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Manufacturing Process Planning: The Complete Overview

9/7/22 10:00 AM


An ERP supports manufacturing process

Manufacturing ERP solutions and manufacturing processes go hand-in-hand. Your manufacturing process is typically defined by how you make what you make: the materials needed, the operations required, and the sequence of those steps. An ERP digitally supports any given manufacturing process by giving users a tool to help them execute, track, and analyze results of that process. When the tool used to support manufacturing process planning changes (like replacing Excel sheets with a new ERP), the processes typically change, too.

Components of the manufacturing process

Typically, the following items compose a manufacturing process:

  • Labor: The people who are physically manufacturing the project. They could be operating machines, using tools, assembling parts, or all the above.
  • Materials: The raw materials, subassemblies, or consumable materials (like nuts, bolts, or packaging materials).
  • Machines/Tools: Depending on what you are manufacturing, these range from very simple with little automation to very complex with software and configurable controllers. Tools could be part of the machines, or manual tools used to perform an operation on a product, or perhaps measure/analyze the product for quality purposes.
  • Outside Services: The operations performed “outside your four walls.” For example, if you manufacture a product to a certain stage, send it to a vendor to perform an operation, and then they send it back to you, that vendor is providing an outside service that’s an important part of the manufacturing process.
  • Work Instructions: The documentation that tells people what needs to be done to correctly manufacture the product. It can be written instructions, drawings, videos, or all the above.

ERP functionality for manufacturing processes

ERP takes all components of your manufacturing processes and helps lay out each step in an organized way, so that you can manage the work that needs to be done. Starting with the categories above, the ERP can mirror how you execute your processes. It knows the machines needed, days and times  worked, materials available (or not available) in inventory, materials that are needed to produce, and so on. A sophisticated manufacturing ERP can take all the factors that make up a manufacturing process and provide tools for users to manage the entire process.

Related: Work Order Process Management from Creation To Closing

Related: Related: Manufacturing Process Improvements That Make an Impact

Related: Build A Sound Process for Manufacturing Capacity Planning

Related: Inventory Management for Manufacturing Companies: Assess Your Process

Related: What Workflows & Processes are Supported in Manufacturing ERP Software?

Related: How to Measure and Improve Your Manufacturing Process Control

Your ERP and your manufacturing process

ERP solutions provide a support platform for manufacturing process planning and execution. However, the technology is only effective if it is working with correct, clean data, and is used properly. The ERP system needs to know the manufacturing process components we listed above, or “how you make what you make.” It is important to define these items in the system accurately. Companies who struggle to get full power out of their ERP usually made mistakes in this foundational stage—they did not give the ERP the information it needed to properly function.

To be clear, it is also possible to give the ERP too much information. This is why it’s critical to partner with the right company to help with your ERP. There is an art to finding the right balance—where the ERP gives users the information they need to make decisions, versus the ERP processing too much or too little information and giving useless or nonsensical answers. Companies who find this ideal balance are the ones that successfully run their ERP and business.

Our team can guide you

Visual South typically works with companies that manufacture something. These companies are experts in their products, but not experts in implementing ERP—and that is why they come to us. Our team can guide you through a successful implementation of ERP solutions for your SMB, and be a valued resource for years to come.

Most companies don’t evaluate ERP on a regular basis. If you are looking for ERP but are not sure where to start, how about talking to an expert who is not a salesperson? Click here to learn more about Jack Shannon and sign up for a free phone consultation to discuss your situation.

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Bryan Foshee

Written by Bryan Foshee

Bryan is the Vice President at Visual South and has been working with the company since 2002. Prior to that, he was a consultant and implemented SAP in manufacturing, distribution, and service industries.