Top 10 ERP Software Features to Keep your Business Running Smoothly

Product-Lifecycle-Management-Blog

In today’s times, an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software has become an indispensable part of all the manufacturing businesses. The changing market dynamics and evolving technologies have meant that the operational challenges for the manufacturers have also become complex. Issues such as dealing with the vast troves of data, inaccurate reporting, poor quality, planning and scheduling, managing costs and shrinking profit margins, fickle consumers, and intense competition continue to baffle them. But with its countless invaluable benefits, an ERP software comes in as a whiff of fresh air for the manufacturers.

An ERP software constantly improves and streamlines their processes across departments, providing additional functionality to meet the specific needs of each individual business. Integrating all areas of a manufacturing business such as materials and inventory, production, operations and sales, accounting and finance, etc., an ERP system ensures that every business function relies on a single database and delivers accurate, real-time information crucial to the manufacturing industry – thus helping businesses achieve their ultimate objectives of beating the competition, keeping the customers happy, and registering more revenues.

But how does it make this possible? Through a set of powerful features. A typical ERP software that serves the different types of manufacturing businesses has more or less similar features. However, when it comes to addressing the challenges faced by the process manufacturers — formula/recipe-based manufacturing businesses operating in the Food & Beverages, Specialty Chemicals, Pharmaceuticals, Paint & Coatings, and Personal Care & Cosmetics industry — there are certain functional capabilities that are absolute requirements for being successful. This blog takes you through 10 such features and capabilities that keep a process manufacturing business running smoothly. Continue reading:

1) Formulation management – Formulation is the heart of the manufacturing process for formula/recipe-based process manufacturers, who use numerous formulas to create the end product. Proper management of these formulations and their endless versions is extremely important, and an ERP software helps with it. Through its formula management module, ERP allows storing, retrieving, securing, and revising every formula used in the business. Effective version controlling, automatic formula sizing, multiple units of weight and volume for ingredients, instant roll-back capabilities, anytime-anywhere material substitution, etc. are some other highlights of an ERP’s robust formulation management module.

2) MPS/MRP: Master Production Scheduling (MPS) module assists manufacturers to compute and sustain an optimum manufacturing plan based upon sales forecast, planned purchase and production orders, inventory statuses, and work orders incorporating bill of materials to the lowest level. Implementing it ensures that materials are available for production and products are ready to dispatch to the customer. Whereas, MRP (Material Requirement Planning) module assists production managers in scheduling and placing orders for dependent demand items, and to maintain a flow of materials required for production by determining what to order, when to order, how much to order, and when to schedule the delivery of an order. The functions satisfy both demand-driven and batch scheduling methods.

3) Lot tracking and traceability: The process manufacturing industries are usually highly regulated, and lot tracking and traceability thus takes utmost importance. While traceability allows tracking the movement of various products, raw materials, other ingredients and packaging throughout the different stages of production, processing and distribution, tracking helps identify the destination of a product in the supply chain and the path of a specified unit and batch of product from the manufacturing unit towards the final point of sale. This way, the process manufacturers know exactly where the nonconformity happens, and which lot to recall, that too in practically no time at all. An ERP solution developed for process manufacturers provides automated end-to-end bi-directional lot traceability from raw materials to the finished product and vice versa.

4) Quality control: The Quality Control (QC) module helps businesses achieve optimal quality control for every phase of their operations: right from receiving raw materials, through production of intermediates/finished goods, to inspections of finished goods before dispatching it to the customers. The manufacturers can do so by defining different quality checks at every required point, ensuring that the expected quality is achieved every single time. The module also enables manufacturers to manage the records of passed/failed tests, accept or reject the product based on inspection result, and take immediate as well as counteractive action like return, destruction etc. against the items that fail inspection.

5) Compliance management: With the regulatory standards getting increasingly stringent day by day, and the empowered consumers demanding nothing but quality and safe products, there’s enormous pressure on the manufacturers to deliver on these fronts. The compliance management feature of an ERP software helps manufacturers deal with these anxieties. It allows them to monitor and record the manufacturing activities in real-time and check whether they are in accordance with the cGMP norms. It also enables tracking non-conformance and performing CAPA for rejected materials, besides generating Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) that are in full compliance with governmental regulations, and adapting to meet new regulatory issues.

6) Inventory management: The inventory management module of an ERP software takes care of both sides of the inventory management process — inward as well as outward. It ensures that an organization has the requisite stock levels required to complete the manufacturing process and also that the finished goods move to the customers seamlessly. This feature also helps maintain the optimum level of inventory through real-time visibility of inventory in stock, thus taking the situation of overstock or understock out of the equation, and ensuring right materials reach the shop floor at the right time and sufficient products are produced to fulfil the orders. The inventory management module of an ERP allows businesses gain tighter control over inventory, reduce wastage, and eventually make savings & earn profits.

7) Cost analysis: For any manufacturer, reaching to a product cost that’s acceptable both to the company as well as the customer is a perennial challenge. This is where the cost analysis module of an ERP comes into the picture. It closely monitors and controls costs without compromising with the quality, and facilitates decision making on prices of end items keeping profitability in mind. It is also equipped with the ‘what if’ analysis ability, that accurately maintains standard or estimated costs for management planning, and allows comparison between actual costs, planned purchase costs, and standard costs.

8) R&D/Laboratory: The R&D or laboratory module of an ERP allows the manufacturers to conduct research on their formulas based on the material properties, and allows them to achieve the targeted physical, nutritional or specific characteristic, and specific packaging based on the nature of product. Its features lend great flexibility to the manufacturers to meet customers’ specific needs. It also significantly cuts down man-hours spent on error-prone manual calculations and gives useful information quickly and accurately. As a result, manufacturers can develop new formulas with new physical properties or modify formulas for multiple uses, assess new formula’s impacts on production, size formulas, and make physical property comparison, among others.

9) Production management: Process manufacturing involves use of complex processes like mixing, grinding, heating, state change, filling, assembling, and more. A competent production management module of an ERP software can ease the complexities of this complicated process through its competent set of features. The module enables creation of batches in no time, and supports, manages, tracks and controls all the production activities from batch creation, allocation, inspecting, quality checking, issuing to finally closing. It is also capable of accommodating last minute configuration changes, or change in customer requirement, unavailability of material, etc., through automatic batch sizing and material substitution. It even allows full and partial closing of batches for immediate shipment of urgent orders, thus simplifying and smoothening the overall production process.

10) Reporting & Analytics: At the end of the day, in any business, it boils down to making faster and better decisions. And to do that, the manufacturers need to have anytime access to consolidated reports from their different business functions, indicating the current performance of the business and forecasting future trends. The reports and analytics feature allows the manufacturers to have vital data such as production performance, sales orders, formula revisions, etc. to name a few, on the palm of their hands, at any given time. They can pull in real-time information from across the entire enterprise through standard as well as customized reports, and have a better understanding of business’ performance as well as areas for improvement. Thus, achieving complete operational insight, the manufacturers can make informed decisions and improve their chances of registering profits.

Conclusion: These 10 features or modules are absolute requisites of any process manufacturing ERP software, and to ensure the increase in effectiveness & efficiency of any process manufacturing business. An ERP software with the aforementioned functionalities helps the manufacturing businesses meet all their needs – right from data integration across the business functions, with product development, procurement, production, quality, packaging, costing, and compliance, to sales, accounting, warehousing and distribution. One such dedicated ERP solution for process manufacturers is BatchMaster ERP. Serving the different process manufacturing industries for over 30 years now, the solution is well versed with their needs, and meets them immaculately. To know more about it, write to us at sales@batchmaster.co.in.