Buying the proper ERP software for your process or discrete manufacturer is as overwhelming as buying a new car because there are so many bells and whistles to choose from. You need a system that meets your specific criteria – no more, no less. It’s crucial to understand what type of manufacturer you are and how you run your business, so you can choose the most accurate ERP system that aligns with your needs. Let’s review and break down discrete vs process manufacturing and how ERP systems enhance them.
The Process of Process Manufacturing
Similar to cooking your favorite dish or assembling Lego sets, process manufacturing operates in sequential steps that lead to the finished goods or products. Process manufacturing takes natural materials and turns them into finished products. For instance, a warehouse specializing in making brownies could use special fudge, butter, eggs and flour as raw materials. Once finished, the product can’t be disassembled to its original state due to thermal or chemical conversion (i.e., heat, time or pressure).
Other industries that employ process manufacturing include oil and gas, pharmaceuticals, plastics and metals.
Essential Features for Process Manufacturing ERP systems
There are many features to mull over as you choose the best process manufacturing ERP system for your manufacturer. Here are some popular features to consider:
Quarantine Contaminated Batches
Process manufacturers typically test their materials in batches. But let’s say the batter for your special white chocolate brownies is a buttery yellow instead of that creamy white texture you were hoping for. Granted, this could be the right color for a new butter brownie look, but it’s not the high-end white chocolate brownie you’re aiming for. Your process ERP product can assist you in quarantining your batter and ensuring that you don’t mistakenly use it for another batch of brownies.
Drum Up Specific Decimals
Process manufacturing requires you to follow a particular process or set of instructions to create a product. A particular process may require exact measurements of ingredients or materials.
Let’s say you need 0.00000079 ounces of vanilla extract for your fudge-vanilla brownies. How can you generate this exact decimal? A process manufacturing ERP system applies a formula that is formatted for one specific unit (e.g., ounces, pounds, liters, etc.). This formula can seamlessly mesh with various batches or production sizes, drumming up a request of up to eight or more decimal places of a specific ingredient.
Developing quality product formulas to regulate calculations is no sweat for high-caliber process manufacturing ERP software. If your analyst inputs new calculations into the system, the process ERP software automatically recalculates, keeping all of your data up-to-date. Let’s say you have a new ratio of ingredients for your classic brownie recipe that’ll enhance the chocolatey taste (eight pounds of fudge for every two ounces of sugar). You input this into your system and the process ERP will automatically update it from your previous ratio input.
Wish you could chronicle the breakdown of all your ingredients in each of your unique brownie recipes? Wish granted. Your process ERP system can monitor the percentage of each ingredient for all of your brownie recipes, whether one recipe calls for 85% coconut water or another asks for 45% cream cheese.
Reduce Machinery Interruptions
You just perfected that new bubblegum and caramel taffy brownie, but the ingredients don’t mix well at extremely hot temperatures causing an explosion. Now you must stop production to clean up goopy caramel and bubblegum off your floors, walls and equipment. Wasted materials, spills and other factors that cause halts in production can be annoying, but it’s part of the manufacturing business.
To combat wasted ingredients and interruptions in production, your process ERP system can observe production techniques and pinpoint opportunities to dwindle waste and interruptions in machinery. This system can also generate thorough production strategies to boost productivity and confirm decaying ingredients are used before they expire.
Dissecting Discrete Manufacturing
When comparing process vs discrete manufacturing, it’s important to know that discrete manufacturing follows a nonparallel model to construct a finished product such as cars, chairs, desks, smartphones and the like. Production is broken up into pieces and pulls everything together at the end. For example, the engine of a car is created in Detroit while the side and rearview mirrors are created in Miami and the leather seats are created in Houston.
Some industries that utilize discrete manufacturing are aerospace and defense, automotive, electronics and consumer goods.
Essential Features of a Discrete Manufacturing ERP
A discrete manufacturing ERP system possesses various features such as product tracking, creating detailed product plans and more. The key is finding the exact capabilities that benefit your own individual discrete manufacturer.
Keeps Bookkeeping Simple
Contrasting methods in recording part numbers can result in one piece assigned to two different numbers or two different parts assigned to the same number in your system. Discrete ERP systems with immediate updating features can automate the sorting of parts and prevent future inconsistencies in your records. If you have similar motherboards for different laptop models, your discrete ERP system can differentiate them by name, size, features or by other product-specific factors, sparing you confusion or accidental misplacement.
Generates Product Plans
You have a prototype gold and platinum laptop with state-of-the-art high-speed processors and new security enhancements that scan the user’s retinas. You want to make sure these features pass all of your tests with flying colors. Discrete ERP software can create planning reports that record the progress of your laptop.
Your discrete ERP software can also assist you in determining whether to create or buy individual components needed for your laptops by calculating the labor of building versus the cost of buying. Would it be beneficial to purchase special infrared-reading technology for your retina scanners or could you build them with the materials you already have at your facility? Your discrete ERP system can tell you.
Contends with Machinery
Before advanced software kept track of various manufacturing machinery and tools, such as packing machinery or welding equipment, workers had to recall them from memory, which, as you can imagine, slowed production time. It was also common that workers forgot about certain tools because there were so many.
Nowadays, there are advanced solutions that can tell you which tools you need for certain phases of production. Some discrete ERP products can even tell you when your machinery needs replacements.
Clarifies Product Tracking
It’s a grueling task to keep track of the raw gear and assembled products that go in and out of various establishments before finally reaching the customer. A discrete ERP product with scanning systems, barcode checks and versatile tracking across multiple facilities brings more visibility to your supply chain. For example, you’ll know that the motherboard of your laptop is made at Warehouse A in Arkansas, while your keyboard and monitor are made at Warehouse F in Connecticut and will ship to Warehouse K in Colorado to make the final laptop.
Schedules Shop Floor Production
Scheduling operations on your shop floor with a discrete ERP system gives you the opportunity to use your production lines to their full potency. For instance, if you have a big order for a laptop in the future, you can use your discrete ERP system to prime your time and machinery required to meet the order, as well as adjust your current operations.
Scheduling modules can also deplete wear-and-tear on your machinery by ensuring that you’re not using your machinery for longer durations than you should and alert you when it’s time to replace a part or conduct routine maintenance, saving you from unexpected repairs or replacement fees.
When comparing discrete vs process manufacturing, there’s no one-size-fits-all ERP system with every thinkable gadget and gizmo. A process ERP that ciphers percentages, quarantine batches, drums up specific decimals and regulates your calculations may be what you need. Or a discrete ERP that maintains all of your machinery, clarifies product tracking, simplifies your bookkeeping processes and drafts product plans could tickle your fancy. Whatever you decide, just know that your ERP system should meet the specific criteria of your manufacturer to enhance productivity, not worsen it.
How has software enhanced your process or discrete manufacturing practices? Let us know in the comments.