Enterprise Resource Planning software can provide specific applications for many different types of manufacturing businesses. Manufacturing is not a monolithic field — it consists of a whole multitude of different types of production businesses that all function in their own separate ways. Here are some of the specific categories of manufacturing that benefit from the use of ERP tools and resources.
Helpful resource: Read our best practice guide on selecting the right manufacturing ERP system for your needs.
Aerospace and Defense
Specific types of aerospace and defense ERP manufacturing software will be pointed toward the unique standards and regulations in place in these industries.
One example is the thorough documentation that aerospace parts must pass through between the manufacturing process, and use in the field. Making these types of fabricated and otherwise crafted products is not like making other products for consumer markets. Engineers and other professionals need to sign off on each individual piece, and document different details relevant to its properties and use in the field.
For example, ERP tools may manage the ‘product scope’ for this type of manufacturing by building a table of properties for each piece. The software may have different kinds of checkpoints along the product’s path toward implementation that are all pointed towards those unique industry standards.
Other aspects of the software will look at distribution schedules and transportation to a client or customer. In some cases, time is of the essence, and the company providing these manufactured products needs to be organized and on top of where deliveries are going, and when.
There are also a range of change management tools in place with these ERP software packages to promote efficient processing, from excellent and detailed supply chain execution, to lean inventory and agile development, or toward maintaining a complete ‘quote-to-cash’ cycle for costs.
Construction and Engineering
In the construction and engineering industries, there are various things that are important to the overall process of providing products and services.
One function of ERP in this area would monitor all of the resources involved in a project, including the following:
- equipment and machines
- raw materials
With that in mind, the software would coordinate all of these resources for different results.
Software in the construction and engineering field may also have aspects of customer relationship management built-in, to encourage efficient communications and good relationships between providers and buyers.
Other aspects of this type of ERP may be built toward better asset management for the company, or better invoicing and revenue cycles. Since these industries support important secondary results (quality and durable builds) it makes sense that in addition to the “nuts and bolts” of transaction and procedural tools, ERP packages would also promote quality assurance and order tracking.
Home Improvement and Furnishings
A whole separate category of manufacturing is based on the consumer products that will be used in homes and rental properties. Again, these processes need specific types of ERP solutions to promote best results.
ERP packages in this segment will have their own life cycle processes, beginning with supply chain handling, and ending with revenue tools, cost evaluation and scheduling.
In between, these ERP tools may optimize planning in a plant, according to the product lines. They may assess how products would be manufactured, and how finished products would be stored. Many of them will have warehouse management modules, along with customer relationship management tools and order processing functionality.
With all of these analytical tools, manufacturers will look at intake, creation and distribution of these types of products, which, as a rule, are very diverse. For example, furniture may be built for a show room, designed for home assembly, or shipped to a store in a manner that supports assembly in the retail space.
An ERP solution for furniture and home fixtures must contemplate this kind of product handling, not just the distribution of fully assembled finished products.
As with other aspects of healthcare, pharmaceutical manufacturing is inherently different from other kinds of manufacturing.
One of the biggest focuses of ERP software and processes in this area of the manufacturing world involves quality control and support of quality standards.
Companies have to work with government regulations, and make sure that pharmaceutical products are specially created in precise formulations with many environmental controls in place.
With that in mind, pharma manufacturing ERP solutions will have many features that help to meet these standards.
Individual software resources may have specific toolkits for parts of a physical manufacturing space that show things like temperature, humidity and the use of cleaning stations or sealed production areas. They may also look at chemical mixing with grinders, conveyors and other types of assembly equipment, to make sure that the drug products in question are being consistently and properly developed.
In addition to this big challenge, ERP tools in this sector can also do many of the other things that any manufacturing management process needs. They can help with inventory, and with the transparency of business processes. They can help to make plant management more straightforward. They can help monitor distribution.
However, at its core, pharmaceutical manufacturing ERP is all about ensuring a consistent and high quality product.
Food and Beverage Manufacturing
In the food and beverage industry, physical processing is also subject to a number of key rules. Because so many of these products are perishable, ERP tools must take different types of quality standards into account.
One excellent example is cold chain storage. New types of equipment and software make sure that food and beverage products are kept at specific temperatures throughout their entire life cycle, from the raw materials supply, all of the way through production and distribution. This can be established with different tags and markers, in conjunction with the right kinds of ERP software specialized to this sector.
In addition, ERP software for food and beverage manufacturing can offer traceability features, shelf-life management, and better visibility for what’s happening as products reach consumer endpoints. They can also help with efficiency, by identifying value for cost in different business processes, and pointing out areas of waste where processes can be changed.
Aspects such as order management and vendor relationship management are also key with this area of manufacturing.
In fabrication and metal working, ERP resources may look at eliminating waste and focusing on supply chains for materials that can be quite costly. Things like customer relationship management and lean or just-in-time inventory models will often also be included.
Other resources may be pointed towards quality consistency for various alloys and types of metals. Many different manufacturing companies are innovating in the alloys and metals they use to produce parts and products. It stands to reason that an ERP system in this sector might provide specific tools that show the chemical makeup of these different types of materials.
In fabrication, ERP can also help to universalize the creation of mass manufactured or custom products. For example, in the use of CNC machines, plasma cutters and other types of input, the output of machine learning systems can be valuable to the business. Special interfaces may be developed to accomplish computer-assisted processes for fabricating, welding and metalworking. ERP systems can be built to interface with the operator throughout the manufacturing process, to capture more real-time information, but also, for better informed direction of work flows.
Other features might include efficiency tools for plant floor operations, as well as transparency tools for business processes around metalworking. Some systems will offer real-time monitoring for manufacturing, in order to guarantee consistent high-quality results.
Another area where ERP may be useful is in the service of the wide range of manufacturing businesses dealing in printed products, for instance:
- companies making books and magazines
- commercial printers
- companies producing images for product development
- companies producing framed photography
For any kind of high-volume printing, manufacturing ERP can offer print solutions that help companies to adopt best practices, to minimize waste, and to promote overall efficiency.
Here again, ERP systems can help with product tracking and quality assurance. Scheduling is also critically important for print companies, because the products that they make are so time-sensitive for customers.
For example, manufacturing ERP products geared toward commercial printers serving marketing operations will show a required timeline for fulfillment, while businesses with an interest in supplying bookstores and newsstands will have their own kind of scheduling and timeline elements.
Plastics and Petrochemical
Manufacturing ERP can also be useful in manufacturing businesses dealing with plastics, polymers and various types of chemical materials production processes.
Many of the above waste reduction, efficiency and supply chain processes are also built into this category of ERP solutions.
Another major focus here would be on specific innovations to reduce what some in the industry call “scrap” and make sure that more of the raw materials involved get made into finished products.
Other features may come into play for change management when customers want new and different kinds of plastic and petrochemical products. For example, the formulation of a particular class of product may change, in order to provide a more durable product, or one with a different texture or specific consumer use.
Electronics and Technology
In a field known for high standards, manufacturing ERP will evaluate the physical processes used to print circuit boards, build LED or LCD display technologies, and otherwise craft the various parts of hardware devices and technology systems.
Manufacturing ERP in this area can help with supplies scheduling and revenue documentation. It can help with inventory. It can help with reducing time-to-market for products.
Within the range of services that ERP provides here, these systems will also assess whether the engineering plans attached to products result in the best possible product, or whether some type of change is necessary.
In addition, tech manufacturing ERP will also deal with workflows — technology and high-tech products often involve quite a bit of specific workflow and that’s another area where this type of software system can come in handy.
Milling and Grinding
Manufacturing ERP can also be useful in manufacturing businesses centered on milling, grinding, deburring, polishing or other end processes for fabricated or molded parts.
These businesses use specific media to form or finish products in an abrasive environment. This requires attention to specific physical designs, and again, all of the product timelines and life cycles applied to many of the other manufacturing categories.
In this segment, manufacturing ERP can involve evaluating the supply of blasting or grinding materials, and making sure that that equation of “labor plus machine plus materials” is designed to provide the best finished end product.
Here’s another area where good ERP might apply.
The automotive manufacturing field is unlike any other field — manufacturers of vehicles have to compete with so many other makes and models that the industry is inherently complex. Each vehicle is made up of hundreds of individual parts, with different roles and uses in a number of vehicular systems.
The automotive manufacturing industry is also an industry with a global reach — which means that ERP distribution and other ERP tools have to analyze and document activities that happen in businesses all over the world, often with complex partnership chains.
Where a company makes vehicles overseas, and supplies them with products from other third-party companies around the world, that ERP software system has to aggregate and combine all of this information and present it well to stakeholders.
Some of these systems bill themselves as comprehensive solutions that help automotive manufacturers handle all of their catalog of products, and evaluate every single business process that goes on under that company’s roof. Or, if that company has a larger footprint, the software can assist with multi-site operations.
Life cycle process is another common feature of this type of manufacturing ERP, and quality assurance is also a typical component.
ERP systems for these types of businesses have to have many different fields and functions related to the variety of parts that go into an automotive build.
Everything from a starter or alternator, to a motor mount or a piece for a suspension or axle kit needs to have key documentation and digital system components, in order to be considered in a comprehensive view of what the business is doing.
These are some of the segments well served by ERP solutions in the manufacturing industry. Diverse manufacturing companies rely on these types of systems to stay competitive, and to grow and expand in a modern data-centric world.