Five essential ERP features for electronics manufacturers

Electronics is just like any manufacturing business; they take components, add some labor, and sell products.  But electronics ERP should address specific requirements that aren’t as urgent for other industry verticals.

1. Time to market

Product cycles in electronics are very short.  Often a product will be introduced and then become obsolete within weeks. Ask potential vendors whether their product can work within that quick turnaround.  While marketers and engineers are getting together designing the next product, the entire supply and production chain must be built during the design phase and cannot wait until the product design is complete and prototyped.  Unique integrated circuits, plastic and metal components have to be ready for production immediately with development completed in parallel with product design.  Bills of material and production routings too must be ready to use with no delay.

2. Outsourcing production

Electronics manufacturers frequently outsource some or all of their production.  While a new product is being developed, the contract manufacturers and outsourced production suppliers should be simultaneously developed.  Tooling and production processes are developed and installed in the ERP of both the parent business and the subcontractor business.  Another business might have a multi level BOM, but here we see each layer of the same BOM manufactured by a different business and it must still come together as a finished product that works for the consumer.

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3. Machine integration

Much of the work in electronics is done by robotic equipment.  In semiconductors, for example, a wafer is thinned by one robot, sawn into individual devices by another and placed into a package and sealed at another process.  ERP can store the programs that run each robot.  When ERP is linked through the internet to a piece of equipment, the program can be downloaded at each operation step to the right robot and production data automatically uploaded from the equipment back to ERP.

4. Channel planning

Electronics manufacturers might sell products directly.  They often sell through a variety of channels at the same time.  Check with potential electronics ERP providers that their product can connect with each channel - collecting demand signals and returning supply signals that are possible within the supply and production chains is an essential task for electronics manufacturers.

5. Serial number and lot number traceability

Many electronics manufacturers produce unique products with specific serial numbers and require the ability to trace backwards through the production processes to identify exactly what components and processes were used when a solution to a newly found fault is required.  ERP is the tool that can provide that information.

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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

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Tom Miller

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