Ultimate manufacturing manager
'The software supports the entire range of production strategies, so only one system is needed'
A COMPANY's ability to stay abreast of, and effectively use, the latest technological advancements can spell the difference between success and failure.
Companies need flexible computing systems that can support the different aspects of their business and which are capable of upgrading easily, interfacing with other applications, and taking advantage of the Internet and electronic commerce.
"Manufacturing companies, in particular, need systems capable of supporting modern business practices throughout the world," says Eveline Schultz, ERP consultant at Baan SA. "Baan provides a comprehensive solution for all manufacturing management processes in the form of its BaanERP Management system, software that handles everything from decision support to workflow management."
Manufacturers often need to deliver customer-specific products with the same lead time as standard, off-the-shelf products. By allowing companies to use different manufacturing and planning methods within the same operation, the Baan system is able to increase efficiency.
"We offer customers the flexibility to choose the best method, or combination of methods for each product at each stage of its life cycle," says Schultz.
"The software supports the entire range of production strategies, so only one system is needed to manage all manufacturing activities.
"Other BaanERP applications can be used to handle different aspects of the manufacturing process. BaanERP Project is used to plan engineer-to-order products and products that are assembled to order can be planned using BaanERP Manufacturing's Extended Enterprising Planning capabilities. All production activity can be scheduled and tracked through Baan Shop Floor Control."
The various BaanERP Manufacturing modules offer solutions covering 19 different areas. The Enterprise planning module, for example, allows companies to construct a model of the supply chain from suppliers and customers through to production and distribution operations.
"BaanERP Manufacturing integrates planning at every level to help planners manage the operations of a large enterprise," says Schultz.
"By combining requirements of product, plant and suppliers into an integrated distribution and manufacturing plan, the system helps companies to achieve flexible operations."
It also allows full visibility of inventory and capacity, enabling more efficient purchasing and allowing production bottle necks to be anticipated before schedules are missed.
"We also provide multisite planning capabilities for integrated planning across the entire enterprise supply chain," Schultz says. "Interplant relationships can be easily defined, allowing the system to create appropriate transactions automatically. Supply chains can be freely defined and modified, giving the company the flexibility to adjust to changing organisation structures and business partners.
"The system also allows companies to meet customer expectations, profit, production and lead time objectives. A master schedule can be developed using forecasts, actual demand, or a combination of the two, and scheduling can be done at any level of the product structure. Enterprise planning is used for both standard and configured items as well as for multiple types of demand, such as production and service parts. Planning horizons and time fences can also be freely defined to meet unique requirements."
With an object-orientated component called Configurator, companies can implement high product mix, low volume manufacturing strategies which allow them to create customer products quickly.
The Configurator can be used at any point in the sales or production process and is not restricted to manufactured items; it can be used for service product offerings and documentation packages as well.
The system also lets a company define a multilevel, generic bill of materials (BOM) and a routing that specifies the features and options for each product. The generic BOM includes all product components, along with configuration constraints that determine which components are part of each variant.
Prices, item codes, descriptions and routings are all treated in the same way.
"Today's customer-focused business environment makes it critical that manufacturers have an effective production plan for managing material and capacity," says Schultz.
"Customers want accurate shipment dates, sometimes to the hour, even when there are schedule and product changes. Baan Extended Enterprise Planning is designed to provide the responsiveness a company needs to meet those customer requirements."
Meeting business goals requires detailed production planning and effective execution control, says Schultz, and BaanERP gives companies complete control with flexible scheduling."
"Customers can define production processes in the most appropriate way," she adds. "Depending on the requirements of its products and processes, a company's production can be scheduled using work orders or repetitive build schedules. With BaanERP's Repetitive, companies can implement just-in- time techniques to streamline material issue and production reporting.
"Baan Shopfloor Control, meanwhile, gives the company the visibility necessary for managing lead time and carefully controlling the amount of work in process and the timely release of production orders."
BaanERP Manufacturing also tracks quality control activities from intermediate producers to finished goods. It allows a wide variety of characteristics and parameters to be specified in test and inspections and maintains an accurate history to improve product quality and identify recurring problems.
"With competition increasing the pressure on margins, a business needs accurate and detailed manufacturing cost reporting for effective business management," says Schultz. "Our system provides extensive cost information at several levels helping business identify cost drivers and reduce product costs."
To reduce administrative overheads, prevent input errors and provide faster information for planning, the system provides detailed records of time and materials data on the shop floor.
Baan software can also greatly reduce a product's time to market by increasing efficiency in design and development activities.
Baan Engineering Data Management is designed to help a company trim data transfer time, reduce errors and increase design productivity by providing an automated link between engineering and production information.
"Baan Engineering Change control lets business gain effective control over engineering change orders," Schultz says. "A company can define authorisation steps for approving and implementing an engineering change order. When these are completed, the system automatically implements the change in the production database."
Managing production tooling assets is also a key function of BaanERP. Ensuring that proper tooling is available can be just as critical to production schedules as the availability of materials. The BaanERP system helps to ensure that tools and materials arrive together at scheduled operations by storing tools in inventory and planning and allocating the required tools as part of the production order.
It also provides visibility of tool use by calculating the remaining useful life of a tool and it can also automatically route tools for maintenance.