Manufacturing is an ever-changing endeavor. The days of a manufacturer specializing in only one type of process (for example, machining, injection molding or stamping) have evolved into more solutions-based enterprises. IQMS customers are no exception. Despite the recent economic recession, our customers have seen growth in multiple directions as their product offerings and process expertise expands. Clearly, IQMS customers are not afraid of innovation.
One dilemma facing both new and established manufacturers is how to integrate new ERP and MES software functionality as their business needs evolve. While growth and expansion are generally excellent changes, they present unique challenges for manufacturers. A common example is when a manufacturer decides to add value to an existing product through secondary, assembly operations.
This challenge can be more easily resolved if the manufacturer uses an industry-specific ERP solution. Rather than trying to fit your multiple manufacturing types into a cookie cutter software package, industry-specific ERP systems are designed with your particular business operations in mind and are developed to handle differing manufacturing processes with fields, features and tools specific to each process.
For example, EnterpriseIQ from IQMS includes more than 30 different, pre-built manufacturing configurations, called manufacturing types, that act as templates for Bills of Manufacture (BOMs). A blow molder, for example, has a defined manufacturing type built specifically for its industry. But when a customer wants to perform assembly operations in EnterpriseIQ, they have more than one manufacturing type choice, leading customers to ask, “Which assembly manufacturing type is right for me?”
Tips For Implementing Assembly-Specific Functionality
To begin the decision-making conversation, customers should clearly define their current and desired processes and goals. While the bullet points below take into account the design of EnterpriseIQ, they are questions that any assembly manufacturer should ask when implementing good assembly-specific ERP functionality. Here are some initial considerations:
- Physical Process: Do you have a single-piece, continuous flow? Do you batch and queue? EnterpriseIQ can handle both. A solid process map that includes machine, labor and material inputs will help you identify the critical path.
- Inventory Points: What defines a unique item number in your process? Do you have true work in process (WIP) inventory with no item number identifying intermediate steps? Do you need to stock WIP inventory for further processing later? The sometimes not-so-simple act of defining a unique item number will often clarify your needs.
- Scheduling: How do you schedule operations on the manufacturing floor? Do you use a lock-step, finite schedule where one order is completed before the next one begins? Do you need a dispatch list with priorities that allow your labor force to start and stop operations across multiple products? The scheduling needs and preferences will often dictate one manufacturing type over another.
- Production Reporting: What is the best way to realize production in this manufacturing area? Is a shift by shift method for operational efficiency metrics your goal? Do you need to report incrementally as containers are filled with parts? Will this reporting be performed on the manufacturing floor in real time or after the fact? Here, staffing considerations and data collection methods may dictate the best manufacturing type choice.
- Costing: As with inventory points, costing considerations should not be ignored. Do you have a high-value WIP inventory? Will you be using standard costing and capturing variances on your general ledger?
Once these considerations are thoroughly understood, we are able to apply them to the selection of the proper manufacturing type within EnterpriseIQ. In part two of our assembly manufacturing series, we will apply these considerations to the details of manufacturing types such as Assembly1, Assembly2, Assembly3 and Generic. Feeling overwhelmed? Not to worry. IQMS Professional Services is here to guide you through the process.