Shop floor management: 3 ways ERP can improve efficiency

The shop floor in many manufacturing businesses is hidden to the individuals who make ERP system choices. The shop floor is also where ERP users add real value to real products. These individuals are important components of enterprise resource planning and providing them with efficient shop floor ERP tools will help the rest of the organization.

1. Technical document management

Technical drawings and documents in our businesses tell shop floor staff how products and product components are put together or mixed. We want every individual to use the same proven processes as it is one way to control quality.

Some shop environments are dirty or greasy because of the nature of the processes. Yet, all too often, we expect those people to collect paper documents and follow them in their work. What is the measurement under that smudge? Is it 2 mm or 7 mm? Is it any wonder some people will save the documents from one production job to another so they can skip a trip to the office? What happens when there is a revision between those jobs? We can use ERP to attach any necessary technical documents to specific operations within a job and ensure the most current version is easily accesses on the shop floor.

2. Movement requests

Do you hear over the loudspeaker, “Material handler to station C45” all day long? Many manufacturers make products that require forklift trucks to move them to the next operation. Other manufacturers might require one or more pallets of a component material for a job and then that same pallet with less weight needs to be returned to stock.

Recommended reading: manufacturing ERP requirements template - 120 critical manufacturing ERP features in one downloadable spreadsheet

Shop floor ERP can set up move requests before and after operations within a production job. That same material handler can see the request on the tablet screen at his fork lift dashboard. No intercom loudspeaker is required and the fork lift operator can enter a transaction when the move is complete so anyone can see in the ERP that work is ready at the next operation. ERP makes the shop floor a little quieter and the shop floor has a dependable way to know materials are ready to be worked on.

3. Regulatory compliance

Often certain work on the shop floor is required to be done by staff who have specific training and a current certification. ERP helps here too. Each shop floor employee can have a record within ERP listing all their training and certifications. All that is necessary is to set up the ERP to track these certifications. With that setup, an operation for a job might show up in the dispatch list for work center 123. But only specific shop floor workers within that work center are qualified to log their time on that job. Others are prohibited from entering time by the configuration of shop floor ERP and an integration with the HR database. Quality assurance systems for the business are protected and those employees who don’t have the required training don’t waste their time on that job.

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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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