How an ERP should cover custom manufacturers, and why not every manufacturing ERP does

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

In custom manufacturing, the only rule is change, and your competitiveness depends on how you handle it. 

With repeat manufacturing, workflows and material requirements are easier to schedule and forecast. But custom manufacturing requires additional fine tuning when it comes to each production run. Because of this, custom manufacturers have been left uncovered by the benefits that an ERP system can provide.

Industry-wide ERP

Many common ERP systems for the manufacturing industry are designed with series production 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.

The custom manufacturing industry is expected to take on increasing orders as mass customization become 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, custom manufacturers are installing 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 ERP

There are steps critical to success at the beginning of each custom manufacturing project. As requests comes in, accurate estimations based on pending design specs need to be defined. Inventory and production planning require progressively released BOM details, and long-lead item anticipation. Furthermore, customers increasingly demand changes on the fly. Each project must be grounded in reality, and adapt to changes, yet it is not entirely similar to any job done previously.

A system should be built from the understanding that custom manufacturing requires greater coordination between product development, estimation, production planning, and sales. A connected system shares a ‘knowledgebase’ across your team, which is useful given the constraints and expectations you’re working under.

Here is a more granular take on that:

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 process.

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. 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.

Lean concepts inherited from series production

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 batch size 1 production. That’s to say, going lean all the way is only good if you can accurately predict the future of your manufacturing to near 100 percent accuracy. This is just not possible in custom manufacturing, however the system in place can certainly be optimized to be leaner.

As anyone who has ever worn a shirt can tell you, one size fits all doesn't necessarily fit right!

Michael Connors

Michael writes on manufacturing, technology and current affairs for Genius Solutions in the role of content strategist. He studied journalism and worked in both news and PR before joining the company in 2017.

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