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A Helpful Guide to Batch Process Manufacturing

Understanding batch process manufacturing is crucial for manufacturers to define scalable recipes and formulas, optimize production resources, manage inventory with varied units of measure, and implement quality strategies with cradle-to-grave lot traceability. This guide provides an overview of batch-process manufacturing ERP features and how they benefit batch-driven manufacturers.
James Mallory | June 27, 2024

A Helpful Guide to Batch Process Manufacturing

 

Process vs. Discrete Manufacturing: A Helpful Guide

There are two fundamental categories of manufacturing ERP software—process and discrete. Both provide similar accounting, inventory management, purchasing, and order management features. However, they offer entirely distinct manufacturing functionalities. Acumatica is one of the few ERP systems that support both process and discrete categories for mixed-mode manufacturing on a single platform.

Discrete Manufacturing includes furniture, automotive parts, fabricated metal products, industrial equipment and machinery, electronics, and other products that leverage a discrete, or defined bill of materials. Generally speaking, discrete products are easier to disassemble into their base components. Manufacturing operations include assembly, cutting, bending, drilling, molding, and welding. Packaging and units of measure are commonly tracked by each item produced or by discrete dimensions, such as feet or pounds.

Process Manufacturing includes chemicals, food, beverages, pharmaceuticals, and cosmetics with scalable formulas or recipes. Unlike discrete products, it is often impossible to disassemble finished process goods back into their base components. Operations include mixing, blending, cooking, reducing, reacting, hydrating, dehydrating, infusing, and similar activities. Process manufacturers also require specialized units of measure. For example, an orange juice manufacturer needs to see that they have 500,000 gallons of orange juice in stock. However, they need to know how many of those gallons are available in vats, barrels, cases, and bottles. Process manufacturers also have specialized batch production requirements—for example, calculating formula concentrations or expected loss and yields based on environmental factors or raw material attributes.

Many industries have lighter process manufacturing requirements or operate in a mixed-mode environment where they use both process and discrete production activities. Mixed-mode and light process manufacturing are common in primary metals, non-metallic minerals, and rubber and plastics. For example, an aluminum foundry needs to track the heat numbers and chemical composition of the products it makes. Similarly, there are various grades of mineral products and various formulas for manufacturing plastic and rubber products. These companies traditionally use discrete manufacturing ERP applications, but they need flexibility for bill of material definitions with robust quality control and lot traceability.

 

A Helpful Guide to Batch Process Manufacturing

Multi-Modal Manufacturing

Most process manufacturers are multi-modal. This means that they use multiple manufacturing strategies in production. For example, an orange juice manufacturer uses formulas or recipes to make the orange juice or concentrate, but filling containers with orange juice is a discrete manufacturing activity with known quantities for raw materials and finished goods.

Process manufacturers with standard products, like orange juice, usually operate in a make-to-stock way, where demand forecasts and customer orders drive production plans. However, some process manufacturers operate in make-to-order environments. For example, a chemical manufacturer may make specialty batches based on customer specifications, such as chemical composition or ingredient concentration. Other process manufacturers making high volume consumer products operate in repetitive manufacturing environments, where the same product is produced continuously on a dedicated production line. In repetitive manufacturing, production is typically reported against the item being produced or the quantity produced by production line, as opposed to a predefined batch order or production order quantity.

Batch Process Manufacturing ERP Systems for SMBs

There are relatively few affordable ERP software options available for small and midsized businesses (SMBs) engaged in process manufacturing. The few applications on the market are built on legacy technologies with minimal investment and shrinking installed bases. This forces many process manufacturers to adapt their production processes to fit the constraints of more popular discrete ERP systems.

Acumatica is one of the only modern, cloud-native ERP applications designed for small and mid-sized manufacturers that supports batch production and mixed-mode manufacturing. In fact, hundreds of process manufacturers, like Devil’s Peak Beer, use Acumatica successfully with little to no customization.

Process manufacturers with advanced business requirements, such as scalable recipes or formulas and complex unit of measure conversions, leverage the Acumatica Process Manufacturing Suite by eWorkplace Apps (a sister company of Batchmaster, a pioneer in process manufacturing ERP applications). This application suite is built on the Acumatica platform and fulfilled by Acumatica. It provides a seamless experience for users with connections to all parts of the application, including accounting, sales, purchasing, inventory management, and discrete manufacturing.

Acumatica’s combined discrete and process manufacturing features enable manufacturers to:

  • Improve quality control, with product testing for raw material receipts, production, and virtually any inventory transaction.
  • Define scalable recipes and formulas or bills of materials for process and discrete products.
  • Customize products based on customer specifications and market needs.
  • Evaluate inventory quantities with complex unit of measure conversions and flexible units of measure for stocking, purchasing, and sales.
  • Manage perishable inventory with lot and serial traceability from raw materials to intermediates and finished goods with expiration dates.
  • Manage production and costing for co-products and by-products.

Process manufacturing users appreciate Acumatica’s modern and affordable Process Manufacturing Suite. Jeff Hsu, eCommerce Supervisor for Sun Ten Laboratories, says:

“Sun Ten’s acquisition and implementation of Acumatica and eWorkplace Apps integrated process and quality management solution with its ability to control both powder and liquid formulas, handle multiple pack sizes, and control the production of our products, along with the ability to quarantine and test products, will provide us an ERP solution that helps ensure we meet our goals in the areas of safety, quality, efficacy, and consistency.”

Connected Quality Management

The eWorkplace Apps Quality Management Suite works with Acumatica’s distribution suite and discrete and process manufacturing applications. It supports:

  • Quality Testing, Traceability, and Recall Notices.
  • Checklists and Inspections.
  • Certificates of Analysis (COA).
  • Non-Conformance (NC) and Corrective and Preventive Action Plans (CAPA).
  • Acceptable Quality Levels (AQL) and Sample Sizing.
  • Traceability and Recall Notices.

Speaking about the Quality Management Suite, Justin Dickerson, ERP Analyst at Acumatica customer cbdMD, says: “We are able to upload all our COAs (certificates of analysis), our microbial tests, and quality tests, and if we’re audited and someone wants to know what happened in April, we’re able to pull a PDF. The quality department always tells me how much easier it is now.”

Conclusion

Acumatica is the best solution for process and mixed-mode manufacturers—providing a modern cloud business platform, robust financial applications, an extensive distribution suite, and solutions for discrete and process manufacturing with quality control.

With Acumatica, you can manage recipes, formulas, and bills of materials for batch orders or discrete production orders with flexible unit of measure conversions, end-to-end lot traceability, extensive quality management features, and tools to simplify industry and government compliance regulations.

To learn more about how Acumatica’s adaptable and innovative manufacturing solution is designed for batch process manufacturers, read our free Industry Brief, explore more about the Process Manufacturing Suite, or contact our experts today.

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Senior Product Marketing Manager, Manufacturing, Distribution, Field Service at Acumatica
Categories: ERP Blogs, Manufacturing
Categories: ERP Blogs, Manufacturing

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