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How Efficiency’s Made – ERP for the Manufacturing Industry

Over the last few months I’ve been using popular TV shows as the inspiration for looking at how ERP can benefit specific industry sectors. It’s reached the point where I’m starting to get square eyes! Before I get told off for sitting too close to the screen, I thought I’d tackle one last industry; manufacturing.

Auf Wiedersehen Pet helped us to look at the construction industry, The Office gave us insight into professional services, Open All Hours opened the door for ERP in the retail industry and Ice Road Truckers highlighted efficiency in the wholesale distribution sector.

This time, rather than look at a reality show, drama or sitcom that highlights the stresses and strains of manufacturing, I’ve decided to use the documentary series ‘How It’s Made’.

The show demonstrates how common, everyday items are manufactured, from handbags and bubble gum to guitars, CDs and even helicopters. I’ve picked three episodes to hopefully demonstrate in the same way how an ERP system can improve efficiency and productivity for a manufacturing business.

Reflecting on Productivity

In the production of mirrors, large sheets of clear glass are polished using cerium oxide, then coated with liquefied tin and liquid silver, which is rinsed off and recycled. It’s then given a layer of copper and two coats of paint, before being passed through two more curtains of paint and having an acid wash. A precision-guided mirror cutter then cuts the sheet into smaller mirror shapes.

During any manufacturing process the ability to track and manage raw materials is vital. In this case, everything from the glass sheets to the cerium oxide, tin, silver, copper and even the de-mineralised water used to wash the glass.

An ERP system like Microsoft Dynamics NAV, allows you to monitor the entire production process, like the one shown above, and pinpoint any weaknesses. This will enable you to re-evaluate these processes and make any changes that could reduce inefficiency and improve output.

It’s also important to get an accurate view of available stock so that the business can meet its order expectations and maintain customer satisfaction.

Highlighting Business Intelligence

When highlighter pens are made, the pen barrels are first moulded with a force equal to the weight of 350 elephants! The process of constructing each element of the pen is automated, with machines piecing them together from the plug at one end to the nib at the other. Every aspect of the manufacturing process is measured and monitored to ensure uniformity, from the positioning of the nib to the consistency of the ink. Monitoring, managing and measuring your costs, resources and orders are just as important.

Using one integrated ERP system allows you to make faster, more productive business decisions, minimising wastage and the needless replication of data. In turn, this will enable you to maximise productivity and profitability.

The knowledge and foresight a 360° view of the business provides means that you can measure lead-time and streamline your processes, satisfying both current and forecasted orders more effectively.

Relaxed Resource Alignment

In a pasta factory 33 tons of semolina produces a dough which is injected into brass moulds at high pressure to create thousands of individual pasta shapes. These are then dried and measured precisely, ready for packaging.

Accuracy is essential in food production to avoid wastage, spoilage and potential contamination. An ERP solution like Microsoft Dynamics NAV will give you a clear understanding of your processes. This means that you can allocate the right amount of labour and equipment to meet your manufacturing requirements and keep your customers happy.

An integrated software solution that recognises and addresses issues specific to your industry will deliver benefits that include:

  • Measuring the lead-time needed to manufacture parts
  • Better production planning to meet the demands of clients and future orders
  • An improved overview of all aspects of production
  • Managing both repetitive and one-off manufacturing requirements
  • Reporting on costs, resources and orders
  • Faster, more productive business decisions
  • Bringing together information across all departments.

Want to know how efficiency’s made? An ERP system like Microsoft Dynamics NAV will give you access to every aspect of your business, highlighting areas in need of improvement before they become an issue.

Written by Mark Blackmore, Head of Telemarketing at ERP Central, part of the QBS Group