Manufacturing operations, as the backbone of the economy, are a prime industrial sector that can benefit from innovation and optimization. Without having to stop production for a lengthy re-tooling process, production management software can increase plant efficiency, better manage inventories, and deliver products on time. Fully integrated software solutions will also foster collaboration between engineering and operations as well as improving customer relations management by enhancing after sales service. A top notch system will also do all of this and be easily adapted into current technology without having to train extensively on a new user interface.
The first aim of production management software is to support efficient and timely production. This is accomplished via production planning and product management. Production management is achieved through meticulous tracking of materials, capacity, manpower, and time usage. Men and materials have to be directed according to their most effective use in order to allow production to run without bottlenecks. A cornerstone of easing bottlenecks is integrated communication between engineering, operations, and management to keep every department up to date on current issues and upcoming changes. Real-time knowledge sharing facilitates changes on the production floor being completed in a timely manner.
Production planning is the forward looking counterpart of production management. While the current process is being run, future delivery dates have to be kept in mind. Each job and project has to be kept separate and visible in order to meet schedules and reduce wasted work. Planning and production need to be in close communication to allow for changes to be reacted upon without excessive lag or lead time. Effective response time to unexpected changes keeps an entire manufacturing process on track to meet its goals and use its capacity wisely, whether production is made-to-order or made-to-stock.
The second aim of production management software is to assist in providing accurate estimates and quotes as well as delivering the best customer service possible. Aligning customer requirements with plant operations is how to provide a proper estimate that will both keep plant costs in line and prevent a high bid from precluding a business opportunity. After securing a contract, customer service needs to continue to foster the business-client relationship with after-sales service. Customer relationship management can be as important for generating sales as the efficiency of the manufacturing process itself. Exceeding customer expectations will obtain future contracts.
Ultimately, production management software seeks to integrate each arm of a manufacturing process together in tight collaboration. Communication will drive processes to become more flexible and prevent unexpected changes from massively damaging schedules, jeopardizing delivery dates, or causing undue costs. A proper software solution must accomplish all of these goals without mandating extensive retraining or retooling, otherwise their benefit becomes nullified. The end users must be able to operate the technology intuitively; this is achieved by having new systems compatible with old systems both in their technical execution and their user interface. For example, Microsoft Office users are quick to learn Microsoft Dynamics software systems due to their synergy in design and execution. The final return on investment for a technology solution depends on its ease of implementation.