Optimizing Operations with ERP Software In this article, we’re taking a peek behind the scenes at Antunes. Dave Petzel, IT Director, shares insight into ERP software and how Antunes uses this tool to meet the needs of its customers. Enterprise Resource Planning, or ERP, software is an integrated business application system used to manage operations and finances within a company. As a manufacturer, Antunes uses it to plan, execute and record the production of its products. We regularly fine tune our ERP system so that all of the specific configurations and settings are maximized for the needs of our current business operation. Because Antunes produces many different products, we need to gather all of the demand from customers and organize it properly so that we can make products in the most efficient and productive manner. Our ERP system supports the entire manufacturing process from fabrication through the final shipment to our customer. Our ERP system also supports the strategic sourcing of components from around the world, taking into account lead times, quantity discounts and regulatory requirements. We use standard MRP (Materials Requirements Planning) to control the inflow of components coming from suppliers and DRP (Distribution Requirements Planning) to control the flow of products between Antunes locations. Many of our products are “made to order.” We keep our inventory levels as low as possible to keep costs down for our customers; however, we also need to respond to the needs of customers on a timely basis — whether for finished goods or spare parts. We have a very aggressive forecasting program, and our ERP system allows us to maintain the necessary inventory levels to support customer requirements. Many of our products are serialized. Our ERP system gives us complete control over the serialization of our finished products. Each product is labeled with a unique serial number — giving us the ability to track our products in the field and know when and where the product was produced. We continue to optimize our use of the ERP system, upgrading the software on a regular basis. We recently added a tool for the production planners that allows them to manage the production schedule with improved visibility toward projected component shortages before they happen. From there, the purchasing team can take action on alternate plans to get components in-house before it affects the scheduled delivery date. We also have plans to provide a web-based portal to our suppliers where they could see component demand coming from our ERP system along with any concrete POs that have been released to them. Our ERP software is a critical tool —along with Lean processes and a customer driven product development team — that allows us to deliver the right products at the right time. Gain further operational insights with this look at product testing and the differences between field validation testing and product safety & compliance certification testing.