ERP Consultants Rescue a Small Manufacturer
Have you ever felt stuck with a process that was clearly not working but feared the solution would be too expensive? This is the dilemma that far too many small to midsize manufacturers face. However, with a fresh set of eyes, the right analysis process and a dash of creativity, the solution may be more attainable than you think.
To prove our point, we’re recounting one of our client success stories. A small, private manufacturer was struggling to produce parts for several regional and national customers. While their product quality was superb, their order fulfillment process was inefficient and prevented optimal utilization of machine capacity. They needed to find a cost-effective method of improving their Epicor ERP software to address this issue.
Below, we explain how our ERP consultants put their Epicor expertise to the test to solve this client’s pain points.
Broken Manufacturing Process
Ideally, an order would be received, processed and then correctly assigned to a machine based on the size of the order and the capability of each machine. This would occur within the quote or order dashboard screens in the ERP solution.
However, the client’s Epicor setup didn’t include an auto-assigning feature that gave production engineers correct order size attributes as they set machines to run. The customer service team used Epicor quote and order dashboards to receive and process orders. Then, they processed orders and sent them to production engineers without either the order size or the correct machine included in the order. This required engineers to evaluate each order as it came to the floor, and they were assigning orders based on their best estimates of the order size.
As a result, machines that should have been running continuously were halted each time the engineer manually assigned a job from customer service to a machine. Also, order sizes were not corresponding with the ideal machine use. Small orders were being assigned to the machine with the longest set-up time and delays were occurring as the larger orders were put on hold.
Sounds bad, but Epicor has some easy fixes for this problem. The ability to auto-assign is available through two options:
- Product configurator: Epicor 10 includes one of the most robust product configurators (PC) on the market. The tool adds flexibility and accuracy to manufacturing by automating many phases of the order customization process. It’s typically added by larger manufacturers or those with more complex production lines. This add-on was a great fit for one of our furniture manufacturing clients, because their products have extensive variations.
- Advanced planning and scheduling: This extension to the scheduling engine offers additional functionality, such as visual drag-and-drop scheduling and drill down for multi-level assemblies. It gives manufacturers greater control and visibility in production planning. This feature is often used for multi-plant communication, as it coordinates interdependent plant schedules.
However, while great for many manufacturers, these out-of-the-box add-ons were too expensive for our client’s needs. So what ended up working for our client?
The Winning Solution
Through our detailed process, we mapped their business, compiled a specific use case and arrived at a straightforward, yet powerful solution to auto-assign parts to the correct machine. Using a simple customization of their current Epicor implementation, we added a “Get Revision” button to the existing sales order and quote entry screens. (A revision is simply a variation on a part. In our client’s case, revisions are primarily defined by the quantity of the order, but also include shape and part size.)
Now when an order is received by customer service, they press the “Get Revision” button to update all their records. Epicor assigns the part order to the correct machine. With this custom solution, customer service and production teams now have confidence that the correct machines are being assigned to the correct orders, requiring less coordination, delays and ad hoc decision-making. Better allocation also means better use of existing machine capacity. This straightforward customization made an important contribution to our client’s overall efficiency—without breaking the bank.
Epicor is a leading solution that covers 97 percent of manufacturing functions, far surpassing average ERP systems. However, the truth is that every business is different, and it’s rare for any ERP solution to fully cover all your needs out of the box. Therefore, small manufacturers must uncover ways of aligning their software to their goals at an affordable price.
The expert consultants at Datix can make that happen. A certified Epicor partner, we live and breathe ERP. If we can’t find an affordable solution, we’ll make one that works just for you. Datix has offered custom software solutions and services for businesses of all sizes for over 20 years. You can trust us to fix your pain points without killing your budget.