Canadian Plastics

STOP and read before implementing MRPII/ERP

To all the Canadian Plastics readers thinking about implementing manufacturing resource planning (MRPII, not to be confused with MRP -- materials requirement planning) or enterprise resource planning...

September 1, 2006   By Rebecca Reid, managing editor



To all the Canadian Plastics readers thinking about implementing manufacturing resource planning (MRPII, not to be confused with MRP — materials requirement planning) or enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, I urge you to STOP and read this editorial.

The many horror stories circulating in the plastics industry of money wasted on MRPII and ERP would give Donald Trump nightmares for months.

It’s not that MRPII and ERP applications are duds; it’s that processors are choosing the WRONG vendors and applications that are the WRONG fit for their business.

Virtually every company uses Windows and Microsoft Office on the desktop. Unfortunately there is no cookie-cutter off-the-shelf MRPII/ERP equivalent.

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The large ERP software vendors like Oracle and SAP are generalists; you buy their package and then pay their consultants to ‘customize’ the software to fit your needs.

Unfortunately these generic ERP vendors often don’t have the necessary knowledge of plastics processing for a small-to-medium-sized plastics firm.

A better option for a small company is to choose an ERP package that has as many of the functions it needs out-of-the-box. Made2Manage, IQMS, Plastisoft, to name a few, are all companies whose founders have roots in the plastics industry.

And don’t be put off by the smaller size of these plastics-focused ERP firms; just because they don’t have the deep pockets of Microsoft, doesn’t mean the company won’t be sticking around.

If you want to get a good sense of their stability look at their partners. Many partner with Oracle Corp., which is known for its database, and Oracle has a lot of expertise integrating its database with ERP systems.

Take a look at the operating systems the ERP program supports. Pretty much all of them support Windows, but some also support Linux and some Unix platforms.

For moldmakers in particular, since some might use Linux-based machines for CAD/CAM purposes, see whether or not you already possess the in-house skills to support Linux on the server.

But you don’t need a Microsoft Certified Technician on staff to make ERP work. There are plenty of small companies that provide tech support to manufacturing firms at an affordable cost. Also, make sure your ERP vendor offers support during the hours your plant runs.

Also, be open and honest with the vendor you choose. It’s impossible for the vendor to tell you how much money you can save if they don’t take the time to walk around the plant to observe your processes.

But prior to all of this, first make sure your company president or owner is on board with the ERP implementation.

Finally, make sure your workers will adopt the system. Consult with them to find out what tasks take an unnecessarily long amount of time or are ridiculously complex, and ask them to suggest improvements.

This is actually the most crucial element in the procurement and deployment process, because, in the end, it won’t matter how great the MRPII/ERP system is if no one uses it.

e-mail: rreid@canplastics.com


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