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. After searching Google, talking to colleagues or emailing different providers, you might still feel like you're no closer to finding your ideal solution. The only way to find the right fit for your enterprise without taking forever is to focus on your unique business needs. Centering your ERP selection on your industry demands will allow you to create a checklist of software must-haves and quickly narrow your options.
If you're a discrete manufacturer, there are some specific ERP requirements you should be on the lookout for. Use our list of ERP must-haves for discrete manufacturers to get closer to finding your new solution!
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 a large order for a certain product in the near future, 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. ERP software gives you the flexibility and control to quickly reschedule your processes in order to meet customer demands.
A robust production scheduling function also means less wear and tear on your equipment, which means 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. Additionally, ERP grants production managers insight into how those processes can be streamlined for greater productivity.
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 in the ERP market to generate real-time insights. Modern software solutions include sophisticated BI tools and data analytics, so you can stay up to date on quality assurance, lean metrics, OEE and other KPIs that enhance decision making. These features can radically transform the way you run your supply chain, and you should be looking for them in any system on your shortlist.
When receiving and shipping products serve as the core of your business, a sharp inventory management strategy is crucial to discrete manufacturing success. A strong 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 labor.
By gathering all your inventory and shipment data into a single solution, 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, from your employee structure to detailed workflows. There isn't one discrete manufacturing ERP solution that will be the best fit for every single business—and it’s better that way. Discrete manufacturers share similar needs, but each has a different method of making products. No one ERP system can fit this wide range of requirements, 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. The most affordable option might not be the one that will generate the most ROI. In fact, it could fail to support your operations at all. Instead, look for one that not only supports many of your core requirements out of the box but can also be easily customized to align with the nuances of your processes.
Epicor has a reputation for flexibility, allowing manufacturers to configure the software to their unique needs. Its customization engine allows businesses to make changes with clicks rather than code. This simplifies software modification, so you aren't spending exorbitant amounts of time and money on painstaking customizations. Epicor understands that the strength of any ERP lies in its ability to support each company's specific goals.
Discrete manufacturing ERP can be extremely powerful, pulling together operations and strengthening enterprise performance. 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 over 20 years of experience in ERP projects and business process modeling for discrete manufacturers. In addition, we earned Epicor Gold Partner status, making us among the elite in ERP consulting. Datix can help you truly understand your business and the software you’ll need to support it.