A couple of weeks ago, we started a series of blog posts product lifecycle management (PLM) about how TEC defines different types of enterprise resource planning (ERP) and what sets them apart. We will continue with a detailed description of process manufacturing ERP, and we will introduce some of the top-rated vendors in this domain.
As in the initial post, we will not discuss system modules that are common to all ERP systems: financials, human resources, and product technology. However, these sections are included in our calculations for the top 5 vendors that you can find at the end of this post.
Process Manufacturing Management
TEC’s model for the process manufacturing management module includes criteria for formulas and recipes, as well as process models and routings. This module also enables manufacturers to determine product and manufacturing costs, and to understand how to comply with different regulations on quality and hazardous materials. Finally, the module addresses shop floor control and production planning, in order to define how the manufacturing process itself is managed and supervised.
Most ERP types rely very much on inventory management, but this is even more important for process manufacturing. Ingredients used in this industry have many different units of measure, which require conversion algorithms. Tracking inventory using two or more units of measure is often required, depending on the needs of different departments. Some ingredients expire very fast (and therefore need to be used first), while others can cause serious accidents if not used properly.
When you produce computers and the hard drives do not arrive on time, you’ll probably have unhappy customers—but you can always ship those later. If you make ice cream, the milk will expire in a week, and you cannot afford to wait for strawberries that are going to be two weeks late. A late shipment can turn into a disaster for process manufacturing, so the way you choose suppliers and manage purchases is extremely important for your business.
In manufacturing, the quality of the finished product depends very much on the quality of its components. It’s even more complicated in process manufacturing, where the quality of the production process itself is essential—not to mention all the regulations and standards that a process manufacturing company needs to comply with.
As mentioned above, products created by process manufacturing have special characteristics (expiry dates, hazardous characteristics, etc.), which can make sales difficult. It is preferable to sell ice cream before it expires—contrast this with selling oil or computers, for example. Pricing and costing are also different, and a delay of only one day in the shipment of perishable goods could mean losing a contract or a customer, or even worse, getting sued for not being able to deliver on time.
TEC-certified Vendors for Process Manufacturing ERP
Out of the 45 vendors that we currently have in our Process Manufacturing ERP Evaluation Center, 17 are certified, and 6 are currently in the process of being certified. You can see the full listing in our Vendor Showcase. Below, you’ll see how we ranked the top 5.
Important note: these rankings are rough overall rankings based on a purely quantitative calculation of how each vendor solution supports a long list of features and functions. The rankings do not take into account the particular needs of your organization, or anyone else’s, which is instrumental in how you determine the “best” software solution.
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Among the certified vendors, here’s how the top five stand (in alphabetical order):
Deacom Integrated Accounting and ERP Software (Deacom)
Deacom’s accounting and ERP software is not one of the strongest products when it comes to functionality specific to process manufacturing. It does very well in all sections, but is not the strongest in any of them, including Financials and HR. Upon further review of Deacom's functionality, we would like to make the following correction: Deacom's accounting and ERP software does very well in all sections, but is not the strongest in the areas of Financials and HR. Its process manufacturing functionality is ranked as one of the highest in this scenario.
Enterprise 21 (Technology Group International)
The overall rating for Enterprise 21 is pretty close to Deacom ERP. The difference between the two products is that Enterprise 21 has some weak ratings (in HR, for instance) but is also very strong in areas such as Purchasing Management and Process Manufacturing Management.
IFS Applications (IFS)
IFS has its own special place in our top 5. The product is not fighting for first place, but is not struggling to avoid last place either. The overall rating is quite similar to the ratings for each section, with the exception of Process Manufacturing (not very strong) and Quality Management (very strong).
Lawson M3 for Process Manufacturing (Lawson Software)
Lawson is either first or second for all modules. It closely competes with SAP for first place in Financials, HR and Sales Management, but the main competitors for sections specific to process manufacturing are Enterprise 21 (Inventory and Purchasing), and sometimes IFS.
SAP ERP (SAP)
SAP has the strongest Financials and HR ratings, but only wins one of the sections specific to process manufacturing: Sales Management. Still, the average of all modules is strong enough to place them in the top 3 overall.
You can learn more about them and the others by visiting our Vendor Showcase, and you can even compare their products by using our online Evaluation Center (try it free for two hours).