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Manufacturing Systems

Manufacturers who claim to have a manufacturing system almost certainly are large manufacturers with an established Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. Though these can be very useful, if often painful and expensive to implement, modern manufacturing requires systems which can more readily adapt to change.

Suppliers have moved toward modular systems. Some manufacturers have acquired the leading module in each field and used EAI tools to bind them together into an integrated system.

Those who have not yet implemented may be well behind or well in front of those who have. Behind because ERP implementations normally take 2-3 years; in front in the sense that they have no baggage and can take advantage of some of the emerging, more flexible approaches.

Since the big ERP systems were first written, the world has changed. They were mostly written before the Internet hit centre-stage. Of course, they have responded and many now have a web-based front end, but an organisation looking principally to improve collaboration, supply chain performance or e-commerce may do better to avoid the big, well-established ERP systems and choose a package written specifically to exploit e-business opportunities.

As ever, the key is to understand what you are trying to achieve.

Implementing a manufacturing system is not a business strategy; it may be one means of realising a business strategy. And always remember: software systems only assist; they need people systems to deliver. Though a good software system should help improve reliability, utilisation and throughput figures, it will only do so if used as part of a coherent approach to system design where system includes working procedures, quality approaches, etc. IT as a sledgehammer to crack a tough nut rarely works.

Lean manufacturing stems from implementing good manufacturing strategies, not good IT strategies.


See Fourth Shift http://www.fourthshift.com/
Manugistics www.manugistics.com
SSI http://www.ssi-world.com/

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