Manufacturing ERP Systems: Benefits, Unique Features, and Best Software For Manufacturers

Use our sophisticated ERP Software comparison tool to find a manufacturing ERP system that matches your requirements for quality control, production planning, and more.


What Are Your Key ERP Requirements?

What Is Manufacturing ERP Software?

Whereas out-of-the-box enterprise resource planning tools integrate data from each business function, Manufacturing ERP Software specifically focuses on business processes directly linked to manufacturing operations.

That includes manufacturing processes such as:

  • Inventory management
  • Quality control
  • Resource management
  • Supply chain management
  • Warehouse management
  • Production planning

Across the factory floor and production facilities, Manufacturing ERPs – linked by 5G and edge networks or ERP cloud-based services – monitor every stage of discrete or process-based manufacturing systems.

They monitor up and down the supply chain and track human and robotic production, linking manufacturing systems to sales and returns; from temperatures and weights to accurately measuring tolerances and pressures.

Ultimately, a manufacturing ERP removes all the guesswork from the factory.

Manufacturing ERP integrations include the ability to absorb data from MRP, CAD/CAM software, PLM (Product Lifecycle Management), and MES (Manufacturing Execution Systems), and their associated functions and metrics. All to create a better understanding of the manufacturing process and drive improvements across the board.

Why Companies Opt For Manufacturing ERP Software Vs. Out-of-the-Box

Since the progress of MRP systems (Manufacturing Resource Planning), manufacturers are the number one users of ERP Software. Today, 47% of manufacturers are looking to implement an enterprise resource planning system. That’s more than both the Distribution (18%) and Services (12%) sectors combined.

This end-user market dominance is because manufacturing ERP tools are designed to streamline, optimise, and automate tasks associated only with the manufacturing process, no matter the principle (just-in-time, Kaizen, Six Sigma, or other).

The four leading use cases for ERP adoption among manufacturing companies are to:

  1. Replace outdated software systems or manual processes
  2. Consolidate multiple and disparate applications from various departments
  3. Take advantage of the latest analytics and AI tools
  4. Oversee the entire process (from inventory management to production planning) in one shared system

Manufacturing remains the dominant force behind most businesses. Yet, manufacturers face constant price pressure and rapid technological evolution. At the same time, they are dealing with global trade issues, political upheaval and supply chain risk challenges.

Today, they must operate at maximum efficiency to remain competitive, moving from paper-based processes, Excel and other tools that often limit leadership’s visibility into information and hamper performance.

One example of manufacturing ERP success is Wisconsin Plastics. The Plastic Injection Moulding Service decreased the overall total raw material inventory by 17.5%. This is thanks to a just-in-time replenishment program made possible by the accurate inventory count provided by its real-time ERP system.

What Are the Benefits of Implementing an ERP Manufacturing System?

Although there is debate as to whether businesses should opt for a more out-of-the-box ERP to safeguard against complex mishaps (take the Nike i2 malfunction in 2000, for example), successful implementation of a manufacturing-focused tool can deliver immediate benefits:

  • Increased efficiency as manufacturing runs smoothly, issues are dealt with faster, and the supply chain is optimised
  • Improved visibility as leadership and departments can gain insights across all areas of production and the business, typically in real-time
  • Support for on-time delivery systems that improve business competitiveness
  • Improved product quality which reduces returns, product failures, and increases customer satisfaction
  • Reduced costs with tighter control and flexibility over the bill of materials
  • Improved collaboration across the business, encouraging product innovation, production creativity, and faster problem resolution

Find the Best ERP Software That Matches Your Manufacturing Requirements

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What Are Your Key ERP Requirements?

Best Systems For Manufacturing Operations

Infor CloudSuite

Infor CloudSuite ERP Manufacturing

The Product

An adaptable, automated, and extendable manufacturing ERP solution especially designed for leading manufacturing industry organisations.

Ideal For

Mid-size to enterprise-size organisations with fluctuating demand and operations that require deep, industry-specific capabilities

Industry Fit

Food & Beverage, Engineering, Construction, Automotive, Manufacturing, and Aerospace

Pricing

From £120 per user, per month

eMaint by Fluke

eMaint by Fluke

The Product

A comprehensive, configurable solution for demanding industries and context-driven workflows.

Ideal For

Organisations in asset and maintenance-intensive industries with data-rich workflows

Industry Fit

Automotive, Food & Beverage, Oil and Gas, and Manufacturing

Pricing

From £59 per user, per month

FMIS

FMIS

The Product

An asset management solution for streamlining advanced fixed asset, lease accounting and asset tracking operations.

Ideal For

Organisations with complex asset, lease, tracking or purchasing structures and priorities

Industry Fit

Manufacturing, Real Estate, Energy, Retail, and Government

Pricing

From £1,500 per annum

ServiceMax

ServiceMax ERP

The Product

A cloud-based manufacturing ERP and service management platform for asset-centric service providers.

Ideal For

Asset-centric service organisations looking to digitise processes and enhance profitability

Industry Fit

Manufacturing, Energy, Utilities, Telecoms, and Medical

Pricing

From £40-140 per user, per month

Totalmobile

Totalmobile

The Product

A worker-first, mobile-centric resource planning and service management platform.

Ideal For

Organisations with 100+ in-field workers and mobile-intensive workflows

Industry Fit

Utilities, Healthcare, Emergency Services, Transportation, and Logistics

Pricing

From £4-30 per user, per month for a standalone product

6 Unique Features & Modules of a Manufacturing ERP System

Alongside the typical roster of ERP features, manufacturing ERPs add a range of tools to manage, provide insight, and optimise processes.

These features add value for manufacturers over a generic ERP system. Each one takes data from multiple existing services, combines them for analysis, and outputs results for operators, managers, and business leaders.

  1. Total Bill of Materials: Add visibility and flexibility to reduce costs for raw materials and parts.
  2. Buying and Procurement: Develop greater buying power through early or on-time procurement processes.
  3. Production Planning Services: Improve planning to economise or deliver economies of scale.
  4. Inventory and Production Management: Reduce the complexity and improve the flexibility of your processes.
  5. Quality Control: Eliminate poor production issues and bottlenecks.
  6. Order Fulfilment: Improve your ability to manufacture to order (MTO) or innovate with customisation options.

When to Switch to an ERP Manufacturing-Specific System?

As businesses evolve and grow, their needs change. Many manufacturers may have already adopted an ERP for back-office tasks, but now find the need for a manufacturing ERP to deliver broader insights and performance benefits.

The best answer to the question is always yesterday, with today a close second. When it comes to knowing when best to implement a manufacturing ERP, a three-colour-coded system is used; green, yellow, and red.

Colour

Status

Reasons

Green

You’re ready

Yellow

You should start planning, today

  • Your business is expanding or acquiring other companies creating a complex data landscape
  • Your manufacturing rivals are in the news for adopting modern ERP and AI solutions

Red

You need a manufacturing ERP, yesterday

  • Your teams have limited visibility into data and manufacturing/performance issues take too long to fix
  • You lack the data needed to create coherent and useful reports
  • The business still relies on manual or piecemeal digital services
  • Your business loses money from poor inventory management and production systems

When to Switch to a Manufacturing-Focused ERP System

FAQs

What’s the Difference Between MRP, MRO, and ERP?

Before ERP emerged as a common business practice, there was MRP (Material Requirements Planning and lately Manufacturing Resource Planning [aka MRP II]).

You can consider MRPs a subset of ERP, focused solely on the inventory, materials of manufacturing, and the build processes involved. With a manufacturing resource planning system in place, businesses know where their components or materials are, but need broader insights into productivity and value, ERP widens visibility and speeds up the information flow.

A modern ERP also supports the delivery of Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) services, ensuring that manufacturing hardware systems run most efficiently and that there is a minimum of disruption when a problem arises.

Modern ERPs support predictive maintenance features of factory machinery that deliver performance and fault information live, rather than grinding to a halt at the most inconvenient of times. With a modern manufacturing ERP supporting, boosting or supplanting these older technologies, manufacturers will be up-to-date and better informed about live operations.

What Are the Best ERP Solutions For Manufacturers?

Each manufacturing ERP solution is different and caters to various business needs. It’s also important to consider factors such as vendor experience, users required, budget, and industry.

Some of the best vendors that design ERP for manufacturers include:

  • SAP
  • Oracle
  • Microsoft
  • Info
  • Epicor ERP