Cloud ERP Helps Industrial Manufacturers Optimize their Operating Environments

By integrating NetSuite with applications developed specifically for high-growth industrial manufacturers, companies can replace their inefficient, disparate systems with a business management solution that manages processes from the shop floor to the time the job is completed and paid for.

High-growth manufacturers have begun to rethink their technological infrastructure in recent years thanks to the skilled labor gap, raw material shortages, the shift to more remote work and having to adapt to changing customer preferences. What may have sufficed pre-pandemic in many cases—a mix of outdated software systems and Excel spreadsheets—is now costing manufacturers more than it saves them.

As manufacturers are seeking new ways to conserve cash and cut costs, they’re discovering that their disjointed technologies can’t support those efforts. With data stored in multiple systems, companies are piecing together bits of information to get a clear picture of operational performance. Sales forecasting, demand planning and labor management are equally as challenging, as is maintaining profitability and margins.

This paper explains how a cloud enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution made-to-order by an implementation partner focused solely on ERP implementation in the manufacturing industry helps these organizations save time and money, operate more efficiently and tackle the rigors of the current operating environment.

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Managing Data Islands

Whether they’re re-manufacturing mobile phones, making parts for NASA’s International Space Station or producing small batches of custom products in a job shop, small to midsized industrial manufacturing companies with less than $100 million in annual revenues play an important role in the overall manufacturing sector.

In 2021, most manufacturers found themselves in a tight position, with raw material shortages on one side and high demand for their products on the other. Accustomed to working with three-month raw material forecasts, for instance, manufacturers began producing one-year forecasts and order timelines thanks to supply chain shortages, which impacted everything from semiconductor chips to lumber to steel to resin.

As these supply chain disruptions drag on, manufacturers are also facing a labor shortage, high employee turnover and an increasingly-demanding customer base. Worried about extended order lead times, those buyers began asking for more detailed data and better supply chain visibility. They wanted to know where their orders are in the supply chain, how long they will take to fulfill and when they will arrive at their facilities. High-growth manufacturers using QuickBooks, Excel spreadsheets, inventory management applications like Fishbowl and/or scheduling applications like TSheets, were unable to answer those questions.

“A lot of industrial manufacturers use ‘bolt-on’ applications to solve specific problems (e.g., one for quality control and another to manage tooling) and wind up creating many different ‘data islands,’” said Piyas Bandyopadhyay, CEO and Master Principal Consultant at Paapri Cloud Technologies, a NetSuite Alliance Partner. “Employees spend their days entering the same data over and over again into different applications.”

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Without a centralized financial and inventory management platform to work from, manufacturers end up wasting a lot of time, money, and effort on manual processes. These approaches may have been sufficient for a smaller company operating pre-COVID, but they quickly became liabilities as the organizations began to grow.

Take the electroplating company that Paapri recently worked with for example. A popular metal finishing and improving process, electroplating helps increase wear resistance, improve corrosion protection and increase thickness. Because this manufacturer specialized in very small parts, it couldn’t accommodate larger, one-off orders like the electroplating of a bumper for a tank. The shipping paperwork alone—two pages long for a small part, but 50 or more pages long for a bumper—was more than the company could manage.

“The company was using spreadsheets and QuickBooks, and just couldn’t handle a fast switch over to a different production approach,” said Bandyopadhyay. This proved especially challenging during the pandemic, when the company was forced to broaden out its offerings and reach out to a wider customer base. “The inefficiencies started to creep in pretty quickly.”

With NetSuite and the Paapri Manufacturing Console (PMC) in place, the electroplating manufacturer was able to bring all of its operational processes onto one cloud-based ERP system with industry-specific functionality. It can now focus on product engineering, innovation and winning new customers instead of worrying about whether it can take on different types of work.

The Icing on the NetSuite Cake

Laser-focused on ERP implementation in the manufacturing industry, Paapri has spent years addressing its customers’ biggest pain points and coming up with solutions to those problems. By integrating its applications with NetSuite, Paapri adds capabilities that speak directly to manufacturers’ biggest challenges to a leader in ERP software.

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At the heart of PMC is a console situated next to a workstation on the shop floor that’s used to manage jobs from concept to completion. From this application, manufacturers can receive orders, procure materials, gather necessary information and start/stop jobs. The console is available in a tablet version direct from Paapri, which also produces the hardware for its applications.

Multiple users can badge in and out of the PMC. The solution integrates directly with NetSuite, which takes over where the console leaves off and manages the back-end processes for each job. “NetSuite is the cake,” said Bandyopadhyay, “and we provide the frosting for that cake with the goal of making it even more palatable for our manufacturing customers.”

Knowing that quality control is a big concern for manufacturers, Paapri also developed a Paapri Cloud Technologies quality management system (PCT QMS) that integrates directly with NetSuite. Paapri Cloud Technologies Quality Management Solution is a formalized system that documents processes, procedures and responsibilities for achieving quality policies and objectives. QMS helps companies coordinate and direct activities in a way that meets customer and regulatory requirements. These systems also help manufacturers continually hone their organizational effectiveness and efficiency.

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Using Paapri QMS, manufacturers can ensure that their products meet pre-determined quality specifications like AS9000, ISO9000 and ISO1400. They also know that the processes, preventions, statistical processing controls, and information capture are done correctly every time. And, they have the data to prove it right at their fingertips, not stored on a spreadsheet on someone’s computer or in a separate software system. “We built out extensive, plug-and-play QMS that will work in any quality situation,” said Bandyopadhyay, “and regardless of which quality specs the manufacturer has adopted.”

Techno-Functional Solutions for Manufacturers

Knowing the importance of good tooling management for industrial manufacturers, Paapri also offers an inter-tooling application that manufacturers can use to store, distribute, calibrate, and refurbish their tools. It also built job scheduling and engineer-to-order applications, the latter of which manages the intricate process of engineering and manufacturing custom projects (i.e., like the electroplated tank bumper example mentioned earlier). Each of these applications connects directly into NetSuite, eliminating the need for disparate financial systems, spreadsheets, and databases.

Through its own Manufacturing Center of Excellence (MCOE), Paapri is continually building out new functionality that high-growth manufacturers can use to work smarter, better and faster. With an in-house group of technical and functional experts, plus several Six Sigma Green Belts™ (professionals who are well versed in the core-to-advanced elements of Lean Six Sigma Methodology), Paapri works to find techno-functional solutions to solve its customers’ most pressing problems.

The Paapri team works closely with those customers to create those solutions. “All of our implementations are extremely collaborative,” Bandyopadhyay explained. “Through our MCOE, we learn from our customers’ businesses, build out proofs of concept, implement the software, and then use that proven technology with other customers.”

Come One, Come All

With a typical implementation time of 3-6 months, Paapri allocates much of that time to user training and change management. Once in place, NetSuite and Paapri’s industry-specific applications help manufacturing customers eliminate manual systems, save time once spent shuttling data between those systems and bring manufacturing, inventory management, job scheduling and finance management onto a single cloud ERP system.

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The combined solution also helps empower and engage employees in a hiring environment where 95% of workers are looking for other jobs. Rather than spending their days manipulating spreadsheets and trying to align different technology systems, manufacturing employees can focus on innovation, production management in the ERP and customer service. Using Paapri QMS, engineers can easily manage requests for deviations, measure material removal rates and take steps to improve product quality while also improving process productivity.

“Using NetSuite as a foundation, we’ve been able to help manufacturers automate a lot of processes that they always assumed had to be managed manually; it’s usually a real eye-opener for them,” said Bandyopadhyay, who has been helping industrial manufacturers solve their technology problems for over two decades. During that time, he’s seen unified, integrated technology platforms become table stakes for companies that want to do more with less while keeping up with their customers.

With NetSuite as the cloud ERP foundation and Paapri’s expertise, applications and hardware layered on top, high-growth industrial manufacturers get a cost-effective, user-friendly system that’s tailored to their specific needs. “There’s not a single manufacturing use case that can be brought to us that we haven’t been able to successfully implement on NetSuite,” said Bandyopadhyay.

Are you a manufacturer looking to replace inefficient, disparate systems to manage processes from the shop floor to the time the job is completed and paid for? Fill out our web form for a free consultation!

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