We all understand how hard it is to keep every finished good, material, person and machine straight on a daily basis. But have you ever stopped to think about the true complexity of a manufacturing environment when you add (or multiply) it all together? The opportunities for error are incredible. If you think about a simple operation with 10 machines that may run 10 parts per machine with one raw material per part, you have 200 items to manage. Now what if some of those parts can run on other machines, share raw materials, need to be assembled together and have to be packaged a special way? While I am not doing the math here, we can all understand that the complexity just went up exponentially. This is just a very basic example. How many of your shops are this simple?
So what have manufacturers done over the years to manage this complexity? Hire more people, write spreadsheets, install specialized applications and put in ERP systems. As a former user of EnterpriseIQ from IQMS at a mid-sized manufacturing company, I was dependent upon the system to facilitate the planning process across our multiple plants and numerous work centers. I could not imagine processing the thousands of daily order changes without tools like EDI, let alone trying to manually figure out what those change impacts were to the schedule and material deliveries.
Now couple in costing to figure out if we are "taping a dollar" to every part or actually making money with those changes and it amazes me that some companies are not using ERP applications to run their businesses. Now if we extend this beyond core system capabilities into customer relationship management, shop floor control, quality management, employee management, etc., you can see how it becomes necessary to "computerize" your company.
The chord that continues to strike home with me is the fact that all of these periphery applications live on the same system with EnterpriseIQ, meaning there are no third party vendors. With third party applications, manufacturers have to add in yet another complexity through all the different support systems that are needed to run the business. As an ERP end user, I did not appreciate the massive amount of detail work that goes into planning, building, coding, testing and supporting something the size of an truly extended ERP system like EnterpriseIQ, but now as an employee, I am "beginning" to appreciate the body of work.
When our new customers and implementation specialists are adding data, setting up rules, defining number schemes, etc. during an implementation, they are taking a blank system and filling it with "life." The end goal of all of that work becomes making your extremely complex business easier to manage by enabling an integrated system do the mundane but critical tasks. This in turn frees up time for your human capital to engage in problem solving and continually improving their areas of responsibility.
I guess the next thing to work on is a comprehensive system to manage our personal lives.