Aerospace ERP must have traceability
Aerospace and defense customers need ERP with industry-specific functional attributes to help them comply with mandatory regulations. For that reason, ERP for the aerospace industry includes the standard functionality provided in general manufacturing systems, plus additional tools. In this article, I focus on one of the most important functional areas for those who are evaluating or seeking to improve their aerospace ERP software.
The most commonly emphasized functional area for aerospace ERP systems is traceability. This requirement is not unique as one might think—many medical device and electronics manufacturers have similar trace requirements.
Having “cradle to grave” traceability for both lot and serialized items is one of the most critical components of a high-performing aerospace ERP system. Why? First of all, it’s a requirement by aviation regulatory agencies and many aerospace customers have to prove their ERP system properly addresses this during customer audits.
Having traceability is also critical for aeronautical finished goods because all components need to be inspected if there’s a mechanical failure. That includes the source of the component, the component’s lot or serial number, and all crafts that contain those components (in the event of a recall).
The aerospace ERP software has to track the incoming material and associated vendor documentation. All material movements of that lot or serialized component have to be captured in the ERP system, whether via manual entries or material barcoding transactions. A proper aerospace ERP system will have a document management tool to support associating relevant documents for items such as material certs from arrival to shipping.
For finished goods, your aerospace ERP should include all lot and serialized components, the associated work order, and those who performed work during that work order. The ERP system must have the ability to record these transactions.
Furthermore, the ERP should provide a complete audit trail to prove compliance. Companies with this information in silos and an unintegrated ERP system—transactions recorded by hand on paper, and then entered into Excel spreadsheets or Access databases—will face challenges. Non-integrated transactional capture can result in data entry errors, lost transactions, and issues with non-real time information. There may be incidents where urgent trace information can’t be expedited due to having to search through non-integrated manual systems to find and tie the information together.
Typically, quality and vendor audits are arduous for companies not using integrated and aerospace-centric ERP systems. Using systems that aren’t built for the aerospace industry can not only be expensive and time consuming, but can also cause lost business and hinder new business growth.
Aerospace ERP systems should quickly and easily provide visibility of where lot and serialized components were used, including supply parts, sub-assemblies, work orders, projects, shipment destinations, and customers. The easiest way to pass audits is to have a strong lot/serial Trace module in your aerospace ERP.
There’s more needed than just traceability
The aerospace industry demands that you address many other areas in addition to traceability for ERP software. Other important areas include production scheduling, quality, program management/project costing, and document management. For more information about how Infor ERP applications can help aerospace manufacturers, please visit “Products” tab of the Visual South website.