Factory planning is unique industry because in general it has so many components that it is difficult to create a single process flow that is representative of how factories operate. Things like inventory, purchasing, transportation, forecasting, and planning have much more serious repercussions in a factory than in many other industries. A mistake in any one part of the process flow, and everything after that part of the flow will be affected.
This is why having the right software, a package that is catered to factory planning, is necessary for a factory to be successful. If a company includes a manufacturing element as one of several primary areas (for example a company that produces, sells, and services their product), the stakes can be even higher. Getting the factory established and a flow going is important to achieve stability and standards as early as possible. Conducting research on software should be one of the earliest steps. Understanding the various software packages and how they differ can help a company decide what model and software is the best for their needs.
For companies looking for a more productive or efficient model, the needs will be somewhat different. Research needs to be done to determine what type of software will provide the optimal flow for the factory compared to the clunky flow currently implemented. Also, integration of the software is a large consideration. Planning for the implementation of new software always comes at a price, in time as well as in money. Companies looking for a more efficient software package should spend time planning how the change will be made and when, timing the transition for a slower time of the year. Phased approaches are usually best to ensure continuity of things like data entry and scheduling.
Whatever a business’s reasons for purchasing factory planning software, and regardless of type of business, there are several elements that are universal. The factory should look for ways to optimize the flow to increase productivity with minimal impact to cost. This will affect every aspect of the floor and storage.
For example, a company realizes that to boost productivity, making ten more parts than are necessary to complete an order saves time in setting up the machine. It also saves on purchasing because it means getting more material for the same price as part of a bulk agreement with the supplier. Those 10 parts have a very long shelf life, so storing them in inventory will not reduce their value. For now the warehouse has ample room to accommodate the extra parts. The extra parts could also be sold as replacement parts. Producing slightly more parts than are required results in savings and a small surplus.
Factory planning software takes all of these elements into account and provides the raw data and reports that can help streamline production in areas that may not have been considered by the planners. The software can also help with the daily activities to make sure that everything is appropriately recorded and that costs are tracked. Standardization is also easier to enforce through the software because it can communicate specifications and production changes in real time.