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PPC Software for Manufacturing Companies

An industry's requirements for the investment decision

Cost efficiency, adherence to delivery dates and flexibility are the main factors for success in global competition. Accordingly, the use of PPC software to optimise internal and interplant material flows is very important for manufacturing companies. The aim is not only to have all the right information available as in a "transparent factory" but also to be able to use this information in real-time. The manufacturing industry sees the employment of PPC software as a means to find solutions for the company's challenges. In short, lean and simple processes should be supported by the PPC Software and ergonomics and user-friendliness should simplify everyday work. Aspects pertaining to the PPC software vendor, like implementation method, references, locations and acquisition costs are less important (cf. results of the user satisfaction survey ERP / Business Software Germany 2010/2011).

These requirements clearly differentiate the manufacturing industry from other industries. A comparison with trading and service companies shows, that the coverage of industry-specific requirements is much more important for the manufacturing industry. Cost aspects, like low acquisition and operating costs, on the other hand, are more important for trading and service companies in the course of an ERP selection.

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Industry-specific requirements for PPC software - production types as reference points

In the face of the great importance manufacturing companies attach to specialised functional support when selecting a PPC software, it pays to have a closer look at the details: A thorough analysis of different types of order processing shows that different production types (project-related, serial, make-to-stock and process manufacturing) in fact have very different requirements.

Due to project durations of several months, a typical make-to-order manufacturer's order process is characterised by high planning complexity. Still, the project must be roughly structured and scheduled and the critical resources must be planned already in the tendering phase. This poses a great challenge to PPC software. The project plan is the central planning tool. All relevant information concerning the project processes and incurred costs are collected in the project management in the sense of a concurrent project calculation.  In addition, there are a number of changes or break-downs during product development which necessitate re-planning. In this context, information concerning time-shiftings in detailed planning, for example, must be reported to rough planning in order to warrant continuous project monitoring. 

In contrast, a serial manufacturer's order processing is characterised by volume and precision of sales planning or by  production-logical methods like kanban-loops or cumulative quantities. For this production type the most important requirements refer to procurement and supplier management. Accordingly, a suitable PPC software should support extensive supplier assessment.

For make-to-stock manufacturers concentrating on standard parts, again, different aspects are important. Parts supplied by third-parties, for example, are rather rare so that supplier assessment as a PPC software function is not a focal point. The handling of packaging, then again, plays a particular role. On the one hand, the reusable packaging cycle is of great importance. On the other hand, packaging is integrated in requirements planning. 

Finally, process manufacturers (food, chemicals and pharmaceutical industry) again have different requirements with regard to PPC software, for example planning and confirmation of by-products, technical process control or link-up of lab information systems.

Different socpes of performance and planning logics

In addition to the industry and manufacturing-specific requirements, further differences can be detected concerning the scopes of performance of the PPC software packages. Today, almost all the systems for manufacturing companies also cover the tasks of financials in addition to the core module of production planning and control (PPC). The main difference here is, whether the financials module of the PPC software is the same product or a specialised financials solution which is regularly integrated as a so-called "OEM" solution.  Aside from the way of integration, the financials modules also differ with regard to coverage of the legal particularities on an international level.

The application area of PPC software is also expanding within manufacturing logistics: for many companies it is not enough when the PPC software supports rough planning in production (e.g. management of work plans and resources) but not detailed planning in the sense of a production control center or a manufacturing execution systems (MES). Planning logics in the sense of  „Advanced Planning and Scheduling" (APS), e.g. „Constraint based Planning", as well as the acquisition of operational, machine and quality data enable a short-term reaction to the current production situation. There are still great differences between the available PPC software packages: some vendors complement the established MRP II based planning module with special APS modules. Other vendors changed their planning logic from scratch.

Selection of PPC Software

Against the background of these specific requirements, industrial companies wanting to select and implement PPC Software are faced with the challenge to find their way on a very varied and intransparent market. Since a company ideally selects a new PPC software only once every 15 years, the selection is an important IT decision which is rarely based on empirical values and experience.

Hence, a goal-oriented method is essential for a PPC project. Because of the great number of available products one of the important steps is to quickly find the best candidates on the basis of individual requirements. Online tools like IT-Matchmaker help to efficiently and safely evaluate PPC software with regard to their performance scopes and the vendors' references.

Find the best PPC software for your company now!

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