Process Manufacturing ERP Requirements: Lot Traceability & Compliance

The process of selecting an ERP system will always include discussions about the goals, objectives and requirements within the business. Equally as important are those requirements which come from external sources, many of which will carry even more weight than internal considerations.

Paint manufacturing is a business that might seem little affected by regulatory compliance compared, for example, to pharmaceuticals. Manufacturers in this industry want to produce products that are profitable while retaining a competitive shelf life and product quality. But they must also publish MSDS documents for their paints and make these readily available for customers. It may be difficult to spot from the outside, but every process manufacturer will have their own regulatory requirements which they can identify and use to inform their ERP selection decision.

Compliance Provides a Foundation for Lot Traceability

One of the areas of process manufacturing ERP requirements that regulation can inform is lot traceability. You cannot ask for a more clear base marker for lot traceability requirements in your industry than that which is provided by regulatory legislation.

You cannot ask for a more clear base marker for lot traceability requirements in your industry than that which is provided by regulatory legislation

Once this foundation for lot traceability requirements has been established, we must analyse other external pressure points and align our ERP requirements with our solutions to these. Food processors must deal with these external demands all the time. We see in the news almost every day that someone somewhere has become ill due to salmonella or e-coli outbreaks. When someone in Canada becomes ill due to a product manufactured in the US, we are glad we can trace the beef to a ranch in Argentina and the cattle feed to a plant in South Africa where the scheduled cleaning of equipment was not logged as completed. The product tracing laws identified in the EU (EC) No 178/2002 legislation are a prime example of how the ERP requirements outlined above can be driven by an external source, but these requirements could equally have been derived from an internal risk analysis.

Recommended Reading: 7 Steps to Selecting Process Manufacturing ERP

As well as an internal risk analysis, lot traceability requirements may be driven from other internal sources. Going back to our paint manufacturer, their business will have have a well established reputation with clients to uphold and the long-term consistency of their products is part of that reputation. So they would also have a need to track the lots and batches of all their ingredients as well as for each of their own production batches. If the paint fades or peels from a wall, they can trace backwards to the source of the problem and determine the best resolution.

This is an example of lot traceability requirements being driven by a client response to products. If dealing with this sort of client response is a top priority for your business, it may be worth looking into integration with the CRM module of prospective ERP systems.

Whatever process manufacturing industry you work in, ERP must satisfy both internal and external needs. Rather than seeing this as doubling the pressure on your system, use these sources to drive your requirements analysis - for lot traceability and other ERP functions - and it will lead you to the best ERP for your business.

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Tom Miller

About the author…

Tom completed implementations of Epicor, SAP, QAD, and Micro MRP. He works as a logistics and supply chain manager and he always looks for processes to improve. He lives near San Francisco Bay in California and can be found on the water in his kayak or on the road riding his motorcycle. Contact Tom at customerteam@erpfocus.com.

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Tom Miller