Batch Manufacturing and Process Manufacturing are often discussed together, and the terms are occasionally even used interchangeably. One of the reasons is that both are very well represented within certain types of industries – food & beverage manufacturers and pharmaceuticals manufacturers, for example.
Blending the terms can sometimes be problematic, however, when discussing the requirements that these manufacturing modes place on ERP software systems.
Batch Production is really just what the name implies: groups or “batches” of a product are produced together, even though the item being produced can take the form of a discrete unit. Process Manufacturing is typically characterized by output that does not take the form of discrete units. Furthermore, the product cannot typically be “disassembled” back into its component parts, and it often involves the extraction of 1 or more products from a particular input (example: juice, pulp, and an oil might all be extracted from the same fruit).
While Microsoft Dynamics GP does not have a specific solution set developed for batch or process manufacturing, it can and has been successfully deployed in both environments, as long as certain requirements are not present. Microsoft Dynamics AX, on the other hand, has a solution set specifically developed to meet the needs of both batch and process manufacturers, making it an extremely attractive solution for those industries.
There are some software system requirements that, although not specifically related to the mode of production, tend to be present in batch and process manufacturing environments because of the nature of the industries involved (example: lot number traceability in food & beverage). Below is a list of some requirements, as well as a quick look at whether or not related functionality is available in Dynamics GP and Dynamics AX. The intent here is not to characterize how comparatively robust is the functionality in each system, but simply to indicate whether or not some
functionality is available that could potentially meet the needs of a client.
Requirements that are common for both batch and process manufacturers:
- Managing shelf life / Expiration dates – Dynamics GP and Dynamics AX
- Traceability of Lot Numbers – Dynamics GP and Dynamics AX
- Tracking of Batch Attributes / Batch Records – Dynamics GP and Dynamics AX
- Quality Assurance and Quality Control – Dynamics GP and Dynamics AX
- Number of Decimal Places for Tracking Inventory Quantities (when very small quantities of an ingredient are used in formulas/recipes): 5 decimals in Dynamics GP; 8 decimals in Dynamics AX
- Multiple Units of Measure per Item – Dynamics GP and Dynamics AX
Requirements more commonly associated with process manufacturing:
- Ability to Transact the production of planned Co-Products (multiple outputs from the same production process) that should share the cost of the production inputs – Dynamics AX
- Ability to Transact the production of By-Products – Dynamics GP and Dynamics AX
- Tracking Catch Weight (example: # of fish and lbs. of fish both need to be tracked independently) – Dynamics AX
- Planning and managing the packaging and containerization of bulk product into multiple forms based on actual yields – Dynamics AX