Enterprise resource planning - ERP

history of erp software

A Brief History of ERP Software

To understand the present, you have to know the past. This is true of virtually every aspect of modern civilization, including—you guessed it—ERP software.

The platform has evolved from a promising (albeit clunky) specialization to a seemingly unclassifiable catch-all—all in just a few short decades. How did we get to this point in ERP history? Who brought us here? What even is postmodern ERP?

The answer, in short, is that it’s complicated. But there’s a lot you can learn from ERP industry touchstones and their subtly seismic shifts, the most pivotal of which are outlined in the infographic below.

history of erp software

Source: Zach Hale

To learn more about ERP developments, please feel free to contact us here. Data V Tech always welcomes you!

big data in erp

Big Data in ERP: Leveraging for support

Big data in enterprise resource planning – ERP – is defined as larger, more complex data sets. Especially from new data sources. These data sets are huge, to the point where traditional data processing software can’t manage them completely. For manufacturers, leveraging big data with ERP systems can be used to help solve certain persistent business problems. Not only does big data offers a huge amount of support to improve visibility and performance. It also improves your ERP system from sales forecasting and scheduling to enhanced quality control, and more.

Scheduling

Big data captures the information needed for all types of scheduling, and is more immediate and readily available, due to today’s expansive collection of delivery devices. Having real-time feedback from your ERP system can give manufacturers a leg up on scheduling efficiency and will ultimately lead to comprehensive ERP scheduling that, in turn, will create better overall project management efficiencies.

Quality Assurance

Predictive capabilities of big data can extend to product quality assurance as well. It allows manufacturers to channel, store and monitor every real-time data point along a production line in order to create better results at the work-in-progress phase rather than having to deal with problems only after a product hits the quality assurance floor.

Supply Chain

Integrating big data analytics in processes and operations leads to greater efficiency in the supply chain. According to Accenture’s report, Big Data Analytics in Supply Chain, the consultancy found that using big data within ERP systems instead of on an ad hoc basis led to 1.3 times the supply chain speed.

Having the ability to keep track of all the moving parts within the supply chain is a huge advantage. Big data improves visibility to each step of the supply chain process. Furthermore, it gives businesses a 360-degree view of where all of their assets are at any certain time. Big data improves supply chain reaction time by 41 percent, according to Accenture. When there is a product issue, the mix of big data and ERP systems can help ensure to handle it quickly.

Sales Forecasting

When combined with ERP systems, big data can help businesses predict demand for specific items. Individuals have the ability to track and trap customer trend patterns in real-time. They then can immediately apply that focused data to create further direct sales offers. For instance, a retailer could use big data to analyze how the release of a new iPhone model affects the sales of headphones and computer peripherals.

Posted on  by Elizabeth Quirk in Best Practices

Click here for further information about big data in Epicor ERP – ERP solution for manufacturers or contact us for direct consultation. 

Thank you!

successful ERP upgrade

Follow these guidelines for a successful ERP upgrade project

Get a handle on the time and cost variables of upgrading an ERP system and stay laser-focused on value drivers, like analytics, that has the biggest impact on business strategy.

With large ERP vendors, such as Epicor moving to the next major release is a significant project. The following guidelines can help you ensure an ERP upgrade runs more smoothly.

First, identify the costs and benefits of the ERP upgrade and when they are likely to occur. Based on costs, time and value, maintain a composite value indicator like net present value, ROI or internal rate of return.

Expect the vendor to provide templates that drive the ERP upgrade project. These templates should also be available from consulting firms such as Accenture and Deloitte. Staff will be hard-pressed to provide all the required manpower, so consider hiring consultants.

Much of the ERP upgrade game is about how close the project will come to the decommission date, the date the vendor will retire the existing software. Most companies postpone the end dates of these projects for a year or two to give themselves adequate time to complete them but doing so risks going beyond the decommission date. Missing the decommission date is generally a bad idea.

Careful study is required to understand what the new ERP software contains and how it will affect the business. Major components to examine include the following:

  • new horizontal business processes (e.g., financials and human capital management);
  • new vertical business processes for industries such as consumer packaged goods and oil and gas;
  • middleware;
  • data warehousing; and
  • reporting, analytics and business intelligence (BI).

Business process modeling

Business process modeling (BPM) is an essential tool in any ERP upgrade project.

Start by using it to examine current ERP-driven business processes. In some cases, your company may have replaced the out-of-the-box code with custom code or used middleware to integrate custom code into the original code. Next, perform the same exercise with respect to the new ERP business processes. In the best case, the new processes will supersede what you have. Otherwise, you’ll have to reintegrate the custom code into the upgraded system using a combination of middleware integration and BPM.

All business processes are driven by data, so you will also have to map data from the existing ERP system to the upgraded software. Moreover, the upgraded system is likely to require new data as well.

Middleware

You are likely to integrate custom software as well as third-party software with the new ERP system. The ERP vendor will likely change the middleware it offers with the ERP upgrade. Therefore, it will take some preparation to manage the new middleware messaging you’ll need to get disparate software components to talk to each other.

Data warehousing, reporting, and BI

An ERP upgrade project also brings data warehousing considerations.

For one thing, the ERP vendor might offer a data warehouse for storing data in the vendor’s preferred data format. It may or may not be extensible enough to include other data.

You are likely to already have a data warehouse strategy that you’ll need to revise to reflect the changes brought by the ERP upgrade. Whether you combine the new ERP’s data warehouse with your existing data warehouses will depend entirely on your BI strategy, another key factor in an ERP upgrade project.

In fact, reporting, analytics, and BI are likely to be the greatest profit drivers of the ERP upgrade and are functions that will see dramatic improvement over the previous ERP version. Moreover, they drive how companies articulate their competitive advantage.

Operational data mapping and integration

Several data-mapping tasks will be critical in the ERP upgrade, including mapping the chart of accounts to the new ERP system, staff details to the new human capital management module and product and bill of materials data to the new manufacturing system if you’re a manufacturer. You will also need to map customer and product sales to the new CRM system and assets to the new enterprise asset management system.

Impact on strategic planning

You can certainly do strategic analysis in the current ERP system, but it is likely to improve after the ERP upgrade.

Using the new BI features and the wealth of data migrated from the existing system, you can consider questions such as the following:

  • How sensitive are customers to the current pricing approach?
  • Can the company sell its current products for less without hurting margins too much?
  • Can the current product be improved or bundled with other product components?
  • How much does customer service affect the overall strategy?
  • How can the company improve how the sales and service staff face the customer?
  • What are competitors doing, and how should the company respond?

Source: Barry Wilderman, 

is upgrading erp necessary

Is Upgrading Your ERP Necessary?

Many companies have been wondering if it is necessary to invest in upgrading their enterprise resource planning -ERP – software. Our recommendation is usually, this should only happen for the upgrade is in the best interests of the users.

For companies opting to upgrade their ERP software system, there are some things the contract needs to include. Prime among these is a specific detailing of the functionality and performance of the newer model.

Furthermore, if either the vendor or integrator is reluctant or unwilling to include these warranties in the contract, it’s best to walk away from the deal. They’re signaling they know something you don’t. However, if there is a problem down the line, these written assertions will become your best argument.

Here is the crux of the issue.

Despite their largely successful track records with more mature systems, there is a legitimate question of whether the newest generation of ERP software systems is up to the task. SAP’s S4/HANA, Oracle’s ERP cloud and Microsoft’s D365 lack the track record of their predecessor systems of supporting the complex needs of many businesses and other organizations in the private and public sectors.

Until they have demonstrated their ability to seamlessly take over from a more mature ERP software system, a user is urged to upgrade needs to proceed cautiously. If a careful, internal analysis makes a business case for upgrading, then do so. Just remember to include in the contract all of the specificity in the agreement for your legacy system.

Furthermore, apart from the improvements that a necessary ERP upgrade will bring, some other points to cover include:

1 – Including all sales material as an appendix to the new contract.

2 – Detailing the specific responsibilities of the vendor, integrator and the user

3 – Drafting provisions that prevent “scope creep” without a senior person’s authorization.

4 – Removing or limiting binding arbitration clauses that may reduce your ability to recover damages from the vendor or integrator if there is a problem.

If there is an unfortunate history of ERP “train wrecks,” take steps upfront to reduce the likelihood of another one.

In nearly every aspect of running their organization, executives and senior managers are incredibly disciplined. Yet when it comes to their ERP software system, we’ve seen too many decisions made for the wrong reason. The most common seems to be viewing ERP software systems not a management solution. This is likely to result in the transformation heading straight for the rocks. It is similar to where the Sirens lured Circes and his entire crew to their demise.

Source: Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP – Marcus Harris

If you’re still unsure about the need to upgrade your ERP system, feel free to contact us and ask for direct consultation or a demo.

best manufacturing erp software

10 ERP software choices for process manufacturing

Selecting ERP software for process manufacturing can be confusing. Furthermore, different industries have different requirements. In particular, process manufacturing is highly complex. Issues such as traceability mean that companies in process industries such as chemicals, oil and gas, and beverages use ERP software. The solution helps businesses target the needs of the recipe- and batch-focused production.

Deciding which software to choose is never an easy task, and there are a lot of contenders in the market.

Here are 10 choices of ERP for process manufacturing to help you get a sense of the landscape.

What is process manufacturing?

Process manufacturing takes raw materials or ingredients and transforms them into something entirely new. Items made via process manufacturing cannot be broken down into their original ingredients. This type of manufacturing uses formulas or recipes to produce items such as medicine, food, beverages, chemicals, cosmetics, plastics, and biotech products. These industries frequently use batch manufacturing. It’s where the production of similar item types are grouped together in a specific time frame before production of another type of item begins. As an example, a baker might create a batch of white bread before changing the recipe to produce a batch of cranberry and walnut bread.

Process manufacturing is often compared to discrete manufacturing, as the two are common methods of production that stand in direct contrast to one another. In theory, the physical goods produced by discrete manufacturing – for example, automobiles, computers, toys, and furniture – can be disassembled into its component parts. With discrete manufacturing, the finished product is an inherently distinct item.

Both discrete and process manufacturing can use batch manufacturing, but the overall process is different for each method of production.

Why use ERP software?

While you can ERP software for both discrete and process manufacturing, each production method has its own needs. Process manufacturing requires ERP software that can track raw materials, as well as their potency, shelf life, batch or lot number and overall quality.

Many of the items created in process manufacturing – in particular, food and beverages, chemicals, medicine, and cosmetics – are subject to strict regulations. Futhermore, they may be subject to recall if they are deemed unsafe or improperly made, as is also the case with discrete manufacturing. Features like lot traceability, recipe and formula management, and scalability aren’t just useful tools — they’re often necessary to the production of these goods.

When it comes to ERP software choices, manufacturers have a number of options available to them. An organization’s choice depends on the industry and the goods it produces. For example, software that caters specifically to the creation of food and beverages won’t be helpful to a company producing chemicals or medicine.

There are a lot of software choices for ERP for process manufacturing, but here are 10 options from the mix.

Deacom Inc. produces ERP software designed for medium to large-sized manufacturing and distribution companies. It covers food and beverage, pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals, cosmetics, chemicals, adhesives, sealants, paints, and coatings. Deacom ERP can be installed on-premises or in the cloud.

The core system includes a warehouse management system, inventory management, CRM, lot traceability, direct store delivery software, forecasting, and e-commerce. The software includes integrated accounting and financials that are designed to provide users with real-time transactional posting. Additionally, Deacom’s software package includes installation, ongoing training, and professional support.

Deacom ERP also works for both process and mixed-mode manufacturing.

Epicor Software Corp.’s Tropos ERP is aimed at midsize manufacturing companies that produce food and beverage, pharmaceuticals, and mill and metals. Tropos ERP is cloud-based. You can purchase it via a subscription or on a per-user basis. Its software is accessible via the internet, and you don’t need to install it on-premises. It offers users some inventory and supplier management tools, accounting integration, CRM integration, and customizable functionality. The software also includes CRM, accounting and modules for inventory, supply chain, and quality management.

Some customization and training may be available for a fee. If required, larger companies may need Epicor Mattec or Epicor Informance EMI.

IFS ERP is designed to streamline service and asset management, manufacturing, supply chain and project management with component-based, pick-and-choose functions. These can be implemented on an as-needed basis. As the business expands, new components can be added and preexisting ones can be removed.

User support is offered via phone and email.

EnterpriseOne ERP offers product lifecycle management, financial and project management, order management, CRM, supply chain planning and logistics, and business intelligence. Its manufacturing and distribution modules enable users to manage manufacturing operations by using lean or project-based manufacturing modes. Besides, its consumer goods module allows users to manage the quality of goods, the supply chain, and transportation. The software can be used for process, discrete and mixed-mode manufacturing.

JustFood ERP software is aimed specifically at the food and beverage industry. It runs on Microsoft’s cloud platform. In addition to running on Microsoft’s cloud platform, JustFood is built on top of Microsoft Dynamics NAV. The solution offers sales, purchasing, operations, accounting, and inventory management. Furthermore, it offers features designed to address food safety and compliance, quality and production, recipe development and management, and food recall and traceability. It includes lot traceability and quality audits as well as real-time inventory management and shipping and logistics management.

JustFood ERP can be customized and scaled as a business grows. It uses Microsoft products like Outlook, Word, Excel, SQL Server, and SharePoint.

Infor M3 is an ERP suite that you can use on-premises or in the cloud. With a focus on the chemicals, distribution, equipment, fashion, and food and beverage industries, as well as for a broad range of process and discrete industrial manufacturing industries, it is designed for medium to large national and international businesses.

Infor M3 allows users to monitor and manage manufacturing operations, supply chain activities, customer and supplier relationships, warehouse and distribution processes and financial management.

It also allows users to oversee lot and serial number traceability, equipment configurations and product attribute such as styles, colors, sizes and byproducts. It also manages and analyzes business operations. Infor M3 can be used for discrete, process or mixed-mode manufacturing.

Open System’s ProcessPro offers an ERP software package aimed at the food and beverage, chemical, nutraceutical, pharmaceutical, cosmetics, and cannabis industries. The software package can accommodate small to medium-sized batch process manufacturers. Furthermore, the design is to help them manage manufacturing, sales, inventory, quality and financial integration with scalability and options for customization. ProcessPro can function on-premises or in the cloud.

The software is to provide full forward and backward lot traceability. Users are also able to automate their production schedules and maintain complicated formulas and recipes.

ProcessPro’s ERP software is meant to manage batch processing’s various needs, including full lot traceability and recipes and formula management, quality control and visibility of sales, manufacturing, and inventory.

Ross ERP by Aptean is geared toward the food and beverage, chemical, pharmaceutical, and biotech industries. It enables lot control, material shelf life, bidirectional lot traceability, and recall requirements.

Ross ERP can function on-premises or in the cloud. In addition to traceability, it supports business processes for planning, manufacturing, procurement, inventory, customer service, shipping, costing, accounting, and financial reporting, as well as barcode scanning for receiving, inventory, manufacturing, and shipping.

The platform offers customer support via phone and email and is offered on a monthly subscription basis.

Sage Group PLC’s Business Cloud X3 ERP is a web-based, browser-agnostic ERP software suite that can be deployed on-premises or as a service in AWS. The design of Sage X3 is to support the food and beverage, chemicals, cosmetics, nutraceuticals, pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, life sciences, and whole distribution industries. It also supports distribution, discrete manufacturing industries, and services. The software caters to large global organizations.

It comes with integrated functionality for financial management, sales, customer service, distribution, inventory, manufacturing and business intelligence. Users can also customize the software with add-on tools to interact with third-party software. Some examples are CRM, warehouse management systems and e-commerce.

The design of Sage X3 is for organizations that have multiple companies, sites, languages, currencies, and legislations. Furthermore, there are a number of customizable tools to extend its software capabilities. In addition, it is able to interact with third-party software. Finally, it is responsive on mobile devices.

The platform targets at process, discrete or mixed-mode manufacturing.

SAP Business One ERP focuses on small to midsize companies in the food, chemical, nutraceutical, and pharmaceutical industries. It can be deployed on-premises or in the cloud.

Business One ERP includes material resource planning, pool controls, quality controls, supply chain, and sales management, advanced planning and scheduling and multiple warehouse management. Users can customize reports, export them into different formats and modify them to fit different “what if” scenarios. The software also supports multi-currency transactions and has multilingual capabilities. Business One ERP offers a remote support platform. It performs automatic system health checks, scheduled database maintenance operations, upgrades eligibility checks, and automatically fixes detected issues. The software also supports discrete manufacturing.

Source: Lindsay Moore

upgrade of ERP systems

8 Signs It’s Time to Upgrade to a Better ERP System

Few things are so daunting a prospect as a large-scale change in your ERP system. After all, the average ERP implementation project usually lasts around 6 months, some even 2 years. Likewise, the upgrade might take a few months, too. However, it is crucial and in many cases inevitable for the company’s growth. In this article, we’ll explain eight warning signs that indicate it’s time to upgrade.

Personnel is easily a company’s most significant cost. Once you factor in salary, benefits, employee development programs, the hiring process, personnel typically far outpaces anything else you spend on.

That’s what makes the right ERP system so crucial for your business. An ERP system that requires much manual processing to run on a day-to-day basis can negatively impact your employees’ productivity.

Not to mention, a plethora of manual processes also indicate a lack of scalability. So as you grow, your ERP won’t grow with you, and will instead require even more unproductive time from your people.

Reporting easily takes the cake as one of the most important functions of any ERP system. Thus, if your current ERP doesn’t enable you to quickly and efficiently view the most important metrics, it’s probably past time to upgrade.

Access to metrics is crucial to your company’s success. After all, without the right reporting, there’s no way for you to tell if your company will achieve its goals.

Few things kill a company’s growth momentum than a setback when audit time rolls around. Many smaller ERP tools or homegrown systems are unable to keep up with the ever-changing, ever increasingly-stringent requirements to maintain compliance. One slip-up here can be devastatingly expensive for your company.

Especially if your company currently or in the future would like to engage with any government contracts, you’ll need to ensure beforehand that you meet the strict compliance measures. Thus, it’s better to get the ERP upgrade out of the way now before that becomes a possibility, rather than have to miss out an opportunity down the line because you aren’t yet compliance-ready.

For the past few years, we’ve been saying that mobile is taking over. I’m here to tell you that today, mobile has taken over. Your employees are always on the go but also always have access to their smartphones. If your ERP system doesn’t have the mobile capacity, then you’re potentially missing out on hours of productivity.

How advanced is your tech stack? If your company is in any sort of high-tech or SaaS industry, part of the territory is a massively complicated tech stack to support all of the different functions of your business. Integrations are key for your employees to most efficiently leverage that tech stack to excel in their roles.

Having to constantly navigate between or manually send data across two different systems kindles unproductivity. If your ERP doesn’t play well with all of the other tools in your tech stack, it’s definitely time for an upgrade.

Though there may be myriads of technical, tangible factors of employee productivity, many of the elements that influence how well your personnel works are the intangibles, like morale. Don’t wait till your employees constantly complain about your current ERP and find it hard to do their job.

If someone’s motivation to work is being adversely impacted, you’ll get nowhere near 100% productivity from them. Don’t let your ERP be the root cause of a lack of morale.

Any large scale change to your organization, such as an overhaul, upgrade, or re-implementation of your ERP will require buy-in from upper management. Creating that buy-in is best done by building out a business case for the ERP upgrade.

As you build out that business case, you’ll be able to see the prospective ROI to make a well-informed decision. Take into account all of the systems and functions that you plan to upgrade.  Then compare the future state to the current state. How many hours per employee does each new or improved function save? How much is each hour worth? Will the impact of the new tool lead generation for your marketing team or conversion rates for your sales team?

Leverage the answers to all those questions while building out your business case. In the end, assess the RoI and see whether it outweighs the cost of an ERP upgrade. If it does, making the jump and committing to the improvement process is certainly a no-brainer.

The last but most tell-tale sign of an insufficient ERP system is an adverse impact on customer experience. As you well know, customers are the lifeblood of your organization. Your customer base waning means your organization’s death.

Research reveals that positive customer experience results in increased customer longevity as well as word-of-mouth marketing. A happy customer who enjoyed the experience of working with your company will also tell his/her friends about his/her positive experience. The net result of that means more dollars in your bank account.

But the opposite of that is so much truer. Customers are even more likely to share negative buying experiences than positive ones. Thus, if you’re providing a poor experience, your market will soon know about it. That’s why it’s absolutely crucial that you upgrade your ERP if some parts might contribute to adverse customer experience. Whether it causes a slow response time from your sales team or an overcomplicated purchasing process, it has to go.

Conclusion

If these warning signs show themselves in your organization, then it’s beyond time for you to consider upgrading your ERP. Daunting though the prospect may be, a dedicated team can help you implement your system upgrade easily and quickly.

Contact us to know more about how to upgrade your ERP.

latest release of epicor

Latest Release of Epicor ERP to Support Talent Retention, Automation and More

Epicor Software Corporation, a global provider of industry-specific enterprise software to promote business growth, today announced the 10.2.500 release of its enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution. The new Epicor ERP release delivers on customer growth objectives with new capabilities to support cloud adoption, improve the user experience and ensure global readiness by helping companies address pressing market challenges such as the changing workforce.

“The need to attract and retain talent is more important than ever – with more people currently leaving the manufacturing industry than joining,” said Terri Hiskey, vice president. “Offering a modern toolset for next-generation workers which is more familiar and reminiscent of how they already interact with mobile applications, will help give them the experience they anticipate. We’re offering our customers the ability to choose their update path with tools and solutions that allow them to get where they want, however they want – via cloud environments or on-premise.”

The new release advancements help companies grow their business with technology solutions. They are purpose-built and leverage cloud capabilities, IoT, AI, and big data. With greater access to ERP data and the automation of redundant tasks, organizations gain greater visibility into their processes. Thus, they can translate to new levels of business efficiency and responsiveness.

The new updates of Epicor include:

  • Epicor Collaborate (a cloud-based solution): It simplifies collaboration and interaction processes. Moreover, it drives employee engagement by leveraging social media concepts to easily exchange information.
  • Epicor Virtual Agent – EVA – (the AI-powered virtual agent): It provides a new set of skills to modernize the experience for everyday functions. Some examples are purchase order approvals and supplier order processes.
  • Epicor Service Pro: It provides field service and mobile capabilities with time-saving automation tools. Those functions then streamline service calls, schedule and dispatch, quote, work order management, service contracts, asset tracking, and more.
  • Epicor Functions (the next evolution of Epicor BPMs): This solution provides new levels of flexibility. It can solve orchestration and integration challenges for cloud and on-premises customers.
  • New Cloud data centers (global centers in Australia and Canada): Their purpose is to better support more solutions built for the cloud.

“Small to mid-sized companies are looking to ERP vendors to democratize the advancements that big companies are making and keep pace with innovation – helping them understand how cloud environments, as well as tech advancements like AI and IoT, can be integrated within their business portfolios and drive bottom-line profitability,” said Ray Wang, Principal Analyst and Founder, Constellation Research. “Epicor is addressing this by offering ways for companies to start to leverage the power of Industry 4.0 technologies at an affordable price and with a clear path for growth.”

Source: Epicor

Epicor for Small Medium Manufacturers

Epicor Strategy Empowers Digitalization for Small & Medium Manufacturers

Epicor has created an architecture for companies, particularly small and medium manufacturers (those with employee numbers ranging from 20 to more than 1,000), to help them find a way to improve manufacturing competitiveness, profits, flexibility, and quality. Using Industry 4.0, and Internet of Things concepts, they introduced Cloud ERP. The software was positioned as “Visionary” in the Gartner 2018 Magic Quadrant for Cloud ERP in the product-centric midsize enterprise. Gartner noted that Epicor ERP has a reputation for being a flexible and highly capable product for small and midsize manufacturing companies.

Many small and medium manufacturers have asked me if digitalization though the implementation of Industry 4.0 and IoT concepts is practical for them. Thus, I took a deeper look at these developments.

I had the opportunity to discuss Epicor’s developments and directions with Terri Hiskey, Epicor’s Vice President of Global Product Marketing, Manufacturing and Andrew Robling, a Principal Product Manager  Robling mentioned that there is a growing interest in manufacturing modernization, with many companies designating a Digital Transformation Officer to facilitate the process, and Hiskey agreed.

In order to compete in today’s fast-paced environment, manufacturers must have a strategy for digitization in place. Modern manufacturers want to be able to streamline operations to gain greater transparency and visibility across their business, and they want to move from being reactive to proactive with their business strategies and operations. So investment in intelligent solutions that can automate processes, provide a single source of visibility across the factory floor and can help identify emerging trends so they can make more informed decisions is key to their success.” – Terri Hiskey, Epicor.

epicor mes

The Epicor architecture supports integration from the sensor to the enterprise to create efficient and responsive manufacturing.  The plant-level interfaces include OPC and connections with Epicor’s Machine Interface Unit (MIU).

Starting the Digitalization Journey

Epicor recommends manufacturers, including those small and medium, begin the digitalization journey by taking three basic steps to start:

  • 1st step: Identity what it should monitor and track via a sensor. In particular, whether that is temperature, vibration, the number of products, etc.
  • 2nd step: Apply a sensor to that machine and set the ‘normal’ threshold.
  • 3rd step: Link that sensor to an ERP/MES system to visualize and act upon data.

Through these steps, the sensors collect data that the machine in the system generates. The system then transforms the data into understandable and actionable information in order to achieve more responsive manufacturing. Personnel throughout manufacturers can get immediate access to data and warnings when real operations are outside of defined tolerances and thresholds, alerting workers to adjustments required to proactively ensure efficient operations. The greater visibility and accurate information about manufacturing operations help empower workers to add more value.

Integrating a Manufacturing Execution System (MES)

While MES is not a new technology, the Epicor Mattec MES is tightly integrated with the Epicor ERP system and collects data directly from equipment and operators on the shop floor in real-time, using OPC and the Machine Interface Unit (MIU). The purpose is to help gain real-time insight to pinpoint critical issues and reduce waste while improving quality and customer service. Everyone in the plant and throughout the organization can then take action to improve manufacturing performance.  The Epicor Mattec MES can also be used independently with other ERP systems.

epicor mattec mes

The Epicor Building Blocks

To help manufacturers, particularly those small and medium, continue the digitalization journey, the Epicor architecture creates the following building blocks:

Machine Interface Unit – MIU

The function of the MIU is to capture real-time data using digital and analog sensors including temperature pressure and vibration. The unit also can connect to PLC and controllers to access data.  The latest MIU version is based on a Raspberry Pi processor. It can be a blind node or have an optional touchscreen display for operator interaction. The unit also features a large memory cache in order to ensure information is available in the event of network interruptions and outages.

Shop Floor HMI

The Mattec Shop Floor HMI enables real-time shop floor monitoring of production activities, operator production data entry and job changes. Further, it helps to review current and upcoming job data, quality activities, and to perform maintenance. The Epicor Mattec MES Shop Floor HMI software runs on any device with an HTML 5 compatible browser, facilitating BYOD (bring your own device) strategies. The interface is configurable to conform to the operators’ and users’ manufacturing environment. Operators use the HMI to execute jobs and manage equipment, log and track time spent on machine & tool maintenance, track downtime events, and reasons, initiate and acknowledge calls for machine assistance.

Mattec Shop Floor HMI that supports Embedded context-based videos and PDF Files providing information to increase productivity and quality.

CAD Data Integration

Epicor QBiuld’s CADLink software facilitates direct creation of Epicor Item Master and Bill Of Materials (BOM) records identical to engineering CAD data, working to ensure reliability and quality of work order documentation.

Epicor Virtual Agent (EVA)

The company recently introduced the Epicor Virtual Agent (EVA). This feature provides a natural language interface to interact with the Epicor system using text and voice. Beyond the request/response conversational experience, EVA also uses artificial intelligent (AI) capabilities to proactively deliver alerts and carry out targeted actions based on combinations of events, market statistics, and historical data. EVA was developed using AI services from Microsoft Azure and can be added to all sizes and types of Epicor ERP implementations.

Epicor Data Analytics

Phocas software enables Epicor Data Analytics (EDA) to visualize and analyze data from production to sales. EDA is a cloud service with tools built for non-technical users. Furthermore, you can access EDA from any device to track business-critical KPIs on visual, customizable dashboards.

Cloud Strategy

Epicor offers ERP software-as-a-service (SaaS) in the cloud. The design is to remove the burden of maintaining secure backup servers and ongoing lifecycle maintenance. As a result, it is beneficial for many organizations. The MES Mattec server resides at the manufacturing facility to ensure ongoing operations and responsiveness.

Making the Most of the Digitalization Proposition

Andrew Robling, Principal Product Manager summed up the discussion with an exciting look into the future. “At Epicor, we believe that companies that adopt digitization strategies will not only continue to compete in today’s global marketplace but will take market share away from their competitors by reducing costs, boosting customer satisfaction and ultimately increasing profits,” Robling opined.

This view is shared by more than just Epicor. Throughout the industry, it is important for small and medium manufacturers to invest in technology that is appropriate for them. As a result, they can leverage Industry 4.0 and digitalization concepts and methods to remain viable and competitive. Epicor is one option to help manufacturers, especially those small and medium, along the way.

Epicor reports robust growth at 2019 LBM User Conference

At the LBM Insights 2019 User Conference at the Gaylord Opryland in Nashville from November 4-8, Epicor reported a tremendous growth. The event kicked off with Lisa Pope, EVP sales Americas. Pope discussed company news and changes over the past year.

She included the fact that there are 25% more LBM dealers on the BisTrack platform than one year ago, with 10% new locations and 13% new users. Also, with more than 800 industry pros in attendance, this is the biggest LBM user conference in Epicor’s 40-year history.

Furthermore, she discussed the acquisition of Majure Data. She also emphasized it was not to add customers but to provide improved service to existing customers.

epicor reports growth 2019

Jason Parchomchuk, BisTrack product manager (left) and Kevin Hodge, senior LBM product director shared features that have been added recently, as well as some to watch for.

Resiliency was the theme of her opening remarks. The increasing frequency of weather-related disasters—especially hurricanes, tornadoes, and wildfires—have cost billions of dollars in government disaster aid.

Pope carried the theme into resilient organizations and resilient systems. They segued into the elements of Epicor’s BisTrack and LumberTrack software. Their design is to help companies position themselves for growth as well as withstand the disasters that affect so many companies.

Pope recognized two winning companies of Epicor LBM Customer Excellence Awards: E.C. Barton for Technology Innovation, and Northwest Hardwoods for Business Transformation. In addition to the recognition, the two companies received $2,000 to donate to local charities of their choice.

Kevin Hodge, senior director, products and Jason Parchomchuk, manager of project management revealed new features in BisTrack. Many of them were the result of user feedback. The two biggest announcements at the event itself were Epicor Warehouse Management (formerly Majure Data) and the Epicor Payment Gateway

Source: Rick Schumacher

uk manufacturing growth 2019

Epicor survey finds UK manufacturing maintaining growth despite Brexit

Epicor’s latest Global Growth Index survey has revealed the UK’s manufacturing sector has sustained growth, despite continued political and economic uncertainty.

Manufacturing business growth has continued to rise over the past year. However, the rate has been much slower than the previous 12 months. Despite political uncertainty and the difficulty in recruiting and retaining skilled staff, there has been a marginal 1% rise in the number of businesses reporting growth.

Political volatility and uncertainty continue to be a common cause for concern across the globe. Nearly three-quarters of UK businesses (72%) stated that the uncertainty surrounding Brexit is also still a big threat, with the percentage across all EMEA-based respondents totaling 46%. Despite this, business growth over the last 12 months has been stable, but respondents admit it hasn’t been easy. The survey found that 44% found it challenging. Furthermore, 18% feel that staff skills and experience have played a detrimental part in maintaining growth.

“The manufacturing industry plays an integral role in our global economy and people forget that it is responsible for delivering important products we use every day,” said Epicor CEO, Steve Murphy. “As such, the health of the manufacturing industry is something we should all be concerned about. While it’s good news to see that growth in this industry is still taking place, we need to keep a close eye on what factors are contributing to this growth and what factors are causing a lag. The information in the Global Growth Index empowers businesses so they can make strategic plans that will best position them for the future.”

The design of the Epicor Global Growth Index is to measure the worldwide business growth within the manufacturing industry. The Index tracks the performance of businesses—year on year—within 13 territories. Its key indicators include turnover, profits, headcount, and product range. In particular, the Growth Index rose by one percent, compared to 3.7 percent in the previous 12-month period.  

The table below shows the Global Growth Index results for 2019. It indicates six key indicators, compared with figures from 2018 and 2017. Percentages represent the median average number of businesses that have reported growth in each of the key growth metrics.

uk manufacturing despite Brexit

“Investing in the right technology, such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions, can help businesses better plan for change by improving visibility and insights into current operational workflows. This can help alleviate stress. Furthermore, it provides flexibility, agility, and adaptability needed to respond to market conditions and customer demands. Thus, these solutions can enable people to deal with challenges more effectively.

Technology can also have a positive influence on other factors, including work ethic and staff recruitment and retention,” concluded Reid Paquin, research director, IDC.

Source: Daniel Brightmore