Sage ERP X3: Customer insights on Process Manufacturing – Part 1
At Sage we don’t just have software experts within our ranks, we have people in our product teams that are true industry experts who work with our customers every day.
Cateno Barberi, expert in ERP and Process Manufacturing from Sage’s product management division for Sage ERP X3 draws on customer feedback to illustrate the challenges process manufacturers are currently facing.
Process Manufacturing defined
Process manufacturing is the branch of manufacturing that is associated with formulas and manufacturing recipes. The simplest definition of process manufacturing is defined by products that cannot be disassembled to its constituent parts. For example, once it is produced, a soft drink cannot be broken down into its ingredients.
What are the environmental challenges facing Process Manufacturers today?
As the global economy tries to transition back into growth, there are many factors that are continuing to make the environment tricky for process manufacturers as the pressure to innovate, while keeping costs to a minimum and improving productivity, but also the others factors these include:
- Ageing infrastructure
- High costs
- Reduced lead times
- and a need for improved visibility
Add into the mix the introduction of new environmental and safety standards over recent years that require additional management and controls, not to mention pressure to improve customer satisfaction, and suddenly the process manufacturing story looks entirely different.
The question now is what are conditions really like for process manufacturers post-financial crisis and how are businesses managing to achieve the growth they need to complete the recovery process?
Customer insights suggest firms need software that can help them raise the bar on productivity, break new ground and ensure compliance, if they want to stay ahead of the competition. Worldwide, process manufacturing executives are focusing on solutions that can help them address all of their pain points simultaneously.
The information system and its underlying Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software represent a major step forward in getting businesses where they need to be. Companies can install an ERP solution to not only meet their operational needs, but also streamline their IT infrastructure and deliver support when pursuing new strategies. However, getting the right solution is half of the battle and experience suggests that success is down to procuring software from the right provider.
A view from the inside – Evolution and Adaption
Process manufacturers now need to use all of their energy just to stay competitive in the mid-market space, as ageing infrastructure, customer demands and increasing costs continue to create daily challenges.
A study from the Economist Intelligence Unit showed 87 percent of executives from across the globe have had operations affected by out-of-date infrastructure. New technologies that can identify issues with infrastructure before they occur will be needed by firms to put them on a firm footing for the future. Such software will help organizations improve efficiency, extend the life of assets, reduce the risk of failure and improve the ability of businesses to meet customer expectations and demand.
For example, Blount Fine Foods, provider of food for retail customers and one of Sage ERP X3 customers, is able to use the insight it gains from its ERP solution to make strategic decisions, analyzing production data from many angles and targeting areas for improvement.
Being able to evolve and adapt in this way will be integral as customer needs alter. Indeed, demands are already changing and the last year has seen increased pressure placed on development times – a trend that will continue to be a competitive barrier for firms in 2014.
This became clear in 2012, when over 50 percent of food and drinks firms got new products to market in Q2 alone. Meanwhile, in June 2013 the New York Times reported that pharmaceutical companies were being pushed to speed up development of the approval of new antibiotics, following outbreaks of resistant superbugs.
Blount Fine Foods use Sage ERP X3 to ensure it could better control processes. Its previous system was limited and managed formulas, recipes, and work orders in a Microsoft Access database, which few had access to. Sage ERP X3 was a scalable solution for the firm, enabling it to tailor system behavior and content without making program changes. This meant that the company didn’t have to be at the mercy of an outside programmer to make changes to the software as the business evolved.
How making the right software choices can help
The environment won’t get less challenging for process manufacturers any time soon, with ageing infrastructure, customer demands, rising costs, regulation and profit margins continuing to put pressure on firms – especially mid-market companies. However, ERP systems can help and support growth, as long as the right one is implemented.
The ERP system must help the company meet the statutory record-keeping and lot-tracking requirements too. Food producers would also be wise to select an ERP system that tracks batch recipes and related data—descriptive information, technical properties, quantities in user-definable units, costing information, notes, and history.
What’s more, you need to opt for a software vendor with which you can do business. Customers constantly tell us that before they moved to Sage ERPX3 they were unable to get the support they needed to successfully role out an ERP system.
Coming soon – Part 2 in our series on Process Manufacturing where we take a look at the challenges facing pharmaceutical manufacturers today.
To download the full opinion piece on Process manufacturing and ERP: Worldwide customer insights click here.
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This blog was written by Cateno Barberi and originally published on the Sage ERP X3 blog.