Written by
Michael Connors

How custom manufacturing systems can cover complex manufacturing

Genius ERP: ready out-of-the-box for custom manufacturing.

In custom manufacturing, the only thing you can consistently count on is change—and your competitiveness depends on how you handle it. With repeat manufacturing, workflows and material requirements are easier to schedule and forecast as you do the same processes and build the same products over and over again. But the customized products built by custom manufacturers require additional fine tuning when it comes to each production run. Because of this, custom manufacturers have often been left out in the cold by many manufacturing-specific ERPs and the benefits that an ERP system can provide.


To help manage the complexities of a truly custom manufacturing environment you need an ERP that is the right fit for your shop—and that can handle the intricacies and the unique challenges that a custom manufacturer faces. Don’t be left out in the cold—find the ERP that is right for your business. (Not sure where to start? Read our ebook on how to choose the right ERP for you, and  get the tips and tools you need to find the right ERP that will set you up for success.)

Manufacturing industry ERPs

Many ERP systems for the manufacturing industry are designed with series production and assembly line in mind. But in a custom manufacturing environment, nothing can be described as ‘series’. There are a higher number of chances for slowdowns, drops in communication and errors that come with first batch production.

Over the next decade, the custom manufacturing industry is expected to take on more orders and grow, as mass customization becomes a reality. The challenge in 2018 is how to fabricate increasingly complex products without seeing costs multiply and confusion or overruns set in.


To remain competitive and meet these demands, custom manufacturers are installing ERP systems that allow them to not only engineer and design with greater speed and coordination, but also manage what is essentially a high-variable shop floor environment.

Custom manufacturing-focused ERPs

To complete a custom job, there are several steps that are critical to success at the beginning of each custom manufacturing project. As requests come in, accurate estimates based on pending design specs need to be defined. Inventory and production process planning require progressively released BOM details, as well as long-lead items need to be anticipated.

Building custom products means that no job is entirely similar to any job previously done—meaning each job requires new planning and new specs. Furthermore, customers increasingly demand changes on the fly, meaning that each custom project needs to be planned and meticulously mapped out, yet still must have flexibility built into it to adapt to changes.


Custom manufacturers need an ERP system that is built from the understanding that custom manufacturing requires greater coordination between product development, estimation, production planning, and sales. Custom manufacturers truly need a connected system that shares a ‘knowledge base’ across your team, allowing for greater collaboration, shop-wide planning, as well as the flexibility required in a custom manufacturing environment.


Finding the right ERP for a custom manufacturer isn’t always easy. Every industry and each manufacturer has unique needs that need to be met. The good news is that in today’s market, more and more ERP providers are offering tailored products with customized solutions to help custom manufactures meet their unique production needs.

Integrated product development

Mechanical engineers handle designs headed for production, therefore custom manufacturers need an ERP that integrates a CAD system with planning functions for your different departments. Genius ERP CAD2BOM supports costing, procurement and production planning by seamlessly transforming designs into BOMs, saving employee time and reducing errors in the production process.


With a fully integrated system, your engineer will be able to seamlessly export a BOM from your CAD system into your ERP, creating a fully itemized list of materials, and letting you easily compare the materials needed for the project against what you already have on hand. Not only will you remove errors that come from manual data transcription and entry, you will always be able to  confident about what materials you need to get a job done on time and on budget.

Granular detail on costing and inventory

When it comes to costing, you can better understand margins and overall costing for each production run, and understand how to improve this. Accurate forecasting is essential to custom manufacturers, as they let you plan and manage your business better. Armed with the data that an ERP provides you from its reporting functionalities, you will be better informed, and be able to make better decisions and create better forecasts for your business.


When it comes to Inventory requirements, a greater and more efficient forecasting and procurement system can be put in place that corresponds with reality, even in dynamic modes of production.


An ERP integrates your inventory management with the rest of your operation, making tracking inventory throughout your organization easy. With an ERP you will have an inventory management system that is in sync with the rest of your operation, making it easier for you to manage things like long lead-items. An integrated inventory management system, combined with CAD-ERP integration, lets you know about these items during the design-phase of a project, giving you more time to order the item and ensure you have it on hand when you need it.



Lean concepts inherited from series production

Lean manufacturing emphasizes getting the manufacturing process right and then continually improving it. To be honest though, entirely lean concepts, which as a rule follow waste minimization principles across product lifecycle management, do not provide enough optimization potential for custom manufacturing and production. That’s to say, going lean all the way is only good if you can accurately predict the future of your manufacturing to a nearly 100 percent accuracy. This is just not possible in custom manufacturing, however the system in place can certainly be optimized to be leaner.


ERPs can help you automate your business processes, cutting out waste and making you more streamlined, which can help you become a leaner custom manufacturer.

The right fit

As anyone who has ever worn a shirt can tell you, one size fits all doesn't necessarily fit right! As a custom manufacturer you need an ERP that fits you, and that has the right features and functionalities to support your unique business needs.


Your job as a custom manufacturer is to find an ERP vendor that specializes in your industry, and works with companies of your size and scale. These ERP providers will have solutions that are designed to fit manufacturers just like you, and can give you the connectivity and integration to power your business forward.

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