Discrete manufacturing differs from primary modes of manufacturing in the following areas:
- Repetitive manufacturing
- Process manufacturing (continuous & batch)
- Job shop manufacturing
Discrete manufacturers typically have production lines or areas where the finished good is produced in a non-continuous process. In addition, they are often categorized as “to order” manufacturers, with mixed mode components when there is a make-to-stock or forecast demand to be addressed.
Discrete manufacturers often have diverse types of “to order” modes. It is not uncommon to see one part of the business fall in the configure-to-order category while another area is engineer-to-order. This manufacturer may even have some component parts that are internally fabricated to stock based on a historical forecast. That is why a comprehensive discrete manufacturing system is particularly important – it addresses these production modes.
Examples of discrete manufacturing types include:
- Build to stock/forecast
You need a discrete production system that can handle the varying engineering processes involved with a product Configurator, integrate with CAD systems, or use similar templates, and copy and change as needed to create intricate engineering masters. Your discrete manufacturing ERP system should be able to support these engineering methods.
Planning & Scheduling
The discrete manufacturing process requires a sophisticated Advanced Planning and Scheduling (APS) toolset to take the mix of configure-to-order, engineer-to-order, assemble-to-order, and make-to-order products. It also needs to drive correct purchasing requirements tied in with managing capacity for scheduling work orders. This is no small task for an ERP system in a larger organization, which needs to provide guidance for planners that create and manage hundreds of purchase orders and open work orders per day.
Managing materials is critical and often overlooked when evaluating toolsets for discrete manufacturers. Proper visibility of inventory counts and valuation is critical for maintaining optimum inventory levels. This can be a tedious balance, as purchasing agents need to ensure appropriate supply levels without tying up too much capital in production inventory. Planning tools are critical for managing the mix of forecasted items, opportunities in the sales pipeline, and real demand.
Widely accepted ERP applications like Infor CloudSuite Industrial/SyteLine provide an APS toolset that helps optimize material requirements while scheduling work orders (whether backward finite or infinite). This application also offers Capable to Promise (CTP) for sales, “what if” scheduling, and numerous capacity management scheduling tools for the production scheduling team.
Costing is an exceptionally important area of focus for discrete manufacturing due to the variability in processes, materials, and fluctuating demand. These factors typically dictate the need for an ERP system that can provide actual costing, and a supporting toolset to ensure proper costs are captured and calculated.
Shop Floor Execution
Finally, discrete manufacturers need a modern shop floor execution system. This final supporting infrastructure needs to track material moves and issues, capture labor costs, count finished quantities, capture scrap, notify the scheduling system that work has been completed, and do quality inspections. Infor Factory Track provides all these functional requirements. It’s also a mobile and modern web-based application, which is often a requirement for discrete manufacturers adopting Industry 4.0 standards.
The discrete manufacturing process needs a system that can provide support in all areas, from engineering, material management, production scheduling, to work in process, shop floor execution, receipt into finished goods, distribution, and the accounting cycle. The complexity of the challenges presented to discrete manufacturing organizations demands that support systems must be in place to effectively manage the enterprise. Implementing and deploying a discrete manufacturing-centric ERP system is critical to ensuring the challenges do not overwhelm the production team.
Visual South has implemented and supported hundreds of discrete manufacturing Infor ERP systems. If you would like to discuss how to best address your discrete manufacturing processes, please register for a free assessment, so our team can help you improve your discrete manufacturing production and supporting ERP system.