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Discrete and Process Manufacturing ERP Software Are Far From Interchangeable


There’s no substitution. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) functionalities are designed for specific purposes, according to the unique needs of the manufacturing operation. Since process and discrete manufacturers differ in procedures and products, it stands to reason their ERP software is not interchangeable. However, some ERP software vendors promise their product will work for both. If you’re a process manufacturer, don’t be mislead. An investment in an ERP software solution that specifically addresses your complex manufacturing setup will prove smarter in the long run.

Discrete and Process Manufacturing ERP Software

ERP is a robust technology solution that increases productivity and profitability for both process and discrete manufacturers, linking departments and providing total visibility of your entire operation––manufacturing process, quality control, inventory, sales, financials, and more. All critical data resides in a convenient, single database. This data, when integrated with business intelligence, offers up-to-the-minute, detailed analytics and reporting for immediate and long-term decision-making. When all of your plant’s departments are seamlessly linked and communicating with one another, production unfolds more smoothly and more efficiently.

However, there are major differences in how process and discretely manufactured products are created. Process manufacturing uses complex formulas and recipes to create products––chemicals, cosmetics, drugs, food, nutritional items, paint, petroleum products, textiles, etc.––that are produced in batches (bulk), cannot be deconstructed into their original ingredients or chemicals, and often creates co-products or by-products. By contrast, discrete manufacturing uses instructions to assemble countable items, of which each requires a serial number, and can be disassembled into parts or components. Examples include: appliances, furniture, computers, electronics, medical equipment, toys, and other miscellaneous manufactured items.

ERP software for process manufacturers will store and secure complex recipes, facilitate testing of new recipes, accommodate custom recipes, create consistency from one standard batch to another, support co-products and by-products, and monitor the quality of ingredients.

Also, units of measure are different between process and discrete manufacturing. Whereas discrete manufacturing measures in “eaches” from one to thousands, process manufacturing measures ingredients in percentages (e.g., 10% water, 20% starch, and 70% acacia powder) or in decimals (e.g., .00000231 pounds of dye), and convert volume measurements into weight or vice versa for purchasing, inventory, or Bill of Lading.

Complex calculations for specific gravity, percentage formulation, ingredient formulation, labeling, and Safety Data Sheets can easily be accomplished with process manufacturing-specific ERP software.

In addition, the regulatory environment for process manufacturers is more complex than for discrete manufacturers, especially when addressing food and beverage, and pharmaceutical and nutraceutical manufacturers.

Process manufacturing ERP software can provide an audit trail, electronic signatures, and backward and forward lot traceability should a contamination event occur and a recall be initiated. Plus, the software can remind process manufacturers of pending audits and generate various mandatory reports.

Thus, it seems pretty clear that the best course of action for a discrete or process manufacturer is to choose an ERP software solution designed specifically for your operation for the best results. ProcessPro's ERP software solution is designed specifically for process manufacturers in the food and drug, beverage, chemical and cosmetic, and nutraceutical and pharmaceutical industries.

Contact us today and discover how a ProcessPro solution can help your business run more efficiently and grow more profitable.

Tags: ERP Software Selection,Batch Process Manufacturing,Distribution