Manufacturing software is changing entire industries, helping them increase efficiency and productivity. There are thousands of software solutions designed to help businesses grow and increase revenues. Some are designed to improve project management, others improve product design efforts or help simplify inventory management.
Furthermore, some solutions are installed on-premise, while others are completely run and used remotely. This article will help you understand the differences between the most popular manufacturing software solutions, allowing you to find the ideal software for your business. Let’s dig right into it!
Two Primary Delivery Models For Manufacturing Software
Before we can get into the different types of manufacturing software, we first have to explain the two available delivery models and the benefits they provide.
1. On-Premise Manufacturing Software
On-premise software is bought from developers and installed on your own servers. That means that you have to provide the right IT infrastructure yourself. If you choose an on-premise software solution, you will have complete control over the software, allowing you to customize all features according to your needs. You will also be able to use the software offline.
However, there are some disadvantages to this approach as well. Firstly, on-premise software solutions are expensive and require a huge up-front investment into IT systems and technology. Moreover, you will have to cover all operational and maintenance costs, as well as potential hardware failures. As you can imagine, the adoption process of an on-premise system can be too expensive and time-consuming.
2. Cloud-Based Manufacturing Software
The other option (the most popular one) is cloud-based manufacturing software. Software as Service solutions is becoming more and more popular because they offer some major benefits when compared to on-premise solutions. Most SaaS solutions have a pay-as-you-go plan, so you pay only for the features you need. Moreover, since the software runs completely online, you won’t have to invest in new IT infrastructure or hardware.
Apart from coming at a lower cost, cloud-based manufacturing software is much more practical because your team members have access no matter where they are. Cloud providers will cover all maintenance costs, upgrades, security efforts, data storage, and everything in between.
You will get all the benefits the software offers, but at a much lower cost than on-premise solutions. The only disadvantages are the fact that you’ll have to let go of some control over the software, and the fact that you can use it only when connected to the internet.
Different Types of Manufacturing Software
Here are some of the most common types of manufacturing software in more detail.
1. ERP Manufacturing Software
ERP stands for enterprise resource planning, and this type of software is packed with features designed to help businesses manage their processes. The most common features are inventory management, procurement, supply chain optimization, financial management, compliance, etc.
ERP software is gaining popularity because it’s able to centralize all available information to improve operational efficiency. Team members with access have a complete overview of inventory in real-time, which allows them to optimize supply chain management.
However, the ERP software features all kinds of complex tools that cost a lot of money and come with complicated adoption processes. That’s why this type of software is reserved for large enterprises that can afford it. The software is widely used across many industries such as manufacturing, healthcare, hospitality, education, waste management, etc.
2. Computer-Aided Design Software for Manufacturing
Computer-Aided Design software or CAD, as it’s better known, is used to improve 2D and 3D product design efforts. It helps improve the overall design quality, provides access to detailed documentation, and acts as a database for future product design activities.
CAD software is designed to support new ideas and concepts, as it can quickly pinpoint errors in design. It also helps streamline processes by improving communication. Lastly, engineers and designers can use CAD to simulate product use and suggest better design options.
The issue with CAD systems is their price. They are expensive upfront, and they require people who have the right skills, which usually means extra costs for employee training. CAD software is the backbone of many industries including aviation, structural manufacturing, gas industry, etc.
3. CMMS Software For Manufacturing
CMMS stands for Computerized Maintenance Management System, and it’s software designed to improve maintenance efforts. It collects and displays all maintenance information in one dashboard, and it offers some automation features as well.
It’s a type of software used by technicians that carry out preventive maintenance jobs. They can use the software to create detailed procedures for future use, as well as a list of available spare parts and assets. CMMS keeps track of all physical assets and ensures that they are always in perfect running order.
The problem with this type of software is its cost and complicated setup. However, some cloud-based CMMS solutions are much easier to set up, although they are even more expensive. The software is ideal for maintaining production lines and manufacturing facilities.
4. EHS Software
EHS is an acronym for Environment, Health, and Safety. It’s a special type of manufacturing software that offers a long list of features designed to increase workplace safety. The software makes it easy to track and analyze all potentially dangerous activities, allowing you to create better safety procedures. Most companies that use EHS systems report improved operational performance and risk reduction.
It allows businesses to improve safety-related decision-making based on real-world data. The downside to using EHS software is its lack of learning opportunities. It may take your managers a lot of time before they master how every function works. However, if you’re looking to improve safety according to EHS regulations, this software is a must.
5. Industrial Inventory Management Software
Inventory management is a key business process with a direct impact on overall success. Managing a production plant and multiple storage warehouses is a complicated job traditionally, but this software makes things much easier. It offers real-time tracking capabilities and improves control over inventory management.
Most inventory management software solutions are easy to set up, and they start providing benefits the moment they are installed. Features such as automatic inventory tracking help reduce loss costs and increase profits. That leads to an increase in customer satisfaction and a general boost in planning and making decisions.
Even though the software helps with inventory management, human workers still have to monitor physical stocks regularly to identify losses due to waste, theft, etc. It’s the perfect software solution for optimizing the supply chain, reducing stock costs, and waste production.
6. Accounting Software For Manufacturing
Accounting is an essential process for every business, and special manufacturing accounting software is an excellent choice for businesses across many industries. The software helps simplify accounting, payroll management, and other financial processes. It’s usually included as a feature in ERP software solutions, but you can find stand-alone editions as well.
The software is extremely helpful because it updates all CFOs and financial experts with detailed data in real-time. That includes tracking client information, expenses, payable accounts, etc. Most accounting software solutions use automation to streamline processes such as reporting, re-ordering, etc. It’s not always cost-effective, especially for smaller businesses. However, it can help you save money on bookkeeping and accounting efforts.
7. Preventive Maintenance Software
Preventive maintenance is one of the most revolutionary business practices ever. It allows companies to predict which machinery needs maintenance based on real-world data. That helps with regular maintenance scheduling, reduces downtimes, and overall maintenance costs.
For example, the Wizata industrial manufacturing software is already helping hundreds of businesses reduce equipment failure and maximize their manufacturing resources. It’s a cost-efficient solution able to increase the lifespan of machinery and other tools.
However, it’s often too expensive for smaller businesses. The implementation can be complicated since you’ll have to install IoT sensors across your entire production line and connect them into one system.
These are just some of the different manufacturing software solutions designed to help improve efficiency and production. There are many more SaaS solutions designed to help specific industries improve existing processes.
So, if you’re thinking about getting an industrial manufacturing software solution, make sure that you do your research and find the software that suits your needs best. Otherwise, you could end up spending too much money on software that won’t deliver the results you expect.
Travis Dillard is a business consultant and an organizational psychologist based in Arlington, Texas. Passionate about marketing, social networks, and business in general. In his spare time, he writes a lot about new business strategies and digital marketing for DigitalStrategyOne.