4 practical examples of the power of real-time ERP data


For what seems like an age, legacy ERP systems relied on a data funnel which looked something like this; data input, data query, data gathering, final report. This funnel has now been replaced by real-time ERP databases which perform the input, query, data gathering and reporting in the blink of an eye. Here are practical examples of how this technology can be applied across many industries.


Covering the key issues faced by businesses selecting and implementing ERP.


1. Distribution

A semi tractor trailer truck pulls off the highway and begins driving up the road to a distribution center. As it passes the gate, scanners read the identification on the trailer and relay that information to the distribution ERP system. That trailer ID is instantly matched in the database to an advance shipping notification (ASN) and then to several purchase orders expected from a supplier.

The ERP system looks at the demand for those purchase orders and determines the optimal dock door for this delivery. A few seconds after passing the gate scanner, the truck is rolling and the driver is informed to take the trailer to the west side and dock number 47.

Guide: 70 features to look for in your new ERP

Thanks to lookup and delivery of information from real-time ERP processes, the driver’s time is efficiently managed because they do not need to stop at an office to check in. The distribution center is efficiently managed as the load is delivered where it will be stored or cross-docked to another outbound delivery.

2. Construction

Pipe assemblies, sheet metal, rebar, windows, and all variety of material is dropped off at a construction site as a building is erected. Each is tagged with RFID or bar codes allowing the ERP system to link that particular item with the specific trade and group of ERP users that will require the item. The material is also linked to the architect and engineering models for the building. The concrete deck for the third floor is hardened now and material handlers and crane operators know exactly what items need to be delivered, where they need delivering and who requires them.

The plumbing foreman gets a message on the mobile ERP app that all their material is ready for installation. The right materials are ready to be used by the right trade at exactly the right time and total cost of construction is reduced.

3. Manufacturing

A manufacturer receives a customer purchase order requesting delivery of a complex product in three weeks. Real-time ERP automatically converts the purchase into several production jobs and schedules that work along with thousands of existing production jobs.

If a problem is found on the expected delivery of any order, a planner is notified by the ERP system straight away. Usually, the job schedule fits together and dispatch orders are transmitted to work cells throughout the plant without human intervention. ERP can manage the many variables in a manufacturing environment often better than its workforce.

4. Transportation

Tug boats push an 85,000 ton cargo ship to the side of a dock where three other ships are already loading and unloading cargo containers. There are 9,214 containers on this vessel. 2,163 will be unloaded and 1,814 will be loaded for delivery at ports along the ship’s route. 525 containers will need to be unloaded and replaced making space to retrieve the planned unloading.

High above the ship the operator of the ship to shore gantry crane already has the plan for unloading in his ERP account and the crane is already moving to the first container. Real-time ERP systems received the storage plan from the previous port and calculated the optimal sequence to move containers. The reloading plan took into consideration where the container will be delivered as well as vessel trim so weight is evenly distributed on the ship.

Real-time ERP extends to the dock where trucks and trains are delivering or picking up containers. Straddle carriers on the dock move containers to and from the trucks and the quay-side STS cranes. Real-time ERP systems get the ship back underway and making money in the fastest possible time.

Real-time information flow keeps people working and products moving very effectively and efficiently across a huge range of industries. Can you afford to ignore its potential?

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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

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