There’s a scheme hovering around the manufacturing world that a lean shop floor cannot take on classy, complex ERP software. Now, on the surface, this might seem true ‘lean’ is all about trending your business towards zero waste. You’ve no doubt heard about terrible ERP implementations that can end up millions of dollars over resources and months behind schedule. Surely, the conclusion is that the two cannot employment together. In fact, that idea is totally wrong. In reality, you can leverage ERP to streamline and reduce waste within your business right in line with lean methodologies. From meeting precise and historical data for accurate demand planning to total quality management with the customer constantly in mind, ERP can be a great resource for the lean-focused business. 

So, now that you’ve been convinced of the perfect pairing of manufacturing ERP and lean principles, how do you go about getting that marriage to go off without a hitch? Here are 5 ways that you can blend ERP and lean manufacturing together to get the best of both worlds.

Inventory Reduction

Yes, some companies may utilize ERP to manage excess stock or to maintain an inventory buffer, but that doesn’t mean that extraneous product is a guiding principle of ERP systems. In fact, you can leverage enterprise software for exactly the opposite result. Utilizing your in-depth ERP data for accurate demand planning will allow you to operate on lot-by-lot sizing basis and only produce as much product as will be taken off shelves. You can also map out a system that will structure a workflow that ‘pulls’ product through your shop floor and connects each stage to those preceding and proceeding it. By connecting all of your manufacturing stages together, you reduce the opportunity for waste or backlog at each link of the chain.

Separate Order Quantity

Discrete order quantity allows you to plan for orders only as they come in and add to net requirements of your order period. This will greatly help in allowing you to achieve that zero-inventory goal one of the quickest and most efficient ways to leverage ERP for lean principles and processes. As we mentioned in the above point, scaling down your inventory is a core foundation of becoming a lean maker, and by only making a product to order, you will be well on your way to hitting that goal.

Task Automation

Modern ERPs are expert experts at automation. You can use them to manage, implement and track all automated processes within your facilities. By utilizing your software to automate those every day, rote processes on your shop floor you will free your time to focus on value-producing activities that will impact the quality of your final product, not just the fact that it gets made. This falls exactly in line with the lean hub on reduction in waste of the final goods and customer experience. This will cut back on non-productive time for your workers, and hand those tasks over to machines that can be monitored. When that non-productivity is measurable and traceable, it will be much easier to report on areas of waste and get to work on fixing those leaks in your manufacturing process.

Balance Down Shipping and Delivery

Your ERP will be able to accommodate for a scale down in your delivery and shipment requirements as you streamline your business processes. Smaller, more frequent movement of your raw materials and final product in and out of your facility will cut back immensely on waste in inventory and investment in large shipments. By only moving product that is in demand, you’ll ensure your business is ordering materials that will be used. Using your ERP for lean shipment concepts will ensure you have only what you need, exactly when you need it.

Routine Maintenance

Employing ERP for routine maintenance is one of the easiest ways to reduce wait time when it comes to workstation breakdowns and malfunctioning machines. We all know too well the consequences of line shut-downs and breakages within a process, and the effect it can have on both revenue and product quality. Because ERP can track the productivity of every stage on your shop floor, it can also monitor any slowdown and alert you to possible upcoming problems. With this information, you can schedule protection ahead of time when it will have the least effect on your productions and before it causes an unplanned disaster in your workflow.