You can never really compare apples and oranges, can you? Both are unique in their own ways, and completely different from each other. To begin with, they don’t taste the same. While one is a sweet fruit, the other belongs to the citrus species. Then the color, texture, composition, nutritive value, etc. of the two are also very different, which makes it clear that neither of them can be a substitute of the other. Things are pretty much similar to the manufacturing industry, which has predominantly two branches- discrete manufacturing and process manufacturing, which can never, and should never be compared to each other. And while these two types of businesses are as different as chalk and cheese, there are still many businesses out there who feel there is no particular need for having different ERP systems for them.
But those who are closely associated with the manufacturing industry, are well aware that process and discrete are two are very different approaches. Both these branches of manufacturing share different manufacturing processes, as the fundamental differences between the two vary a great deal. Furthermore, these two types of manufacturing has very different structures and very different needs. So, it is important to know what process as well as discrete manufacturing is, before understanding why there is a need to have a different ERP software for process and discrete manufacturing businesses.
It is by now an established fact that any business, be it large-scale, small-scale or medium-sized, and whether discrete or process manufacturing, needs an ERP solution to not just sustain in the market, but also to thrive. The ERP systems have become an indispensable part of the manufacturing businesses. Predominantly developed to manage the discrete manufacturing processes, today ERP software also serve different process manufacturing businesses, which unlike the discrete type are based on formulas/recipes and involve blending, mixing, heating, etc. that result in a change of state.
The saying goes, ‘necessity is the mother of invention’. So when the different set of needs of process manufacturers could not be met by software that was built to follow the production on assembly lines, the dedicated ERP solutions for process manufacturing industry came into existence. A formal definition gives us a better picture of the two.
Discrete manufacturing involves assembling things, and the production of easily distinguishable goods that can be physically touched and counted. Discrete manufacturers build individual units for shipment, and their examples include automobile, furniture, mobile phones & other electronic appliance manufacturers. The methodology uses Bills of Materials (BOMs), and assembles components along with a routing.
On the other hand, the process manufacturers do not produce distinct units of production, and in fact build something that cannot be taken apart. In process manufacturing, a product is produced in bulk and packaged for shipment. It includes volumes of raw materials being refined and processed for sale, and involves mixing of ingredients according to specific formulas or recipes. Process manufacturing items include food, pharmaceuticals, specialty chemicals, cosmetics and paints to name a few- the products that are the result of recipes and formulations which when mixed, change the composition of the original raw material and cannot be disassembled.
Here’s more clarity on how the two are different
As discussed earlier in brief, discrete and process are two branches of manufacturing that are vastly different from each other. While discrete manufacturing is all about the production of distinct items like computers, furniture, electronic appliances, etc. using the components that can be touched and counted, process manufacturing deals with the production of homogeneous products like paint, cosmetics, food & beverages, pharmaceuticals, oil, etc.
In discrete manufacturing, the products are BOM based, and can be broken down as they are assembled by nuts, bolts, brackets, wires, etc. In process manufacturing, the products are formulation based, and hence the ingredients cannot be taken out from the products once they are processed to create the final product.
One of the most discernible differences between discrete and process manufacturing is the process through which the products are created. In discrete manufacturing, the production follows a route, such as an assembly line, where identical products are duplicated as the raw materials used to create these products are the same from the first job to the next. On the other hand, in process manufacturing, the ingredients are blended or refined in batches and manufactured using formulas/recipes. It is a more intricate process as the raw materials are converted/transformed, with their volume, density, mass, physical properties etc. all getting changed during the manufacturing process.
Hence, different ERPs for process & discrete
Since the process and discrete type of manufacturing and the two industries in general are different from each other in terms of their structure, process requirements, methods of production, regulatory compliances, etc., it is natural to have two different ERPs for them. The varied requirements of the process and discrete businesses can only be met using ERP software specifically built to support their respective requirements with uniquely suitable functionalities. Using a process ERP for a discrete manufacturing firm can never deliver the desired results, and vice versa. Hence, the manufacturers must look for ERP software that is tailor-made for their industry, suit their manufacturing type, and help them meet their unique needs.
If you are a discrete manufacturer, you may want to have an ERP software that helps you keep track of parts as small as nuts and bolts, or completed engine assemblies. An ideal ERP software for your business should help you balance inventory investment with customer service levels, manage component requirements, reduce lead times, forecast errors, and synchronize supply with customer demand, among other things.
However, if you are a process manufacturer, you will have a completely different set of needs, and need a software that helps meet them. You need an ERP that understands your language of Formulations, intermediates, raw materials, WIP, etc. One which helps you maintain various units of measure and their inter-conversion. That is not built for just assembling needs but batch processing too. Apt enough to calculate density, manage and maintain various physical and nutritional properties, handle different packaging sizes, plan not just the production of the finished good, but intermediate as well as raw materials too.
Well, your search for such an ERP that understands Process Manufacturing quite like you ends at BatchMaster- makers of ERP solutions for process manufacturing industries for well over three decades now. The unique modules and features of our offerings help process manufacturers meet certain requirements that are specific and exclusive to their industry. For ex: with BatchMaster ERP, the process manufacturers can perform percentage and ingredient formulation, in-process Quality Control testing and adjustments, meet the requirements of percent ingredients by weight, print multiple batch tickets, rework with lot control, batch recalls, and meet cGMP and other regulatory requirements, among other things.