Each Wednesday, I focus on topics related to inventory, warehouse management and manufacturing. Sometimes, I select a specific product, including software, that provides functionality related to the core purpose of my "Warehouse Wednesday" column.
Today’s article is the sixth in my miniseries on "assemblies," in which we compare and contrast this manufacturing inventory essential between QuickBooks and other third-party products that offer such functionality.
This week, I will discuss how ERPLite software configures and makes use of manufactured items and their associated BOMs.
ERPLite (Pro) is Windows software that provides manufacturing, inventory and order management, coupled with manufacturing requirements planning for small, lean manufacturing companies. It is an extremely cost-effective solution that integrates with QuickBooks Pro, Premier and Enterprise.
Manufacturing Items and Bills of Material
Like some of the other products we've looked at over the last few weeks, ERPLite doesn’t actually use the term "assembly" when it comes to manufactured items. Rather, their approach allows you to create an Item (Master) whose Item Type is "Manufactured" (as shown in the red circle within the figure below):
ERPLite Manufacturing Item
The most important fields are found on the Base Data tab of the Item master that not only includes the Item Type designation, but also the reorder levels and lead times, along with current, standard and average costs.
ERPLite permits you to have multiple revisions of an Item. You also can track items produced and sold by these revisions. In addition to Purchased and Manufactured items, ERPLite also tracks several specialized item types, including:
- MFTD (manufactured) But Not Exploded Items – These items can have Bills of Material, but their BOMs will not be exploded in certain forms like Work Orders used in production.
- Phantom Items – These assemblies are non-stocked, and BOM explosions blow through the child items without creating a Work Order for the assembly.
- Configurable Items – These are assemblies that allow optional child components to be selected at the time of the Sales Order, which reduces the need for individual BOMs that define only a unique characteristic (like color or size).
As you can see in the previous figure, there are several other tabs associated with each item that capture specific details.
For example, the AVL (Approved Vendor List) tab allows you to specify which of your vendors are approved to supply the item. This information is used when you use the MRP to identify needed items and issue purchase orders.
Another tab of importance in the manufacturing environment is the Routings tab (shown below).
ERPLite Item Routings Tab
Routings are an integral part of the production and/or repair process, defining the steps that are needed, when those steps should begin and end, and the associated labor groups and units used in tracking manufacturing costs.
When coupled with Shop Floor Tracking, you can print travelers that flow with the production item from workstation to workstation, so as to ensure that each product is being manufactured properly, in the right sequence, and using the correct materials and resources.
Key aspects of the routing feature include:
- Equipment Groups – These define the specific equipment and equipment parameters associated with any operation.
- Labor Groups – These define manpower parameters such as departments, worker type, manning levels and other labor aspects of related to each operation or process.
- Time Definitions – These define all time parameters relevant to any operation or process, including set up and run times.
In ERPLite, an item can have a Bill of Material associated with it as long as the Item Type is either a Manufactured item or a MFTD (Not Exploded) item. ERPLite has a tool to help facilitate the creation of BOMs – the "BOM Builder" (shown at the top of the next page).
ERPLite BOM Builder
This tool allows you to create (shown below), manage and delete all BOMs within ERPLite:
ERPLite - Create BOM
You essentially can create an unlimited number of BOM levels within a multilevel BOM. Simply place any other manufactured item with a BOM within the BOM of its respective parent item. The senior most parent item will be the finished good in terms of production. When the exploded view of any parent BOM is displayed, the BOM of any child manufactured items also will be displayed.
Below is a figure illustrating a Bill of Materials that has been configured in ERPLite using the methodology discussed above:
ERPLite BOM Configuration
Manufacturing Work Orders
ERPLite uses Work Orders to process manufacturing activities, for either build-to-stock requirements, or to fill a specific Sales Order.
ERPLite Manufacturing Work Order
The Work Order uses the Bill of Materials to explode the pick list of materials needed to make the parent item (shown below) and to initiate Shop Floor activities.
ERPLite Work Order Pick List
When using the Shop Floor feature, Shop Travelers can be created to keep track of what products must be manufactured, and what steps are needed using specific procedures and materials. Travelers can be printed out and passed from workstation to workstation as each production step is performed.
ERPLite has a Traveler Manager (shown below) that displays all current shop travelers.
ERPLite Traveler Manager feature
You can select any Traveler to get greater detail on each manufacturing order in progress.
ERPLite Traveler Manager Details
From this screen, you can see job numbers, order numbers, part numbers, and other details. The initial schedule associated with each traveler is computed from the order date and the setup and run-times configured in the item's routing information.
If you change the start date for the first operation (to say, 11/1/2016), the schedule will be recalculated. When the order or operation is completed, the completed checkbox will display that status.
ERPLite uses a Manufacturing Work Order Receiving function to migrate materials from Work in Progress (WIP) to Stores (where finished goods are ready for sale), thus back-flushing all parts sent to the floor for production via the pick list created in the Work Order.
ERPLite Work Order Receiving
When the Quantity of Production equals the quantity on the Work Order, the Receiving is complete and the status is changed to closed.
Manufacturing operations sometimes involve the disassembly of materials. Perhaps it is a raw component that must be broken into its individual items in order to be used in a particular manufacturing sequence. In some cases, disassembly must take place of a finished good you normally produce in order to perform necessary repairs or re-fabrication.
ERPLite has a disassembly feature that is controlled using a Disassembly Order that removes an item from inventory and disassembles it back into its individual components.
ERPLite - Item for Disassembly
In the example below, the original item shown in the figure above has been broken down into its core components.
ERPLite Disassembled Item
While ERPLite may seem somewhat light, when it comes to solutions for major manufacturing business that still use QuickBooks as their general ledger, let’s not forget that it also is "priced light" in comparison to many other products we are featuring in this miniseries.
ERPLite offers lite versions of many features found only in high-end inventory or manufacturing products, so if you truly are practicing lean manufacturing in your small to medium size business, ERPLite may just be the solution you have been looking for.