Process Manufacturing

ERP questions and considerations for process manufacturers

Process manufacturers face many challenges when choosing enterprise resource planning (ERP) software due to many challenges with codes and standards and constant maintenance.
By Ultra Consultants May 1, 2019
Courtesy: CFE Media

Process manufacturers work with ingredients instead of parts and the production process is more focused on recipes and formulas than traditional bills of materials. Production is often continuous or executed in batches. Many processors operate in a hybrid environment where the process produced good is then packaged or formed into a discrete unit more common in discrete operations.

Competition in the process sector, whether in food manufacturing, chemical processing, or other areas, has become tough and process manufacturers must be rigorous and stringent throughout their manufacturing and supplying processes.

When considering process manufacturing enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, enterprise technology helps these companies meet many of the business challenges they face, including:

  • Facilitating traceability – which involves providing evidence and documentation that every process is in compliance with regulations, reporting requirements.
  • Meeting environmental and safety mandates – For food processors, chemical processors and others, this involves satisfying food safety and  environmental regulations
  • Managing equipment maintenance  – this is the challenge to keep all equipment functioning efficiently throughout the process. Replacement, maintenance, and managing equipment at optimized costs are included in these efforts.

Process manufacturing solution requirements

To help meet these business requirements, the process manufacturing sector has specific ERP needs and requirement, including features related to :

  • Formulation
  • Compliance documentation
  • Quality control
  • Inventory management

ERP systems for chemical manufacturers

When considering ERP systems for process manufacturers, let’s look deeper at the issues facing chemical manufacturing.

Chemical processors today face tremendous pressure in protecting margin in the midst of economic uncertainty.

The chemical industry produces essential components of practically every consumer and industrial product. Many chemical industry products are intermediates, and chemical company customers are often other chemical companies. Several companies in this industry are also at the forefront of emerging biotechnology industries.

It’s a complex manufacturing process within the sector.

Chemical products result from chemical processes, which are a complex combination of reaction, distillation, absorption, filtration, extraction, drying, and screening operations. For cost-cutting purposes, most chemical processes must be efficient, and so the design of many production operations is focused on controlling and reducing losses of precious materials.

Much like the general requirements outlined above, issues specific to chemical processors include:

  • Formula management
  • Batch processing
  • Product attributes
  • Estimating and sampling
  • Lot traceability and shelf life
  • Units of measure
  • Quality control & hazardous materials
  • Commodities speculation
  • Equipment maintenance.

Six ERP questions for process manufacturers to ask

We’ve touched on high-level concerns when it comes to ERP systems for process manufacturers. There are many others, especially those related to streamlining processes and improving overall business performance.

The ERP project team should ask the following six key questions:

  1. How well do current solutions track individual lots from procurement through manufacturing and ultimately into the finished goods supply chain?
  2. How quickly can the company respond to inquiries ranging from country of origin to specification compliance?
  3. How well does the current software help production operators meet quality standards by using receipts and process instructions?
  4. With customers seeking shorter lead times, how good is visibility into manufacturing capacity and planning?
  5. How well does the existing software help balance inventory levels with demand to reduce risk of inventory obsolescence?
  6. Is the current software meeting current best practices and helping you be as productive as possible?

Ultra Consultants, a CFE Media content partner, is a leading independent research and enterprise solutions consulting firm serving the manufacturing and distribution industries throughout North America. Ultra delivers enterprise technology expertise and process management to drive business performance improvement for their clients. This article originally appeared on Ultra Consultants’ blog.

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Ultra Consultants
Author Bio: Ultra Consultants, a CFE Media content partner, is a leading independent research and enterprise solutions consulting firm serving the manufacturing and distribution industries throughout North America. Ultra delivers enterprise technology expertise and process management to drive business performance improvement for their clients.