Enterprise Resource Planning solutions have long been a staple in the tech stack of many manufacturers. ERPs help managers and supervisors manage various aspects of the manufacturing process including their supply chain, inventory, warehousing, and distribution.

However, many traditional ERPs lack the ability to connect and integrate with the real-time data being generated across production activities.

In many cases, even if an ERP has the capability to connect with these external systems processes, they require significant customization to meet the business's specific needs, resulting in a costly, resource-intensive reconfiguration project.

In this post, we'll review the importance of integrating your ERP with your shop floor activities, and why businesses are investing in an interface that connects their back-end systems with the real-time activities happening in their production facilities.

The importance of an ERP in manufacturing

An ERP solution is a category of software designed to centralize the management of an organization’s mission-critical functions, including finance, purchasing, planning, HR, and customer relations.

When individual departments within an organization primarily use their own software solutions, it’s easy for the data they generate to become siloed and inaccessible to anyone outside the department.

The benefits of deploying an ERP are to unleash efficiencies across an organization that are only possible when there is a seamless flow of data between departments. This free flow of information can enable more processes to be automated, lead to a reduction of duplicated data processing, improve real-time information analysis and reporting, and generally result in enhanced productivity across the business.

Like all data-intensive organizations, manufacturers have much to gain from the deployment of an ERP solution—especially one that is integrated with other key systems the organization uses as part of its production process, including those that control shop floor operations.

The power of ERP integrations

Organizations generally have a range of on-premise and cloud applications generating data that could be valuable if it were captured for processing through an ERP system.

These integrations between an ERP and other systems within an organization are typically achieved using application programming interfaces (APIs).

Once the integrations are in place, an organization can begin benefiting from enhanced data visibility and the ability to implement workflow automation across the organization.

On the other hand, deploying an ERP without integrating it with your organization’s other systems amounts to a missed opportunity to unlock a range of benefits that can provide growth, efficiencies, and agility.

One of the most obvious drawbacks of not integrating an ERP with other systems that are frequently used across an organization is the need to manually enter data generated by one system into another system. Rather than automatically sharing data via an API, it must instead be input by staff, opening up the risk of human error, processing delays, and reduced productivity.

A lack of integration that results in data being stored in isolation from the rest of the organization can result in vital intelligence not being surfaced. If data isn’t shared in a timely manner, the ability to react swiftly to production issues and opportunities can be lost.

The benefits of integrating shop floor processes with your ERP

For manufacturing organizations, the full benefits of an ERP will be unleashed when they move beyond using it just as a general business tool and integrate it with one of the most important elements of their operation: their shop floor systems.

By connecting an operations platform such as Tulip to an ERP, it’s possible to unlock additional business benefits that result from sharing data and insights generated by the manufacturing operations side of the organization.

Planning and scheduling are key to optimizing a manufacturing operation—they enable manufacturers to make informed decisions and become more efficient—but the detail required to achieve this efficiency won’t be available without integrating specialist manufacturing systems with the ERP.

Once achieved, however, the benefits of integrating an ERP with shop floor systems and processes can include:

  • Eliminating data silos: Integrating data from shop floor systems into the ERP will make production data more readily available to other parts of the organization. As a result, across-the-board planning, analysis, and reporting will be quicker and easier.

  • Better user interfaces: For users in a manufacturing environment, standard ERP interfaces are unlikely to provide the optimal dashboard views or interactive experience they require to get the most out of the system. Integration with shop floor solutions enables production-specific displays and dashboards to be generated, and these can greatly increase the productivity of users.

  • Connecting inventory data with production processes: A key to maximizing productivity in manufacturing is ensuring materials and equipment are available for production when required. By integrating shop floor systems with an ERP, an organization can improve visibility across all aspects of production planning, scheduling, inventory management, and purchasing. Once achieved, this results in improved efficiency throughout the manufacturing process.

  • Holistic production visibility: Integration between an ERP and shop floor systems also enables better recording and reporting of production information such as run start and end times, percentage of work completed in one shift, and total labor hours spent on a customer order. Analysis of this data can provide valuable insights that can help improve production efficiencies.

How Tulip can help

Using Tulip, manufacturers are able to seamlessly integrate their systems of record with the people, machines, and devices operating on their shop floor.

As a result, businesses can automate data collection across all production activities, providing a real-time, 360-view of everything happening within their facility.

We currently offer out-of-the-box integrations with SAP Hana and Netsuite, but our platform can connect with most ERPs via API.

If you’re interested in learning how Tulip can help you better manage your operations, reach out to a member of our team today!

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