Use ERP to Enforce Lean Six Sigma
Leading manufacturers are constantly on the lookout for ways to decrease waste and improve quality. However, some businesses fail to meet these goals because they refuse to adopt enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. Though ERP is sometimes suspected as a hindrance to lean manufacturing, it actually serves as a valuable tool to cut waste and reduce costs.
This is especially the case when manufacturers align their software with Lean Six Sigma strategies. Lean Six Sigma combines lean manufacturing with Six Sigma principles. Lean principles focus on eliminating eight kinds of waste, or downtime: defects, overproduction, waiting, non-utilized talent, transportation, inventory, motion and extra processing. Six Sigma works to remove the causes of defects by reducing variability in business processes. By following Lean Six Sigma methods, manufacturers become cost-effective and highly efficient.
But without ERP, this level of enterprise performance isn’t feasible. ERP serves as a central hub of data and includes the tracking and analytics tools necessary for eradicating kinks in business processes. Read on to see how the joined power of ERP and Lean Six Sigma can dramatically transform your manufacturing operations.
To err is human, and that’s why it’s critical to automate processes to reduce human errors and variability throughout the supply chain. The more you cut down on manual, rote tasks, the more you cut down on waste and mistakes. ERP integrates back-end activities to enable sophisticated process automation.
For example, rather than assign employees to inspect materials, ERP can automatically inspect materials and even process payments to suppliers. The software can also detect when customers receive orders, so the purchase can automatically be debited from their bank account. Instead of requiring production workers to enter the start time of an operation, an ERP system tracks and updates this information in real time. Simply put, an automated supply chain is an efficient, accurate supply chain. Thus, automating your processes with ERP makes your manufacturing enterprise Lean Six Sigma-friendly.
As important as process automation is to following Lean Six Sigma principles, manufacturers run into roadblocks when they eliminate manual steps or undergo other changes without foregrounding their unique goals and challenges. To improve operations, you must know what needs improvement. That’s why strategies should be founded on precise data about your processes. Measuring and analyzing data serves as a core tenet of Six Sigma, and with ERP, your most valuable metrics are always within reach.
Epicor is a premier ERP vendor because of its wealth of actionable insights. With its Advanced Manufacturing Execution System (MES), users gain real-time data, analysis and root-cause information to identify errors and inefficiencies. The system generates all the metrics you need to detect issues and reduce waste, such as Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE), run rates, scrap and material consumption. Epicor can also leverage information from sensors to pinpoint production problems, so issues can instantly be addressed.
Additionally, Epicor enables users to track the data critical to their day-to-day activities. The flexible Epicor 10 dashboards can be personalized to show relevant charts and data. Homepages also come equipped with business intelligence (BI) tools and key performance indicators (KPIs) to allow users to easily track quality, waste and other metrics necessary for following Lean Six Sigma initiatives.
One method of achieving lean manufacturing standards is establishing Kanban workflows. A Kanban system supports lean initiatives and just-in-time manufacturing through pull production and intense inventory control. Epicor offers an array of Kanban tools to help users carve out waste.
With Epicor, users can control their workflows at a granular level. Whether you want to enact pull production workflows throughout your manufacturing lines or flag specific parts for Kanban control, Epicor makes it easy to maintain production flows in accordance with specific business needs. Additionally, materials can be automatically replenished directly from vendors the second they’re needed. You can also define lean performance metrics to determine areas of wastefulness. Epicor’s Kanban functionality ensures that users always have production data and control right at their fingertips.
Epicor ERP includes a range of powerful, built-in tools, but when they aren’t incorporated into solid business strategies, you can’t expect to reap the full rewards of your investment. Methodologies such as Lean Six Sigma can help you define goals and metrics to maximize the value of your ERP software and hone your manufacturing processes.
At Datix, we possess a sophisticated understanding of both ERP and Lean Six Sigma. An Epicor Gold Partner that has specialized in manufacturing and distribution for over 20 years, we understand our clients’ needs and the role ERP plays in achieving business goals. Our expert consultants offer a large range of services and solutions under one roof to serve all your software requirements.
To get the most from your ERP software, get in touch with Datix today!