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Excel used to be the go-to tool for all sorts of manufacturing operations – from production planning and scheduling to inventory management and cost analysis. But, as the number of tasks, materials, and orders grows, so does the number of spreadsheets you have to update manually. As a result, staying on top of things at some point simply becomes impossible – especially since you need to double-check whether the data in the spreadsheets is correct and up-to-date.
So to streamline their production but also free themselves (and their workers) from endless work with spreadsheets, manufacturing owners are switching from Excel to using automated manufacturing platforms.
Katana MRP is one of the systems that are very frequently recommended as a potential solution to manufacturers’ problems. But is it the best choice for all manufacturing needs? Not always – in some cases, our Prodio might actually be a better choice.
When should you pick which? After reading out comprehensive guide comparing both platforms, the answer should be clear – so grab a cup of tea or coffee and read on.
Can small businesses use an MRP platform?
Before we get to comparing Katana MRP and Prodio platforms, there’s one myth we need to debunk. Namely, that production and inventory management tools are something only large companies can use as those solutions are too expensive and complicated for smaller businesses.
Years ago, when the manufacturing systems had to be installed on-premise, and the facilities needed dedicated infrastructure and IT staff on board, those tools were quite expensive to buy and use. Thanks to the cloud computing revolution though, small businesses can now have access to cutting-edge solutions for manufacturing as well.
Since cloud-based platforms are hosted online rather than on the company’s own hardware, small manufacturers don’t need to build a dedicated infrastructure for the production systems. Instead, they can access the solution through any device they are using, as long as it can connect to the internet. Cloud solutions are also much more flexible – you can add or remove shop floor operators or switch subscriptions plans whenever you want.
But their biggest benefit is that cloud manufacturing software costs a fraction of what an on-premise solution would cost. Since majority of the cloud services work on the multi-tenant model, the provider can spread the costs of running the service between the users – so the subscription price is lower.
Thanks to this, smaller manufacturing companies that earlier couldn’t afford a dedicated manufacturing program can now take advantage of all the benefits of such software running in their company.
Katana MRP and Prodio – a short description
For smaller or medium-sized businesses looking for easy-to-use but powerful manufacturing solutions, both Katana MRP and Prodio can be a great match.
To take a more informed business decisions on which exactly platform you should use, you need to understand first that both platforms target completely different aspects of running a manufacturing facility.
- Most of its functionalities are related to resource planning, actual materials consumption, supply chain logistics, and inventory management
- Can handle virtually all tasks related to warehouse management, from monitoring raw materials stock levels and scheduling supplies reorders to managing ready products orders
- Great for manufacturers handling complex orders made out of dozens of elements or brands with very long and complicated supply chains.
Examples of brands where Katana cloud manufacturing platform might be a good choice:
- A small /medium-sized company that produces various types of bikes, and most of the parts (gears, tires, all accessories, etc.) are purchased rather than produced on-site. The company gets its parts from various suppliers and needs complete supply chain visibility.
- A large company selling advanced high-pressure pumps made out of 230 elements that are purchased from suppliers and then assembled on-site.
- The platform is focused on monitoring manufacturing process progress in real-time, employees’ work time and efficiency, and production costs
- Prodio can replace paper production schedules, work check-in and check-out notebooks, and expense spreadsheets. The app also lets facility owners control the manufacturing progress and their employees’ work time remotely, via the dashboard.
- Ideal for manufacturers wanting more control over their manufacturing processes and improving the communication between their shop floor employees.
Examples of brands where Prodio might be a good choice:
A small company producing customized bike frames where each frame is made from scratch, and manufacturers need real-time progress data to ensure the deadlines are being met. Also, since each order is different, shop floor workers need easy access to information about the frame size, color, and other order requirements.
A manufacturer of small plastic elements (for example, jewelry parts) that are available in several variants. Here, it’s crucial to track how many injection molding machines are available at the moment, assign workers to those, and then pass them the order specification details.
Katana vs. Prodio – Inventory Management
We’ll start by comparing inventory management modules between those two solutions since struggling with keeping track of raw materials and supplies is something most manufacturers are familiar with. That’s especially true if they use spreadsheets or even just paper files to note how many resources they have in stock.
Just how many times has it happened that:
- You or your employees forgot to add to the spreadsheets the resources they used during the day (and no one now remembers the amounts)?
- The shop floor ran out of essential supplies halfway through the production?
- You ordered too many (or too few) supplies based on the spreadsheet data (which turned out to be outdated)?
- There are fewer ready products in the inventory than you thought, so you won’t be able to fulfill all orders?
Too many times to count? Then an automated inventory management system will definitely come in handy. Which one would be more useful for you though, Katana’s or Prodio’s? Let’s have a look.
Katana’s inventory management module is one of the most advanced on the market, so if you have a very long and complex supply chain or hundreds of products in your inventory to manage, then Katana MRP might be the perfect solution for you.
Want to know when you are running out of semi-finished products so you could send reorders straight away? Have full information about the expected delivery date for the supplies and plan your production ahead? Katana can do all those things easily and give you full visibility into your supply chain, no matter how long.
Features you might find handy:
- Automatic order requirements calculation
- Multilevel BOMs with subassemblies
- Numerous ecommerce platforms (e.g., SAP composable commerce) and accounting software integrations (like Quickbooks online) for smoother order management
- End to end traceability
Prodio only added an inventory management module to their platform recently, so it’s much simpler compared to Katana. You can use it to track items in your inventory and shop floor, add barcodes or lot numbers to the resources and manage supply orders, but it doesn’t have advanced logistics features like the other platform.
The advantage of Prodio is that its inventory module is clearer and more user-friendly for the manufacturers, as everything is visible right on the dashboard.
Features you might find handy:
- Customizable print labels
- Much clearer and user-friendly dashboard than in Katana’s
- Automatic resources demand and consumption estimations
- Batch tracking through Lot numbers or Barcode scanning
Verdict – Katana wins the round
The number of sophisticated features inside Katana makes it an excellent choice for any company with large supply chains and even larger spreadsheets with raw materials and supplies.
If you struggle with managing lengthy logistics processes manually or need detailed information on how many resources a complex product will require, you’ll be happy with Katana.
If you use only a few types of raw materials and searching for a simple replacement for spreadsheets though, then here Prodio would be a better choice.
Katana vs Prodio – Manufacturing management and Shop floor control
The second issue that often motivates manufacturing business owners to look for an manufacturing system is the lack of control over the production processes. Typically, to learn how the development is progressing and who is working on which machine, owners have to go to the shop floor and talk with all workers there about how much work is already done.
Even in a small manufacturing company though that usually takes far much time – and even more if you have more than one shop floor. Automated shop floor control modules meanwhile enable business owners to monitor the manufacturing processes remotely, from any place they want.
Both Katana MRP and Prodio have such a feature inside their systems – let’s look at how do they compare.
Compared to their inventory management features, Katana’s production control features are quite basic. You can assign tasks to the operators and then track how much time it takes them to finish or add notes to those.
But even here, you can see that platform was invented mainly for resource management, as you have features such as real-time resource consumption or a detailed ingredient list for each item. You can’t see which machines are currently occupied or created dedicated panels for different staff groups though.
Features you might find handy:
- Raw materials consumption monitoring via barcodes (only from the advanced plan though)
- Expenses management
- End-to-end product traceability
Production progress tracking and shop floor control are what Prodio excels at. You can design the work schedules in any way that is convenient for you:
- Sort it by machines, employee groups or tasks
- Create different panels for various workers’ groups (as many as you want)
- Quickly add any updates, priority changes, or urgent information for the staff to the production dashboard.
But what really can change your and your manufacturers’ life is the very detailed real-time progress tracking. For example, want to check which machines and employees are occupied at the moment to see if you can add a new order? Or get alerts whenever there’s an issue? Or have a full overview of who, where, and on what is working right now? With Prodio, you can have all those information inside one app, automatically updated and organized.
And since everything will be visible on the platform’s dashboard, you can keep an eye on your production even far away from the shop floor site.
Features you might find handy:
- Connecting the app to Shop floor site TVs so that you could show the production plan and progress to the staff.
- Adding attachments (photos, requirements lists, links to manuals, etc.) to the assignments.
- Highlighting “close to finishing” tasks, so manufacturers know when and for what tasks they should prepare.
Verdict: Prodio wins this round
Just as Katana MRP was made for inventory management, Prodio is made for shop floor control. Using the app, you can monitor the entire manufacturing process remotely and get updated manufacturing progress data whenever you need it.
How many machines are occupied, by who and until when, how much time each task took, and how many items are already finished – you can learn of it just by opening Prodio and looking at the dashboard.
Katana MRP has a few features through which you can monitor production progress as well. As they are very limited though, they might not be of much help during long and complex manufacturing stages.
Katana vs. Prodio – Workers’ time and attendance
And while we’re talking about performance – have you ever wanted to have a system through which you could automate clock-ins and clock-outs? Or get reliable data on your employee’s performance, so you would know who to reward and who might need additional training?
That’s something with which our two tools can help you as well.
In Katana, you can see how much time each production task took for each worker inside the shop floor control module. After a given task is finished, the application can also compare the estimated time needed for the job with how much time it took the worker and show you the results side by side.
It doesn’t have an attendance tracking feature yet, so for this, you will need a separate application.
Workers’ time control is the second place where Prodio can shine, as the app has a dedicated module for clocking into work and then monitoring the employees’ time. All they need to do to show they are starting their job is to click on the “Clock-in” button inside the app, and the module will then begin to track their work time.
What about breaks? There’s a dedicated feature for it as well, where manufacturers can add that they are currently on a lunch break or cleaning the job shop area.
That way, you no longer need a separate system for monitoring your employees’ work time or handling paper clock-in notebooks – everything can be inside one Prodio.
Features you might find handy:
- Worker’s work time, machine, and overall productivity data
- Real-time information on who is currently busy with tasks, who is on break, and who is waiting for the previous task to finish
- Automatic time and attendance reports
Verdict – Prodio wins the round
With the features inside Prodio, you can forget using about clock-in and clock-out notebooks or calling your shop floor to ask if there is someone available to take a new order. Instead, just by looking at the app’s dashboard, you can see who is free right now (and you can assign the new order to them) and who just started working on a machine.
Plus, Prodio will also calculate the total work time, machine time, and worker performance for you and show the information on the dashboard.
Katana vs. Prodio – Pricing
The last thing we’ll compare is how much each platform costs. Since the only cost on your side are the subscription costs (eventually, with add-on costs), that naturally makes cloud tools much more affordable than on-premise systems. What can be quite tricky though is picking the right pricing plan and calculating how much you will pay for the system overall.
So here, we decided to calculate how much each of the platforms would cost for a company with:
- 14 employees(10 shop floor + 4 office workers)
- 26 employees (20 shop floor + 6 office workers)
- 52 employees (40 shop floor + 12 office workers)
Here’s what we found.
Katana’s subscription plans start from $99 monthly for the lowest tier plan to $299 for standard and $599 for Professional plans. What’s tricky here is that Katana has two types of users mentioned in their plans:
- Full-access users (employees who can access all parts of the Katana MRP application, including manufacturing data and analytics)
- Shop Floor operators (Employees who can only use the Shop floor app)
- The Essential plan includes only 1 user with full access to the platform (additional ones cost $29 each).
- The standard plan includes 1 user with full access and 3 shop floor operators. Adding more full-access users will cost $39 per user, while adding more shop floor operators is $9 extra.
- The professional plan also includes only 1 full-access and 3 shop floor operator seats. Adding more full-access users cost $79 per user, while adding more shop floor operators is $19 extra.
Since this might be slightly confusing, Katana’s website also has a handy calculator where you can add how many seats you need, and the website will then show you the approximate cost.
So for the plans in our example, the monthly cost would be:
- $467 for a company with 14 employees (assuming all four office workers will have full access to the platform)
- $647 for a company with 26 employees
- $1061 for a company with 52 employees
Important to note: Advanced and Professional plans also include a one-time $600 implementation, onboarding, and training fee.
Prodio has only two pricing plans (Basic and Optimum), and the price depends on how many users will be added to the platform. There’s no distinction between office and shop floor users in Prodio – all employees added to the application have access to the same features.
Now let’s calculate how much a monthly subscription would cost using the calculator on their website:
- For a company with 14 workers, the price for the Basic plan would be $149 and $199 for the Optimum one.
- For a company with 26 workers, the price for the Optimum plan would be $259 per month
- For a company with 52 workers, the cost would be $359 per month.
Important to note: Basic plan in Prodio is only available for companies between 5-20 manufacturing employees.
Get the best Katana MRP alternative: Prodio
Katana and Prodio might be in the same category of “manufacturing software,” but as you can see, they have entirely different purposes. Which one will work better for you depends on what you need the MRP system in the first place.
So, to sum up our comparison:
Go with Katana when:
- You are looking for a way to manage long and complicated supply chains.
- You are assembling complex products made out of dozens of elements and need an app that will show you whether you have enough raw materials for the production.
- Raw materials, supplies, or ready goods management is more important to you than manufacturing progress tracking.
- Your manufacturing facility is connected to an online store, so you need an inventory management system that can be seamlessly integrated with various ecommerce platforms.
Go with Prodio when:
- You want to have full control over your production progress, even if you are currently away from the facility
- You are tired of filling, updating, and verifying dozens of spreadsheets with raw materials stock levels, costs, and employees’ work time.
- You want to improve the communication between your office and the shop floor.
- You want to have production planning and scheduling, progress monitoring, and a work-time tracker inside one application.
In case you are still in doubt, you can always reach out to our friendly sales staff with any questions or concerns you might have. And if you want to first see Prodio in action before you commit, how about scheduling a demo presentation or giving our free 14-day trial a try? We can bet that soon you won’t be able to imagine your manufacturing facility without it.
So what instead Katana MRP?
As a manufacturing business owner, you most likely don’t have time to spend endlessly updating spreadsheets or calling your staff to ask about production progress or supplies delivery. So why not hand over some of those tasks to dedicated MRP solutions such as Katana MRP or Prodio? The former can make staying on top of dozens of orders a day a breeze and easily calculate do you have enough raw materials to handle that one complex order.
For Prodio meanwhile, there’s nothing easier than tracking the production progress across your shop floor (or several ones) and making sure that all your workers know exactly what to do.
Hand those tedious tasks to them and focus on what really matters – growing your business.