ERP Must-Haves for Discrete Manufacturing
Just because you’ve made the decision to implement ERP doesn’t mean the choices end there. In fact, selecting your vendor can be one of the most difficult stages of ERP implementation. You go to Google, you talk to colleagues and wander around vendor websites for what seems like an eternity. 500 different options and phone calls with salespeople later, you’re no closer to figuring out which enterprise resource planning system will give you the most success at the price point you’re looking for. And with cloud-based Software as a Service (SaaS) ERP systems slowly gaining momentum on the market, more and more options have emerged that can have faster installation times and be more budget friendly. The choices are endless.
The truth is, the search engines and word-of-mouth just won’t be able to pinpoint the perfect manufacturing ERP for your specific business. It’s imperative you avoid getting caught up in all the sales talk and rushing a decision just to have it done with. You’ll need to go through extensive modeling of your own business processes and needs before you really know what to look for in an ERP platform. However, there are some basic discrete manufacturing ERP requirements that you should be looking for when selecting your new software. Once you’ve gone through our discrete manufacturing ERP checklist, download our ERP selection guide to get the lowdown on the top ERP vendors and their key features, so you can start filtering down your list of systems!
Being able to schedule and track operations on your shop floor from a single system allows you to use your production lines as efficiently as possible. If you know you have an upcoming significant order for a certain product, for example, you’ll want to set aside the time and machinery necessary to fulfill your order and then rearrange your other operations around this. A robust production scheduling function also means less wear and tear on your equipment, and less money spent on upkeep and replacement of machinery. The most successful discrete manufacturing ERP will have sophisticated scheduling modules that can be integrated quickly and smoothly into your current production processes, while also providing your production managers insight into how those processes can be streamlined for efficiency.
Supply Chain Visibility
As a discrete manufacturer, you’ll deal with specific parts that must be built from either raw materials or assembled from products bought from other manufacturers. The modern supply chain can be dense, spread out over multiple borders and passed through many hands before it ever reaches a consumer. This multiplication of links and locations can often make the supply chain weaker and less communicative overall. Recalls may never make it back to the source, or businesses may not be able to achieve consistent quality from suppliers. However, with a specialized discrete manufacturing ERP system, it’s entirely possible to achieve vital transparency in your supply chain. Bar code checks, scanning systems and universal tracking across facilities are all available on the ERP market. Your business can radically transform the way you deal with and operate within your supply chain, and you should be looking for them in any system on your shortlist.
When receiving product and shipping it to your clients form a critical core of your business, a sharp inventory management strategy is crucial to discrete manufacturing success. Good inventory strategy will look to trim out not only the amount of product you have sitting around your warehouse, but also the goods being unnecessarily shipped out only to be returned or to sit on shelves. Excess inventory and shipment can cost you a good chunk of money in storage, carrying costs and the employees you need to care for the inventory. By gathering all your inventory and shipment data into a single source of truth, a discrete manufacturing ERP system can make it infinitely easier to track product. You’ll know where it is, where it needs to be and how demand for the product might fluctuate over time so that you can plan your warehouse needs accordingly.
Support for Unique Processes
Your business will already have a unique set of systems and specifications in place, whether it’s as broad as your employee structure or as specific as detailed workflows, such as your facility's method of operating a certain packaging line. There’s no one specific discrete manufacturing ERP that will be the best fit for every single business—and it’s better that way. Discrete manufacturers may all be making something specific, in some capacity, but they all have different methods of making their products. In the same way, no one ERP system can fit this wide range of processes—thus the wide variety of options on the market.
It’s critical that when going through the selection process that you don’t just go for the cheapest or most convenient option, expecting that easy customizations can be made to get your discrete manufacturing ERP to fit your business. Customizations are usually complex, require in-depth knowledge of software and will often require outside expertise. They should usually be reserved for necessary changes and workflows that are crucial and would not be supported by a best-fit system already. In other words, dive deep into both your business and your ERP options before making any decision. A thorough and successful business process modeling project will identify every single task and workflow that will be related in any capacity to the ERP system, and then produce specific requirements that the discrete manufacturing ERP will need to support them.
Discrete manufacturing ERP can be extremely powerful, pulling together operations and making the whole unit stronger. However, this kind of synchronicity can’t happen if you’re not selecting an ERP with the right traits for your business. Don’t get caught up in the sales pitch and the flashy demos. Make sure that you fully understand what you need out of a discrete manufacturing ERP solution in general, and what specific features you need for your business processes. Only after truly mapping out your entire business, and the role that ERP will play in it, can you begin selecting the right discrete manufacturing ERP.
If you are looking for help during the discrete manufacturing ERP selection process, contact an expert at Datix today! We have 20 years of ERP experience and are business process modeling experts for discrete manufacturers. In addition, we earned Epicor Platinum Partner status, making us the premier Epicor ERP project consultants. Datix can help you truly understand your business and the software you’ll need to support it.