ERP Advances

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) features, functions and purview continue to advance within and beyond an enterprise's physical walls. And some of these are automotive-specific. Here are some recent ERP enhancements.

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“Automotive assembly is going to change more in the next 10 to 15 years than in the last 50.” Neil Dueweke, general manager, Automotive Components and New Domestic Group; Body Structures Group, FANUC America (fanucamerica.com) bases that statement on obvious drivers such as continuously stringent CAFE standards and the emergence of new materials, and those more subtle, such as advancing engineering education and the computing power to drive new changes. “It’s a confluence of events I haven’t seen in the last 30 years,” the industry veteran says.

ERP MEETS IOT

Internet of Things (IoT) is a catchall label for smart devices collecting and sending data across the Internet automatically—and then using that data. The EnterpriseOne Internet of Things Orchestrator from Oracle JD Edwards (oracle.com) lets the EnterpriseOne ERP system collect, filter, analyze and act on real-time data as it is transmitted. EnterpriseOne customers gain quick and uninterrupted access to real-time data processed through a resource planning and analysis system.

Such detailed, real-time visibility into industrial automation, energy management, environmental monitoring and many other aspects of an automotive company’s operations leads to “optimized operations, nimble responses, clearer analytics and better regulatory compliance,” says Dawn Fredrickson, senior manager, marketing and communications, at Oracle JD Edwards. “Improving the accuracy, frequency, and timeliness of your input data is the most important upgrade you can make to your enterprise applications. IoT-enabled devices add value to any industry business process that relies on tedious, expensive, error-prone manual input to applications. Instant awareness of trends means that there is no delay between problem identification and resolution.”

Any IoT device can send data to the IoT Orchestrator as long as the data conforms to the Orchestrator’s documented formats. These formats are based on the representational state transfer (REST) service protocol, a software architecture for distributed hypermedia systems (i.e., World Wide Web). Transforming real-time raw data for the Orchestrator can be done on the IoT device, in an intermediary gateway, or through the Oracle IoT Cloud Service. The Orchestrator then automatically prefilters the continuous incoming stream of    real-time data and maps that data to ERP transactions. New IoT orchestrations can be designed, tested and deployed without writing programming code—once the person creating the orchestrations knows the operating conditions being monitored, what data needs to be captured, and which EnterpriseOne applications will use the data. Custom Java programs can apply complex rule conditions or be a data consumer (alone or in addition to an EnterpriseOne application). Current available IoT orchestrations include condition-based maintenance alerts, meter readings, equipment location updates and kanban check in/out.

BEEFING UP ERP

Mature as ERP seems, vendors are still adding features and enhancing their ERP systems. For example, abas ERP (abas-erp.com) updated its master production scheduling (MPS) system so users can forecast product needs individually or in groups (a.k.a., families). Also, available to promise (ATP) is fully integrated with abas ERP. ATP shows available quantities and expected delivery dates for a product, especially the earliest dates for fulfilling manufacturing demand. Together, MPS and ATP lets a company perform more predictable long- and short-term planning for production and purchasing.

New in abas 2015 is a bidding system for creating bids to different vendors when searching for a product distributor. This module generates purchase order (PO) suggestions based on the main vendor associated with a product. The user can add other vendors into the bidding as required. After reviewing vendor responses, the user can then choose the winning vendor, and abas ERP will automatically both create the PO for that vendor and close the requests to all the other vendors.

Last, advanced planning and simulation (APS) will now be a standard part of abas ERP for most installations. The APS module lets planners simulate a production plan with finite capacity, and displayed as four user-configurable views: work orders, resources, utilization, and materials. Planners can combine views, as well as drag-and-drop orders to new dates or work centers. From this, planners can determine realistic delivery dates based on more accurate capacity analysis and forward scheduling.

Moreover, adds says Brady Stephenson, logistics consultant at abas USA, planners “can predict resource bottlenecks for machines and work centers based on current demands; batch setup times for expected work orders to optimize total expected machine setup time; and choose potential resource alternatives to alleviate bottlenecks for scheduled engineering maintenance. Once a production plan has been created, [planners] can write data back to abas ERP to adjust the schedule based on the constraints and priorities specified.”

FOR AUTOMOTIVE

Then there are ERP enhancements specific to automotive. The In-Line Vehicle Sequencing (ILVS) program from IQMS (iqms.com) “tracks and arranges every piece associated to a reusable tote/container for full traceability, compliance and part history,” says Randy Flamm, CEO of IQMS. ILVS calculates the sequence for packaging automotive parts based on EDI-generated sales orders. It then can print verification labels for each part and, once a container is packed, print a label for the container, which can then be used as a pick ticket. In automotive, continues Flamm, “it doesn’t matter if the parts are perfect; if they are labeled incorrectly, then the whole batch is rejected.” ILVS is compatible with IQMS EnterpriseIQ 2014 ERP and later versions.

Last year, IQMS also released a warehouse management system (WMS) native to its ERP system, obviating the need to integrate a third-party WMS. The WMS includes a variety of features. First, it has a rules-based, directed pick-up and put-away transactions engine to optimize and speed warehouse operations; slotting optimization algorithms to assign inventory classes to parts and store those parts in the warehouse based on movement speed; and wave management algorithms that apply interleaving logic to replace deadhead trips with milk runs for JIT pick up. A graphical dock scheduler and staging calendar display help in scheduling any number of warehouse docks based on pick tickets and expected receipts. The WMS also has the ability to manage expected receipts based on vender ASN information and PO releases, as well as to reduce out-of-stock and expired materials or parts with LIFO, FEFO and FIFO options.

Not bad for a mature, all-encompassing hunk of software.