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10 ERP software choices for process manufacturing

Selecting ERP software for process manufacturing can be confusing, and different industries have different requirements. Learn about some of the leading choices for process manufacturing.

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 that targets the needs of 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, where production of a 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 ERP software can be used 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 and may be subject to a 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.

1. Deacom ERP

When it comes to ERP software choices, manufacturers have a number of options available to them.

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 ecommerce. 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.

2. Epicor Tropos ERP

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 and can be purchased via a subscription or on a per-user basis. Its software is accessed via the internet and is not installed on premises.

It offers users 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.

3. IFS ERP

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 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.

4. JD Edwards EnterpriseOne ERP

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, and 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.

5. JustFood ERP software by Aptean

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, which offers sales, purchasing, operations, accounting and inventory management. The software also 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 -- both necessary for food safety -- 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.

6. Infor M3 ERP software

Infor M3 is an ERP suite that can be used on-premises or in the cloud. Aimed at 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 attributes 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.

7. ProcessPro ERP software

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 and is designed to help them manage manufacturing, sales, inventory, quality and financial integration with scalability and options for customization. ProcessPro can be deployed on premises or in the cloud.

The software is meant 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.

8. Ross ERP by Aptean

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 be deployed on premises or hosted 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.

9. Sage Business Cloud X3

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. Sage X3 is designed 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 like CRM, warehouse management systems and e-commerce.

Sage X3 is designed for organizations that have multiple companies, sites, languages, currencies and legislations with customizable tools to extend its software capabilities and the ability to interact with third-party software. It is also responsive on mobile devices.

The platform can be used for process, discrete or mixed-mode manufacturing.

10. SAP Business One ERP software

SAP Business One ERP is geared toward small to midsize companies in the food, chemical, nutraceutical and pharmaceutical industries, as well as a number of other 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 that performs automatic system health checks, scheduled database maintenance operations, upgrades eligibility checks and automatically fixes detected issues. It can also be used for discrete manufacturing.

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