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What is ERP? Is it a smart choice for a small manufacturing company?

What is ERP? Is it a smart choice for a small manufacturing company?

Growing companies eventually get to a point where spreadsheets no longer cut it. To optimize their procedures and facilitate growth, they conclude that they need some software package. But which one is the best choice? Most business professionals have heard the term “ERP,” but they may not know exactly what enterprise resource planning software is or if this is exactly what they need for their company. Below we explain what ERP is, how it works, and how to choose the right solution for your business.

ERP definition

When you type in google search engine the phrase “manufacturing software”, you are spoilt for choice. Thousands of companies have a wide range of products and services, and after spending hours researching, you are none of the wiser. However, some basic definitions should make things clearer, considering that top google positions occupy large companies selling sophisticated resource planning systems, which might not necessarily be synonymous with what you are looking for.

ERP is an acronym that stands for enterprise resource planning (ERP). It’s a business process management software that standardizes, streamlines and integrates business processes across finance, human resources, procurement, distribution, and other departments. Typically, ERP systems use an integrated software platform operating on a single database, which collects and organizes key business information that helps organizations run lean and efficient operations as they expand.

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How does ERP function?

Once information is compiled in that central database, leaders gain cross-departmental visibility that empowers them to analyze various scenarios, discover process improvements and generate major efficiency gains. That translates to cost savings and better productivity as people spend less time digging for needed data.

ERP has evolved from a human resource management application to a tool that spans IT management. That’s why for many users, an ERP is a “do it all” system that performs everything from the entry of sales orders to customer service. In addition, it attempts to integrate the suppliers and customers with the manufacturing environment of the organisation. 

ERP modules

ERP belongs to a category of business software, but its systems comprise various modules, each addressing a specific business requirement. The names and numbers of modules in an ERP system provided by various software vendors may differ. The most popular modules of ERP target:

  • engineering data control (bill of materials, process plan and work centre data); sales, purchase and inventory (sales and distribution, inventory and purchase); 
  • material requirement planning (MRP); 
  • resource flow management (production scheduling, finance and human resources management); 
  • works documentation (work order, shop order release, material issue release and route cards for parts and assemblies); 
  • shop floor control and management and others like costing, maintenance management, logistics management and MIS. 

Also, the modules of ERP include areas such as:

  • Finance (financial accounting, treasury management, enterprise control and asset management). This lays at the basics of the ERP concept.
  • Logistics (production planning, materials management, plant maintenance, quality management, project systems, sales and distribution), 
  • Human resources (personnel management, training and development and skills inventory), 
  • Workflow (integration of the entire enterprise, with flexible assignment of tasks and responsibilities to locations, positions, jobs, groups or individuals).

ERP in practice

How does it look in practice? For instance, the customer relationship management (CRM) module tracks all communications with clients, assists with lead management, and enhances customer service and boosts sales. Professional services automation plan and track projects, including the time and resources spent on them. It can simplify client billing and encourage collaboration among staff members working on a project. The Working Time Management (WTM) module keeps track of attendance and hours spent at work, and in some systems, can also manage payroll. It can record absenteeism and productivity by department, team and individual employee. The list can go on forever. 

Each module pulls information from and pushes information into the central database, a key component of an ERP system. This common data repository provides visibility into all departments. It thus allows leaders to evaluate and compare the performance of different business areas and understand the full impact of decisions. 

A brief history of ERP

The ERP system traces its roots from standard inventory control packages to material requirements planning (MRP) in the 1960s. Manufacturers used MRP software to plan production schedules, make sure they had all the necessary supplies for production runs and track finished inventory. It was one of the early business applications that did not belong to the finance and accounting areas. MRP, at its core, is a time-phased order release system that schedules and releases manufacturing work orders and purchase orders so that sub-assemblies and components arrive at the assembly station just as they are required. Some of the benefits of MRP are reduction of inventories, improved customer service, enhanced efficiency and effectiveness.

MRP evolved and expanded to include more business functions such as product costing and marketing. In the early 1980s, MRP expanded from a material planning and control system to a company-wide system capable of planning virtually all the firm’s resources. This expanded approach was MRPII. A major purpose of MRP II is to integrate primary functions (i.e. production, marketing and finance) and other functions such as personnel, engineering and purchasing into the planning process to improve the efficiency of the manufacturing enterprise.

ERP – the term is born

The Gartner Group of Stamford, the USA, coined the term ERP in the early 1970s to describe the business software system that is the latest enhancement of an MRP II system (encompasses all MRP II modules).

A key difference between MRP II and ERP is that while MRP II has traditionally focused on the planning and scheduling internal resources, ERP strives to plan and schedule supplier resources as well, based on the dynamic customer demands and schedules.

Who uses ERP?

ERPs were originally designed for manufacturing companies but have since expanded to service industries, higher education, hospitality, health care, financial services, and government. Each industry has its own ERP peculiarities. For example, government ERP uses contract lifecycle management (CLM) rather than traditional purchasing and follows government accounting rules. In addition, banks have back-office settlement processes to reconcile checks, credit cards, debit cards, and other instruments.

Different solutions cater to a wide variety of organizations and requirements. For example, industries that use ERP to run their businesses include: advertising and digital media, consulting, education, energy, media and publishing, manufacturing, food and beverage, retail, transportation and logistics, wholesale distribution and many more.

Key features of ERP systems

ERP systems typically cover all aspects of business operations and commonly provide:

  • An integrated system
  • Common database 
  • Real-time operation
  • Support for all applications/components
  • Common user interfaces across application/components.
  • On-premise, cloud-hosted, or SaaS deployment.

ERP software has the ability to collect and compare metrics across departments and provide several different reports based on roles or specific user preferences. The data collected synchronize reporting and automation by reducing the need to maintain separate databases and spreadsheets that would have to be manually merged to generate reports. This collection offers valuable insight, such as where to cut costs and streamline processes, providing the information to make real-time business decisions.

How does the ERP system work?

As companies’ needs change and they expand, their systems should keep up with this process. ERP systems work by using a defined, standard data structure. As a result, information entered by one department is immediately available to authorized users across the business. This uniform structure helps keep everyone on the same page. For example, a local printing shop chain has multiple locations that often share stock and personnel. As a quality, sales and employee data from these sites is fed into the ERP system, and it’s formatted to indicate which location it comes from.

Data is then woven into business processes and workflows across departments. For example, leaders can see if one location is doing significantly better than a sister site a few towns over and work to figure out why. Operations can make sure staffing levels align with traffic patterns. Finance can compare sales to rents to help executives decide whether to consolidate.

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Different types of ERP systems

Various ERP models address the needs of different organizations, but there are four main types of ERP based on deployment options:

  • On-Premise ERP software is implemented onsite and maintained in physical office space within an organization, hosted on the company’s own computers and servers for full control, support and ownership of the entire system once implemented.
  • Cloud-based ERP software is a web-based solution, known as Software as a Service (SaaS), where an organization accesses and stores data on any device with an internet connection, usually through a subscription. The software provider ensures continual support, updates, training, and flexible customizations.
  • “Hybrid” ERP software refers to a combined implementation of cloud-based and on-premise ERP system solutions. The combination of hosting and deployment services vary – some companies may turn to cloud solutions for certain business needs while sticking with their on-premises systems for other functions. Either way, the cloud systems must be linked to the on-premises platform to ensure a steady flow of information — often easier said than done.
  • Open-source ERP: Like other open-source applications, open-source ERP is an inexpensive, and sometimes free, alternative that’s suitable for some companies. Many open-source ERP providers allow businesses to download their software for free and charge a low annual fee only if the customer wants cloud access. With more modern web-based interfaces and a growing number of modules, these solutions have improved, but companies need to understand what they’re taking on with an open-source ERP. Support from the provider will be minimal, and configurations and system improvements will fall on the client. That means you need technical staff with a deep knowledge of how to develop and configure the software.

ERP Systems by Business Size

No single system will be best for every small, midsize or large company respectively. But there are features specific to these segments as well as favoured deployment models.

Small-business ERP: Small firms should map out their requirements before starting a search to avoid software with far more functionality than they need. That’s why cloud ERP is generally the best option for small businesses — it offers the scalability to meet the business’s needs as it grows.

Midsize-business ERP: Midsize companies should demand a platform that can support all their business functions with specialized modules and, like smaller firms, select a vendor capable of scaling to meet future needs.

Enterprise ERP: Enterprises should opt for software that can support different components of their businesses. Corporations require systems that can capture, process and interpret a vast amount of data and handle the demands of many business units.

Benefits of ERP Systems

Today’s ERP solutions have rich feature sets that bring countless benefits to businesses. Here are key universal advantages ERP delivers:

1. Workflow visibility: With all workflows and information in one place, employees with access to the system can see the status of projects and the performance of different business functions relevant to their jobs. This visibility may be precious to managers and leaders, and it’s far faster and easier than searching for the right documents and constantly asking colleagues for updates.

2. Reporting/analytics: Data is useful only if companies can analyze and understand it, and an ERP helps with that. Leading solutions have impressive reporting and analytics tools that allow users to not only track KPIs but display any metrics or comparisons they can dream up. An ERP provides an audit trail by tracking the lifecycle of each transaction, including adherence to required approval workflows

3. Automation: By automating many simple, repetitive tasks, you minimize errors and the need to add employees at the same rate as business growth. Cross-company visibility makes it easier to spot inefficiencies that drive up costs and leads to better deployment of all resources, from labour to inventory to equipment. 

4. Business insights/intelligence: Because ERPs can access data from across the company, these systems can uncover impactful trends and provide extensive business insights. This leads to better decision-making by organizational leaders who now have easy access to all relevant data.

5. Risk management: ERP technology reduces risk by strengthening financial controls. More accurate data heads off mistakes that could lead to lost sales or fines. 

6. Collaboration: ERP solutions make it easy to share information — like purchase orders, contracts and customer-support records — among teams. 

Disadvantages of ERP Systems

Although ERP systems have certain values, they have some disadvantages due to the tight integration of application modules and data. In addition, huge storage needs, networking requirements and training overheads are frequently mentioned ERP problems and the major reasons for ERP dissatisfaction. The other shortcomings of the ERP systems include:

  1. High costs of this system. It is calculated that customers spend between three and seven times more money on ERP implementation and associated services compared to the purchase of the software license or some simple cloud-based manufacturing software solution. ERPs require a time and financial investment hence the technology is much more affordable to larger enterprises. High cost prevents small businesses from setting up an ERP system. 
  2. Specialized training. Lack of trained people may affect ERP’s efficiency. The ERP’s functionality depends on proper training and many of the staff might be resistant to that. An ERP system is loaded with features, and that can be daunting to your workforce. You need to hire a company to direct the implementation process and still the project might be painful, and customisation costly and time-consuming. Not only does a company need an IT staff to handle patches, security and required system upgrades, it often has to pay the vendor or a third-party service provider for its expertise.
  3. Data. When moving to a new ERP, you may need to convert some data into a format that’s compatible with the new platform. This can lead to unexpected costs and delays, so review your databases, and work with your IT team or an integration partner to identify potential data compatibility issues early on.
  4. Flexibility. To fully use any ERP software you must feed it a lot of data. That can jeopardize the flexibility, especially in a small company. Unless you enter every single detail into the system, it won’t allow you to make any quick adjustments. So you might feel limited by that. 
  5. Doesn’t solve process and policy issues: If you have error-prone or inefficient processes, an ERP won’t necessarily fix them, even though it may increase accuracy. The same goes for policies that hold the organization back — it’s up to you to adjust those and then configure the system to support better ways of doing business.
  6. Company culture. You should remember that an ERP system is not just a pure software package to be tailored to an organisation, but an organizational infrastructure that affects how people work. It is as if it imposes its own logic on a company’s strategy, organisation, and culture. 

The point is that ERP systems are not the evil of this world, and we criticize them just as competitive solutions. Many companies may benefit from implementing an ERP system, just not a small manufacturing business. 

Is an ERP a smart choice for a small manufacturing company?

Manufacturing magician

Suppose you are an owner of a fast-growing manufacturing business you want to keep up with the company needs. You picture yourself as a successful businessman thriving over rivals, leading your manufacturing company into changes and the digital revolution. As a manager, you wish to be like a magician performing in front of the cheering crowd of spectators. The wizard pulls stunt after stunt, and the audience admires his dexterity and mastery. He expertly deals cards in the centre of the stage, and although you don’t believe in magic, nonetheless, feel charmed by his performance. Then, when you think it’s the end of the show, he still manages to surprise you with having an ace upon his sleeve and gathers a round of applause.

You might ask, what’s this got to do with production scheduling and the choice of online software? Managing manufacture is a serious business, after all, not just tricks and fun. Well, let me explain the analogy and show you that having the upper hand proves very practical, in both cases: magician’s performance and surpassing your manufacturing rivals. Thanks to easy-to-use online management software, you can take the centre of the stage and deal with all the cards. How is that possible? Read on.

Once you’ve got a good grasp of what ERP is, it makes sense to discover different ways to help your business stay organized — optimizing your costs and operations to help you make data-driven decisions that improve your business performance. 

What manufacturing software ERP / MRP / MES a small company needs for production scheduling and control?


Choosing the right system

For the majority of small manufacturing companies, the decision of choosing the right software is critical. Moving from chaos, paper notebooks, and little or almost no traceability/working time management into a paperless, digitized environment is a huge step. 

On the other hand, midsize organizations lack large IT teams, sophisticated equipment, big implementation budgets. So, to lower the expenses of the digital revolution, they search for user-friendly, inexpensive solutions designed for a company that has limited technical expertise. 

No matter what size is the company, owners and managers generally focus on outcomes — using the information to achieve objectives, like increasing efficiency, reducing costs and responding to changing consumer needs or market conditions.

Purchasing manufacturing software is a big decision, so take the time to evaluate all options thoroughly.

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Why is the ERP system not the best idea in a small manufacturing company?

Theoretically speaking, ERP systems are, for manufacturers, a dream come true. That’s why you might be surprised to learn that most implementations end up in disappointment, where a small company spends thousands of dollars on investment and returns to Excel or other simple solutions, such as Prodio.

 ERP disappointments

The most important difference is that a small manufacturer assumes the system will automatically guess what they need, but unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that. Advanced ERP systems are incredible technological and mathematical creations. This allows them to automate technological processes in large factories where thousands of elements are produced. When there are thousands of orders at the production line every day, and a man can’t monitor them, all  ERP systems thrive. They make sure the right parts are at the right place, at the right time—pure magic. ERP needs data regarding the present situation, the number of employees on the shop floor, their holiday schedule, production line status, and the queue of tasks for 2-3 months upfront. Only having completed these conditions you can plan production.

You can take the best, worth a couple of million ERP systems with artificial intelligence, but there is no way it would work in a small manufacturing company.

Why is ERP a bad idea?

  1. Flexibility and custom production: in a small manufacturing business, there isn’t time for the team to spend 1 hour on entering all data into the system, dividing the product into smaller parts, logistic minimum, surplus material, or material loss. The Client places an order, and its due date is “for yesterday,” which means all these preparatory jobs have to be skipped, and the system lacks operational data from the start. 
  2. Imprecise data: in a small company, nobody cares about the % of losses, creating alternative technology, additional stock/ inventory, or schedules of machine downtime, not to mention even more advanced data. 
  3. Mistakes copied from the production panels create chaos in the whole system Let’s assume that an employee makes a typo writing ex. 10 pieces instead of 100, or they click the wrong product. ERP systems count automatically and take away the given number of items from the stock, which works like a domino effect and spurs even more incorrect decisions.
  4. Sometimes there is a need to pass-by the system due to its inflexibility. A good ERP system won’t let you send an order to production when there isn’t a suitable raw material entered or technology, even though you know that this material is available and the technology could be completed on the go – well, that’s the trouble with using ERP. 

Many years of experience have proved that most companies that implement Prodio want something which would make their life easier. Therefore, they work not only with ERP but also with Excel. Why? If you can’t trust everything you have in your ERP system, there has to be somewhere else where you store your data safely, so naturally, you put your trust in Excel.

The alternative – simple manufacturing software

Manufacturing software can automate many error-prone tasks, like order processing and provide the information teams need to operate more efficiently. So when you run a small or mid-size company, you look for certain features that help you organize and manage workflow more efficiently. 

ERP system
Online manufacturing software

You wish to:

  1. Organize your production by regaining control and learning about real cost and productivity, 
  2. Identify patterns and flagging anomalies that require investigation. 
  3. Provide fast communication between the manager and shop floor, clear vision of working schedule and parameters.  
  4. Secure quick effects, functionality, simplicity (reducing functions that aren’t necessary).

Simple manufacturing software such as Prodio helps you organize and manage your orders so your team can work faster and smarter. Anticipate off times, vacations, sales reservations and get accurate availability information.

Other upsides include:

  • Access to data from anywhere: Employees no longer need to shuffle through piles of papers or files scattered across a desktop. With cloud-based manufacturing software, a warehouse manager can log in from a mobile device while on the shop floor, or a salesperson can check inventory while at a customer site.
  • Information is always up-to-date: Because the system is continually receiving information from various sources, it’s updated immediately. This provides a major advantage because decision-makers are basing their choices on up-to-the-minute data.
  • Business decisions based on the same data: With a common database, all decision-makers are on the same page. There are no duplicate or conflicting sources of information, and companies have the ability to schedule and distribute dynamic reports automatically. 
  • Communication and cooperation: Simple online software knocks down walls between departments by giving employees appropriate access to data on related business functions. The communication flow is easy, and that results in fewer mistakes, increases transparency and minimizes complaints.

An ERP is a critical business system that must mesh with how each company operates, so there is no “best” platform. Instead, required capabilities, preferred deployment model and company size will affect your decision when choosing a production management system. 

It is a good idea to start with something simple and build from there. For example, mid-size companies often begin with Prodio manufacturing software to automate basic accounting tasks and allow managers to easily view the flow of money into and out of the organization. Products-based companies typically want to digitize inventory and order management right away and simplify employee time and resource tracking and project billing.

Purchasing and implementing manufacturing scheduling software can be intimidating, even overwhelming. But the solutions available today allow companies to take it one step at a time and add what they need when they need it. Never before has this been within reach for even the smallest companies, and it is good to take advantage of that. 

Which production management software / ERP is the best for a small manufacturer?

A practical guide to help you choose the best production planning and production accounting software will protect you from bad investments.

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What’s the difference between a manager’s dashboard and a production dashboard?

What’s the difference between a manager’s dashboard and a production dashboard?

The basic differences between dashboards in Prodio.

cloud based manufacturing software

The manager’s dashboard – essential functions

You can manage production orders on the manager’s panel, set a production schedule, and drag and drop to prioritise tasks. What’s more, you can create a database of your products, so the know-how and product knowledge stay inside the company, not only in the heads of critical employees. Information about your products (including photographs, drawings, attachments) will become apparent, easy to understand, complete and always at hand. Each change made on the manager’s dashboard is visible in real-time on the production dashboard. 

With just a few clicks, you can create a production plan displayed via a web browser at the production hall in an easily accessible form from any place in the world.

Your employees can see all assigned tasks and responsibilities, together with your comments and product characteristics. They know who should do each job, what exactly is supposed to be done, and what time. When the employee comes to work, they register their presence at work through a production planning panel using cards / RFID-based key fobs. Also, they register the start / the end of the performed operation, indicate the current state, and add additional comments. Everything is in your account in just a few seconds so that you can see all changes on the manager’s dashboard.

If you wish to share important news with your staff, you can add this information to tasks or use announcements. Your comments will be visible straight away on the production dashboard. 

Production dashboard – essential functions? 

On the production dashboard, you can check in / check-out at work.


You can also pick the task assigned to you to start work on the production order.

At the same time, on the manager’s dashboard, you can see who is working and what are they doing. Additionally, you know who checked in to work and picked the assigned task thanks to the right-side timeline.

On the production dashboard, it is possible to pick the task and complete work by giving the number of ready-made items (including the number of faulty ones, with the reason for their defect). You can also check out once you finish work for the day. Simultaneously in the manager’s dashboard, you can see all completed and ready tasks and check out from work. 

It is not possible to make changes or drag and drop orders on the production dashboard. You can only do the tasks assigned to you by the manager. 

Both dashboards are synchronised via the Internet, so all you need is an inexpensive, second-hand computer and online connection on your shop floor. 

How to log into the production dashboard

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It is very easy to log into the production dashboard – just enter in your browser. 


There you will see both panels. The production dashboard is on the right. The login and password you received in the email we sent straight after setting up your Prodio’s account. If you have any troubles finding it, there are also in the application. Go to Settings on the left side, then click Production dashboard. There you will see your password and log in. 

What’s the difference between a manager’s dashboard and a production dashboard?

What are external order numbers, orders, and production tasks in Prodio?

When you come across all these different terms in Prodio, you might feel lost or confused or have a wrong impression that this manufacturing scheduling software is very complicated. There is nothing more misleading – read the following article to find out the hierarchy of orders in Prodio. It’s a proverbial piece of cake!

cloud based manufacturing software

External order number

Let’s start with the external order number – this is the number that connects all products on the customer’s order. Thanks to this number, you will be able to check the progress on any element of the order. 

The hierarchy of orders in Prodio

It’s the easiest to explain with a practical example: imagine that you get an order from a modelling company (let’s name them ABC). There are two items on order: large paper planes (10 pieces) and small paper planes (20 pieces).

The ABC order from a company

How to write this order into Prodio? 

Click add order, and there will appear a simple template ready to fill out.


There are four boxes you have to fill in:

  1. External order number – this is the number of the order you received from your client, in this case, the ABC,
  2. Estimated time of delivery – it’s the date when is your order due,
  3. Name of the product – in this case, large and small paper plane,
  4. The number of items ordered, respectively 10 and 20 pieces.

Once you add the new order, two separate orders on the list appear – one for the large planes and the second for the small ones. Each of them has the status new, so it has to be planned.


To both of the orders will be assigned Prodio ID. Additionally, you can set a technological path, attach different files, manuals, drawings, photos, comments, etc. 

The order in Prodio is, in fact, the external order from your client, which is divided into particular orders for specified products with Prodio ID assigned to each of them so that you can monitor better the progress on the whole order. 

When you add all vital information to your order, it is ready to be scheduled and shared with the shop floor. That’s when it translates into production tasks. In our example, each of the paper planes has to go through two operations: folding and painting. Production tasks are nothing else than tasks assigned to particular operations. 


What are the benefits of this kind of hierarchy?

  • You get complete information on what’s happening on the shop floor; let’s say that Tom Smith started the operation of folding – in real-time, you can see in order details how many pieces he has already folded and how long it took him to finish this task.
  • You can check all details on the list of orders – which stage is the product at, if it is ready, almost ready, or the work hasn’t started yet.
  • What’s more, if you filter orders by the external order number, you can see how many products were made and sum up the whole order, checking its profitability, working time, raw materials used, etc. This, in turn, gives you handy information that helps you control your production much better and increase efficiency and productivity.

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plan produkcji

Why is it not reasonable to connect machines at the production hall to the manufacturing control system and production tracking software in small businesses?

Why is it not reasonable to connect machines at the production hall to the manufacturing control system and production tracking software in small businesses?

You have been using your manufacturing control system for a while, and you have enjoyed the benefits of production tracking software. But the truth is: the more you have, the more you want. Many of our clients asked the same question: what’s next? Shall we connect machines to a manufacturing control system to track production even further? For 99% of small companies, it is not a good idea. Let us explain why.

1. Usually, most companies have a diverse infrastructure, which results in significant difficulties with adapting their hardware.

Even when there are many state-of-the-art machines in your workshop, they probably don’t come from the same producer, and they weren’t bought at the same time. What is specific to a small business: new equipment purchased once the company develops, in random order, some of it being second hand, etc. 

Therefore, it is challenging to adjust transmitters to the same standard of data collection, as different producers use various systems (including Bluetooth technology, wifi, cable). At times a specialist company has to be hired to get things working, which of course doesn’t come cheap.

program do zarządzania produkcją maszyny

2. This kind of system breeds technical problems, which misses the point, as the solution should be failure-proof. 

The best example is a wi-fi situation at a particular production hall. It is often challenging to get a simple Wi-Fi Internet connection to set up a computer with Prodio and register production. We talk here about the most straightforward thing, such as using a browser, logging into your online account to use manufacturing control software. It’s not just the case of the signal or poor reception. Other factors include electromagnetic interference generated by CNC machines, power surge, moving forklifts, breaks in power supply, machine restarts, etc. Imagine that you have plugged your CNC machines with different types of transmitters with various ranges of signals in these circumstances, which use wi-fi/Bluetooth to send data to a base station. Then take into account the number of interference and changing factors discussed above. Nobody wants to use cables to connect things or send data (it would mean lots of tangled wires on the shop floor). 

The base station has to collect data in the INTEGRAL way (it is enough when it fails to receive only one signal about the start/the end of the operation and things go awry). It would mean that all data has to be re-sent from this application to MES /other manufacturing control system.

3. There are many typically manual processes, and they are usually the most important but can’t be included in such a manufacturing control system.

Years of experience working with different companies and our clients’ stories show that manufacturing control software / MES such as Prodio is the most impressive when operations aren’t fully automated. It is not important whether we talk about manual glueing of cardboard boxes, carpentry jobs, milling machine operators or technologers. It is typical for the small manufacturing companies that they don’t have long automated assembly lines but rather flexible solutions, making them competitive. When the machines enable easy connection to different readers or transmitters, it usually means that they are automated, sophisticated and self-sustainable devices. Efficiency tracking in a system makes no sense, as these machines work all the time, regardless of their operator (it is often one person who checks a few devices). Therefore it doesn’t matter how productively the operators work because the machine’s efficiency is known for creating production technology. 

manufacturing control system warehouse

The question is whether it is worth investing large amounts if still won’t be able to measure the time of manual operations, simple numerical machine tools and a whole bunch of activities where it is not possible to connect some reader measuring their efficiency when all you want is better control and improvement. 

manufacturing control system
Illustration 1 – Try to connect the computer 🙂


4. It would be hard to avoid clicking in your MES/production management and manufacturing control system.

Another motivation to connect machines to the manufacturing control system is the idea that an employee won’t have to click anything on the computer at the production hall. However, you still want to know what is happening and how productive people are. To avoid all this clicking, you need to have this information in the machines, and it would still require using MES (in large manufacturing companies, this is how it’s organised, that on the global level, it is clear what each machine is doing).

To sum things up:

Of course, it is up to you – it is not impossible, it’s just the case of time and money. The question is whether this kind of investment would be worth your stress and financial input.

It takes less than 1 hour to implement manufacturing control software such as Prodio, and it costs 97 dollars per month. The software pays off from day one because it makes you ten times as much money, if not more, improving your manufacturing company’s overall profitability and giving you back free time and peace of mind. 

Once you decide to connect machines to the Internet, the calculation might not be that simple. The investment may take years to pay off, and in the worst-case scenario – it will never pay off because sooner you will give up on the whole experiment. 

Why would you give up? Because the system should work failure-proof and trustworthy. The number of variables and possible different problems with connecting machines to the network, data transfer, etc., could make it fallible. Consequently, people would stop trusting the system or still use different control methods, such as paper notebooks. After all, this is not the result you desired to achieve.  

Grab an mp3 to listen about connecting machines to the manufacturing control system.

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Is it worth using time and attendance tracking software together with Manufacturing Execution System (MES), even though you already have a cards/fingerprints clock-in system?

Is it worth using time and attendance tracking software together with Manufacturing Execution System (MES), even though you already have a cards/fingerprints clock-in system?

Even before a company has a Manufacturing Execution System (MES), most of them use time and attendance tracking software. It is usually in the form of a simple fingerprint clock-in box at the front door. Then, once a month, the data is downloaded and used for checking attendance / calculating salaries. But once a proper time tracking system and MES are connected, you get a solution, which offers great possibilities for manufacturing companies.

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working time registration try

1.The difference between time and attendance tracking software and MES (Manufacturing Execution System):

  • In MES / manufacturing control software, we measure the time workers spent on different operations, etc. However, it practically replaces paper notebooks/paper orders at the production hall, where people write everything.
  • Time and attendance tracking software clearly show how much time somebody was present in the company – it is useful when calculating salaries, overtime, etc. It’s a kind of register, where you can see workers’ attendance.
working time registration
Working time registration integrated with MES – mobile app view.

2. The reasons why it is a good idea to integrate MES and time and attendance tracking software;

Time and attendance tracking software and MES: everyday benefits

In your production system, you can see who is currently at work, what they are doing, and who is just “lazing around”, what time workers clocked in/out. Thanks to that information:

  1. You can flexibly assign tasks on your online production schedule – because you know how many people turned up at work and which machines they can work on;
  2. When somebody clocks in but fails to start working, it is visible on the production schedule (and you don’t need to go to the shop floor to see that), so you can react even when you work from home.
  3. Spot lateness/workers leaving early. You see, straight away, who clocked out before the end of their shift. There is no need to wait till the end of the month to deal with it. The information is direct and clear from the dashboard, where you see the progress of orders and operations. 
  4. Minimize mistakes/lack of clicks and clock-ins in both systems – there are special double locks in the software which make sure that:
  • No-one can start to work the order as long as they don’t clock in at work (it is a common problem that people start work before logging in, which proves difficult to  monitor progress, working hours, etc. and creates chaos and lack of organization);
  • No one can clock out without finishing their work on the machine – this is another common issue. People rush to go home and forget to end the last operation. This disrupts productivity and efficiency calculations.
  • It is possible to track all breaks at work in real-time and their reasons (this is a new functionality).

Time and attendance tracking software and MES: global benefits

You can check the percentage of time spent on working.

  • It often turns out that out of 200 hours spent in the company, only 140 hours were productive, spent on operations, etc. This is another great functionality and you can use it:
  1. to discuss a pay rise/bonus,
  2. check where the money leaks appear, because every single hour which is not productive cost you extra money and time,
  3. you can update your calculations, adjusting them to tracking software, including machine set up time, preparations, changeovers, etc.

3.  It is effortless to start the integration of systems. All you need is :

  • Workers check things on the production schedule by clicking operations/ activities,
  • Inexpensive equipment: tablet / mobile phone by the door.

Grab the mp3 of this article to listen about the integration of time and attendance tracking software with your MES system.


Start now!

Try Prodio without any commitments – you have 14 days to check all of its functions in practice. After your trial period ends you can simply leave your account or continue work as our Client.

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