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A recently completed white paper by IDC Manufacturing Insights, sponsored by Apriso, features a methodology to consider when deciding how to best manage factory and warehouse operations.

Two approaches are evaluated in detail: first, a platform-based approach to manufacturing operations management; and, second, the extension of an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system down to the shop floor.

A comparison discussion follows, including end-user interviews explaining the benefits of each option.

One conclusion drawn from the white paper is that dedicated manufacturing operations platforms offer deeper functionality and flexibility; this approach is easier to extend and modify, especially when implemented across multiple plants.

The importance of flexibility depends on how one values ‘ease of extensibility’ or the ability to modify or retain local processes specific to a particular plant or factory or adapt to changing business conditions.

Bob Parker, group vice-president of IDC Manufacturing Insights, said: ‘A dedicated platform offers many benefits because it provides the best opportunity to establish corporate standard plant-level processes while giving local management latitude in calibrating those processes to their specific needs.

‘This approach will require an organisational commitment to the platform to be successful, but it will be the most direct path to the desired business outcome of an innovative and adaptive supply network,’ he added.

The study also found the dedicated platform to be more cost effective in many situations.

‘The differences in total cost of ownership come down to three central issues: how much plant-level support is needed, what are your infrastructure requirements and what will be the cost to continuously adapt the system?’ asked IDC Manufacturing Insights.

This white paper is based on two sets of research and discovery – one with Saint-Gobain Sekurit (SGS), based on its use of a dedicated platform for manufacturing operations management, and one with an unnamed, but similar, automotive component supplier, based on its selection of ERP to manage its shop floor.

This Apriso-sponsored white paper, entitled ‘Manufacturing Operations Management: Choosing Between ERP Extension and Dedicated Platform’ (Document MI220884, November 2009), is now available for free.

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