP software, and all information is traced from the start to the end of the process. Lot traceability improves quality control and quality assurance, allowing manufacturers to quarantine ingredients and products until they are proved by inspection.
With an ERP system, there is one source of data, no matter how many applications a business decides to use. This saves a lot of time when analysing a company’s finances, as well as the need to perform data searches in different places and the risk of dual data entry. Your company’s data will be up-to-the-minute and more accurate, and therefore more useful.
Some of the Best Process Manufacturing ERP Software
This integrated software is specially tailored towards process manufacturing companies, ideally mid-sized. This specific design is perfect for users who want software with precision. It contains a large number of functions, including Business Intelligence, recipe/formula management, supply chain management and sales, as well as the management of a host of other processes. BatchMaster is implemented on-premise, and concentrates only on Microsoft technology, which warrants technological consistency.
The self-proclaimed ‘artisans of ERP software’, their software is built for process manufacturing companies with revenues ranging from about £30-500 million. It’s ideal for complex, highly regulated companies who need a simple, scalable solution. DEACOM offers a system that connects all the departments of an organisation together, and offers a complete view of the entire business.
A highly-tailored solution that can assist either long or short production runs. SYSPRO can be deployed either on-premise or through the web. One of its strengths is planning and scheduling capabilities. SYSPRO covers forecasting, master planning, materials requirement planning and capacity planning. Its scheduling abilities range from single-constraint consulting to multi-constraint scheduling and sequencing. Actual versus estimated labour can be easily monitored, and data can be immediately extracted for reports.
Designed, as you might expect, with the food and beverage industry in mind, this software is uniquely capable of addressing concerns specific to food manufacturers and distributors. The system features Material Requirements Planning, Accounting, Product Lifecycle Management, Customer Relationship Management and Reporting, all of which is specially tailored to suit a food and drink manufacturer. Some of its features include shop floor controls and batch processing, with a planning engine integrated with a demand forecasting system. The software contains applications specifically for food safety, including audits and complete lot traceability. It allows real-time inventory management as well as shipping and logistics management. JustFoodERP is easily scalable as the business grows.
Once you’ve decided that ERP software would improve your process manufacturing operations, there is still the problem of choosing the right system. There are a lot of different process manufacturing ERP software solutions, catering to a host of different requirements. Each process manufacturer has their own unique needs, depending on many different factors including the size of the business and the industry in which it operates. Finding the solution that’s right for you requires spending a lot of time and money.
Software Advisory Service lets you bypass all that, and can find a software solution for you, depending on your needs. We offer non-chargeable advice from our team of experts, and can provide a shortlist of vendors tailored specifically to your requirements.