Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) has enabled manufacturing companies to seamlessly scale operations in an increasingly demanding market scenario. Complex manufacturing is a process where the product needs to be configured based on specific customer needs. This means that the process needs to be fine-tuned to suit the specific requirement, where changes are expected in cycle times, Bill of Material (BOM), and possibly the delivery time.
In this setup, each product coming out of the assembly line may be different, thereby requiring additional effort from every department involved. While the batch manufacturing process does not require any intervention, complex manufacturing calls for more attention and detailing; more effort is required to track deviations and approvals.
As part of the growth initiative, most companies execute ERP solutions that enable higher efficiency, better visibility, and faster time-to-market. However, there is equal growth in the number of customers asking for specific variations and configurations, to the extent that complex manufacturing is slowing becoming a norm. Coupled with the need to manage multiple manufacturing scenarios, manufacturers need robust processes that can help plan for uncertainties over time.
Considerations for selecting a suitable ERP partner
Complex manufacturing needs a different approach right from developing prototypes to putting the design to production line. The required ERP solution needs to address the various deviations required from the analysis stage, materials management, up to the drafting of the QC processes. The process requires intuitive interfaces that enable timely communication, and real-time tracking of multiple production runs.
The selected ERP solution must be able to fully implement all the changes the customers require, and be flexible enough to put them into action, in terms of design and specifications. Another important aspect is the ability to rapidly tap into the existing product data and pull out relevant information while working on prototypes or short runs. By enabling manufacturers with the right information at the right time, new designs and quality checks can be seamlessly introduced in accordance with the changes implemented.
In complex manufacturing, there is the need to integrate production data with finance forecasting and analysis. Having the ability to integrate with existing systems used by the manufacturer is certainly an added advantage when it comes to narrowing in on one suitable ERP solution. This feature enables manufacturers to estimate the time and cost for building the prototype, testing, and final approval. Plus, it gives the much-needed impetus to plan for manufacturing schedule and time-to-market.
Service and project life cycle management are also crucial aspects in selecting a suitable ERP solution. The chosen tool needs to provide features for contracts, warranty, and claims management; while also being capable in handling maintenance, repair, and overhaul.
Experience is Critical
However, the most critical consideration is the experience of the ERP vendor in implementing a similar scenario in the same industry segment. It plays a key role in contributing to shortening development cycles and lowering deployment costs. As more and more companies embrace complex manufacturing, selecting a robust solution that encompasses all these features is crucial to driving the bottom-line growth.
If you’re looking for a proactive tailor-made ERP solution to help you rapidly engineer responsive business processes, and adapt to the industry’s evolution and best practices, you’re at the right place. To learn more about what Infor LN can do to improve your complex manufacturing operations, click here.