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The Complete Guide to ERP for Industrial Manufacturing

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The Complete Guide to ERP for Industrial Manufacturing

4 Nov 2021

Andy Pickard
Business professionals talking in an industrial manufacturing warehouse

The industrial manufacturing sector is undergoing major transformation. Organizations are realizing that manual processes and outdated systems can’t support current market and operational complexities, so they’re investing in new digital transformation strategies with industrial manufacturing ERP technology at the heart.

Swapping old software out for a new ERP solution sounds like a simple process, but if you’re not sure what you’re looking for, this change can be anything but straightforward. And investing in the wrong platform is an expensive mistake to make.

To help you find a good-fit solution and start driving noticeable change, Aptean has put together a complete guide to ERP for industrial manufacturing. It’s based on years of experience helping discrete manufacturers to streamline operations and improve output, without compromising on quality and cost.

What Is ERP for Industrial Manufacturing?

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) technology is a digital platform for automating and streamlining essential operations. It also generates data insights through which your business can understand what’s happening in real time and make effective strategic decisions.

There are many industry-agnostic or general manufacturing ERP solutions currently available, and these will provide the basic features your business needs to run smarter. For example, CRM tools for managing customer relationships, finance and accounting features, and inventory management functionality.

However, generic software platforms don’t contain specific functionality designed to meet the needs of industrial manufacturers—which is why many organizations choose an ERP for industrial manufacturing. Even general manufacturing solutions with custom functionality bolted on won’t work as seamlessly as ERP software that’s been created specifically for the industrial manufacturing industry. And those bolt-ons or customization can cost you in both dollars and implementation time.

As an industrial manufacturer, you’re responsible for fabricating products that make life easier for others, whether that’s creating equipment that enables mass-manufacturing in further industries, or creating household products that save time and energy on everyday tasks. This means you’re working in a precision environment, dealing with hundreds (if not thousands) of components, all of which have to be sourced, managed and assembled correctly to make sure everything that leaves your production line works correctly.

ERP for industrial manufacturing has been created with these exact challenges in mind, offering detailed functionality that helps you to increase production output, reduce waste, optimize profits and keep your customers happy.

Who Is Industrial Manufacturing ERP Software For?

Industrial manufacturing (sometimes also referred to as discrete manufacturing) covers a diverse range of sub-sectors, including manufacturers involved in the production of:

  • Agricultural equipment

  • Aerospace and defense equipment

  • Construction, engineering and mining equipment

  • Commercial and service machinery

  • Food manufacturing machinery

  • Fabricated metal manufacturing

  • Electronics equipment

  • Product packaging systems

  • Woodworking, glass making, printing and paper making machinery

  • Ventilation, heating and cooling equipment

In fact, industrial manufacturing can include any sector where equipment is required to achieve results at scale; from chemical processing and petroleum refining, to producing sewing machines and making textiles.

While the end products are diverse, industrial manufacturers share many common objectives—which is why industry-specific ERP software adds such value. It enables organizations to automate core processes, centralize operations and unify departments, to improve productivity and mitigate risk.

What Are the Benefits of Investing in ERP for Industrial Manufacturing?

Industrial manufacturing is a highly repetitive industry, and every product that leaves the shop floor needs to be constructed to the same high standard. Industrial manufacturers also thrive on lean operations and economies of scale. The more efficiently your business runs (without having to compromise on end product quality), the greater output you can achieve, and the more profit you make.

This makes certain features within the ERP for industrial manufacturing software critically important, such as:

  • Supply chain management and inventory control modules, for complete component traceability. If the wrong part gets fitted, product recalls are costly and time-consuming. And greater supply chain visibility enables industrial manufacturers to compare estimated delivery times with upcoming orders, sourcing components from alternative sources if necessary, in order to keep pace with demand.

  • Quote features that automatically turn job approvals into a bill of materials (BOM), to make sure the relevant parts have been added to that job, speeding up the quoting and estimating process. This function complements material planning requirements software, as it creates an accurate record of what available stock has been promised to upcoming jobs, along with accurate data of parts requirements over time to support effective ordering processes.

  • Smart scheduling features that arrange production by type, to minimize the amount of machinery downtime required to retool each day. Digital schedules can also factor-in market changes, such as a components order being delayed, pulling forward jobs that can still be completed with parts in stock.

  • Forecasting functionality to understand upcoming workload and machinery capacity, so you can either compress production times to lower operational costs, or schedule vital maintenance work during quiet periods—rather than waiting for something to break during peak trading. The high-pressure nature of industrial manufacturing means machinery is under great stress, and when you’re assembling complex products or producing high volumes each day, unplanned machinery downtime can be incredibly expensive. It’s particularly important for industrial manufacturers to be able to manage demand in an unpredictable climate, as we saw from the many organizations that struggled with significant increases and decreases in customer orders during the pandemic.

  • Business intelligence (BI) and analytics tools for understanding the true value of each job and customer, so you can strengthen your most vulnerable areas and pursue new business opportunities that align with your most profitable work. With a repetitive, often relentless, sector like industrial manufacturing, it’s easy to keep ‘going through the motions’ without stopping to assess whether your strategy is enhancing your bottom line.

For more information on the specific functionality of industrial manufacturing ERP technology, read Aptean’s guide to comparing discrete manufacturing ERP systems.

Why Does Your Business Need an Industrial Manufacturing ERP Solution Now?

On a fundamental level, ERP software is often needed to help industrial manufacturers ‘level up’, if your current operational systems and processes could be getting in the way of business growth. For example, you need better reporting to identify customer growth opportunities, or a quicker, more secure system for collecting and validating operational data.

Equally, many industrial manufacturers now recognize the role of process automation and data integration in their future business model, so have embarked on a path to digital transformation. Industrial manufacturing ERP software can accelerate this transition, by integrating systems that are currently disconnected, and identifying where your organization can be run more efficiently, cost-effectively and sustainably. Read our top 8 benefits of digital transformation blog for more detail.

The pandemic also highlighted the need for ERP investment to many discrete manufacturers. When the market is fluctuating, every internal cost must be optimized. And supply chain flexibility is critical to surviving market disruption. Aptean’s future manufacturing supply chain whitepaper looks at this challenge in detail; we encourage you to download it.

How Can You Build a Strong Business Case for Industrial Manufacturing ERP?

We’ve talked about the specific software features that prove the value of investing in ERP for industrial manufacturing, rather than a generic manufacturing solution. But building a business case is about more than showing what technology can do; it’s demonstrating the difference industrial manufacturing ERP can make.

The simplest way to do this is to work with an ERP partner that has experience in discrete manufacturing, and can provide you with case studies and testimonials of what other industrial manufacturers have achieved with ERP software.

For example, Aptean’s Industrial Manufacturing ERP solution has enabled The Metalworking Group to increase on-time deliveries from 75% to 86% in less than one year.

Meanwhile, Vita Health Products has increased year-over-year production by 25% and year-over-year job order size by 60% using Aptean ERP.

Consider the infrastructure of the ERP platforms you’re considering as well. If you’ve got a multi-site operation, choosing on premise technology can be both expensive and limiting.

Generally speaking, cloud-based industrial manufacturing ERP software gives organizations security and efficiency alongside scalability—and it’s easy to fix problems or install upgrades remotely. Cloud-based software easily integrates with other manufacturing systems you’re currently using via API technology, to create a ‘hub and spoke’ approach to industrial manufacturing with your ERP solution at the center.

To learn more about the advantages of cloud software over on-premise technology, read our blog post: Manufacturers, There’s a Compelling Case for Moving to Cloud Manufacturing ERP NOW.

It’s also important that you look beyond technical functionality to see if the vendors you’re considering are the right cultural fit for your business. There’s no point choosing a technology provider that takes a hands-off approach if you’re not confident on the best way to implement or run industrial manufacturing ERP software. You need a strong training and technical support package in place to ensure ROI.

Why Choose Aptean Industrial Manufacturing ERP?

If you’re putting together a business case for discrete manufacturing ERP software, let us help.

Aptean Industrial Manufacturing ERP is already used extensively by manufacturers to maximize performance while optimizing costs. How? By creating accurate, dependable plans, gaining greater visibility into job costs and profits, and improving on-time delivery rates.

We don’t see ourselves as a technology provider. Instead, we’re a key partner, working with industrial manufacturers to drive everyday improvements—like the customer stories we’ve already mentioned.

Book your free Aptean Industrial Manufacturing ERP demo to start planning, scheduling, executing and tracking operations with more efficiency and flexibility.

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