At the core of your process manufacturing operation is a formula or recipe. Formulas and recipes are what make your product different from other manufacturers. A traditional assembly or BOM manufacturing solution doesn’t fit your business. Keeping your formula or recipe secure, consistent, and accessible helps ensure ongoing quality products. Critical aspects such as your formula, routing, ingredients, unit of measure, and pricing are usually what the process manufacturing solution is tailored around.
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Process manufacturing is common in the food, beverage, chemical, cosmetics, paint, oil & gas, pharmaceuticals, consumer packaged goods, and biotechnology industries. A process manufacturing solution combines your machines, tools, and resources to maximize efficiencies in your manufacturing process. A process manufacturing solution can save you time, enhance production capacity, and give you greater command over inventory and forecasting.
A process manufacturing solution can be part of an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, or it can potentially be added to your existing financial system (3rd party). And some general manufacturing solutions can be configured to the needs of a process or batch manufacturer.
The most critical aspect of a process manufacturing solution revolves around inventory control. Typically managing different units of measure. Traditionally when you put your product together you most likely can’t take it apart which distinguishes how raw materials and inventory are tracked and planned for. Your raw materials are typically measured by weight and/or volume. And the quantity and quality of those raw materials can sometimes be unpredictable which can cause variances in loss and production. A process manufacturing system can help optimize production by better identifying a critical path. Most manufacturing processes have delays in between stages. The system can help match needed ingredients or materials to the times they are required. This can help save you time and money with timelier inventory purchases. It can also help reduce waste for necessary or expiring ingredients with a limited shelf life with expiration tracking. The system can help track ingredients from supplier to end-of-life. And lot management can help with traceability and compliance allowing you to track lot information along key stages from order receipt to end user.
A process manufacturing focused system should allow for units of conversion in measurement. That will allow you to better track inventory levels for order processing, receiving, and batch production. The system should allow you to track for yield variances for actual versus expected yield for each batch. This will allow you to set standards or user thresholds to help with quality control so that you know if variances are so large that you can intervene or alert regulatory agencies.
Your inventory and batches can really be traced back to 4 areas of focus where a solution geared towards process manufacturing can really shine (ingredients, delivery, capacity, & packaging).
Ingredient- This ties in with raw materials or ingredient inventory. Matches your batch size to the available quantities of your ingredients or raw materials on hand. This can help you reduce inventory costs by eliminating unnecessary inventory or better timing with orders from suppliers.
Delivery- This ties in with your supply network. Match your batch size to the amount on order plus the quantity of inventory you keep on hand. This can help reduce your cycle time and profitably deliver what your customer wants when they want it.
Capacity- Match batch size to the capacity that you can produce. This can help with administrative costs, production output, and can potentially reduce overhead. Get the full picture on how capacity affects your total production costs. This information can give you great insight to the exact value/benefit added capacity bring you. Can you take on more orders?
Packaging- Match your batch size to the finished product that can be packaged with materials on hand. This can also help you reduce inventory costs.
The system should include some functionality regarding recipe management, including ingredient substitution. Recipe management can help eliminate errors commonly found in manually generated recipes. Recipe management can even allow you to formulate products to individual customer specifications and produce customized batches. It can allow you to break down recipes into sub mixes or interim stages into a graphical view. You can also track the execution of batches and calculate finished product costs based on the defined ingredients. The system can even help traceability allowing you stay in compliance as ingredients and suppliers change. And you should be able to produce several reports giving you stats and insight on individual ingredient use, formula consistency, batch history, stock control, and production yield.
You may want to keep your ingredients encoded to keep recipes secret. Some formulas can be quite complex. And there are often multiple levels in one bill of materials based on the materials that go into the final product. Added security can help with accessibility, consistency, and ensuring quality.
While many manufacturers can rely on an assembly and interchangeable and consistent parts, process manufacturing companies typically gain a competitive advantage with an ERP solution through their formula or recipe. For all manufacturing companies the pressures of the global economy require a constant commitment to establishing competitive advantages. Process manufacturing software provides a streamlined approach to production and inventory that can provide you significant advantages over the competition. The ability to gain better control of production increases profitability, reduces costs and lead times, minimizes risk, utilizes technology to bring your products to the market faster, and leverages information resources to allow you to make more informed decisions.