In our last post, we went over what makes machinery manufacturers different from high volume manufacturers, and therefore, why they need a different ERP solution. Now let’s look at a few critical functionalities that a machinery manufacturer’s ERP should include.
Engineering is Tightly Integrated with Operations
As we mentioned last post, these machine projects include near-constant changes with the Bills of Material. Take the following scenario for example. One morning, the engineers on a project suddenly notice that something is missing in their product design, and they have to add a few new part numbers to build the material. Since the initial Bill of Material was already released to Planning and Operations, these new parts are not immediately available, the manufacturer now has to design them and make them.
Engineers should be able to see whether any actual purchases or production are already in process for the assembly change, are avoiding the “over the wall” approach, and making sure the business process is at maximum collaboration. This close integration is the most fundamental ERP system requirement for machinery manufacturers, and it saves a substantial amount of time and money. But most of all, it provides clarity in an information-dense engineering/production environment where chances for confusion and misunderstanding are very high.
Real-Time Cost Control
It’s always vital to be able to monitor a project’s costs to make sure it’s not going off the rails. Each manufacturing project has unknowns and uncertainties. The manufacturer should know at all times what is being spent in both time and costs while the project is progressing, and this means tracking design and manufacturing hours and expenses. With most ERP systems, the manufacturer is only able to see the costs from the shop floor after after the project is complete. Knowing how many hours it took to weld something during the process can help prevent unforeseen expenses or even a design problem. On the other hand, it’s always possible that the engineering team designed something that cannot be produced, so it has to go back to the engineering drawing board. It’s only possible to catch these junctures if the ERP system can show every aspect of cost control with a project.
This kind of cost insight becomes even more critical if the manufacturer has to outsource parts of the project. With typical ERP, there often isn’t cost visibility when it comes to outsourcing, which can lead to cost conflicts down the line. If the cost was visible to all parties involved, mistakes could easily be caught and corrected.
Functionality organized for the user
An essential characteristic of the system is easy accessibility to the most critical tasks that the user faces. No matter the complexity of a user’s daily tasks, the ERP system should seamlessly work with them to present the most relevant tasks. Over the years, ERP software designers have become much more aware of how a user uses the system, how they spend their time looking at a screen, or, as we see in most cases, how they use two screens. In particular, Microsoft has done some great things with designing workspaces and virtual desks for the user to customize and plan for their individual users.
Additionally, our users feel that Microsoft understands what their workday consists of and the functionality the software needs to get their projects completed on time. In the earlier days, all of the features were there, but you could never really figure out which tasks required immediate attention. Back then, there wasn’t any data crunching in the background to give users and managers a calculated priority list, which is something that machinery manufacturers need the most, especially since their projects shift priorities constantly.
Does your ERP system do all these things for your machinery manufacturing business? If not, please reach out to us at any time and let us show you what we can do with a customized ERP solution ideal for your machinery manufacturer’s ERP needs.