Evaluating your business needs and finding the perfect fit in any ‘one-stop-shop’ software solution is not always a reality. One of the advantages of an enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution like Microsoft Dynamics® is the rich ecosystem of complementary independent software vendor (ISV) solutions on the market.
As a process manufacturing ISV, we see a lot of systems in place that are a ‘square peg round hole’ match-up. Many companies have invested in layers of customizations that can, at times, solve a problem at hand, but then complicate the system moving forward. Other companies invest in a solution, but because it doesn't adhere to their actual processes, they will only use a fraction of the system. These companies end up having various sources of information as individuals or departments create their own systems outside of the ERP solution.
ISV products throughout the marketplace have been built from the ground up to meet unique industry challenges by extending functionality and creating efficiencies to deliver a holistic solution for your business. ISV’s offer collective industry knowledge and dedicated resources to help resolve your organization’s challenges. ISV’s like Vicinity Manufacturing are solving problems common throughout the process manufacturing industry on a daily basis. These problems would be unfamiliar for an ‘out-of-the-box’ solution or general software vendor. Having a specialized ISV who can properly diagnose a problem in the context of your industry can help your team avoid simply treating a symptom of the problem rather than the root cause.
What Is Process Manufacturing?
Process manufacturing is the branch of manufacturing that involves the production of finished goods using formulas or recipes. The end products are typically produced in bulk quantities through the blending of raw materials or ingredients that cannot be separated after they are combined. Process manufacturing, also known as formula manufacturing or batch manufacturing, can be contrasted with discrete manufacturing, which deals with countable units, bills of materials (BOM’s) and assembly of components. Some examples of process manufacturing industries include food and beverage, chemical, oil and gas, paint, plastics and pharmaceutical/nutraceutical.
What Makes Process Manufacturing Unique?
One could argue that formula manufacturers have more complexities in their processes than most discrete manufacturers. Without the ability to disassemble your raw materials, there are far more complications involved in getting your recipe to be ‘just right.’ One recipe often has dozens of (if not more) variations generated by R&D before the final version is selected. That generates a need to catalog and archive each version as historical data. There is also a greater need for precise quality control and lot traceability, in case there is an instance of recall with any particular ingredient. Overall, they deal with many more complications that assembly manufacturers just don’t encounter.
For years, process manufacturers had to get by with software solutions that were designed and written for discrete manufacturing operations. Not to knock those systems because they are great at what they do if you run an assembly-based manufacturing organization. But if they aren’t addressing aspects of your business such as recipe management or GHS/SDS generation, they aren’t suited for the process manufacturers of the world. There are too many software options designed and built specifically for your type of operations.
If you’re searching for process manufacturing software, be sure to review the capabilities of a system and whether it encompasses all the solutions areas you may need. Some of those may include:
- Formula Development and Management
- Scheduling by Formula
- Batch Yield Analysis
- QC Results and Analysis
- Compliance Documentation (CoA & Ingredient Disclosure)
- Lot Control and Tracking
You see, your two main options for software include: A) selecting a product that integrates with your financials software and allows you all the capabilities you need as a process manufacturer, or B) taking a general software solution and making extensive customizations to that product. The problem you’ll face with the latter is that whenever it’s time to perform all the regular software upgrades to your product, you have to worry about maintaining those customizations. So avoid those headaches and go with a product like Vicinity Manufacturing that specializes in process manufacturing software.