What do Manufacturers look for in an ERP

Whitepaper: What Do Manufacturers Look for in ERP Software?

Choosing new manufacturing ERP software that includes great general ledger, accounts payable, cash management, etc., is fairly easy. Decision makers should look for features like easy inter-company transactions perhaps for a complicated process, great reporting and drill-down capabilities. The manufacturer has a much greater challenge. In the last 20 years I have been selling manufacturing solutions and nine times out of ten, the business leaders are not concerned with how the GL or any of the financial modules work. They ask if the software has financial modules and do they work. Often our demonstrations end with financials, or we schedule them for another day, since really what the prospect wants to see is how the software will handle their manufacturing operations.

I came across this whitepaper by Nick Castellina, the VP and Research Group Director at the Aberdeen Group and thought I would share some of the results of a survey focused on manufacturing leaders: What do Manufacturers Look For in an ERP Solution? I have been following Nick’s work for a long time. He provides insightful information for the manufacturing and distribution industries. Read more

Skip the Pain with Acumatica ERP

Start and End with Acumatica

This article is going to try to sell you something and I do hope that if you are a small to mid-sized company you don’t let that turn you off and read the rest of this article.  I have been selling business software to manufacturers and distributors for 20 years.  If I am selling into the small to mid-sized companies, I often find that the reason they need new software is because they can’t function on their old legacy system. These systems can range from a custom database for operations, and QuickBooks for accounting, or software that even I have never heard of.  The focus of the business has been developing a customer base and ensuring plant equipment and inventory as the top priority.  They are talking to me because they are in pain due to the lack of the tools needed to do business in today’s world.  Why not start with a decent software solution at the before your huge growth cycle?  This really has not been possible until now with the cloud ERP solutions like Acumatica a FULL featured business software that can be used on ANY device.  Please read on… Read more

Benefits of ERP

6 Manufacturing Problems ERP Solves

6 Manufacturing Problems ERP Solves Manufacturers face various challenges every single day. The challenges may vary from one manufacturer to another. However, there are common problems facing all the manufacturers alike. Some of these issues can be addressed using personalized company policies or well-designed SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures)  while others can be addressed by implementing […]

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ETO Software

6 Points To Consider When Searching For ETO Software

Anyone who has worked in the engineer-to-order (ETO) manufacturing sector long enough knows that regular enterprise software solutions require significant customization to meet the needs and demands of ETO manufacturers. Since most ERP systems aren’t specifically designed for project-oriented environments like ETO, but for traditional manufacturing, finding an ETO software solution able to meet unique ETO manufacturing requirements isn’t easy. Things tend to become even more difficult if we take into account additional aspects, such as increasingly complex processes typically accompanying business growth.

ETO Software

Though a regular ERP solution can help ensure accuracy and consistency of manufacturing operational data and processes, below are six points any ETO manufacturer should consider to make the right software choice.

  1. Functionality: Each approach to manufacturing a specific product brings along a new set of unique challenges, including tossing specifications and engineering changes back and forth between customers, ETO manufacturers, and third parties; meeting tight deadlines; and working with multiple parties for producing complex items. An ETO software solution that can help address all challenges directly and simultaneously will make the difference between success and failure. To make the most of an ETO system, it should include complex functionality for project monitoring, control, and budgeting. Specifically, it should allow you to create budgets, track labor and time, specify work breakdown structures, report data, define project predecessors and successors, revise activities, adjust engineering and manufacturing bills of materials (BOM), roll out designs directly into production, and calculate and compare actual costs to forecasts and budgets as projects progress.
  2. Integration: The capability of an ETO software system to integrate with existing computer-aided design (CAD) solutions is another essential point. A system supporting CAD integration eliminates double entries and human error by enabling users to import and export product-related data, such as technical drawings, graphics, quotations, and prices. The best software solutions allow users to attach and view on demand videos, images, and extensive documents.
  3. Updates: To be truly useful, an ERP system developed for ETO manufacturers should provide access to the latest financial and technical data so that informed, timely decisions can be made. Additional features should include capacity planning functionality, client/vendor management tools, and warning systems that can be set up for different project components, including inventory, budget, deadlines, etc.
  4. Operations: Although the most complex ERP systems may include functionality to support ETO manufacturing processes, the gold standard for this sector remains project-based solutions (PBS). Part of advanced ERP systems, PBS focuses exclusively on project management, offering 360-degree visibility into various production areas, ranging from inventory levels and individual item costs to complex manufacturing operations. For example, if you’re manufacturing a product repeatedly, you can use PBS not only to determine product costs, but also to calculate and track additional costs according to the customizations required by a particular client. Without PBS, it would be very difficult to perform complex operations, track costs, and estimate profits for each project.
  5. Reporting: Reporting along with revision control is critical to help maintain project items up to date. An ERP system fully optimized for ETO manufacturing must include sophisticated reporting features to help identify out-of-specification items in inventory. Based on complex reports, engineers can revise old items and implement specific corrective actions (returns, reorders, or adjustments) to bring them up to new specifications. An ETO software solution lacking adequate revision control and reporting capabilities is quite useless, as it may fail to help ETO manufacturers meet project specifications.
  6. Vendor: Finding an ERP vendor specializing in ETO manufacturing is as important as selecting the right software solution for your company. Since the company offering the software takes care of many aspects, including system implementation, maintenance, and staff training, it will have a direct impact on business efficiency, performance, and results. When selecting a vendor, ask him to present software functionality in a fashion that mirrors your operations. As with any other enterprise software solution, a good understanding of your business needs is paramount.

The points outlined above can help you understand how to go about selecting enterprise software that truly meets your needs. The right ETO software solution not only facilitates superior product management, but also establishes the best pathway to business success.

JAMS Acumatica

JAMS For Acumatica: A Complete Manufacturing Software Solution

Continuous availability and real-time updates of every detail involved in manufacturing operations are two of the most important factors that drive profitability and growth. If your company is faced with unnecessary downtime, huge operating costs, sub-optimal efficiency,  noncompliance with quality standards and lack of internal collaboration, it’s time to get a complex manufacturing software solution capable to seamlessly integrate your shop floor with critical business areas, such as manufacturing, distribution, accounting and customer management. The focus on managing different manufacturing areas simultaneously delivered the foundation upon which JAMS for Acumatica was developed.

modern textile factory manager

JAMS for Acumatica: What to Expect

Especially designed to leverage Acumatica’s capabilities, JAMS delivers advanced functionality via Windows Azure, facilitating real-time coordination of various operations from one central location, on premise or as a service. Integrating with Acumatica’s Distribution, Financial and Customer modules, JAMS Manufacturing delivers a flexible, end-to-end manufacturing software solution, which gives companies the ability to:

  • manage various manufacturing processes, costs and inventories in real time
  • assign supplies to job orders and job orders to teams
  • choose among different manufacturing options, such as job shop, engineer-to-order, make-to-order and make-to-stock
  • automate different production processes and financial operations

To help you complete all these tasks and many others, JAMS Manufacturing for Acumatica makes available the following modules:

  • Production Management. Complementing Acumatica’s inventory, order and requisition capabilities, JAMS Manufacturing allows you to control everything, from raw materials and components to end products. Thanks to this module, you’ll be able to create and adjust production orders and calculate the materials and equipment needed to complete certain projects. Additionally, you can calculate and divide manufacturing costs based on overhead, labor, material and outside processes.
  • Bill of Materials and Routing. You can use this module to create and view specifications along with different versions of products, manage costs, inventories and manufacturing processes for accurate forecasting, and even plan future functionality for upcoming projects.
  • Material Requirements Planning (MRP). Maintaining optimal inventory levels, MRP prevents stock outs and excessive inventory buildups, allowing organizations to deliver more than they promise. Additionally, this module provides views of master production schedules, sales activities and criteria selected for production and purchase orders.
  • Product Configurator. Designed to verify sales and work orders, Product Configurator identifies the orders that don’t comply with specific requirements, preventing them from reaching the shop floor. This way, production delays, rework resulting in wasted inventory, and customer service issues can be easily avoided.
  • Quality. The Quality module comprises a Material Review Board, which presents all the materials and equipment pieces used during the manufacturing process. Since this board also includes material/equipment rejection reasons, it can help you choose the right materials/equipment for future projects.
  • Release Accounting. Providing a fully integrated EDI module, Release Accounting enhances the functionality of this manufacturing software solution even more, saving you the cost and your employees the hassle of managing time-consuming non-integrated EDI transactions, which usually result in error and rework — two factors known to negatively affect overall business activity.
  • Quoting and Estimating. Embedded with forecasting functionality, the Quoting and Estimating module can be used to estimate future costs and generate quotes for upcoming projects upon request.
  • Scheduling and Capacity. Especially developed to help you schedule production, this module gives 360-degree, real-time visibility into previous, current and future work orders. Further, Scheduling and Capacity allows you to create diverse “what-if” scenarios and analyze production capacity based on last-minute changes.
  • Reporting. Getting accurate, periodic reports allows you to analyze your organization’s efficiency and profitability. You can use different features to customize your reports and even create graphical representations, which present information in a clear, concise form, facilitating the monitoring of key performance indicators.

All these modules turn JAMS Manufacturing for Acumatica into a robust, fully featured, cost effective manufacturing software solution, which can help you deal with the constant pressure to produce top quality products on time. With this system on your side, you’ll be able not only to comply with current demands and anticipate future needs, but also to deal with competition, labor shortages, economic fluctuations, compliance mandates and many other challenges you may be facing.


Wearable Technology

Google Glass: Seeing The Future Of Cloud ERP

Manufacturing is one of the best industries for new technologies to be tested and deployed. Take Google Glass. Delivering an innovative technology that can be used by anyone, from students to technicians and physicians, Google Glass can find more uses in manufacturing than in any other sector. This theory has been recently demonstrated by Plex Systems, Inc., a software company specializing in cloud ERP solutions for manufacturing.

Manufacturing Experts Are Testing Google Glass

Plex Systems specialists have used Google Glass in conjunction with their ERP system to perform a series of tasks according to different employees’ roles and responsibilities. With this wearable device, they’ve monitored activities, performed financial operations, accessed, recorded and shared information with other users, and even implemented emergency settings for increased operator safety.

Based on their findings, Plex technicians have confirmed that Google Glass is able to extend the capabilities of exiting ERP solutions, adding significant value by increasing operational efficiency in manufacturing and other industry sectors dependent on mobile workforce.

businessman with digital glasses

Concisely, Plex Systems project has revealed that Google Glass not only provides indispensable hands-free equipment for the shop floor, facilitating seamless connectivity with cloud ERP solutions, real-time access to information, and accurate monitoring and recording – critical elements in the manufacturing industry; it can also manage diverse administrative and financial tasks, with more features for new jobs roles to be developed. As a result, Google Glass is expected to change enterprise environments for good.

The Impact of Wearable Technology on Cloud ERP

Delivering context-sensitive information to help users make informed task-oriented decisions, Google Glass-like products are very useful. But what makes them special? Unlike regular laptops, tablets and Smartphones, wearable devices provide key benefits hands-free, a critical feature when users must perform certain tasks hands-free and with minimal distraction.

What else? Newly developed wearable devices are embedded with cutting-edge technologies that make possible:

  • Object/Image Recognition – Developments in digital imaging provide superior resolution and incredible scanning capabilities, turning wearable devices into reliable cameras, barcode readers and even 3D scanners. But Google Glass not only detects, it also inspects objects. This means that it can be used to analyze whether an item meets specific criteria or falls outside the specification limits.
  • Speech Recognition – Equipped with state-of-the-art speech recognition technology that incorporates new advances in Artificial Intelligence, Google Glass enables true hands-free functionality.

Unfortunately, Google Glass has no cellular radio capability, which means that it can only connect to the Internet via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. Without network connection, you can use this device to take pictures, record videos, get directions and access Google’s offline search engine. Once connected to the Internet, Google Glass delivers the functionality of a Smartphone as a hands-free device. Because Google Glass has minimal functionality on its own, developing a reliable enterprise network capable to support multiple devices is of the utmost importance.

Despite the negatives, this wearable device is likely to have a significant positive impact on cloud ERP. Besides making it easier than ever for professionals to communicate with each other and perform a variety of tasks, regardless of whether they’re in the office or on the shop floor, Google Glass is poised to eliminate error and rework — two major pain points in manufacturing. Considering all these, anyone can easily understand why an increasing number of manufacturers are eager to exploit the true potential of this new technology.

But, Google Glass promises much more. For instance, receiving staff can use Google Glass to send information to the office as they scan bar codes on newly arrived packages. With the same device, engineers can look at machines, diagnose problems and order replacement parts on the spot to avoid prolonged downtime. As well, maintenance staff can use Google Glass to consult repair instructions without having to put tools down in order to use a handheld device. Because wearable technology allows workers to access information from anywhere, at any time, it’s expected to offer unlimited possibilities and even open up new horizons for cloud ERP.

In conclusion, no one can deny the reciprocal relationship between cloud computing and wearable technology. While cloud computing encourages the development of Google Glass-like devices, wearable technology provides a new point of reference for cloud developers.

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