Manufacturing Resource Planning
Introduction to MRP (Manufacturing Resource Planning)
A Manufacturing Resource Planning software, mostly known as an MRP, is aimed at bringing together a whole range of business operations into a single, one-stop solution. A good software will streamline the running of the entire manufacturing process, all the way from raw materials to the finished product.
With the potential of covering everything from estimating to scheduling, and purchasing to shipping, it can also feed into customer management and accounting systems to provide an overview of the entire business. This can offer significant benefits for management - with accurate, updated information about every step in the process, it will be possible to make better business decisions. It will also be possible to respond more rapidly to problems or changes in the market.
There are many different MRP packages available on the market, so it’s important that you identify the features that are most important to your business. MRP software typically employs a modular structure, and these modules keep track of and regulate certain parts of the organisation.
There are some features that are found across most packages and vendors. These include
- Production control
- Cost reporting
- Capacity planning
- Bills of material
- Inventory control
Essentially, these are the core elements of any MRP system. You might also benefit from other modules, such as
- Sales analysis
- Tool management
- Change control
- Accounts payable
- Purchase ledger
- Warehouse management
However, you need to decide on the additional modules you’ll require at the outset. Other parts of the software can, of course, be added later as the business expands.
Finding your next MRP
Choosing the right MRP system for your business can be challenging.
You need to consider the type of business you have, the scale of your operation, and your plans for future growth. All of these criteria must be carefully considered before settling on a vendor.
Large companies can afford to spend thousands of pounds on an MRP software that might take months to integrate into their organisation. This is a luxury which smaller organisations are denied. Many smaller companies will need to seek out cheaper and more flexible solutions that are easier to implement and can be maintained by a smaller number of people. In terms of solutions, however, they’re looking for many of the same things as their larger counterparts. Ease of use is therefore essential.
Furthermore, the very nature of your industry will often have a significant impact on your software choice. In certain areas - such as food manufacturing or pharmaceuticals - require a high level of traceability through the production process. With the right MRP system, you can trace the entire operation from raw materials to finished product with documentation at every stage.
Staying in control
An MRP system is about staying in control of your business. It needs to be easy to use, because if it isn’t it won’t be updated as it should be and errors will creep into the process which will negate the advantages of the software.
Properly implemented, user friendly systems will ensure that everyone, at all levels of the organisation understands what they need to do. This, in turn, will keep the whole operation on track.
If you have existing systems for accounting, payroll and other back office functions, you will need to ensure that the MRP system you choose is able to integrate with these and exchange data with them. You can, of course, look at replacing these over time and introducing a fully integrated system. However, few smaller organisations will relish the upheaval of changing the entire business as they implement an MRP solution.
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