What is Discrete Manufacturing?

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Discrete manufacturing is a manufacturing practice that operates with bill of materials (BOM) to make individual parts of a product. The pieces are then merged together to form the final product at the end of production. Let’s learn more about discrete manufacturing such as its distinct qualities, trends, benefits and the manufacturing ERP software features that streamline its operations.

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Discrete Manufacturing Features

What is Discrete Manufacturing?

First, let’s define discrete manufacturing. It’s a manufacturing process that does not follow sequential steps or formulas to develop products. Typically, discrete manufacturing has several worksites throughout the country or world that makes separate parts of a product and each part comes together at the end of production to make the finished product. For example, if you own a camera factory, your branch in Texas may make the body of the camera, while your company in Missouri makes the lenses, your plant in Florida makes the camera bags and so on down the line.

Unlike process manufacturing, the raw materials of a product produced from discrete manufacturing can return to their original state or become recyclable. The raw materials are typically assembled with nails, nuts and bolts instead of convection. Some of the industries served are automotive, aerospace and aviation and electronics amongst others.

What is Process Manufacturing?

Process manufacturing, on the other hand, works in a sequential or formulaic methodology to create batches of products at one worksite. For instance, a pizzeria is an example of process manufacturing because it works with specific recipes and prepares pizzas in steps like making the dough, making the sauce, pouring sauce on the dough, adding particular toppings and placing it in the oven to cook. Process manufacturing usually executes some form of thermal convection such as heat, freezing and more to transform raw materials into the finished merchandise. Unlike discrete manufacturing, a product’s raw materials cannot be converted to its original state or become recyclable.

A typical process manufacturing ERP can cipher specific decimals of ingredients needed for a particular ingredient or product as well as detect if certain batches are contaminated so you can quarantine them. Some industries that implement process manufacturing include food and beverage, oil and gas, plastics and metals amongst others.

What Is Discrete Manufacturing?

Trends

Every industry experiences new trends and technology to streamline their productivity. Discrete manufacturing is no exception. The internet of things (IoT), leveraging your supply chain, cloud-based technologies and reviewing business intelligence (BI) are only a few of the latest trends on the rise.

IoT Keeps the Connection

IoT is defined as connecting various tools and machinery to the internet in order to receive data and insights in real-time. This can be useful for drilling, milling, turning and lathe machines within the shop because you can review their performance and determine whether or not it’s in need of maintenance. IoT can also be useful if you need to pinpoint the exact location of finished products. If you want to ensure your cameras arrive at a specific warehouse or store, you could install IoT in each camera or on the trucks the cameras are in to ensure you’re meeting your distribution schedule while also staying on top of suspicious activity.

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Govern Your Supply Chain

Maintaining your supply chain is crucial in discrete manufacturing. If you don’t have your eyes peeled for discrepancies within production, resources, people and more can go unchecked, which can hurt your enterprise in the long-run. Investing in a supply chain management solution or a discrete ERP that offers a supply chain management module comes with a string of benefits such as:

  • Boosting your logistics
  • Depleting expenses throughout your organization
  • Streamlining the allocation of goods and materials from point A to point B
  • Monitoring data on routine practices
  • Evaluating and maintaining supplier relationships
  • And more!

Implementing the Cloud

Integrating cloud computing software is another trend on the rise. Cloud programs have several perks to on-premise solutions. For one, you don’t have to worry about storing your essential documents, files and data on a physical computer. Once it’s in the cloud, it’s accessible from any computer or mobile device with a reliable internet connection. Next, most cloud vendors offer extra security with their solutions including two-step authentication and other measures to protect your information. Some cloud systems are cheaper than on-premise ones when it comes to implementation. Lastly, you may also work with your vendor to add needed features and updates.

Adopting BI

Last, but not least, adding BI to your discrete manufacturing software can give you full visibility of your KPIs and logistics to pinpoint any bottlenecks within your operations. Investing in a BI solution or a discrete manufacturing ERP with a BI apparatus has its advantages such as:

  • Generating reports that display intel on costs, procedures, personnel and client relations
  • Constructing comprehensive visualizations of data like graphs, charts, videos, infographics, animations and more
  • Assisting you in making sound business decisions and negotiations by offering you all the right information and analytics to validate your propositions
  • Taking over recurring duties such as arranging information, de-duplicating entries and more so you and your team can focus on high-caliber tasks

Benefits

As you mull over whether or not to shop for new discrete manufacturing software, there are extraordinary benefits that come with it:

  • Enhanced customer service
  • Increased productivity
  • Boosted quality of raw materials and products
  • Diminished downtime in machinery
  • Strengthened supplier relationships

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Upkeep Customer Satisfaction

Keeping your customers satisfied should be the endgame you want to reach because they determine if your products are worthwhile or not. They also determine how much revenue your company earns. When browsing for your discrete manufacturing ERP, make sure that it comes with a customer relationship management (CRM) apparatus or it integrates with your existing CRM software. A proper CRM tool can showcase accurate customer information as well as order status, merchandise details and progress reports. It can also keep your customer data and information organized accordingly and even extend exact sales predictions.

Upkeep Customer Satisfaction

An example of a discrete manufacturing ERP’s CRM accessory.

Escalate Productivity

Most ERP software is equipped with real-time KPI dashboards to show any potential hangups in production. For discrete manufacturing, they offer a real-time snapshot of operations such as providers, transportation costs, market demand and competitors amongst others with an automatic data capture (ADC) tool.

Keep Quality a High Priority

Making high-quality merchandise for your clients should always be your top priority. High-quality products equal satisfied clients. A quality management attribute on a discrete manufacturing ERP can assure your products are in tip-top shape with detailed verification and corrective action components to avoid defects for current and future jobs as well as compliance control to ensure you’re meeting standard manufacturing regulations. Most quality management accessories also contain a statistical process control (SPC) function. This tool gauges a process’ output by locating small but statistically relevant modifications so corrections can be executed before defects happen.

Decrease Downtime in Machinery

The worst feeling in the world is when you’re in the middle of producing 200 individual orders for telephoto lenses and the arm that attaches the glass to your lens breaks down in the middle of production. Now you’re behind on your order because you have to spend anywhere from half an hour to two hours or more evaluating the problem and getting the mechanical arm fixed. Preventative maintenance scheduling and alert modules can notify you when it’s time to conduct routine maintenance work and checks to ensure your machines don’t unexpectedly conk out on you as you’re completing a project.

Sustain Supplier Associations

A discrete manufacturing software with performance and history analytics can come in handy, especially when it comes to evaluating the reliability of your vendors. For example, if you find that Vendors A, B and D have more sales throughout the year while Vendors C, E, F and G only have adequate sales in the summer months, you may want to stick with Vendors A, B and D as your top sellers, so you are able to eliminate pitfalls and increasing your organization’s revenue.

Key Features

Similar to other manufacturing software, discrete manufacturing solutions have its own unique set of accessories. However, there are a handful of common features to consider when shopping for this type of program. Understand that common features aren’t one size fits all for all enterprises. The top discrete manufacturing features include BOM, inventory and serial number management.

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Generate and Store BOMs

Discrete manufacturing relies heavily on BOMs because it offers a thorough list of pieces, assemblies, materials and more in order to complete an order. BOM management appliances can automatically transform orders into BOMs and permit you to make adjustments as necessary. You can also store BOMs for recordkeeping as well as duplicate specific ones.

Monitor Inventory

Having an eye on your inventory helps you stay in the know of which materials you have on your work site in addition to other sites. Typical inventory management features alert you when you are running low on stock. It’s feasible for you to also establish minimum stock levels for each item with certain inventory management tools so when you reach those levels, you’ll know it’s time to replenish your supply.

Monitor Inventory

An example of a discrete manufacturing ERP’s work order module.

Zero-In on Serial Numbers

Locating certain camera body models, lenses or other accessories that are in or out of your plant can be as difficult as finding a needle in a haystack. But if your parts and products contain serial numbers, you can use a serial number management function to effortlessly pinpoint them. This trait should also find variations of parts such as color or size and would come in handy in case of a product recall.

Final Thoughts

Discrete manufacturing comes with many trends and unique qualities that separate it from process manufacturing. Discrete manufacturing ERP also comes with various features and benefits as described above. When searching for the right ERP, be sure that it aligns with your organization’s needs. If you’re interested in more types of manufacturing software or features, please review our intricate comparison guide.

How do you operate your discrete manufacturing practices? Which discrete manufacturing features and benefits are you most interested in and why? Any that we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments?

Khaleel HayesWhat is Discrete Manufacturing?

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