10 Powerful Manufacturing Features in Dynamics 365 Business Central

10 Powerful Manufacturing Features in Dynamics 365 Business Central

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central is a compelling solution for manufacturers. It offers 10 powerful manufacturing features, as highlighted below. Dynamics 365 Business Central also integrates with accounting and finance, giving you a robust overall business management capability. The following are available in the “Premium” edition of the software.

#1—Production Orders

Dynamics 365 Business Central allows you to create production orders and then manage them through the software. You can post consumption and facility output data to production orders you created. The toolset also lets you calculate net requirements. This includes the choice between manual and automatic supply planning tools.

#2—Production Bill of Materials (BOM)

The Bill of Materials (BOM) lists everything you need to produce your order. With Dynamics 365 Business Central, you can create BOMs and add up your standard costs.

#3 BOM Version Management

You may want to put together different versions of a BOM, e.g. when you have two similar versions of the same product. You can save time with Dynamics 365, which allows you to establish different versions of the BOM and related routings.

#4—Agile Manufacturing

If your business is engaged in agile manufacturing, this solution helps you manage it in all its details. Dynamics 365 Business Central has a module dedicated to agile manufacturing as well as associated modules for supply and capacity planning.

#5—Supply Planning

The Basic Supply Planning module lets you plan your material requirements based on demand. Additional detail can come from the master production scheduling and Materials Requirements Planning (MRP) features found in Dynamics 365 Business Central. It includes automatic Purchase Orders (POs) and production orders along with action messages that help you balance supply and demand.

#6—Sales and Inventory Forecasting

Extension for Sales and Inventory Forecast gives you insights in your potential sales as well as clarity about looming stock-outs. As a Microsoft solution, it includes Cortana Intelligence that integrates historical data. The resulting forecasts drive vendor replenishment requests.

#7—Demand Forecasting

To get optimal results from operations and assets, it’s essential to know how much demand you’re facing. Dynamics 365 Business Central gives you the tools to manage demand forecasting based on sales forecasts. The resulting data makes it possible for the system to plan and set up production and purchase orders that align with the demand forecast and inventory.

#8—Finite Loading

Every manufacturing capability is finite. Overloading a resource will create delays. To avoid this, Dynamics 365 Business Central provides finite loading of capacity-constrained resources. This way, you can plan for production in ways that takes capacity constraints into consideration.

#9— Machine Centers

With Dynamics 365 Business Central, a “Machine Center” refers to a piece of equipment and related capacity. Multiple Machine Centers comprise a “Work Center.” The software allows you to manage the capacity of a machine or equivalent production resource. You can then plan and manage multiple Machine Centers on a consolidated basis—factoring in data points like set up times and scrap percentages.

#10—Capacity Planning

If you want to add capacity elements like Work Centers to your manufacturing process, you can perform this task in Dynamics 365 Business Central. You can also set up routings, view loads and so forth.

If you’re not using ERP for manufacturing, this is a great moment to consider making the move to a modern manufacturing management software solution. We have worked with many manufacturers on the implementation of Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central for manufacturing. To learn how this valuable toolset could benefit your manufacturing business, contact us for a demo and free consultation.

Acumatica and the Power of Comprehensive Manufacturing Software

Acumatica and the Power of Comprehensive Manufacturing Software

Even if you don’t consider yourself a precision manufacturer, managing a manufacturing operation is all about precision. Or, at least it should be. The more precisely you manage every aspect of your manufacturing business, from end to end, the more efficient and profitable it will be. Success occurs when each element of the manufacturing process is well-controlled and connected to relevant systems. For example, as manufacturing inputs like parts or raw materials arrive in the plant, they should be digitally tracked as they enter the warehouse and go through the production process. This may sound like inventory control—and it is—but it’s also a vital part of ensuring an effective manufacturing operation.

Achieving high precision in manufacturing management is best accomplished with software like Acumatica Manufacturing Management. This specialized set of modules for the Acumatica Cloud ERP suite provides the feature depth and connectivity with Acumatica and other business systems to ensure a high degree of precision in managing the complete manufacturing operation. Here are the highlights of how the software enables profitable, efficient and highly precise manufacturing management:

Getting Estimates Right

Profitable manufacturing starts with accurate estimating. Acumatica makes this possible. You can create estimates for new products or update estimates for existing items. The software lets you convert estimates into bills of material or production orders into estimates. For accuracy, you can also use Acumatica to estimate non-inventory items. For efficiency, the tool integrates with the Acumatica sales management module.

Product Configurator

For companies that offer customers custom configurations of products, having a rules-based configurator is a big advantage. The Acumatica configurator can be used to generate estimates, sales orders and production orders—all with up-to-date pricing and costs included. This is an example of the kind of precision you need to attain maximum profitability. Without this kind of software, it’s easy to miss a cost increase that could eat into margins on a custom product.

Inventory Management

Inventory management is particularly relevant for companies implementing lean manufacturing processes. Inventory ties up cash if it’s not under control. At the same time, confusion about where inventory is stored, when supplies will run out and so forth can disrupt manufacturing. And, without rigorous inventory tracking and control, there’s always the risk that defective parts and raw materials can end up in the final product. This will result in complaints, brand damage, returns, rework and more. Acumatica addresses these needs by offering real-time access to inventory that’s in-house, inventory in transit, reorder quantities and costs. It can track inventory at the level of lot numbers, expiration dates and bin locations.

Other highlights of Acumatica Manufacturing Management include:

  • Bill of Materials and Routing—Plan and manage inventories, processes and costs.
  • Production Management—Schedule production on the shop floor while tracking material and labor costs.
  • Material Requirements Planning (MRP)—Maintain optimal inventory with the Acumatica MRP planning tool, which offers a complete view of supply and demand.
  • Order Management—Manage sales activities while streamlining procurement and automating order fulfillment.
  • Planning and Scheduling—Set accurate, reliable delivery dates based on resource availability.
  • Fulfillment—Reduce mistakes in order fulfillment and avoid costly returns.

All of these elements in Acumatica Manufacturing Management work together synergistically to keep your manufacturing operation working at its best. You can stay on top of orders and production while keeping inventory under control. It integrates with Acumatica accounting and financial management systems as well, so there’s no clumsy rekeying of data or missed opportunities for coherent management of manufacturing finances. These system elements also generate rich data that you can visualize in Acumatica data reporting tools and dashboards.

To learn more about Acumatica Manufacturing Management, contact us for a demo and assessment of your manufacturing software needs.

Additional Acumatica Manufacturing Resources

6 Reasons It’s Time for Manufacturers to Give Up Excel

7 Signs You’ve Outgrown Your Old Manufacturing ERP System

What Is the Best Software for SMB Manufacturers?

Lean Manufacturing: What It Is and 7 Ways ERP Can Support Its Success

Lean Manufacturing: What It Is and 7 Ways ERP Can Support Its Success

Lean manufacturing comprises a collection if ideas and practices aimed at minimizing waste while simultaneously improving product quality. It’s often implemented as a complete, systematic approach to running a manufacturing operation. ERP software for manufacturing can help you realize the benefits of lean manufacturing.

The software alone does not guarantee this outcome, however. Rather, when companies deploy ERP software in accordance with well thought-through and company-specific lean practices, results start to emerge. To illustrate how ERP software can support the success of a lean manufacturing effort, we thought it would be worthwhile to highlight the applicability of software to seven critical principles in the lean manufacturing discipline.

What is Lean Manufacturing?

To understand lean manufacturing, it’s useful to know where it came from. Though the words “lean manufacturing” have only been with us since the late 1980s, the lean philosophy actually originated in the early days of Toyota, in the mid-1930s. At that time, car-manufacturing was relatively wasteful and inefficient. It’s not that people weren’t trying to make car assembly lines efficient. The problems stemmed from poor assumptions about how things should be made.

Kiichiro Toyoda, the legendary founder of Toyota, was one to challenge prevailing ideas about how to make cars. He applied a new set of principles to manufacturing. His ideas evolved and matured into what we now call lean manufacturing. Among other things, Toyoda identified seven areas of waste that contributed to high costs, low quality and inefficient operations:

  • Transport, e.g. moving items that are not needed for the actual processing
  • Inventory, e.g. keeping inventory at a minimum, including components, work in progress and finished goods
  • Movement, e.g. wasteful motions of people or equipment
  • Waiting, e.g. delays between production steps
  • Overproduction, e.g. making goods ahead of demand
  • Over-processing, e.g. excessive work due to poor product or tool design
  • Defects, e.g. the work required to inspect for defects or worse, recalling them after shipment

Each of these forms of waste has a negative impact on product quality as well profitability. For example, overproduction can tie up cash in goods that may never be sold. Similarly, stockpiling components in advance of manufacturing not only ties down cash, it can conceal defects that will appear later in the manufacturing cycle. In contrast, the “just in time” approach, which involves receiving components close to assembly time, enables the manufacturer to catch defects in real time.

How Manufacturing ERP Software Helps Manufacturers Avoid the Seven Wastes

Used the right way, manufacturing ERP software, can help you avoid, or at least reduce, the seven wastes of traditional manufacturing:

  • Transport—Software enables you to track the movement of components across the entire manufacturing process.
  • Inventory—Stay on top of inventory and procurement in real time, aligning component delivery with manufacturing operational plans.
  • Movement—Optimize your manufacturing operation using process analysis and planning.
  • Waiting—Organize your production schedule to minimize waiting.
  • Over-production—Estimate demand using data analytical tools in the software, making it possible to avoid over-production.
  • Over-processing—Manage the production process at a granular level to detect and then reduce over-processing.
  • Defects—Use reporting and data visualization to determine root causes of defects, so they can be remediated.

All of these actions contribute to the ultimate ethos of lean manufacturing, which is continuous improvement. The idea that propelled Toyota into one of the world’s largest and most respected brands for quality was that everything can be done better—always. The lean manufacturing practice means constant observation and improvement. With data analytics and other specialized tooling, manufacturing ERP gives your organization this potential.

To arrange a demonstration of Acumatica cloud ERP software for manufacturing and discuss how it can drive lean manufacturing at your business, let’s talk.

6 Reasons It’s Time for Manufacturers to Give Up Excel

6 Reasons It’s Time for Manufacturers to Give Up Excel

Excel has been a mainstay of work environments for some time. While Excel is good for listing data, and to some extent calculating prices, it’s not ideal for a manufacturing business. Excel lacks many features of Acumatica Manufacturing Edition. Today’s manufacturers need maximum visibility into projects, pricing and business processes. Here are six reasons to give up Excel for Acumatica’s all-inclusive solution.

1) Lack of Integration

Acumatica Manufacturing Edition offers seamless integration with Acumatica’s software suites for distribution, financial and customer management as well as project accounting. All your business activities can be coordinated in real time and all data are available in a centralized location. Excel does not offer this functionality on its own. Also, it’s only available for Windows and Mac OS X operating systems, often making compatibility an issue.

2) Pricing Rules Are Hard to Manage

Excel does not enable an effective value-based pricing system. It only supports simple pricing strategies. On the other hand, Acumatica supports multiple costing methods, provides sales integration and enables users to estimate non-inventory items. Production orders can be created from estimates, while the software includes complete accounts receivable and accounts payable systems. And, to mitigate issues with formulas, Acumatica integrates formula validation.

3) Lack of Security

Data security, fraud and corruption are issues with Excel. It lacks user friendliness. Breaking down large data files can lead to losing or misplacing information. Excel does not integrate with other business systems or provide a means to spot mistakes quickly. Acumatica minimizes the risk of human error. It automates the entire fulfillment process, provides a complete audit trail and includes CRM integration and revision control.

4) Tracking Information on Excel Is Difficult

Spreadsheet data are often scattered across multiple sources and locations. Tracing the logic of formulas from one cell to the next can take time that impedes high volume production. Acumatica lets you track production steps, expiration dates and lot and serial data. Users can also manage production order changes and financials from a single location. The software even streamlines integration of sub-accounts and allows for intercompany accounting.

5) Excel Isn’t for Collaboration

Manufacturers often collect information from different departments and corporate locations. Spreadsheets can only be exchanged via email, so tracking all the files going back and forth can be tedious. There’s also a risk of sending out-of-date file versions. The lack of collaborative support can make quick decision-making a challenge. But with Acumatica, all the information stakeholders need is in one place.

6) Excel Doesn’t Grow with Your Company

Acumatica adapts to every step of the manufacturing process and supports project-centric tasks, batches and repetitive manufacturing. Engineering changes are handled seamlessly, from change requests to change notices and approvals. There’s no guarantee an Excel spreadsheet will provide the required accuracy and dependability. Plus, data recovery can be difficult, so Excel does not support business continuity very well.

If your manufacturing company is still relying on Excel, these are just some of the reasons you should consider switching over to Acumatica Manufacturing Edition. Contact us today.

Additional Manufacturing Resources

How Configurators Help Manufacturers Expand Their Product Lines

7 Signs You’ve Outgrown Your Old Manufacturing ERP System

The Best Software for SMB Manuacturers

How Configurators Help Manufacturers Expand Their Product Lines

How Configurators Help Manufacturers Expand Their Product Lines

A product configurator is software that enables you to configure a complex manufactured product. Manufacturing ERP solutions like Acumatica have product configurator modules that port configuration data directly into sales quotes, order management, supply chain management and operational scheduling. Configurators help manufacturers run more efficiently. They have another benefit as well, which is to smooth the process of expanding a manufacturing product line.

How Configurators Work

A configurator lets you establish options and rules for a manufactured product. To take a deliberately simple example, let’s say you make two types of electric pumps: Wall-Mounted and Free-Standing. As shown in the grid below, the Wall-Mounted model can take a 1” diameter hose, but not a 1/2” hose. The Free-Standing pump is the opposite. It can only take a ½” hose.

Wall-Mounted Free-Standing
Takes 1” hose Yes No
Takes ½” hose No Yes

If a salesperson wants to create a quote for a Wall-Mounted pump, the configurator will not allow her to configure it with a ½” hose. That’s a configuration rule. In real life, the rules and options can be extremely extensive and complex, so the configurator is essential for ensuring accuracy and preventing accidental combinations of parts that won’t fit together.

Where Configurators Help Save, and Make Money

Configurators save money partly through avoiding configuration errors. There are many other opportunities to save and make money with configurators. For example:

  • Reduce or eliminate manual processes in the configure-to-order workflow—If you take a close look at your quote-to-order process, you may find manual hand-offs between people and systems. For instance, once the configured product is set for production, a procurement person may have to take the specifications and input them into a supply chain management system. This not optimal. People become more productive throughout the manufacturing process once configurator are in use.
  • Close more deals—Configurators make salespeople more responsive to customer inquiries. In so many cases, the winning manufacturer is the one that is “fastest on the draw” with accurate specifications and pricing.
  • Avoid vendor problems and supply shortages—Having accurate manufacturing specifications and parts requirements in advance enables your team to stay in top of ordering and steer clear of situations where vendors can’t come through with needed manufacturing inputs.

How Configurators Facilitate the Expansion of Product Lines

Configurators facilitate product line expansion in several ways. For one thing, configurators allow product managers to mock up multiple hypothetical versions of a complex product. With sophisticated version management features, configurators like the one found in Acumatica make it possible to show prospective customers or market researchers different editions of a product—determining which will sell the best and make the most profit, before any actual manufacturing is done.

With a configurator, the complete manufacturing team can participate in the development of an expanded product line. For example, with configurations readily available for discussion, every stakeholder can look at proposed new products and offer their input. Issues might include problems with manufacturability, supply chain, shipping and more. If a proposed product is too big to ship or has parts that experts know won’t work in real life, the configuration process will save a great deal of trouble later on. Alternatively, if everyone signs off on a proposed new product configuration, that can lead to productive, profitable additions to the product line.

Adding a configurator could be a good way to add on to an existing ERP system. It could also be the pretext you need to think about updating your legacy ERP. We have worked with many manufacturers on the implementation of configurators. If you want to learn more about how a configurator can help your business, let’s talk.

Additional Manufacturing Resources

7 Signs You’ve Outgrown Your Old Manufacturing ERP System
What Is the Best Software for SMB Manufacturers?
5 Things Manufacturers Need in ERP

7 Signs You’ve Outgrown Your Old Manufacturing ERP System

7 Signs You’ve Outgrown Your Old Manufacturing ERP System

How can you tell you’ve outgrown your old manufacturing ERP system? Chances are, if you’ve implemented ERP for your manufacturing business, you have a system that works relatively well. It gets the job done, more or less. The “or less” part can become increasingly problematic as older systems age, however. Here are seven signs that you’ve outgrown old the ERP.

1) Quality suffers

ERP in manufacturing should give you very fine-grained control over manufacturing processes and material inputs. If a customer returns an order, you should be able to go to your ERP and quickly gain a firm understanding of what went wrong. That way, you can recall any other orders that were shipped with the same same defect or intervene with a supplier that contributed to the problem. For example, if you manufacture a food item, and you discover that a particular lot contains a harmful chemical, your ERP needs to give you complete information on where the chemical came from and who got shipments of the tainted product. Older ERPs can struggle with this level of control and insight.

2) You’re spending a lot to keep it going

Legacy ERPs are like old cars. You love them, but they take a lot of care and feeding. If you notice your ERP management and admin budget climbing every year, even if you’re not adding new functionality, that’s a sign you need to replace it.

3) You need specialized people on staff just for ERP

If you have to keep people on staff because they are the only ones who can administer the ERP and get data out of it for reporting, you need a more modern solution.

4) Inventory is holding things up, tying up cash or both

Modern ERPs like Acumatica give you many nuanced controls over inventory management, including tracking of lot and serial numbers, expiration dates, transaction reason codes, inventory bin locations and item class hierarchy.

5) Integration is clunky or nonexistent

Is your old ERP linked to your accounting system, HR or CRM solutions? If it isn’t, that’s already a tip off that you can do better. Acumatica comes with simple, fast integration with related systems. These enable more efficient business management overall. Alternatively, if managing such integrations is a cumbersome, expensive proposition, it’s time to make a change.

6) Reporting is a chore

How hard is it to generate timely, in-depth reports with your legacy ERP? If reporting is time-consuming or incomplete, you should know that you’re missing out on insights that can make your manufacturing business more competitive and profitable.

7) Security is weak, costly or both

Is your data secure? Do you feel confident you can protect your digital assets from Denial of Service (DoS) attacks? If you’re not sure, or you are being told you will have to spend a lot of money to get secure, you might do better with a modern ERP. A cloud-based ERP like Acumatica is hosted in a secure cloud data center. This doesn’t make it 100% bulletproof—nothing is—but this architecture takes a huge security burden off of your plate.

We have worked with many manufacturing companies on ERP upgrades. If you are curious about how a new ERP could help your business run better, we should talk. Or, to arrange a demo of Acumatica, please visit our website.

Additional Manufacturing ERP Resources

Manufacturing Challenges—How Acumatica Can Help

The Advantage of True Cloud Manufacturing

What Is the Best Software for SMB Manufacturers?