Carsten Pedersen, Senior Executive at UXC Eclipse explains the importance for process manufacturers to use technology to achieve efficiency, best practice and success.
By relying on technology solutions, manufacturers can ensure end-to-end traceability, effective quality management of materials and end products, and complete visibility across the manufacturing process and supply chain.
The process that is used to create a product presents manufacturers with a number of challenges.
For example, products that are consumed and used by the general public have to comply with strict government regulations, requiring manufacturers to effectively manage their raw materials, the quality of their product and traceability throughout the entire manufacturing process.
Manufacturers are additionally under pressure to continuously optimise capacity, reduce operating costs, satisfy ever-changing customer requirements and manage supply chain dynamics associated with raw material costs and time-to-market deliverables.
Four ways ERP can help process manufacturers achieve best practice in process control
1. Effectively manage formulation, packaging and pricing
The order network functionality in ERP software provides process manufacturers with a hierarchically-structured overview that displays the logistical interconnection of sales orders and the dependent manufacturing and purchase orders. An important controlling agent for coordination and planning, this function allows for early detection of possible production variances such as missing raw materials or insufficient machine capacity, leading to optimised on-time delivery performance and reduced inventory.
Production simulation can help test the impact of an item’s production directly from a sales order providing an overview of times, component quantities and their availability in the inventory without any influence on current production planning.
During delivery, production and distribution of specific items, deviations between the expected and the actual amounts can occur. These deviations are only acceptable within pre-defined delivery tolerances. The right ERP software provides functionalities that control these over-and under-deliveries in the purchasing department as well as during production and sales. A default tolerance can be determined for every item, which will be automatically adopted during the acquisition of sales and purchase order lines.
2. Improve quality management throughout your processes
ERP software lets process manufacturers freely allocate a status to each product that can be re-defined as required. For example, settings can be included that can prevent delivery to the customer or its use in the production process, which means that only products that comply will be sent to the customer. Locked products can also be removed from the demand calculation.
Templates with questions and possible answers can also be integrated into every stage of the process. These checklists provide the user with simple documentation of all standardised tests. Upper and lower limits for measurements values can be managed and compared with test results. Reports expedite a centralised overview of the results.
3. Track batches from point of origin to the consumer
ERP software can guarantee continuous lot administration, even if lots are fused. With a centralised information form it is possible to navigate through the complete system and, if necessary, create branches leading to individual documents. This lot traceability offers an overview of the complete production and delivery line making it easy to comprehend where a certain lot was delivered, which raw material lots were used during production and to whom they were delivered.
The display of several trading units of a product in one item or even in several items is possible with ERP software. Through filling and refilling orders, new trading units can be automatically generated or passed on to the respective departments.
ERP software can automatically pass on the lot number of products to subsequent lots in procedural, bottling or packaging processes. Also, the cutting and bottling of the finished product is integrated into the lot and serial number administration and is user-friendly.
4. Gain better control over production scheduling
ERP software offers extensive and comprehensive functionalities to set up and configure production structures, recipes, bills of materials (BOMs) and routings. The production structure can provide a single overview form for the registration of all necessary materials and procedural steps in accordance with the method of production BOM. Routing lines no longer need to be connected individually and can be automatically correlated.
BOM information is among the most important data structures that production companies have to track and maintain. When a certain item is produced, the ordering of material or its gathering from the inventory is ultimately based on the BOMs.
While BOMs generally refer to a discrete final product, recipes are the basis for the manufacturing of certain quantities of a process product. Recipes can be stored in the system either in percentage or proportionate terms. Main recipes with additional parts are recalculated automatically. Recipes can be entered manually or derived from the production structure. BOMs and recipes may also be used in combination, as is needed for bottling or packaging processes.
A routing describes the production process relating to the individual work steps, including respective work and setup times analogous to the BOM. The necessary raw materials and corresponding quality checks or tools and inserts can be assigned for every operation through according allocations. Lead and setup times can be configured within the system independent from the routings. This includes fixed lead times, for example for mixers and dryers.
Taking into account freely-defined planning parameters, the integrated sequencer in ERP software can be used to minimise setup times while optimising use and transparency of production processes.
The core piece of the optimisation of the right ERP software is machine scheduling that can display complete production lines while also allowing for observation and planning directly at the machine. Orders can be easily postponed or moved from one machine to another as a whole or split into multiple parts. Time, tools and resources are considered automatically in this process. With one simple function, several similar orders can be combined into one.
The right ERP software can help administer the complete path from an idea or customer order to the finished product. Without having to set up all items, a development department can compare recipes, perform calculations, record assumptions and create manufacturing orders while accounting for purchase requirements. All process stages can also be subjected to a cost analysis to ascertain a new product’s profitability.