There are many ways in which the switch to a modern ERP system is justifiable for manufacturers, but perhaps the most important is the fact that it can help to give today's manufacturers a bird's eye view of most aspects of their operations. There are now so many utilities available for these systems as add-ons that everything from inventory management to time collection becomes much easier to achieve, and therefore so does greater efficiency across the shop floor.

The good news is that many of these aspects of ERP utilities can be easy to incorporate into current ERP systems, but unfortunately a lot of manufacturers are still using legacy systems that could be more than a decade old, according to a report from CIO. Consequently the sooner companies evaluate their options for upgrading, the sooner they will be able to take advantage of the various utilities available to them to improve their operations from top to bottom.

What does that include?
One aspect of modern ERP systems that many manufacturers may be eager to incorporate is the kind of improved mobile warehouse inventory management that comes with NAV barcode scanning, the report said. Manual inventory – even assisted with older technology – can be a slow and error-filled process, but those mistakes can be significantly reduced with the kind of low-cost mobile devices now available to many companies. By using mobile scanning tools when bringing materials into the warehouse, using them, and then sending them out again, there is little question as to what's needed or where inventory is being used in the manufacturing process.

That, in turn, helps to give decision-makers something of a top-down, real-time view of how everything is being used on the manufacturing floor, the report said. As a consequence, it becomes easier to make the right calls when ordering new products, observing where kinks in the production process are cropping up, and so on.

Getting mobile
Of course, not all manufacturers might be eager to adopt mobile, because there could be questions as to how effective it will be, according to Tech Target. However, those who have taken the leap typically say the investment is a judicious move even if it comes with a bit of a price tag up front, simply because the added efficiency that comes with mobile data collection and NAV barcoding is extremely beneficial in the long run.

"We can do a lot more with a lot less,"Jim Davies, director of IT at the Ithaca, New York, manufacturer Ongweoweh Corp., told the site. "We didn't let anybody go, but we didn't need to hire as many people. There was an initial expense, but it more than pays for itself."

The more manufacturers can do to map their adoption process to ensure everything is incorporated successfully into their current efforts, the better off they will be as they take the training wheels off their new ERP systems and utilities.

For free Microsoft Dynamics NAV software utilities visit the Insight Works website.