What are key features in discrete manufacturing production type?

Discrete manufacturers reap greater business benefits when they ensure planning, procurement, inventory, capacity and quality management are integral parts of their SAP ECC implementation.

For the CIO trying to address the most important pain points in logistics and supply chain operations, meeting...

the needs of the various business users is a balancing act.

Indeed, everyone has a different take on what's most important when it comes to the SAP ERP Central Component (ECC) features, tools and functionality targeted for a discrete manufacturing environment. Production planners may want certain tools, while materials planners think others are of the utmost importance.

In SAP, discrete manufacturing, also known as Shop Floor Control, is a production process in which several assemblies and subassemblies are stored in inventory before a final product is manufactured. It is also by far the most complex form of manufacturing. As the CIO, you may not be able to fully keep everybody happy, but these five must-have SAP ECC features in discrete manufacturing production type are the most important for serving your business goals:

1. Production planning. When compared with repetitive manufacturing, planning production processes in discrete manufacturing are critical since there are several production steps, and often semifinished products are stored or even sold. To this end, SAP's planning and simulation tools can help. For example, the forecasting functionality, which predicts a material's future requirements based on historical consumption helps calculate materials needs with greater exactitude, and the Long-Term Planning simulation tool helps procurement and production planners make better decisions about procurement, production, resource planning and warehouse storage.

2. Material requirements planning (MRP). Materials planning is key in discrete manufacturing. It helps create uninterrupted production by ensuring that all components required to produce a product is available at the right time and in the right quantity. MRP is a materials planning tool used in the procurement planning process of finished, semifinished and raw materials. It can also be used to plan maintenance spare parts, consumables and packaging materials for a smoother supply chain. Generally, companies use MRP for planning materials used in production process, but often under-utilize the same MRP tool to plan non-production based materials.

3. Capacity requirements planning (CRP). Discrete manufacturing ERP's CRP must have the functionality for not only in-depth capacity evaluation but also capacity leveling. Capacity evaluation lets you evaluate the workload of each machine or resource, while capacity leveling enables the system to propose alternatives, such as increasing a work shift or increasing manpower when faced with capacity bottleneck.

4. Quality management. Building in quality checks and material inspections at every stage of the supply chain is absolutely critical. To this end, integrating quality management in all stage of logistics and supply chain management, such as procurement, production, product development and sales, ensure that your company does not face product returns or produce defective products.

5. Inventory management. The inventory management solution in discrete manufacturing ERP should be smart enough to send user-defined timely alerts when a product is about to expire, or when the material has fallen below the minimum or maximum stock level, which is what SAP Early Warning System tool does.

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