Manufacturing software can make your life as a manufacturer much easier, but you first need to understand what it is, what types are available, and more. Learn everything you need to know below with answers to commonly asked questions.
Manufacturing software is any software which aids in, provides transparency into, or otherwise optimizes the manufacturing process. This can include material and inventory planning, monitoring safety and maintenance, product development planning and product design, and more.
There are many types of software used by the manufacturing industry, the most common manufacturing software being:
The features and functions of manufacturing software depends on the type of software itself. Some more robust software may include many different features and functionality within the product suite (for example an ERP often has inventory management software and time cost tracking software contained within), while other software specializes in one specific part of the manufacturing process.
Material Requirement Planning Software
Manufacturers use MRP software to plan what materials will be needed and when in the production process. If a manufacturer carries more supply of a material than required, they are tying up both money and resources that could more efficiently be used elsewhere. However if they carry less than needed they run the risk of running out of stock and losing sales.
Enterprise Resource Planning Software
Manufacturers typically use ERP software to tie their manufacturing processes to all other business segments in the organization. It gives not just a unified view of the manufacturing requirements, but also financial, inventory, staffing, and other requirements.
Manufacturing Control Software
Typically refers to a manufacturing software that includes both manufacturing execution, planning, and material requirement planning all in one software.
Product Development Process Software
Manufacturing is a part of the PDP process. After ideation, feasibility analysis, and design, it is time to make a prototype or first version of a product. This is where the manufacturing team comes in.
Product Life-Cycle Management Software
Like PDP software, one major part of the life-cycle of a product is production. Production requires communication between the design team and the manufacturer to ensure the product is made to specifications desired.
Computer-Aided Design Software
The most popular CAD software is AutoCAD. CAD software optimizes the manufacturing process by allowing designers to build products digitally, comment, and make changes, before manufacturing a physical product.
Computer-Aided Manufacturing Software
CAM software imports CAD files and converts them into machine readable information that can be read by machines on the manufacturing floor.
Computerized Maintenance Management Software
In order to keep your manufacturing processes running smoothly, CMMS software is used for planned, preventive, and reactive maintenance of all machinery used in the manufacturing process. CMMS software can also be used to generate work orders for equipment that needs servicing or inspection.
Manufacturing Process Management Software
Also known as “Process Manufacturing Software”, MPM serves as a repository that outlines the processes, techniques, and methods that should be used in order to manufacture a product. By examining the manufacturing process MLM can be used to optimize production.
Manufacturing Execution Software
MES software tracks and documents the process by which raw materials are transformed into the final product. It also enables the user to optimize production by controlling inputs, personnel, machines, and other parts of the manufacturing production process.
Manufacturing Production Scheduling Software
Also known as advanced planning and scheduling software (APS), manufacturing scheduling software allows manufacturers to build a detailed manufacturing production schedule that factors in needed resources, staffing, and inventory to complete production.
Manufacturing Sales Quoting or Cost Estimation Software
Manufacturing Sales Quoting software automates the quoting process by taking known or historical costs of material, overhead, labor, shipping, outsourced work, bonus or commission calculations, and other fees and applying a mark-up in order to generate accurate quotes for the manufacture of goods.
Manufacturing Inventory Management Software
Inventory management software when it comes to manufacturing, allows you to track the quantity of all raw materials, finished products, as well as the inputs that go into making those final products. This software will notify you if you do not have enough inventory to complete a job, or if inventory levels are running low.
Some of the most important considerations in choosing manufacturing software are: cost of the software, software support and whether there is additional cost for advanced support, ease of implementation and cost of implementation, how closely the software fits the company’s business, how easy it is to change software as the company’s business changes, ease of use and adoption, technological risk, and integration with other software.
Typically you can deploy manufacturing software one of three ways: on-site, cloud, or a hybrid of both.
With this method a software is purchased or developed in-house and stored on a company’s internal servers. Advantages are perceived additional data security by reducing outside access. Disadvantages are that you often need to be on-site to operate, cannot provide access outside the organization, and costs are higher as on-premise technicians are required.
Cloud-based software is securely hosted on the vendor side. Advantages are low upfront and support costs, frequent and often free updates, and ability to add new features as they become available. Disadvantages of cloud-based are that you can’t often customize the software to your needs, and you need to control who access is provided to.
Hybrid might sound like the best of both worlds, but it can end up being one of the most costly to implement. This allows for enhanced controls over who can access you data, while storing the most sensitive data on company owned servers.