Manufacturing ERP Systems Don’t Do What You Think They Do
I talk about manufacturing software a lot. I have spent decades building, developing, and working on the ground-level with manufacturing software. Unfortunately, a lot of what is marketed to manufacturers is smoke and mirrors.
Manufacturing ERP systems are usually one of the first software systems that manufacturers will adapt. They are viewed as a staple.
I think that manufacturers often believe that an ERP system will make them more data-driven, but it’s not really the same thing as manufacturing analytics.
…And if your data isn’t great, to begin with, I’m not sure a manufacturing ERP system is going to do anything to fix that. In fact, it might make it worse.
So, how do you get more data-driven if not through using your ERP system?
“I already have an ERP system to run my entire company, why isn’t that enough?”
I have heard this question more than a few times when discussing manufacturing analytics with companies that approached after speaking on these topics at conferences and events.
In the simplest of terms, your ERP (enterprise resource planning) system is great for planning for the future by evaluating what has happened in the past. What it doesn’t capture, however, is what is happening on the floor right now.
Your real-time data reflects the most valuable insights into your factory floor. This is what helps you see how things are actually running and what allows you to back and see real trends over time.
This is how you stop things before they have a chance to negatively impact the bottom line.
This has nothing to do with planning and everything to do with collecting the right data at the right time.
Delayed Reporting is Costing You
Most ERP systems on the market have the ability to provide you with an incredible amount of raw information and data regarding your manufacturing process.
The problem with this information is that is not acted upon in a timely manner. Often reports are created for the entire day at the end of the shift or the following morning.
This means that pivotal information about downtime or system/user errors doesn’t make it to the floor managers until the next time a report is run.
When there are issues found in these reports, it is not typically addressed within an actionable time-frame; it becomes an after-thought or something that will be addressed at the next managers meeting.
Adapting to Disruptions Immediately
Your analytics need to be able to report and adapt to what is happening immediately. If the concern within a certain department has been product loss, viewing information on the machines at the moment can tell managers what has actually been produced and compare it to an hourly target with easy to decipher gauges or graphs (rather than spreadsheets or raw numbers).
You’re not going to get this out of your ERP system.
If the numbers are low the reason for the down-time can be immediately evaluated: is it that the machines were not running as fast as normal (hinting there’s a potential breakdown heading your way?) Or was it that they just weren’t running when they should be?
Can your ERP system send an alert to management when a switchover is taking more time than it should? Can you track waste?
Narrowing into the exact reasoning that a product was trashed is a vital part of creating a truly efficient manufacturing process. Was the sanitizing water hot enough? If not, was that product wasted? How much and when?
When you have real-time analytics and reporting, you can see these instances as they happen, giving you time to create an immediate fix.
This is real money that is going to be lost if you don’t have this data and if you’re relying on ERP for it, it’s going to fall through the cracks.
You Need Context for Your Data
Most manufacturing companies are looking to increase their company’s capacity and throughput without spending more on machines or resources.
Simply put: manufacturers need to do more with what they already have. If this is something you’ve thought about more than once, you might want to think about your analytics more than your ERP.
Most ERP systems are notoriously described to be complex and expensive. They’re not typically set up for a manufacturing process which can complicate information that managers want to view.
ERP systems are given a ton of data without an easy way to read through it all to have it make sense.
Manufacturers need context. The context in this sense allows you to reduce the noise and meaningless data in order to have information that is ready for the calculations and dashboards that are displayed without any further processing.
When you can better navigate the data presented using contextual parameters like department, facility, shift time, product, team operator, or specific production line, you are able to improve the overall quality, uptime, and performance of your floor.
The advantage of having a manufacturing analytics platform, like SensrTrx, is that the overall value that you can’t find in your ERP; real-time analytics which allows for immediate corrective action and contextual, easy-to-evaluate data goes far beyond what your ERP systems’ capabilities.