Manufacturing consistently high-quality products, being able to meet customer commitments, planning and stocking right, managing regulatory compliances, keeping pace with rapid industrial innovations, responding to changing customer preferences and being ready with strategies for an ever-changing socio-political-business climate are some of the challenges that you, as a manufacturer constantly grapple with.

For manufacturing companies, software functionality is at the core of any ERP software selection project. While there are stand-alone manufacturing software packages available on the market, the best manufacturing solutions are tightly integrated into a centralized ERP system.

The functionality of manufacturing software varies based on the industry focus and the production process utilized. Most ERP and manufacturing solutions are placed into the categories of process manufacturing software, discrete manufacturing software, or mixed-mode manufacturing software. These different manufacturing categories directly relate to the production environment and whether this environment can be classified as a continuous process, contract manufacturing, job shop, batch processing, repair and maintenance, repetitive, or work order based.

Manufacturing companies have long used ERP systems to streamline operations, address customization requirements and manage complicated supply chains in order to build profitable sustainable businesses. ERP software provides integration of every aspect of procurement, production, and delivery for manufacturers regardless of whether they are a make-to-stock, make-to-order or engineer-to-order manufacturer. Companies must be particularly careful about choosing an ERP system flexible enough to meet their specific operational processes and functional requirements.

Within the manufacturing industry, contract manufacturing companies need software flexible enough to manufacture a variety of product types and efficient enough to produce low cost, high-quality goods in a lean and highly automated environment. Contract manufacturers need to manage multiple customer requirements simultaneously while meeting delivery deadlines, quality specifications, and product design requirements.

Strong contract manufacturing software will offer detailed costing information, robust demand planning, and production control, integrated financial management, and a strong inventory control for raw materials and finished good inventories. While there are ERP software packages available for this diverse set of requirements, not all ERP solutions can meet the needs of a contract manufacturer.