3 Reasons Machine Shops are Paying Attention to ERP

Peter Zelinski, Editor-in-Chief of Modern Machine Shop, shares his thoughts in an article on the benefits of utilizing ERP systems in manufacturing. Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems are software that organizes the different operations of a manufacturing company so that these operations can work smoothly together. Zelinski notes an increase attention to ERP this year, and concludes with three possible reasons:
  1. Acquisition brings systemization in its wake. “Shops are being bought by other companies, often to be merged into larger manufacturing organizations. When this happens, the context that needs to give way is the shop’s tribal knowledge. ERP implementation, or the shift to greater reliance on ERP, is a natural means to a more transparent process.”
  2. Slowdowns free attention for disruption. “Shops have varied this year in their activity levels, but for some, business has softened. The quieter time can bring opportunity. Having some attention free, and having margin in terms of the availability of people’s time and equipment capacity, provides the chance to make messy changes. And commitment to ERP is a change that is inherently messy, because it involves changing individual work habits that have come to feel comfortable.”
  3. Hiring is not getting any easier. “The seeming shortage of skilled employees is a problem that will not go away, and the special uncertainty of 2020 only complicates the matter. A shop now is liable to be reluctant to staff up even if could easily do so. The tools within a good ERP system, perhaps the very system the shop has been underusing all this time, provide the means of holding staff constant but allow each staff member’s time and attention to be used more effectively.”

Zelinski concludes with how much impact the current economic situation is to our decisions to use such systems like ERP. “Working in the time of COVID-19 has reminded us of the value of people, and it has taught us we have useful digital tools for connecting and collaborating that were just waiting for us to need them.”


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