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ERP Helps Process Manufacturers Cope with Chaos (Part 8)

23 August 2012

Detailed Production Scheduling. A detailed ERP production scheduling system for process manufacturing demands a high level of sophistication. At a minimum, the system must have the ability to schedule manufacturing from multiple combinations, based on available inputs, capacity, and quality specifications.  It requires the ability to generate detailed views of capacity and production constraints, including tanks and vessels.  In process-oriented manufacturing, many production processes are coupled, and the overall goal of optimization is to reduce down time and changeovers and increase overall throughput.

ERP Manufacturing

ERP Helps Process Manufacturers Cope with Chaos (Part 8)

Tanks require specialized scheduling based on their operating behaviors, such as fill/empty rate.  Vats are often linked to mixers, which are linked to packaging lines. This creates interdependencies on sequencing, due to the fact that one process cannot be scheduled without considering the state of an upstream or downstream process.

Genealogy and accurate lot tracking are very critical for quality and regulatory compliance.  The ERP system must also account for time-based factors such as shelf-life and aging of both materials and final products.  A production scheduling system needs to take each of these factors into account to ensure quality, compliance and recall capability.

Because no two customers are alike, the ‘new-normal’ requires that best-in-class scheduling has the ability to support customer specialized needs and requirements, and provide the capabilities to respond to market opportunities on a much more timely basis.  At one point on the calendar, the scheduling objective may be optimizing profitability through more efficient production runs.  At other points, it may be optimizing customer service or customization needs.  At still other points, a plant may need to quickly respond to opportunistic events such as a late breaking customer order, availability of excess materials, or seizing other short-term opportunities in the market.

A best-in-class scheduling system needs to have the flexibility and adaptability to support any of these scenarios, while at the same, providing ease of use among planners and operational users.

Opportunities for Leadership

In the “new-normal” business conditions are never static.  Business transformation provides the opportunity for process-oriented manufacturers to successfully respond to volatility, variability and variety within their market segment.  A backbone of new process and information technology capabilities, coupled with more empowered professionals, ensures increased agility with less capital expenditure (CapEx).  New markets and channels can be exploited and leveraged for increased revenue and profitability.  Rationalization of assets and/or product lines leads to a more efficient and cost competitive processes. In the “new normal” the goal is integrated and agile operational excellence.

Yes, process manufacturers do indeed face extraordinary business challenges, but challenge presents opportunity for renewal and transformation.  The ability to effectively manage and respond to market imbalances, supplier failure, increased regulation and quality requirements separates industry leaders from laggards.  A determination to excel coupled with an ERP backbone that has been designed, integrated and tested for process-oriented manufacturing enables new levels of efficiency, insight, and more timely decision-making. Success in the “new normal” equates to having the complete set of capabilities.

Either the path of continuous improvement or of transformation can be best enabled by an end-toend information technology system that has proven abilities to integrate the collective processes of supply chain planning, PLM planning and enterprise asset management. It is an information technology backbone that has been built and tested specifically for process-oriented manufacturers, and enhanced to support the realities of the “new normal” in business.


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