If you are a manufacturer in a process-related industry, running the business has never been more challenging. Markets are changing and the global economy is still in a fragile state of recovery, creating the need for better tools to manage operations. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) can play an important role in gaining efficiencies, reducing costs and enabling growth. But not all ERP solutions or ERP implementations are created equal and perhaps your current solution, or lack of a solution is holding you back. If you have been assessing your current situation and educating yourself and your company on the latest applications and technologies available, you might be ready to start shopping for a solution. What do you need to look for and what business decisions are paramount to position you for the maximum business benefits? This four-part series is meant to help you answer those questions, and set you on the path towards building a business case for investment.
Making the leap to ERP for Process Manufacturers (Part 1)
Process manufacturers face many of the same macroeconomic challenges any manufacturer faces today. The cost of materials and transportation are rising, as
well as fuel and energy costs to operate their plants. Customers and consumers have become more demanding; regulatory and compliance requirements are
penetrating every industry. And the global economy is creating new competition in a world which is increasingly “flat”.
Yet manufacturers in process-related industries also face some additional challenges created by the very processing that makes them different from discrete manufacturers. Instead of bills of material, process manufacturers tend to employ recipes or formulas, which may produce co-products and by- products. Generally discrete manufacturers measure production by numeric quantities. A discrete “count” can be very precise and predictable, while process manufacturers typically measure by weight and volume with actual output quantities varying based upon yields achieved. They must deal with the kind of variability that can wreak havoc on the assumptions made by ERP solutions designed for discrete manufacturers.
Bi-directional lot traceability is quickly becoming a necessity as process manufacturers must track materials from suppliers, products delivered to customers, as well as materials anywhere within their manufacturing processes. Those lots have shelf lives and variable attributes associated with them, ranging
from fat and mineral content to potency, all of which have the potential for impacting yield.
These are just some of the needs that create special requirements of ERP. If you must deal with any of these, or have other special needs, then you need
software that was specifically designed to address them. ERP solutions that address these process-related requirements have come a long way since the
genesis of ERP, both in terms of functionality and underlying technology. So the question to ask yourself is this: Are your needs being adequately met
today? Of course there may not be a simple yes or no answer to that question.
You may be getting by with a “work-around” solution. You may be getting product out the door and meeting customer and compliance requirements. But
are you operating efficiently? Could you be at significant risk in the event of a product recall? Is your current solution (or lack thereof) holding you back?
Continued in Part 2