Attend Lunch & Learn – Mfg. Lean Transformation Event

Attend Lunch & Learn - Manufacturing Lean Transformation EventJoin the Garland Chamber of Commerce, the Dallas County Manufacturers’ Association (DCMA) and TMAC for Lunch & Learn – Manufacturing Lean Transformation Event

Presentation: The Journey of Lean In A Traditional Business Given By Chief Financial Officer, Duane Prentice, of Hatco Inc. 

Duane enabled breakeven EBITDA for a business which had lost $100M EBIT over the preceding four years (including a$37M EBIT loss in prior year) and generated a $23M positive free cash flow.  He knows LEAN! Read more

US Manufacturing: Factors Driving the Resurgence

Nothing excites me more than the resurgence of US manufacturing. It’s comeback has a multiplier effect on the US economy, for every dollar in final sales of manufactured products, $1.33 goes into output.  This effect accounts for the largest multiplier of any sector in the economy.  I came across this article by Seeking Alpha and condensed it below.  The article describes the continued growth in US manufacturing.

(Read the full article at Seeking Alpha). Read more

Women Who Work Wonders In Manufacturing

Superhero business woman using laptop computer with white wall background, great for your design or text, asian

More than anything, I want to champion strong, smart and courageous women.  I polled far and wide to find such women in the manufacturing industry.  While most industries are split along the same fifty-fifty line of the population, manufacturing’s population of women is only about 25%.

From the shop floor employee to a c-level executive, let me introduce two women we are nominating for STEP awards in manufacturing:  Cielito Toledo Matienzo, and Elizabeth Pospick. Read more

manufacturing erp

Is a Manufacturing ERP Right For Your Small Business?

“I don’t need a manufacturing ERP system to run my business.” Probably, this was the first thought that crossed your mind after reading the title above. But before making a final decision, you should read the rest of this post. Read more

Food Manufacturing ERP

Process Manufacturing ERP: Recipes and Formulations

Process industries like food and beverage, cosmetics and specialty chemicals have had product lifecycle management (PLM) solutions for many years. These solutions rarely receive the same level of attention as those meant for discrete industries.

Things have however started changing in recent years as leading ERP manufacturers like Microsoft, through its Dynamics AX solution, focus on enabling organizations completely manage product definition, from concept to retirement.

Dynamics AX’s capabilities enable faster, more efficient and high quality manufacture of formulated products. A formulated product refers to a structure of items including the label, artwork, container or package, and the formula and recipe for a product. The product can be made in a continuous manner or in batches.

The recipe refers to the ingredients, equipment needed for production, procedures of combining the ingredients, and instructions on how to configure the equipment (e.g. a required mixing time and temperature).

The bill of materials of the process industry is the formula while the manufacturing route and related instructions is the recipe.

Process manufacturing organizations need a Process Manufacturing ERP at all stages. There are basic and specialist requirements at each stage. Microsoft Dynamics AX can be configured to manage process manufacturing requirements such as:

  • Rapid order processing for many customers and their options
  • Lot/Batch recall/traceability and management of FDA health and safety requirements
  • Own and Private label products
  • Business analytics and intelligence; from reporting to real-time events with alerting
  • Inventory planning, management and visibility
  • Product and process costing

Larger companies may require more sophisticated capabilities such as:

  • Transport and/or logistic optimization
  • Product serial number tracking
  • Advanced warehouse task management and Disaster Recovery Planning (DRP) capability
  • Automated production data collection
  • Multiple units of measure capability such as catch-weight management for pricing/costing
  • Lab systems linked to quality inspection

Benefits of Process Manufacturing ERP

Whether you are looking to replace your existing spreadsheets or are in the process of re-evaluating your existing ERP, it’s important to focus on a solution that has a strong process manufacturing foundation. The ERP should support your unique requirements with minimum customization.

Dynamics AX can help to streamline your process manufacturing through:

Production Planning

Production planning provides stability for the details capacity and material plans by ensuring access to timely information, minimizing downtime of production runs, and maximizing resource utilization. Dynamics AX can develop short-, medium- and long-term plans at the plant across multiple locations by answering key questions for planners such as what should be made, how much should be made and where it should be made.

Product Costing

Product costing enables organizations to determine standard or estimated cost rollups. Cost rollups can be determined for a single product or specification, group products or multiple specifications, or for all process specifications for a single or multiple plants.

Materials Planning

Material planning helps managers to develop production plans based on demand, current inventory levels and existing replenishment. Materials planning can determine the quantity and date when packaging supplies and ingredients will be needed after a workable production plan is produced. Planning jobs can also be created and confirmed for later transfer to manufacturing jobs.

Recipe and Formula Management

Organizations can use recipe and formula management to manage the resources required to produce a product in every stage of the manufacturing process. The formula or recipe is the basic building block for the entire manufacturing process. The two define all the resources and steps required to produce raw materials, intermediate products, and resource and labor requirements.

Other benefits of process manufacturing ERP include:

  • Automating your chargeback validation process and helping to keep tabs of regulatory compliance requirements, manage fees and rebates, non-standard pricing and high data volumes.
  • Protect your customers and brand with easy-to-use traceability solutions that can track ingredients and products from suppliers to manufacturing end-users.
  • Make informed manufacturing decisions in real-time to improve delivery performance, contain costs, increase plant throughput and enhance quality.
  • Streamline inventory management and get accurate data in real time to ensure low manufacturing costs, quicker inventory turns, faster time to market and higher quality product.
  • Maximize efficiency and utilization of organization resources to meet market demand and extend the life of significant capital assets.

The above is an overview of recipes and formulations requirements in a process manufacturing ERP.

Watch our Process Manufacturing Video in Dynamics 365 Enterprise:

Dynamics 365 Process Manufacturing Video

Dynamics 365 Process Manufacturing Video

MRO Manufacturing ERP

5 Ways Manufacturing ERP Can Improve Product Quality

Manufacturing ERP systems provide multiple quality management tools that discrete and process manufacturers can use to optimize their processes and deliver high-quality products at competitive price levels. The quality modules included in most ERP packages are fully configurable, allowing users to implement quality control functionality in flexible ways, by simply enabling or disabling a wide variety of features and parameters.

Do you wonder how an ERP system can help with product quality management? If yes, below are five ways you can use such a system to improve the quality of your products.

Manufacturing ERP

  1. Address variations: Manufacturing variations, ranging from ingredient, recipe, and formula to temperature, humidity, ventilation, and pressure variations, can greatly affect product quality. Not only ERP systems allow manufacturers to monitor and keep variations within definite limits, they also facilitate real-time equipment monitoring, machinery analysis, and remote data acquisition to ensure the best quality possible. By configuring ERP systems to track all variations, send alerts before deviations exceed preset values, and automatically take certain corrective actions, you can expect to manufacture higher quality products over time.
  2. Plan: Product quality starts with a plan. Using a manufacturing ERP solution to develop a quality plan will ensure that all of your employees will follow the same route, from raw material procurement throughout production to delivery. Additionally, new ERP features and functions have been developed to block inventory during and after the planning phase, allowing you to reserve the resources required (e.g. materials, documents, sampling, instruments, areas, etc.) and prevent the use of non-approved inventory. Manufacturers can also include in their plans various requirements, ranging from certificates of conformance, product specifications, employee IDs, and transaction IDs to other details essential to achieve a certain quality level.
  3. Ensure data accuracy: Manufacturing high-quality products consistently is impossible without timely, accurate, and complete ERP data. Since end products reflect any quality issues that may arise during the manufacturing process, capturing and synchronizing information as accurately as possible, while new data is added, is critical to ensure that you’re regularly meeting certain quality criteria and regulatory standards. Thanks to advanced ERP systems, collecting and accessing accurate, sufficient information is no longer a challenge for manufacturers.
  4. Manage documents: When it comes to product quality, document management is another important aspect. Manufacturing ERP packages allows users to attach files to projects and reports. For instance, a manager will be able to attach PDFs, Word documents, Excel reports, PowerPoint presentations, images, and other documents to projects and work orders to offer more insight into product specifications, bills of materials, recipes, formulas, inventory, etc. Since data accuracy has a significant influence on operating efficiency, having a system that allows you manage documents efficiently and maintains data integrity when transferring information between applications can help you improve the quality of your products.
  5. Test: ERP systems can also be used to define quality guidelines, predefine tests for materials and finished products, create quality orders that specify the tests that must be performed for particular products, record multiple test results and then compare them against predefined values. When managing nonconforming materials or products, manufacturers can create nonconformance reports and orders, include explanatory notes, link nonconformance orders to each other to identify and explore interconnections between quality issues, and estimate additional costs resulting from nonconformances. In addition, the top ERP solutions enable companies to track issues back to their origins, select the best solutions to problems, manage turnaround times for nonconforming products, connect test results to adequate preventive or corrective actions, and even schedule automated tasks to correct certain problems.

Identifying items with quality problems is essential for a company preoccupied with improving product quality. But more important than this is to determine and understand the underlying sources of quality issues. The fact that most manufacturing ERP systems give manufacturers access to critical information relating to the sources of quality problems, allowing them not only to determine whether a nonconformance was due to wrong work order number, poor-quality materials, defect codes, or wrong recipes or formulas but also to prevent future recurrences, is what makes these software solutions truly valuable.

Enterprise Mobility Solutions

Texas Manufacturing

The Price of Oil And It’s Impact On Texas Manufacturing

A report issued by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas on Monday, 29 December 2014, showed that the overall manufacturing activity in Texas has slowed down. Though the general business activity index was expected to come in at 9, it only moved up to 4.1, losing more than 6 percent in one month. The decline in crude oil prices seems to be one of the factors contributing to decreased business activity. But according to the same report, the factory activity picked up from 6 to 15.8, with most manufacturers remaining optimistic despite oil price downturn.

Based on data collected between December 15 and 29, with the capacity utilization index climbing from 9.8 to 12.4, the shipments index rising to 19.6, the wage and benefit index rising from 23.9 to 25.1, and the future company outlook index edging up to 24.1, industry watchers have concluded that the fall in oil prices cannot drastically affect Texas manufacturing, at least for the moment.

Oil Price Will Continue to Drop: Is Texas a Winner or a Loser?

Oil prices decreasing continuously since June have raised fears among business executives and analysts. Falling oil prices after a financial crisis could lead to economic nightmares, especially in oil-producing states, such as Texas and North Dakota.

Texas Manufacturing

Considering the consequences, it’s understandable that people are worried. Although not all the jobs and money come directly from the oil industry, analysts affirm that any drop in the oil price could lead to an unbalanced local economy – a concern that has been felt more acutely in Texas. For the moment, the falling price of crude oil hasn’t impacted manufacturers. But the question is: Will the 40-percent drop affect Texas manufacturing in the long run?

Not necessarily. In fact, perceptions about economic conditions and future factory activity continue to improve. Furthermore, manufacturers operating in different sectors have already confirmed that the drop in oil price hasn’t impacted their production schedules. While falling oil prices will significantly affect certain areas of the economy (e.g. organizations that have financed speculative drilling), the problems will most likely be outweighed by lower energy prices and cheaper gas for consumers. Assuming oil prices will stay low, people will spend less on gasoline, which will give them more money to spend on other things. As stated by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) and Dallas Fed, increasing purchasing power will revive the economy, positively impacting all sectors, including Texas manufacturing.

While low oil prices are excellent news for consumers, they have a severe impact on areas highly reliant on oil sales. According to international reports, many countries around the globe, including Russia, Iran, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, and the US, could face serious problems if the price drop lasts a long time, regardless of how well prepared they are.

Additionally, if high gasoline prices have encouraged investments in smaller, more efficient cars, large gas-guzzling SUVs could make a comeback as a result of the drop-off in gasoline prices; this will negatively affect all the pro-environment measures we’ve implemented thus far.

If oil stays below $60 per barrel, most drillers will cancel or scale back drilling, or try to cut down costs and keep drilling. It’s impossible to predict where oil prices will bottom out, but the U.S. EIA expects oil production to rise by 700,000 barrels a day in 2015, which is quite low compared with more than 1 million barrels a day in 2014.

Despite oil price crash, oil production will continue everywhere in the world until it makes no sense to drill anymore. The lowest price oil can be produced in the US is $50 per barrel. With oil falling below $54 per barrel last week, we’re close to the critical threshold.

Analysts and manufacturers believe that lower oil prices won’t have a significant adverse impact on overall manufacturing operations; however, unanticipated consequences can generate new problems. Therefore, it’s no wonder that most businesspeople remain cautious over concerns about low oil prices. Since we’ve seen decreasing prices for several months now, it’s time for the companies operating within Texas manufacturing sector to find a way to adapt to this reality, regardless of how incredible and implausible it seems.

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.

Cloud ERP Rankings

Mobile 3D Scanning

Mobile 3D And The Future of ERP Software

Not only mobile technologies have witnessed rapid growth over the past few years, they also have given rise to a new trend, irreversibly transforming the way we live and do business. New mobile apps have already been integrated with various software products and devices, allowing people to control everything, from lights and locks around properties to complex manufacturing processes.

Unfortunately, all these deliver insufficient data to predict the innovations the third industrial revolution, already on the horizon, promise to bring along. Since new apps are continuously changing everything we know about the solutions we use, the future of ERP has become more unpredictable than ever before.

And Here Is the Proof

Smartphones currently replacing common devices, such as cameras and music players, are about to take over more important functions, promising to become indispensable tools in a series of industry sectors, including manufacturing and engineering.

Mobile 3D

One of these functions is mobile 3D scanning. Delivering a brand new technology, mobile 3D scanning apps enable Smartphones to capture objects and scenes, subsequently displaying them as 3D visual representations for further processing, such as measuring, editing and even 3D printing.

Though numerous 3D scanning solutions have been developed over time, the new technology aims to turn 3D scanning into a simple operation — similar to taking pictures with your Smartphone — that no longer requires dedicated hardware. Further, the latest 3D scanning apps are able to connect with phones’ graphics processing units, allowing users to check visual representations and perform calculations instantly. The ability to verify 3D models on the spot gives you the opportunity to identify any missing parts that must be scanned in order to get complete 3D representations of objects.

Applications of 3D Scanning Software

Primarily developed for industrial use, cutting-edge mobile 3D apps not only collect and process data to deliver 3D models, but also output information in a format that can be easily recognized by most software solutions. As a result, 3D technology can be used to:

  • Create customized products for different industry sectors, including machinery, healthcare and even fashion
  • Verify product quality by comparing manufactured products to 3D models
  • Scan buildings and create accurate 3D visual representations for the construction industry
  • Develop CAD models of different parts to update existing products or make new ones

Since the most common uses of 3D scanning include reverse engineering, digital archiving and 3D printing, it’s expected to have a significant impact on the future of ERP.

Is the Future of ERP at Stake?  

Although many ERP users may think that 3D technologies endanger the future of ERP, industry experts explain that new solutions are being constantly developed to extend the capabilities of existing ERP systems.

For instance, a mobile 3D scanning app installed on your Smartphone can be used to obtain a comprehensive 3D visual representation of an older item. Then, you can use your ERP solution not only to access the 3D model saved on your Smartphone, but also to make various changes, such as adding or removing elements and modifying physical dimensions. As soon as you finalize the 3D model, you can connect the same ERP system to a 3D printer and create your first prototype.

The advantage? In comparison to traditional methods of creating prototypes, which use subtractive processes, removing material and producing waste, 3D printers create products by using only the material required to build the items. What does it mean to a manufacturer? Zero waste, lower costs and greater profits.

If the new product is worth the investment, you can use the same ERP system to calculate costs based on different materials, assign specific tasks to employees according to their roles and capabilities, create multiple projects and choose the most advantageous one, and even schedule production.

By combining a reliable ERP system with the right 3D scanning apps and 3D printer, the cost and time of designing and prototyping in manufacturing can be reduced to minimum. Hopefully, 3D scanning and printing will soon help manufacturers produce large amounts of standardized products not just prototypes. This will have a tremendous impact on the future of ERP, encouraging the demand for new ERP solutions, on one side, and further development, on the other.