BUSINESS PROCESS IMPROVEMENT

Driving Transformation: Enterprise Technology Systems for Complex Manufacturing

Ultra’s team of independent ERP consultants is regularly called upon to discuss the needs of project teams looking to drive business process improvement in their organization.

For those companies that produce highly engineered products with long product cycle times and multiple levels of subassemblies, it pays to look closely at features needed in enterprise technology systems for complex manufacturing.

As I noted in my first blog post in this series entitled ERP in Complex Manufacturing – Key Considerations for Success,” enterprise technology systems for complex manufacturing can be as complex as the manufacturing processes.   Systems should streamline a company’s ability to track manufacturing history down to each serialized product unit.

Companies producing products in vertical industries such as aerospace and defense, specialized industrial equipment, electronics and other areas are especially challenged by multiple Bills of Material and Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) business functions.

Questions About Enterprise Technology Systems for Complex Manufacturing

As a place to start, project teams can work through the following questions to help set their requirements as related to enterprise systems for complex manufacturing:

  • How difficult is it to manage the complex configurations and what would you like to see improved?
  • I suspect you are being forced to respond to fast changes in customer requirements. How does this impact your ability to deliver on time?
    • How does your existing ERP software help you scale production up or down quickly as the demand changes in real time?
  • Managing inventory is very tricky. How well is your company managing parts and sub-assemblies and what improvements would you like to see?

What are the Rules for Selecting an ERP in Complex Manufacturing?

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Requirements: Enterprise Systems for Complex Manufacturing

We’ve worked through ERP services with many companies, and have come to find that complex manufacturers are best served by ERP offering features that provide analysis, RFPs, tooling, QC requirements and pricing.

Ease of use is also important. Complex manufacturing demands a more intuitive interface as well as defined protocols, communications and tracking for not only one-off prototypes but also multiple productions runs.

As a complex manufacturer, being able to quickly capture not only design and production constraints but also estimated costs, production flow and time to completion is a needed function.

Connectivity and communication is key for a complex manufacturing ERP. It’s not uncommon that key personnel are mobile and away from their stations. Anytime, anywhere access getting the right information into the hands of those that need it for improved decision making.

Other key requirements include:

  • MTO/CTO features
  • Customer Order Configuration
  • Finite Planning and Scheduling
  • Product Lifecyle Management (PLM)
  • Shop Floor Reporting
  • Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES)
  • Lot Control

Enterprise Technology Systems for Complex Manufacturing – What to Look For

When Ultra’s team of independent ERP consultants helps guide teams to select enterprise technology systems for complex manufacturing, we encourage organizations to seek out modern ERP which provides many high-value features including:

  • An on-line Configurator, which enables variations of features and options and creates “Virtual” BOM’s for Production purposes. This potentially drastically reduces the number of BOM’s and Routings that must be maintained for similar products with multiple features and options.
  • On-Line Document Management – that provides searchable capabilities.
  • Workflow based ECM system (Engineering Change Management) with history of changes and approvals.
  • Supplier Management System that enables Quality Certification and Rules of Supply
  • Cross-Facility Production Management and scheduling
  • Equipment and Service Management for Serial No. based Warranty control
  • Finite Scheduling – for optimized production management

Next Steps

I encourage you to read the first blog post in the series which shared additional thoughts about what impacts ERP in complex manufacturing.

Evaluating how enterprise systems can be used to drive true business process transformation?

Contact Ultra to consider your strategies in the face of a complex manufacturing environment

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Jeff is the founder of Ultra Consultants, a well-known voice in the ERP consulting industry and an expert on ERP solutions for discrete and process manufacturers. Over the last 40-plus years, his companies have helped more than 2,000 organizations improve their business processes, select ERP software and implement advanced solutions.

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