The whole idea of reducing work down to a discrete, calculable science–the drive behind many a modern business software solution–has its start in manufacturing. Those seeds planted in age of industrialization eventually produced the software industry as we recognize it today, so it’s only natural that things would come full circle with a cross-pollination of software into manufacturing.
As an end-to-end process manufacturing has a multitude of internal operations that need to be tracked and standardized in real time.These are the functions that manufacturing software sets out to address. In that sense, many manufacturing solutions are tied at the hip with the broader realm of ERP software, which performs similar, sometimes identical, tasks. Among the operations manufacturing software optimizes are:
Like all meaningful business software, the ideal manufacturing solution optimizes a company’s performance in its key tasks and simplifies the internal processes through which things get done at the end of the day. Below are five of the top manufacturing software solutions currently on the market and how they compare to each other.
Aptean Factory MOM
Aptean, the result of a merger between ERP vendors Consona and CDC, combines the features of both those companies’ respective manufacturing/ERP solutions. Aptean Factory MOM features numerous modules that can be tweaked to best suit the needs of a particular enterprise. One of the standouts among these is the Quality Module, which taps into the QC process directly by doing checks in product, line and asset. QC checks and audits are updated in real time and can get as granular as line compliance checks, start-up checks and end-of-shift checks.
Aptean boasts that its solution can be deployed on the factory floor within six weeks, with visible results that make themselves readily apparent within the first 12 weeks of company-wide use.
It’s not strictly a manufacturing software solution per se, but Epicor’s ERP has numerous features oriented specifically towards manufacturing needs. The lion’s share of these are packaged in a neatly organized set of modules that touch several of the most vital elements of the physical manufacturing process itself: master production scheduling, material requirements planning and scheduling, project management and multi-site management for larger enterprises.
Furthermore, and unlike the rest of the solutions in this list, manufacturing-oriented solutions are split into three different packages, Epicor Vantage, Epicor iScala and Epicor Vista, sorted according to the sort of manufacturing enterprise they service and which functions are consequently offered. Vantage is aimed at mixed-mode and make-to-order manufacturers, whereas iScala is specifically for manufacturing divisions of larger diversified multinationals. Vista services job shops, make-to-order departments and “emergent” manufacturers.
Michigan’s Plex Systems offers what just might be the most robust manufacturing software solution on this list. Plex Online vast feature list allows managers to manage the entire product lifecycle from job order and resource procurement to fabrication all the way to research & development and product revisions. The versatility has allowed the program’s functionality to cover a vast array of different segments of the manufacturing world including automotive, food and beverage, aerospace/defense, metal fabrication and industrial machinery production.
What really sets Plex apart, however, is a highly responsive system of collecting and tabulating customer response to their actual field use of the Plex Online system. The company uses these collections of feedback to guide its development of new feature additions and each successive version update of the core software. While this practice runs the risk of creating somewhat scattershot development history–developers hurriedly integrating various outlandish features without considering how they impact the overall product–it also provides the user a level of nuts-and-bolts-level flexibility that’s nonexistent with most legacy manufacturing software solutions out there right now.
Global Shop One-System ERP
Global Shop Solutions’ offering takes a more targeted approach than the others on this list, focusing on small and mid-size manufacturers who employ 20-500 employees.
Like Plex, Global Shop Solutions employs a full-scale R&D department devoted to tabulating client feedback and requests as part of an ongoing process of optimizing the core product. This commitment to customization has led to the development of a few Global Shop Solutions exclusives like the Global Application Builder, which allows for user-driven customization and expansion of the ERP system, and a comprehensive employee training and customer service network.
Australia-based Pronto Software has developed one of the most modular solutions in this segment, with fully featured modules for everything from financials to distribution/inventory managements, CRM, supply chain and business intelligence functions.
Xi’s manufacturing module in particular could arguably be packaged and offered as a standalone manufacturing software solution. The module features shopfloor planning, production planning, production scheduling and QC management and monitoring. Master Production Schedules, MRP, Distribution Requirements Planning and Rough Cut Capacity Planning are all included as part of the Xi-managed production planning process.
If you’d like additional information on some of the other manufacturing systems out there, try checking out our exclusive Top 15 Manufacturing Software report. Additionally, pay a visit to the Business-Software.com manufacturing software resource page, the hub for manufacturing-related materials from us and our network of guest contributors.