The production strategy of many companies is changing. Shifting to assemble-to-order production, manufacturers are focusing more on R&D, sales & marketing, purchase and production assembly. To stay competitive these companies constantly focus on lead time reduction, searching for new lean methodologies to keep operational margins healthy.

Focus on order controlled manufacturing
ERP suppliers have had to increase their capacity to support order controlled businesses. Smart solutions are now required to help these companies reduce operational costs and shorten both office- and manufacturing lead times.

Capacity planning
Visual scheduling is a key part of this, enabling drastic reductions in the time spent on shop floor planning. This functionality can come from third party software, or from an integrated part of a full suite ERP system.

Attractive features include graphical planning boards, finite automatic planning, and easy to use “drag and drop” features to immediately resolve capacity bottlenecks. Although third party solutions offer the same empowering overview, full integration ensures the entire ERP system is automatically aligned to any changes made.

Shop Floor Control
Decreasing operational production costs by “bringing the ERP information to the work floor” is also a major challenge. Traditionally operators work with information on paper, reporting actuals produced and materials used back to the office for input into the ERP system. Double work, errors and longer (administrative) lead times are the result.

Third party solutions to register this information have been on the market for a few years now, but there is still considerable room for improvement. In addition to issues around integrating separate software systems, simply offering a workstation with ERP access will not lead to the improved efficiency today’s companies require.

In addition to production order information like work instructions, materials required and assembly steps, information like CAD drawings, product pictures, quality checks and documents with standard operating procedures can all add real value. Systems should also be designed for the operator, an easy to use interface accessible from the shop floor. Think of ruggedized machines with touch screen capabilities or MES.

Closing the loop

The new generation of Shop Floor Control (SFC) solutions will interact directly with the shop floor to maintain and communicate status information for production orders or operations. Companies will be able to “close the loop” from real time planning to real time realization. Integration between planning, scheduling, operational activities and realization of the activities performed will be streamlined, resulting in lower operational costs and even shorter (administrative) lead times.

More information
If you would like to know more about how Exact is currently active in this area, please don’t hesitate to get in contact!