Many decision-makers in the manufacturing industry are always on the lookout for ways to streamline their processes and maximize efficiency. And fortunately, there are many ways in which that can be accomplished, both in terms of implementing ERP software to help identify potential weaknesses in the supply chain, and taking simple real-world steps to make sure everything works as well as it possibly can outside that system.

For instance, one of the real-world steps that many manufacturers may be able to take is assessing their power usage, according to a report from Industrial Property. One of the biggest expenditures that warehouses and factories face in this regard is lighting, because the power needed to successfully light thousands of square feet of shelf space and work floor is significant. A well-lit area is actually important to making sure companies run at peak efficiency.

Where this can go wrong
However, some instead opt to skimp on lighting, keeping these spaces a little dark, the report said. But this can lead to problems like workers misidentifying packages and shipping the wrong items to the wrong recipients, or incorrectly assembling a product. That, of course, becomes quite costly as companies have to double back and start the process over to some extent.

For those worried about the cost of electricity with respect to lighting going forward, there may be an option that comes with a slightly higher one-time price, the report said. By investing in LED lighting, manufacturers may set themselves up for years of lower costs. These bulbs last far longer than standard incandescent options, and also use far less electricity when they're turned on.

Other steps to take
Meanwhile, companies can also use ERP's inventory management software to assess the state of their supply chain in real time, according to Multi-Channel Merchant. The fact is that while inventories will obviously change quickly over time, getting a broader view of trends in the supply chain can be crucial to better decision-making. One of the ways in which that can be helpful is in identifying for companies how long a given item or material sits on a shelf before being used in the manufacturing process. With that information close at hand, it becomes easier to identify where and how things run most smoothly.

Then, having the ability to compare those results with industry standards for similarly sized operations can also be extremely helpful, the report said. As long as companies know how well they're keeping up with the competition, large or small, they're going to be in better shape.

And that's why ERP systems can be so important to manufacturers regardless of their size. They provide significant options for everything from tracking employee hours to helping to speed up the physical inventory count process.

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