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Process Manufacturing: Managing Batch Processing and Fill Lines

Friday, October 16th, 2009 by admin

Many process manufacturers have operations where they will produce a common product that is then packaged into a variety of containers for various customers.  These manufacturers will frequently produce this common product via a batch process.  This formulation produced may be an intermediate that then gets combined with other items to produce finished goods, or it may itself be a finished good awaiting packaging operations.

After the batch is produced, the product can either be moved immediately to filling operations or placed in drums and stored in the warehouse for some period of time.  Once the formula is in the filling operation, finished goods are produced in various sized containers with associated product labeling to meet customer demands.

So, how does Enterprise 21’s process manufacturing software functionality enable these batch process manufacturers to perform their jobs efficiently?  First, one can establish a scalable batch formula that consists of the various ingredients needed to produce the intermediate formulation.  The formulation can be setup as a recipe, where the ingredients and associated process instructions are combined in an order of operations to produce the desired output.  Where necessary, the recipe can also have electronic signatures required for individuals to sign off at various checkpoints during the process for compliance and quality assurance purposes.

The formulation may have certain ingredients that are generally over consumed as part of the production process.  Let’s say that a given production process may require a standard of 100 pounds of a given ingredient to produce a given batch size; however, if that process is not 100% efficient, the system can enable the planning of consumption of more than 100 pounds of that ingredient – say 102%, or 102 pounds of that ingredient for the given batch size in consideration.  In this situation, Enterprise 21’s yielding functionality within the formulation is used in the procurement and production staging processes to account for the fact that 102 pounds of the given ingredient are needed to perform the given operation.

Once the intermediate formulation is produced, there may be a period of time necessary for cooling required before the output can be packaged into a drum or moved to the filling operations.  In this case, one can build queue time into the end of the given production routing step so the associated cooling time is accounted for prior to scheduling and ultimate performance of that next operation.  This is done within Enterprise 21’s manufacturing routing functionality.

Finally, the filling operations can be scheduled as a series of work orders to produce the ultimate finished goods.  The bills of material for the various finished goods would, at a minimum, be comprised of the intermediate formulation produced as described above, the appropriate container for the given product, and its associated label.

In addition to the functionality described above, Enterprise 21 also manages product costing – average, standard, LIFO, or FIFO – on a product-by-product basis, all of the associated inventory and warehouse transactions including complete womb-to-tomb lot traceability to support recall management, and all associated financial accounting transactions in a real-time, fully-integrated system.

Process Manufacturing Made “Simple” with Formula Management and Scalable Batches

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009 by Alex Smith

Process manufacturing is frequently referred to as “simple” by those in the discrete manufacturing camp, yet if you ask any food, chemical, or pharmaceutical manufacturer if process manufacturing is truly simple, the manufacturer will quickly provide many examples of the growing list of challenges faced on a day-to-day basis.

For process manufacturers, two of the most common challenges are formula and recipe management and scalable batches. Experienced processors recognize that regardless of the product produced, one size does not fit all. A can of soup, a box of detergent, and a bottle of cough syrup are all packaged and sold in multiple types of shapes and sizes. The need for flexible units of measure, formulas, and batch sizes have united food, chemical, and pharmaceutical companies into a process community focused on improving the capabilities and processing options at all steps of the production process. This unification has taken the historically discrete-focused ERP software industry and brought about a number of strong process-based ERP software packages.

A key differentiator for process manufacturing software is the ability to take a standard bill of materials and craft it into a sophisticated and scalable formula that is comprised of a variety of ingredients, units of measure, yields, and by-products or co-products. This formula or recipe can be dynamically scaled to match the ideal batch size, thus meeting current demand levels, optimizing vat and ingredient usage, tracking all ingredient costs, and blending in the appropriate manner to facilitate a finished good that is within specification and acceptable for final sale.

While the idea of a scalable batch may appear rudimentary for ERP software packages, it is not functionally feasible in the original, discrete manufacturing ERP software solutions. In fact, it is not even feasible in all of the ERP software solutions that are marketed to process manufacturers. A recipe with ingredients, yields, and instructions is not the same as a discrete bill of materials. The recipe needs to accommodate ingredient-based instructions and be able to scale up or down based on a given demand level. The recipe or formula needs to be able to manage intermediates, ingredient level yields, and support private label requirements if necessary. The software needs to provide operational control while allowing for a high level of flexibility and scalability.

How does a process manufacturer select the right process manufacturing software solution? The most reliable means of doing so would be a thorough evaluation of potential software packages demonstrated with real data via an onsite scripted demonstration. Even with the advancements in process manufacturing ERP software, not all software packages can perform at the same level. The best technique for separating and comparing one package from another is through reviewing the definition and processing of a sample formula that is scaled for a specific batch or production run. If the ERP vendor cannot demonstrate the software’s ability to manage this process, the software will struggle in a real production environment.

TGI offers free software selection tools and resources for both process and discrete manufacturers. Please visit TGI’s available online resources or TGI’s online request form to order the free Software Selection Tool Kit.