What is an ideal ERP solution for Process Manufacturing?
Process Manufacturing is a form of production which involves formulas and recipes instead of discrete materials.Variable production output, tractability of products, recipe scalability etc. are some of the real complexities faced by the process manufacturing companies. Therefore, the process manufacturers including Chemical companies, Food processing companies, or pharmaceuticals companies have specific ERP needs as the materials in use are liquids and powders, and the end product is measured in terms of weight or volume. This is where Process manufacturing is different from discrete manufacturing, in which the end product is countable rather than measurable.
Process manufacturing mostly involves non-singular processes in which a primary process produces an intermediate, which then branches out into several secondary processes, known as ‘Process Trains’. As frequent changes occur in the overall chemistry of ingredients involved, a process-oriented ERP should be flexible enough to handle such variable form of production. It should be adaptable to various measurement units and conversions, for instance, milligrams of a particular ingredient in a 500 litre batch. It must be able to handle all transactions, calculations and balances that include decimal places.
There is also a difference in the way production activities in Process and discrete manufacturing are planned and scheduled. Process manufacturing involves high volume of production and make use of an array of expensive equipment. This calls for a judicious utilization of the available equipment and ensuring minimal waste during production. Therefore, the planning and scheduling should be focused more on equipment utilization as well as waste management.
Quality Assurance and Quality Management play a crucial role in Process Manufacturing. A considerable amount of planning is required for any process to comply with the accepted quality standards.If companies restrict themselves to paper-based and manual quality control processes, there are high odds of committing blunders in batching. Moreover, tracking and monitoring of the inventory data also becomes difficult. A process-based ERP software should therefore provide real-time tractability of inventory data and should connect users with all the required data to deliver production performance reports in real time.
Product recall is another aspect that worries process manufacturers, especially the Food and Beverages companies. It not only leads to huge monetary losses but puts the maker/seller at risk of legal action.In product recalls, timely resolutions are much needed. A process-based ERP software should help manufacturers to quickly resolve all issues pertaining to a product recall. Once a lot number with the defective ingredient is identified, products having that ingredient can be determined and their shipping location can also be tracked, instantly. Distributors and retailers can be notified afterwards to remove the product from store shelves.