3 Reasons Automating Manual Processes is Essential for Discrete Manufacturers
January 23, 2020
According to a recent study from Plutoshift, 48% of manufacturers still use spreadsheets or other manual data entry documents. These methods of planning and scheduling operations can lead to dysfunction and inefficiencies on the shop floor. As products grow more complex and require longer assembly times and more collaboration, trying to keep track of processes in a silo will hinder communication and reduce productivity.
Let’s look at three reasons why it’s critical forward-looking discrete manufacturers embrace change – and move away from manual processes:
1. Everybody wants greater bang for their buck.
Today’s manufacturers are being asked to do more with less. Raw materials are growing more expensive and labor is harder to find, so shop floor processes must run lean and be designed to eliminate the possibility of error.
Manual data entry is time-consuming and prone to error, so if you’re still relying on spreadsheets to keep scheduling and planning in order, you’re spending valuable resources for very little return on investment. If a mistake is made during a manual planning process, you’ll have to spend even more time determining where things went wrong and whether the mistake will impact production schedules. Every second you spend trying to correct the problem is another minute of lost productivity.
Instead, consider turning to an enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution designed specifically for discrete manufacturers. By giving your entire team visibility into planning and scheduling processes through one system, you can keep production schedules on track and ensure standard operating procedures are followed – even as your standard operating procedures grow more complex.
2. Your data is too valuable to lose.
Manufacturers generate volumes of data each day, often found in accounting systems, emails and invoices. But since the systems are disparate, manufacturers lack visibility across the business. For example, a piece of machinery may be planned to be offline in the coming weeks, but notes about when it will be back online or what work it may affect may be contained only in a supervisor's email exchange. Without a clear understanding of where data should be stored or updated, you’re at risk of losing valuable business information that could be used to improve efficiency.
With an ERP system, real-time operations data is visible within the same portal as employee data; all notes around a specific process or malfunction are visible to any party that needs to know. When data is easily accessible, it’s easier to see which areas of the factory floor run like clockwork, which need to be streamlined, and what strategies you might take to achieve greater productivity.
3. Customer demand is evolving.
Ecommerce has changed the manufacturing game. Consumers have a multitude of channels to purchase your product 24/7. Because virtual store shelves are infinite, companies can offer a greater number of SKUs, as well as options for customizing their product – the built-to-order (BTO) business model. It’s nirvana for the customer, but it’s greatly increased complexity along the assembly line.
For companies with manual scheduling and planning processes, adapting to the minute changes in assembly from product to product is even more difficult. Production schedules can change drastically based on which products are in high demand, and without software that can help manufacturers plan for these sudden shifts, efficiency can take a hit.
A discrete manufacturing ERP can help factories handle heightened complexity without slowing down production. An ERP delivers sophisticated planning and scheduling tools that empower users to create more accurate and dependable plans, efficiently incorporate job schedules into enterprise operations, monitor execution, and respond quickly to unplanned events.
Choose the right ERP — and cut out manual processes
Because discrete manufacturers face a different set of challenges than process manufacturers, it’s critical you select an ERP made for your unique demands. Aptean Made2Manage ERP leverages state-of-the-art scheduling algorithms and real-world capacity, material, and time constraints, enabling manufacturers to model out what-if scenarios, confidently set delivery dates with real-time capable to promise (CTP), and create plans and schedules that maximize efficiency and profit. Made2Manage also has real-time planning and scheduling features, actual job costing and shop floor execution. This kind of visibility helps streamline operations and improves efficiency throughout the entire supply chain.
By investing in the right ERP solution, such as Made2Manage, discrete manufacturers can eliminate costly, inefficient, manual processes and replace them with efficient, time- and labor-saving planning and scheduling. If rising costs, slim resources or customer demand are taking a toll on your manual processes, it’s time to leave the spreadsheets behind and transform your operations with Made2Manage.
Want to learn more about how an ERP can help? Reach out today.