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CFO’s Discover Tangible ROI of CADLink Integration to ERP

Tangible ROI Factors of CADLink Integration With ERP

As a CFO of a manufacturing or MRO company, you know all to well, how your time spent looking at the bottom line, and directing your business through financial mazes and getting the best business solutions for your company can be a time consuming process.  Clients First Texas recently partnered with an Independent Software Vendor (ISV) with great references and a solution many of our manufacturers need; CADLink by Qbuild has tangible returns on investment of integrating CADLink with your ERP solution.  As a result, we are presenting the CAD integration solution by having a webinar aimed at the manufacturing and MRO industries.  The webinar will be held on March 24th at 12PM CST. Read more

Join Our Launch Event Showcasing The New Dynamics AX

Launch Event Showcasing The New Dynamics AX

Join Clients First Texas as we are hosting a launch event on the new Microsoft Dynamics AX on March 8th or 9th, 2016.  Discover the new features of this powerful business technology written entirely written in HTML 5 with a code upgrade, that is a true Cloud ERP Offering.  This will allow Dynamics AX to be used across any internet enabled device.

Learn how Microsoft Dynamics AX can help you increase the speed of doing business.

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MROs Fuel Serviceable Materials Strategy with Dynamics AX and ProMRO

With air travel industry developing at a faster pace than ever before, the aircraft aftermarket has attracted the attention of original equipment manufacturers or OEMs, which found new ways to meet growing demand for aircraft spare parts and components. As leading providers of aftermarket services in the aviation industry, OEMs have generated billions of dollars in revenue per year, over the past several years. To remain competitive maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) providers cultivate new ways to generate more profit.  Read more

How Many Companies Use Microsoft Dynamics AX and NAV?

One of the questions that organizations looking to transition or upgrade to Microsoft Dynamics AX or NAV ask is how many organizations use the ERPs.  Data released from the recent Convergence 2015 conference shows that Microsoft NAV is the most popular Dynamics product. In fact, Dynamics NAV has more than double the total customers of the next most popular ERP. 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 Software: Texas Manufacturing

Since 2010, Texas has continued to attract more manufacturing partnerships, multi-billion dollar investments, and skilled workforce than any other state. The success of the manufacturing sector in this state is thanks, in part, to the stable pro-business environment, low taxes, excellent transportation infrastructure, and competent labor force. The support received from MROs and advanced manufacturing facilities have also helped Texas to become a leading manufacturing state in the US.

Making available innovative technologies, complex MRO software solutions help MROs to improve processes, increase productivity, and cut costs. Unsurprisingly, technology innovation has become the centerpiece of economic development efforts, especially in the southern states.

Achieve Service Excellence with MRO Software

Carrying out a wide variety of maintenance and repair operations, MROs support the manufacturing sector by keeping manufacturing plants running at peak performance. But more important than this is that maintenance, repair, and overhaul efforts are dependent on advanced MRO software.

MRO Software

Set to make continuous investments in innovative MRO solutions, such as Microsoft Dynamics AX, a number of companies operating in Texas are ready to defeat their competitors across the US. With Dynamics AX, any organization can efficiently manage global operations, which translates into higher annual revenues. Specifically, Dynamics AX allows MROs to:

  • integrate the top floor with the plant floor to gain more insight into operations, identify where improvements can be made, and streamline all maintenance and repair activities to increase operational stability;
  • optimize supply chains by determining where exactly specific pieces of equipment, components, and parts must be relocated for the best results to be achieved;
  • accurately gather, process, and manage a large amount of data from different sources;
  • gain a competitive edge over business rivals by responding to complex challenges in real time;
  • rapidly change any aspect of MRO operations, according to company-specific needs, customer demands, and market opportunities;
  • achieve the kind of flexibility and responsiveness needed to improve service quality, boost productivity, reduce costs, and secure a strong position in the MRO sector;
  • bring new, competitive service offerings (e.g. performing repair tasks at clients’ locations) to the market faster than the competition, which will give any MRO company the opportunity to create and capture more value in emerging markets;
  • ensure optimal utilization of resources and reduce downtime by simply predicting and planning maintenance events ;
  • streamline business operations by collaborating effectively with partners, suppliers, and customers;
  • benefit from advanced MRO software applications, which enable companies to keep up with the rapid changes of the MRO sector and offer greater value to customers.

With Dynamics AX, a MRO company can make proactive decisions that maximize productivity and prevent breakdown scenarios. Tight integration with existing software solutions eliminates the need to run and maintain multiple separate systems, which enables superior control over teams, work orders, resource allocation, equipment, parts, and costs.

Once Dynamics AX is set up, information starts to flow seamlessly across all modules, in real time. As a result, any maintenance and repair activities can be scheduled accurately; work orders, equipment, parts, personnel, and downtime can be reserved based on up-to-date information; tasks are performed according to a predefined process so that no jobs will be skipped; available resources can be displayed by location, job type, capacity, etc.; and reports can be created at individual (project, equipment, parts, materials, etc.) levels.

Assessing the Impact

The number of southern states investing in advanced manufacturing, maintenance, repair, and overhaul technologies is growing continuously, bringing significant economic benefits to the entire region. As an example, South Carolina has received substantial foreign investments, Tennessee has become famous for its multiple auto-assembly plants, and Georgia has successfully reshored a variety of manufacturing operations back from overseas.

However, Texas is the only state winning gold in most economic categories. That’s because a high number of MROs currently operating in Texas have invested in advanced MRO software solutions. By placing innovation in maintenance, repair, and overhaul among their highest priorities, MRO companies support all manufacturing industry sectors, ranging from food processing to aerospace and defense.

MRO WEBINAR



Upgrading ERP

Upgrading ERP: Microsoft Dynamics SL or GP to Dynamics AX or NAV

Microsoft Dynamics AX, Dynamics SL, Dynamics GP and Dynamics NAV are leading enterprise solutions tailored for different industries. Many organizations depend on one or more of the four product lines in their daily operations.

When organizations need a new ERP system, the costs of installing or upgrading is something that must be carefully considered. However, did you know that if you already use one of the MS Dynamics products you qualify for full investment credit if you upgrade to a different Dynamics system? The credit is offered as part of Microsoft Dynamics enhancement plan and is referred to as the Product Line Transition.

Companies upgrading ERP from Dynamics SL or Dynamics GP to Dynamics AX or Dynamics NAV can taking advantage of this promotion from Microsoft and save on their new installations. The promotion applies for various transitions, including:

  • Product Line Transition: Move from Dynamics SL or Dynamics GP to Dynamics NAV or Dynamics AX and get full investment credit for the cost of the original ERP purchase.
  • Edition Transition: Changing your Dynamics AX (or other Dynamics ERP product) edition. For example, upgrading Dynamics AX R2 to Dynamics AX R3.
  • License Model Transition: Changing from the Module Based Licensing model to the Business Ready Licensing model, within Dynamics AX (or other MS Dynamics ERP product).

There are a number of reasons why it may be necessary to transition to Dynamics NAV or Dynamics AX. One reason is functionality. While all Dynamics ERP products are solid financial systems, their capabilities are tailored for particular industries. For example, upgrades on Dynamics SL have in the recent years focused on project accounting features, which are best suited for companies in the service industry. If your core business is manufacturing or distribution, Dynamics AX will be a better system to use.

Upgrading ERP

Dynamics AX may not only be a better fit for your organization in terms of functionality, but you can also save on cost by taking advantage of product transition credit. When you switch to Dynamics NAV or Dynamics AX from either Dynamics SL or Dynamics GP, you will receive a full investment credit for the value of your new system to use toward the license cost of the software you are transitioning from.

Benefits of Upgrading to Dynamics AX or Dynamics NAV

To ensure a successful transition, it’s important to worki with a Microsoft Certified partner that has experience with Dynamics AX or Dynamics NAV installation. The partner should also be able to help replace your CRM system to take advantage of Dynamics AX and NAV integration to Dynamics CRM.

Some benefits of upgrading to Dynamics AX include:

a) Increase growth without adding staff

Dynamics AX helps to improve efficiency and output in the organization without increasing costs. As a result, organizations can realize an increase in the volume of transactions and the bottom line.

b) More efficient processes

The order entry process in Dynamics AX is extremely efficient. You can document the time it takes to process orders and drill down on areas where wastage can be eliminated. By having accurate information, you can tell a customer exactly what’s available in store and when it can be shipped out.

c) Flexible for your organization

After Dynamics AX has been installed, you will not have to modify your workflow and procedures to fit the software. The software is made flexible to fit your organization’s present and changing needs. The ERP is also user friendly and does not have a steep learning curve.

d) Integration with Dynamics CRM

You can provide the sales team with the information they need by using Dynamics CRM integrated with Dynamics AX. For instance, the team can view customer information, including pricing directly in Dynamics AX.

e) Better reporting through Excel

Dynamics AX integrates with various Microsoft products, including Excel. The ERP implementation partner can configure AX to generate data directly into Excel in the format that the management wants. This will not only reduce time that employees would have spent on creating reports, but also save you money.

Working with a Microsoft Certified Partner when upgradig from Dynamics SL or GP to Dynamics AX or NAV is crucial to the long term success of your organization.


Enterprise Mobility Solutions



Process Manufacturing ERP

Points To Consider When Looking For A Process Manufacturing ERP

The Internet abounds with hundreds of blog posts trying to persuade manufacturers to invest in a process manufacturing ERP solution. Regardless of how hard ERP developers and vendors try to convince manufacturing companies that an ERP system could be the best investment for them, a manufacturer should never make a final decision before asking the right questions. What questions are we talking about?

To begin with, do you, as a process manufacturer, really need an ERP system? Can it help you improve productivity and quality, meet regulatory standards, and serve customers better? Are there any factors you should consider when choosing ERP software? By examining these questions, with a focus on the elements any process manufacturer should take into account when selecting an ERP solution, you’ll be able to develop a really shortlist of ERP alternatives.

Process Manufacturing ERP: Points to Consider

Since process manufacturing is very different from discrete manufacturing, opting for an ERP solution especially developed for process manufacturing environments, including engineer-to-order, make-to-order, make-to-stock, configure-to-order, and assemble-to-order, can help better control the areas that matter most for your company, such as recipes and formulas, bills of materials, production flow rates, product and process design, testing, traceability, scheduling, and cost allocation along with seamless integration, real-time visibility, and instant user access.

Process Manufacturing Worker

The comprehensiveness and configurability of the solution are two essential aspects for any process manufacturer. Though most process manufacturing ERP systems are developed to meet a wide range of business requirements, writing down what is absolutely necessary and what is optional for your company will help you choose an ERP solution that provides exactly the features you need to optimize and streamline your operations. Additionally, a highly configurable ERP system will allow you to efficiently manage unique practices, processes, and requirements, while tracking profits and losses.

To achieve the best outcomes, it’s imperative that the system meets the requirements of your industry vertical. Not only such a system will allow you to eliminate costly customizations later on; it will also reduce the likelihood of errors and unanticipated consequences.

The deployment model is another critical point for a process manufacturer. Most ERP vendors offer customers the flexibility to choose between two delivery options: on-premise and cloud-based ERP software. An on-premise ERP solution is perfect for companies that already have an in-house hosting environment and the technical capacity to support, control, and maintain a complex system. Cloud ERP solutions, on the other side, are ideal for organizations that lack the necessary IT infrastructure and staff to manage such systems. In this case, the software, updates, and applications are managed entirely by the vendor in exchange for a monthly fee. The choice between these two deployment models isn’t that difficult if specific factors, including workforce mobility, system scalability and integration, and pricing model, are taken into account.

When you’re choosing an ERP solution, it’s also important to consider the vendor. By working closely with an experienced ERP vendor, you’ll have all the support you need during and after system implementation. When unexpected errors occur or misunderstandings arise, having an expert by your side is critical. Stability, market presence in region, past successes, expertise, adaptability, and innovation are important considerations to ponder when selecting your vendor.

After a careful planning, prioritization, and in-depth analysis of process manufacturing ERP options, it’s time to select the right system for your company. Dynamics AX is one of the best ERP solutions you can find. For years, AX has been seen as one of most flexible systems that can be easily optimized for any process manufacturing company, regardless of whether it operates on a local or global scale. And that’s because the inner workings of Dynamics AX have been especially developed to match recipe- and formula-based manufacturing environments.

Whether manufacturing to order or to stock, Dynamics AX provides all the features you may need to plan, execute, control, and track the output, while maximizing resource utilization, streamlining business processes, and driving superior performance. Furthermore, as a complete process manufacturing ERP solution, AX focuses on operational efficiency and ensures visibility throughout the entire supply chain along with seamless integration in any process manufacturing environment, enabling process manufacturers to respond quickly to shifting market conditions.


Food and Beverage Distribution software



Food Processing ERP

Food Processing ERP: Formulas and Recipes

To remain competitive in the coming decades, food processing manufacturers must find new, more efficient ways to transform raw materials into sellable products, while meeting a wide range of requirements. For this, they need complex food processing ERP solutions, which combine planning and reporting capabilities with industry-specific formula, recipe, tracking, and control functionality. By using advanced capabilities, process manufacturers can easily and effectively manage all the variables required to control manufacturing life cycles, gain visibility into business activities, drive continuous improvements, optimize production, manufacture high-quality products, and comply with the latest regulations and standards.

Food Processing ERP

Formula and Recipe Functionality: Is It Important?    

The unique characteristics of the food processing industry have determined developers to create software products that can manage niche-specific requirements. Single software solutions, such as Microsoft Dynamics AX, can help process manufacturers handle a series of operations, formulas, recipes, extractions, chemical reactions, and many other factors necessary to successfully convert raw materials into final products. Since recipes and formulas include more variations than regular bills of materials, Dynamics AX has become an indispensable tool for food processing manufacturers. As a food processing ERP solution, AX can help you with:

  • Recipe and formulation management – Since recipes and formulations are unique to food processing, manufacturing process management used to pose significant challenges for food and beverage companies. But this is no longer the case. Dynamics AX includes features that manufacturers can use to manage standard, adjusted-as-planned, and adjusted-as-produced recipes, substitute ingredients, formulate products to individual specifications, break down recipes into interim production stages, calculate costs based on ingredients and recipes, view formulations as tables, graphics, or charts, track batch execution, verify and validate compliance requirements, and create and filter reports by ingredient, formula, recipe, batch, stock, and production yield.
  • Production control – Formula and recipe functions included in advanced food processing software can help manufacturers control inventory items and handle different units of measure to optimize production. Since raw materials are usually measured by weight or volume, including different ingredients in a recipe can cause variances in production. To eliminate variances, Dynamics AX has been complemented with conversion factors that convert quantities from one unit of measure to another. The system can also be set up to track ingredients and make them available exactly when they’re required. Using ingredients before their expiration dates can help reduce waste.
  • Batch optimization – Dynamics AX is one of the few food processing ERP solutions that allow you to plan and produce goods against preset batch sizes, which will increase manufacturing yields. Additionally, it enables users to reserve raw materials for specific dates and restrict certain processes. For instance, newly received inventory may be available for viewing, planning, and reservations but put on hold from shipping. New features also facilitate automatic quantity adjustments based on the active ingredients used in recipes. This way, manufacturers can ensure that the right concentrations of ingredients are used in all products.
  • Competitive advantage – Unlike other manufacturers, food processing companies gain a competitive advantage especially through their formulas and recipes. Having a reliable food processing ERP system to control production, reduce costs and lead times, minimize risks, increase profitability, bring products to market faster than before, and efficiently deal with economic pressures and their consequences can help you achieve a competitive position in your niche.

Finally, food and beverage companies have a complex ERP system that fits their unique requirements. Designed with industry-specific capabilities, including advanced recipe and formula functions,  Dynamics AX is one of the few food processing ERP solutions ready to help food processing manufacturers handle variability, adjust ingredients, quantities, and production phases according to the specifications of each product, manage inventory items based on expiration dates, speed up production processes, calculate costs and define yields, track batches and lots, and meet government regulations to produce consistently quality goods and remain competitive.





OData

Tales From The Script: OData

One of the major improvements made in Dynamics AX 2012 R2 is with regards to OData. For the non-developers, the Open Data Protocol (OData) is an underlying technology protocol that makes it possible for Personal BI concepts to be used with MS Dynamics AX.

OData is an open source standard created by Microsoft that enables easy access of data by people and applications over the Internet. For a quick and simple overview of OData, check here.

Dynamics AX 2012 R2 features a number of improvements especially in Document Data Sources. To access Document Data Sources, click Organization Administration > Setup > Document Management > Document Data Sources.

OData

One of the changes in Document Data Sources made in Dynamics 2012 R2 is the ability to create custom query elements. There is also an Edit button that can be used to edit the custom queries. The button is initially disabled, but becomes enabled after you select and register a query for target custom filtering.

With regards to OData, the ability to edit queries is the most significant improvement in Dynamics AX 2012 R2. The improvement enables anyone that is an Administrator, even if they are not developers, to filter queries beyond what is necessarily defined in their specific designs.

For example, an Administrator can select a custom query option and have a target query element to create customer filtering options for. Just like is the case with most query options on grids and forms, an Administrator can select and give specific values for query execution.

On setting custom query options, the Edit Query button becomes enabled for the custom query elements within the Document Data Sources form. Moreover, after setting the query filtering, the elements in the form can be renamed to be more descriptive of the filter being applied.

With this in place, it’s now possible to use the ODataQueryService to create Personal BI artifacts through tools like PowerView and PowerPivot. The ODataQueryService is available as part of every Microsoft Dynamics Application Object Server (AOS). When you run a query, the result will be a valid OData query element output in either PowerView or PowerPivot, whichever you choose.

However, even with the above change, it’s worth noting that many of the requirements for designing a valid OData feed have not changed. More information about Queries is available here.

OData of Death: Queries Failing to Show as OData Feeds

OData feeds power PowerPivot and PowerView Personal BI artifacts. Sometimes, you may activate a query through ODataQueryService but nothing happens. What can be the cause of this?

When a query fails to show up as an OData feed, the output is usually registered as ODataofDeath. There are a number of reasons why an activated query may fail to show up as a valid OData feed. The failure is usually as a result of the query not meeting the specific criteria required for it to be considered a valid OData feed.

There are four reasons why the OData of Death may occur::

  1. i) With valid OData feeds, only queries that support “Value-based paging” are executed. Therefore, if the FetchMode property value for any AOT query is “1:N”, there will be an error.
  2. ii) The data in an OData query response must have a unique primary key. Therefore, AOT queries with View data sources are not valid and will not be displayed when ODataQueryService is run.

iii) OData protocol create and update operations must be supported for a query to be considered a valid OData feed.

  1. iv) OData protocol filters must be supported for a query to be considered a valid OData feed.

When you get an ODataofDeath result, you need to look at the design of your query and determine which of the above aspects apply to it.

For instance, if the FetchMode is 1:N, you will need to change it to 1:1 and deactivate the query. The query will then have to be compiled and restored to refresh the meta data. Apart from this, the Elements and Dictionary caches have to be refreshed before the query is activated for use via ODataQueryService.

If the resulting data is not exactly as you would like, you can use PowerPivot to combine it for analysis.





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