4 Ways an ERP Improves Purchasing - Onramp Solutions

Author: Paul Henriques in: Business Solutions

4 Ways Improving Data Flow Will Improve Operations

May 5, 2023

You have to know what’s going on. That’s what pays the bills, or keeps them lower. After all, any bad data can hurt you. Tracking the way your data flows in your operations with complete transparency and to the minute, or second, reporting is what give you the knowledge you need to expand and compete.

Improving the way your information gets to your various business units will improve your productivity. This is especially true in manufacturing, since a change in one sector almost always affects every other. For example: A shortage of parts for maintenance can affect your tool outage time, which affects production, which changes planning and scheduling, which hits procurement in delayed purchases, inventory in less stock, shipping with updated parts to ship, and sales has to inform customers. And under all this, you have accounting that also needs to know the cost for each added operation.

In the end, any small change in any one branch can see an avalanche for all the others. But the sooner those teams know of the possible update, the sooner they can plan to address the issue instead of panicking and reacting without time for thought.

Manufacturers Data Flow

Your information likely flows something like this:

That is to say:

  1. Sales takes the order.
  2. Engineering designs the part to customer requirements.
  3. Planning reviews the plant to what needs to be changed to ensure the order can be fulfilled.
  4. Scheduling ensures the order is shipped on time by scheduling work orders and part deliveries.
  5. Purchasing liaises with suppliers and vendors to ensure the required raw materials and sub-contractors are available when they are needed.
  6. Production creates the product that will be shipped to the customer.
  7. Quality confirms that the end-product conforms to customer requirements.
  8. Shipping sends the parts off to the customer and notified sales that the order is fulfilled.

Under all of this is Finance and Accounting, tracking the operation costs and the sale price to ensure your profitability. All these operations mean that there is a lot of data to track and a lot of teams to notify of changes.

Types of Data Flow

The way your information flows in your shop will be dependent on many factors. However, keeping a data flow type can limit your growth and it could negatively impact your operations if you are keeping to the old way when your company has already outgrown it. These that the most common data flow types:

  • Basic data flow – When a firm first starts up, most of their operation information will be tracked by word-of-mouth, sticky notes, emails, and other quick and easy methods. The closest thing to a decent data layer would be an accounting software package that is managing their financial information, like AP, AR, and GL. This type of flow tends to be very error prone with large gaps in information between the various departments.
  • ERP data flow – As a firm matures and planning starts to be more important, they may invest in an ERP that can assist with resource and capacity planning and other systems. This type of data flow is an improvement over the previous system but still depends on paper and other simpler systems for various business units.
  • ERPII data flow – New ERP systems, especially ones built for manufacturing, will often have modules that can be implemented in all your business units, thereby ensuring any actions performed by any unit can quickly be seen by any other affected team. This type of data flow will ensure most of your data flows freely with excellent reporting but with a gap in actual production data.
  • Complete data flow – This is the goal of most businesses. With complete data flow, you have end-to-end data flowing from and to all business units. Regardless of the number of plants, or the location on the globe, any person can access any relevant information from anywhere. Completing the data flow involves everything from ERPII and adding to it with real-time monitoring of your shop floor. This allows you to have automatic updates from any part of the firm in real time.

Complete Data Flow Operational Improvements

As mentioned, have a complete, closed-loop, data flow allows you have a better view of your operations. The following are 4 examples of ways in which the complete data flow system has helped our customers:

  • Improved CTP Estimates
  • Less Production Bottlenecks
  • Better Inventory Management
  • Smarter Scheduling

Improved Capable-To-Promise (CTP) Estimates

When a customer calls in to place an order for the near future, you need to be sure that you can satisfy that order before confirming. To ensure you are able to fulfill the order, you need to know what you can produce. This is measured with CTP. Before you commit to the order, you have to know:

  • What you have on hand
  • What you can purchase
  • Do we have the available capacity
  • How long will it take
  • Can we move resources

A complete data flow gives you a complete view of your available stock and capacity, along with how it will affect other orders. All this with a few quick clicks. This means that your sales team can quickly let the customer know you can take the order and lets your downstream teams know that they have a new order to fill into the schedule.

Less Production Bottlenecks

With better visibility of the production floor with shop monitors, you can get a more precise view of how long it takes your machines to complete an order, from setup, to run time. You also have immediate information on any outages or slowdowns that can affect an order. This means that you can quickly review if a work center isn’t going to meet it’s daily targets and start making adjustments, like: adding overtime, contacting the customer, or assigning other work centers to cover the balance.

The added visibility also allows you to understand what is keeping your orders from a proper flow. For example, if a new operator is still getting used to a work center and taking 40 seconds instead of 20 to complete a task, you can take action that ensures they, and future employees, are getting better training for that area, and proactively schedule to complete the current order on time.

Less Production Bottlenecks - Onramp Solutions

Better Inventory Management

Adding technology like barcode scanners and tablets to your ERP’s warehouse management system allows you to have faster and more precise knowledge of your parts in stock. With them, your team can digitally update picklists, or report material that cannot be used in production from the warehouse. This immediate update means that if that part is required for production, the MRP system will create an order that your purchasers can fill out. And if he lack of that material will affect a delivery, your customer relations team can update the customer before it becomes a problem.

Smarter Scheduling

By having a better idea of previous customer orders, you can create a more accurate forecast. This, in turn, allows you to better plan and schedule machine usage. For example, if you have an order that the customer usually places in the near future, and you have the material and machines available before then, you can schedule the machines to run and complete the probable order before the customer even places it.

In other words, by having a complete data flow, you can predict customer orders, and prebuild to match the likely order in your downtime so that you are ready for other orders while fulfilling your customer demand. You are ensuring you have the parts in stock while also improving your OEE and inventory utilization rates.


Manufacturing operations depend on one another to be at peak efficiency. And knowing what one business unit is doing helps you improve the functionality of all your others. You need a complete data flow system that can help you better see what your shop floor is doing. A complete system will help you improve competitiveness, productivity, and profit.

So why aren’t you doing it yet?

Agree/ Disagree? Tell us what you think below!


  • Paul Henriques

    Paul Henriques is the current Manager for the Documentation and Training team at OnRamp Solutions Inc. Paul has over 15 years of experience in writing training material and documentation for various software companies. Having had to learn OnRamp ERP to better document it’s features and write training material; Paul is constantly stunned by the amount of thought that goes into each feature and the capabilities that are within the program, with features for all the various business units of a manufactory. Paul spends most of his free time keeping up to date on all the latest news and best practices for the manufacturing sector. Paul’s favorite manufacturing quote: “There is one rule for the industrialist and that is: Make the best quality of goods possible at the lowest cost possible, paying the highest wages possible.” – Henry Ford

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