Skip to content

ERP and LEAN Manufacturing

Our customers frequently select Aspera for our expertise in delivering ERP solutions in support of LEAN Manufacturing initiatives and LEAN Business Strategies.

As LEAN thinking has matured and evolved LEAN advocates recognise that Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and LEAN methods work extremely well together – each supporting and enabling the most important objectives of each other.  Often ERP implementation is also referred to as business transformation project so it makes perfect sense that LEAN and ERP are the perfect partners to truly refine and aid manufacturing businesses.

LEAN manufacturing principles follow the five concepts below:

  1. Identify Value
  2. Map the Value Stream
  3. Create Flow 
  4. Establish Pull
  5. Pursuit of Perfection

These five principles are supported and enhanced by the management tools available in an end-to-end ERP solution such as Epicor ERP.

Below, we explain how LEAN and ERP support each other.

Identify Value 

All the standard principles of customer management still apply within a LEAN environment – delight the customer in order to retain their business and aid the creation of a competitive edge. To do this a business must understand exactly what their customers need from them and what processes are attached to customer value and those that are not. Analysis of the sales, processes and operational information that is traditionally held within your ERP system helps identify the value within your business that supports LEAN thinking.

Map the Value Stream

This principle is completed by mapping all the steps involved in the customer order right down to the delivery of the product/service.  There is a requirement for large amount of detail and time spent in understanding the cycle such as; Time of each step – Rework % – Lost time – Up time of machines – Number of employees involved in each task, etc.   The goal is to identify areas of wastage and areas of abnormalities that can be addressed.  This data will also help the business understand where the opportunities lie within the “Value Stream.”  The value stream map shows in picture format areas such as the silos, breakdown of processes and resource issues.  This type of process mapping is a standard part of Aspera’s ERP implementation methodology.

Create Flow

Q: How do you make if flow better?
A: Remove the waste and non value added processes.  

This will lead to shorted lead time in manufacturing processes.  The identified improvement opportunities will be turned into Kaizen projects normally between 6-12 months duration (Kaizen – continuous improvements).  Once completed, the result will be a leaner value stream with shortened lead times and flows that make the business react quicker and smoother.  Epicor ERP delivers the agility required to support continuous improvement processes.

Establish Pull

What do we mean by “Pull”? Pull ensures that you build just what is required and reduce or eliminate wastage.  It means that the business focuses on actual orders (and revenue streams), manufacturing to actual orders instead of manufacturing to potential orders. The more flexible the operations are, the better alignment to the pull from the customer manufacturing. Planning and Scheduling within your ERP solution will aid the setting up customer orders in a planned and controlled process to suit your business needs.

Pursuit of perfection

LEAN manufacturing principles are not a one time effort – continuous improvement is key to ensuring your business remains efficient. 

In addition, there are Six Key Waste Areas to be concerned about with LEAN Manufacturing principles:

  • Transport – movement of materials from one location to another is a waste and adds no value, so why would your customers want to pay for it?  Implementing an ERP solution with LEAN principles will help identify opportunities, create efficiencies and reduce waste in this area, meaning it’s cheaper and quicker to manufacture product.
  • Inventory – pieces of product tied up in raw materials, Work-In-Progress (WIP), etc. have a cost, and the ROI can not be achieved unless you have sold the product.  Use LEAN and ERP to track inventory, warehouse space, packaging, transport, etc.

  • Waiting – Do you have departments or processes that waste peoples time, perhaps through over complication or poor resources?  If YES, then ERP and LEAN principles should be used to re-establish process flow. 
  • Over-Processing – incorrect techniques, inadequate equipment and working to tolerances that are too tight, generates inefficiencies.  This costs time and money. With ERP and LEAN, it becomes clear which machines keep the production and workflow producing as required.
  • Overproduction – Overproduction leads to a large amount of inventory which hides problems within your organisation. ERP and LEAN should be used to enable your business to produce what is required, when it is required. The ideal production schedule runs Just In Time, not Just In Case! 
  • Defects – Errors cost money and can be hard to identify before they end up in the customers hands. ERP and LEAN principles work together to imbed Quality Control systems that reduce waste, inefficiencies and waste.

Eliminating the wastes above can be achieved through the implementation of LEAN and the various tools further supported by ERP.

Along with the LEAN benefits identified through the principles above, Aspera delivers ERP Solutions that support LEAN manufacturing with key benefits:

  • Efficiency– Removal of manual and time consuming tasks.
  • Real Reporting – Improved business Intel enables “Better Business Decisions”.
  • Mobility – Conduct your business anywhere.
  • Improved Customer Service – streamlined processes improve customer time lines.
  • Agility – business should have the ability to change with the moving global markets.
  • Improved Data Security – better user permission settings keeping all sensitive information protected.
  • Collaboration – enhanced collaboration across the organisation driving improvements continuously.
  • Global – Multi site, multi country and multi currency ERP solutions.