I’m going to save you some time and get straight to the point; there are really only 4 ERPs that are designed to manage any element of live production.
If you’re a smaller shop (5-15 Operators) then Shoptech or JobBoss are potential fits. They’re inexpensive (comparatively) but offer limited functionality without expensive customization and are restrictive to growth.
If you’re a larger manufacturer (300+ Operators) then reaching out to systems like INFOR or IQMS are a good place to start, but expect a long install and high cost of entry.
*Note: For shops between 75-300 Operators, there are answers. Just not in the form of an ERP.
Here’s the catch.
Unless you already have these ERPs implemented you’re looking at 3 years (minimum) to rip out your existing system and replace it with the new ERP just to get to the functionality that these systems consider secondary to their front-office tools.
ERPs were designed for the financial, HR and ordering segments of your business, so the production functionality has likely only been bolted on to their product in the past 5-10 years.
So let’s refine the question. It isn’t, “which ERPs can manage production?” but rather, “which system is the right fit for my shop?”.
In this series we will walk through the critical points to consider when searching for a single system to deliver the big 4 in manufacturing: increased productivity, job scheduling, asset management and quality control.
For ease of use, we've split this resource into 2 posts: “What the Size of Your Shop Says About Your Production Needs” and “The 5 Critical Requirements for Researching Production Control Systems”.
What the Size of Your Shop Says About Your Production Needs
Regardless of how they advertise, there is currently no ERP on the market designed to control production. They all either added “production” modules on years later as an afterthought or purchased a series of smaller companies with production focuses and then created data bridges between them. That’s why ERP developers prefer to talk about outcomes rather than processes, because frankly, their systems are blind to actual production.
The best path for any sized manufacturer who needs an increase in productivity without sacrificing quality is a system designed specifically for production that integrates with, but is not built-into, your existing ERP.
TIP: Let your ERP manage what it was designed for, the front office. Provide your production team a system designed for their everyday complex needs in a Manufacturing Execution System (MES).
“Growing” Manufacturers (approx. 25-75 Operators)
If your shop has fewer than 75 Operators on payroll then odds are your facilities are smaller than those of Influencer (100-300 Operators) or Enterprise shops (300+ Operators). The contracts you accept are more focused on short runs and you’re tracking work with spreadsheets, paper or dry-erase boards.
The benefit to less plant footage and a smaller team is ease of communication. Clear communication is essential when work changes week-to-week and over the years your team has developed some form of tracking to stay compliant or you wouldn’t have survived as long as you have.
If you know every Operator’s skillset, trust in their experience, are comfortable not scaling your business and your current orders aren’t overwhelming your team, then frankly, you may not need a system. In fact, most systems on the market to control production for smaller shops bank on you staying small by offering a low cost to entry followed by an overwhelming cost to slide into a higher tier if/when you do grow.
Shops of this size need to be weary of software review providers. Nearly all are pay-to-play and having more reviews rarely equates to having a quality system.
When written reviews are available, read them carefully. Reach out to the companies if they’ve left their names (you’d be surprised how many are willing to share their experience) and know your needs before researching. Otherwise you end up with a list of critical needs that sound more like marketing language than production requirements.
“Influencer” Manufacturers (100-300 Operators)
If you have between 100 and 300 Operators on your team then you have very specific needs that can’t be addressed by the two extremes of manufacturing software vendors (“Growing Manufacturers” or “Enterprise Manufacturers”). The lower-end of production systems fit your budget but are too simple to handle the volume of work that hits your shop floor while the systems at the higher-end meet your needs (and more) but quickly price themselves out of your budget.
When you run a facility the size of an Influencer you need seamless transitions from work center-to-work center and Operator-to-Operator to prevent the bottlenecks that grind production to a halt. Communication between Operators and Supervisors become strained and standing-around time eats away at your profit on every order.
An ERP is only capable of releasing work and then collecting the data on the other end once a job is completed. If you’re lucky, you have a system that digitally collects your quality checks along the way rather than hand-writing and then typing them into a spreadsheet later in the week.
At this scale you need a standalone production system that allows for your ERP to continue the front office work it was designed for while you gain the visibility and control required to increase productivity without sacrificing quality.
Check back next week for Part 2: “The 5 Critical Requirements for Researching Production Control Systems”
Your Next Steps
Learn more about production control systems that work for all ERPs rather than being pressured into whatever module your existing system is pushing. No company should settle for a more expensive, short-term solution when there are systems that install fully loaded, designed to control your complex workflows.
Connect with a CIMx Expert to find out how other manufacturers have taken control of their production processes. When you're ready to get to work on permanent error elimination, schedule your live demo of Quantum® with a CIMx Expert.