Even established manufacturing companies can find themselves with multiple cobbled together by separate business technology solutions. This setup worked for the early stages and may continue to work in the short term but every manufacturer comes to an inevitable conclusion when extensive workarounds from outdated system functions can’t support current needs. Systems that aren’t able to communicate with one another can represent a significant hindrance to operations, so how are today’s successful manufacturers keeping their competitive edge?
Manufacturing Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software solves many of the challenges faced by manufacturing companies who need to reduce costs, increase productivity and streamline processes. ERP systems improve communication between departments and let manufacturing companies share important production-related data with internal staff as well as with vendors, suppliers, and distributors.
There are many different features offered by ERP systems, but not all are focused on the unique needs of manufacturing businesses. Here are a few ERP must-haves for manufacturers:
Supply Chain Management
Supply chain management and visibility obviously play a critical role in every manufacturing operation. Whether specific items are built from raw materials or assembled from products brought in from other manufacturers, having readily available, simultaneous production and shipping data greatly reduce data rekeying and manual workarounds.
Manufacturing ERP has built-in supply chain management capabilities which help manufacturers get the most out of their supply chain, including:
- Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)
- Automate workflow and transactions
- Improve supply chain efficiency
- Reduce overhead and operational costs
- Decrease errors and bottlenecks
- Flexibility to meet changing market demands
- Improve customer service and customer retention
Automating AP allows manufacturers to pursue strategic initiatives by enabling more precise cash management, improved supplier relations, and better business intelligence, significantly contributing to the bottom line.
Manufacturer ERP solutions can streamline the day-to-day mission-critical tasks by automating AP operations and giving organizations better access to data as well as the ability to review invoices and process workflows automatically. Manufacturing ERP systems help:
- Increase payment speeds
- Free skilled employees from menial tasks
- AP transparency
Having asset management in your ERP solution helps you to track your physical assets and usually focuses on the hardware side of a manufacturing company, such as equipment and machinery.
With ERP’s asset management module, manufacturers are able to maximize their investments as well as:
- Reduce costs and risks
- Maximize return on investment / assets
- Get accurate monitoring and reporting
- Get faster tracking and improved predictability
Shipping and receiving raw materials and/or inventory stands at the core of every manufacturing business, so having a precise inventory management strategy is crucial. For manufacturing companies, excess inventory can cost money in storage, carrying costs and labor. With these holding costs, manufacturing companies need to trim the amount of inventory sitting on the shelves or in the warehouse.
Manufacturing ERP systems make it easier to track product by gathering all your inventory and shipment data into a single solution. Materials are easy to pinpoint to get them where they need to be and demand-forecasting helps you plan your warehouse needs accordingly.
Manufacturers benefit from inventory controls in many ways which include:
- Maintaining appropriate stock levels
- Identifying inventory requirements
- Monitoring item usages
- Reconciling the inventory balances
- Reporting inventory status
It’s important to fully understand your organization’s needs from a manufacturing ERP and what specific features you need for your business processes. Once you’ve mapped out your entire operation and the role that ERP will play in it, you can you begin selecting the right manufacturing ERP.