How ERP has Changed Business Processes in Manufacturing
The world of industrial manufacturing has undergone a renaissance in the last two decades.
Since the Industrial Revolution, manufacturing has remained relatively unchanged since the 1800s. Processes relied on countless reams of paper and word of mouth to communicate vital business information, meaning if a certain employee got sick or left, a knowledge hole would inevitably open up and impact productivity.
With the dawn of the internet age in the 1990s, manufacturing was poised to enter the digital age and flourish. Computers and their inherent connectivity promised a world of shared data and knowledge, allowing for access to different business processes at the click of a button. The answer to this untapped potential was the development of Enterprise Resource Planning, or ERP.
So what is ERP and how has it revolutionized business processes in manufacturing?
What is ERP?
ERP is a complete integrated business solution that solves many of the pain points in the manufacturing process. Capitalizing on the immense processing power of modern computers, ERP programs collect, organize and present data from all business units in an enterprise in a single user interface. An ERP takes the mountains of paper shipping reports, inventory lists and vendor invoices and digitizes them for instant search and display. Computers and the internet held the potential to make manufacturing paperless, and ERP programs deliver on that promise.
With the introduction of cloud computing and the Internet of Things (IoT), ERP has become even more intelligent and crucial to effective business management. Each aspect of a businesses manufacturing processes can be accessed remotely via the cloud, allowing for on the go overviews, and in depth analysis no matter where you are in the world. IoT sensors and machines mean that previously unconnected machines can now contribute all the vital information they carry seamlessly and wirelessly. Now everyone from executives to employees have the entire big picture at their fingertips, saving money and time through trend forecasting, pattern recognition and efficiency maximization.
So how did this incredible technology come to be?
The rise of the ERP:
ERP I (1990’s)
Leading up the introduction of ERP, the main focus in resource planning had been in the form of material requirements planning (MRP), manufacturing resource planning (MRP II), and computer-integrated manufacturing. The term Enterprise Resource Planning was first coined by The Gartner Group in the 1990s to refer to the wholistic programs that encompassed their work with manufacturing facilities. ERP represented an umbrella program that would provide unparalleled access to business data to those who needed it most.
ERP truly became a must-have for industry leaders during the lead up to the infamous Y2K issues at the turn of the millenium. Millions of computer systems were predicted to fail catastrophically with date change, and whilst the actual impact is debatable, many businesses took this as a chance to upgrade their systems to the latest productivity enhancing ERP programs.
Early iterations of ERP programs focused exclusively on back end functions such as inventory management and staff scheduling. As technology advanced and high speed internet protocols became widespread, more customer facing aspects were added including CRM and SRM integration. Whilst the ERP moniker would eventually move beyond manufacturing and be utilized by countless other industries, the groundwork was laid for a new world of integrated business planning.
ERP II (2000s)
In the 2000s, ERPs continued to expand as internet speeds increased and digitization became more commonplace. ERP II was characterized by a move beyond “corporate walls” and deeper integration with external partner organizations. This allowed for more cohesive collaboration on a range of customer-centric business processes such as enhanced CRM as well as integral internal functions like SRM and SCM. This new breed of ERP encouraged the sharing of knowledge and expertise between business partners, increasing the competitiveness and productivity of both parties in the process.
ERP II also opened up its wealth of data to a broader range of users for the first time. No longer restricted to corporate executives or plant managers, the benefits of ERP could now be access by everyone from work floor employees to customers directly. This allowed for further enhancement of ERP’s capabilities, as different employees were able to contribute their knowledge and get the data they needed quickly and accurately.
Postmodern ERP (2010s)
With fibre optic internet and mobile applications a part of everyday life, ERP evolved once again in the 2010s to better meet growing business demands. First described in 2013, Postmodern ERP made its mark by embracing cloud technology and flexibility in its design and focus. Shifting away from purely onsite, monolithic ERP II systems towards universally accessible cloud based platform put the entire ERP productivity suite online. Now, anyone with the right credentials could log in and have a complete picture of the business as a whole wherever they were in the world.
Customers in the modern era demand a high level of customization to their specific needs, and businesses have come to expect the same. Postmodern ERP systems removed intense reliance and dependencies between ERP systems, allowing for more customization and easily exchanged business modules. Of course, the move towards more “plug and play” style programs that are meant to cover a wide range of different industries comes at the cost of lost niche functionality and highly specific business processes.
The Onramp Solutions Difference:
Onramp Solutions was born out of continued frustration with modern ERP programs and their lack of focus on the manufacturing industry. Art Church, CEO of Mancor Industries, knew there was a better way to manage the exponentially increasing amounts of data from six different manufacturing plants across North America. He knew about the benefits of ERPs, and after some research, decided to pay top dollar for a big name system. Despite having been first developed with manufacturing in mind, the expansion into hundreds of different industries had led to a “one size fits all” approach to ERP modules, which meant many company specific business processes were left out in the cold.
After hundreds of hours creating complex workarounds to properly account for business processes unique to manufacturing, Church realised his team was more than capable of creating their own ERP program focused exclusively on manufacturing.
Thus, Onramp Solutions was born. As Onramp Solutions ERP program is built by manufacturers for manufacturers, it is uniquely positioned to offer a range of key advantages over other ERPs.
Bespoke Business Modules
One key disadvantage of modern ERPs is their “lowest common denominator needs” ethos, whereby disparate industries are reduced to their base requirements, and a program is built that services that need broadly. This forces organisation to find workarounds for their individual business needs, decreasing productivity and increasing frustration.
Onramp Solutions works directly with every customer to fully understand and assess their facility needs, and to build bespoke functionality to do exactly what is required. Church made it a key objective to be able to provide solutions that simply worked without the headache of “hacking” a solution. Whilst some ERP programs require businesses to reengineer their processes to suit the platform, Onramp Solutions prides itself on offering the reverse to its loyal customers.
Intelligent Data Conversion
Change can be a daunting and stress-provoking experience, especially when it comes to your business. Onramp Solutions has developed an advanced data conversion system that can intelligently extract data from your old system and import it into the new system. In effect, this means the two systems can run concurrently until you and your staff feel comfortable enough to switch over to the new system completely. This limits any potential downtime required for training or impacts on managerial resources, as the dedicated Onramp Solutions team assists with training at a pace that suits your business.
Tribal Knowledge Extraction
One of the hardest hurdles to overcome when integrating an ERP is the accurate extraction of all the situational and experiential knowledge key members of your staff hold in their heads, known as tribal knowledge. This can cover a range of things from trivial facts to crucial business processes that would adversely impact the company should it not be passed on to anyone else. Onramp Solutions has developed a comprehensive tribal knowledge extraction program that ensures all your important business information, from the nitty gritty to the high level, are accurately transcribed and uploaded into your ERP system. Now your business efficiency won’t hinge on a single person, meaning the knowledge is shared and accessible to everyone.
There are hundreds of ERP programs available for your manufacturing business, all promising to revolutionize your workflow. However, many of them are less integrated and comprehensive than a bespoke solution tailor made for your business would be. Onramp Solutions provides manufacturers with a completely customized ERP platform made exclusively for the manufacturing industry. Businesses cannot afford to lose any competitive edge available in the current economic climate. Onramp Solutions has dedicated to bringing manufacturing into the modern era with bespoke programs that enhance productivity and competitiveness.
For more information, please contact a solutions expert at Onramp Solutions today.