How many times did you ask yourself what is discrete manufacturing? What is the difference between different types of manufacturing? And where does the ERP/MRP system fit in that equation?
Some might say that production processes are about practice, not theory. But sometimes it takes just a little bit of knowledge, a sprinkle of precision and a splash of accurateness to overlap the distance from practice to perfection. So, make sure to look before you leap!
Discrete manufacturing – definition
A production process is a system of dynamic actions consisting of a set of technical procedures for the modification or transformation of certain elements. Through the production process, the input elements become output elements, after a manufacturing process in which their value increases.
These transformed elements are parts, components (popularly called raw materials), while the output elements are known as finished products, that are intended to be sold to a final consumer.
Almost every item that is sold in stores is a product of discrete manufacturing – it is a distinct unit that was manufactured from components that are also countable units. Also, those individual finished products can be counted, touched and seen.
Discrete manufacturing vs. Process manufacturing
While the result of discrete manufacturing is a distinct unit, the product created by process manufacturing is not. Process manufacturing uses ingredients that are blended, refined, and in batches and the final product cannot be broken down to its basic components (an example for this would be oil, salt or water).
The individual products of discrete manufacturing (such as automobiles, toys, furniture) are easily identifiable, while in process manufacturing, you can’t tell the difference between one product and another.
Bill of Materials
Discrete manufacturing can be low complexity – if it’s single level and it doesn’t branch out beyond the assemblies and work operations, or high complexity – if the manufacturing process includes sub-assemblies and their own manufacturing processes.
In both of those cases, it relies on recipes, blueprints, a.k.a. prescribed processes to manage the manufacturing workflow.
This is popularly called Bill of Materials (BoM), and it explains the manufacturing flow and gives a list of assemblies, sub-assemblies and work operations included in the manufacturing process.
multi level bill of materials
Discrete manufacturing can cover every production process, from the basic one, such as just assembling the parts together to make a finished product (for example, the legs and top into a table), to the most complex production, that has a wide number of different input items that are processed and come together to make a multi-level output product .
As the complexity of the input and output items varies, the BoM complexity varies as well, and according to the number of output items and the number of parts necessary for those items to be produced, as well as the number of work operations and processes included, you should choose a software that can handle the requirements of your workflow.
As shown on the diagram above, ERP for small and medium-sized companies cover the production process that includes a smaller number of input items and a low complexity of output items (the table example), while the production that includes a wide variety of input items which result in a complex output item require an Enterprise level software (the example is the automobile industry).
What to expect?
It can be very discouraging as it’s difficult to imagine these concepts being applied to a small-scale business or medium-sized business, so the ERP systems were originally developed to help manage the discrete manufacturing processes, regardless of the size of the company and the complexity of workflow. ERP systems give companies the control and provide them with a very precise view of the manufacturing processes at any point in time, helping to eliminate waste and reduce the time required to produce the goods.
Typical functions in these systems, that are also included in ERPAG are:
• Inventory management
• Sales management
• Purchasing management
• Warehouse management
• Manufacturing management
Last but not least, good ERP software should cover discrete manufacturing needs across different industries, and that’s why ERPAG can be customized to meet every small and medium-sized manufacturer’s specific workflow!
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