ALERE Manufacturing draws on the extensive real-world manufacturing experience of our in-house staff, as well 30 years of feedback from our installation base, to provide streamlined solutions for common issues over which many other manufacturing centric ERP packages, material resource planning (MRP) solutions, and work order tracking software stumble.
Starting with a different take on data organization and record keeping. ALERE is a transaction-based ERP system that eliminates the need to ever post batches. The lack of batch postings allows ALERE to provide a highly granular level of oversight, ensuring that there is never any ambiguity about where, when and how material was allocated, issued and processed. Even into historical data.
This transaction-based record keeping provides superior traceability as well as the best lot and serial control available today. When combined with the real-time nature of ALERE, meaning transactions are reflected in reporting immediately, expensive complicated ISO and regulatory traceability reporting requirements may easily be met, current work order status is immediately available, cost and variance of jobs are reflected in real-time, and inventory always reflects the currently available quantities.
One of ALERE’s most powerful features is its single-pass Material Resource Planning (MRP) software. ALERE’s MRP utility works by starting the material planning process at the top level of a BOM, then pushes through every parent-child relationship, within the entire BOM structure irrespective of the total number of indented levels, without having to rerun the process. The planning tools then intelligently offer users an overview of what material to purchase, build, or drop-ship with assisted order creation.
Speaking of BOM’s, almost any manufacturer of sufficient size at some point runs into the issue of BOM sprawl. Typically engineering practices require a single BOM to be created for each finished good offered. Offer a large enough selection of goods, and BOM maintenance quickly becomes a full-time job as bills of material tend to multiply exponentially.
ALERE addresses the issue of BOM sprawl by creating modular BOM and variable BOM structures. Entirely unique to ALERE, rather requiring a new BOM be created each time an option within the BOM is added, ALERE allows users to structure unique choices under a special parent choice in the BOM. When the BOM is required for production, users select the required options to fulfill the work order requirements via a guided process, then ALERE eliminates unneeded material from the BOM and produces a material list where only selected options are visible and allocated.
When an item or product range receives an engineering change, there is only a single BOM which must be updated, saving significant time and greatly reducing the chance of error. More information on the Modular BOM feature and process may be found on the Modular-BOM page.
To assist with ever increasing demands on manufacturing floor efficiency, ALERE incorporates a finite scheduler to help ensure no expensive queue times at work centers, even going so far as to incorporate machine preventative maintenance schedules into production planning, providing organizations better insight into how to better manage their production flow.
ALERE incorporates a native barcoding and data collection utility to increase accuracy, speed up data collection, and guide users through the complex processes utilized on the modern manufacturing floor.
Below is a listing of ALERE’s modules, a brief description of their capabilities, and a link to PDF’s providing greater detail.
The Order module creates the documents that give manufacturing permission to produce an item. It then manages that build through the manufacturing process. A standard work has information on what to make, the route to use to make it, what material to use, how it is to be configured if it can be built in different ways, and what lot/serial/traits go into making it. The work order also gathers all the transactions to document the actual process.
When the desire is to simply and quickly process a work order to make an item, then the express order is used. Just enter the item to be made, add a quantity, choose where to issue the inventory material from, and go. The work order is created, released, material issued, standard route labor posted, finished goods posted in inventory, and the order completed - all automatically!
The Route module is where the various master routes are created and stored. A route details the method of manufacture of a particular item. ALERE will create as many different routes as are required. Routes are one of the three key elements, including material lists (BOM’s) and product configurations, that are appended to work orders as they are created.
A master route consists of the route name and associated information, plus a detailed listing of the operation steps to be performed, their sequence, the work centers that will be used, and the standards for setting up and running each step.
In the Order module, work orders tell the manufacturing facility what work needs to be done, while the Machine module provides the resources to do it. It measures, records and plans the capacity of the manufacturing facility. The capacity of manufacturing may be defined as the highest reasonable output rate that can be achieved with the facility’s work force, equipment and vendors.
Various factors affect capacity on a day to day basis. These include the number of hours a day each work center is available for work, the training and motivation of the workforce, the number of interruptions expected from machines requiring repair or maintenance, and the dates the facility is closed for holidays, vacations, etc.
The BOM (Bills of Material) is the foundation of a manufacturing system. A BOM is a listing of all the subassemblies, parts and raw materials that go into making a parent assembly and shows the quantity of each required to make that assembly. It is used in conjunction with the production schedule to determine the items for which purchase orders and work orders must be released. A variety of BOMs are supported, including the single-level bill of material, the indented bill of material, the modular bill, the variable bill, the phantom bill, and the costed bill.
A BOM may be up to twenty-five levels deep. The parent BOM supports revisions with active/inactive dates as does each component on the bill, which allows components to be smoothly substituted or replaced.
The function of the Schedule module is to efficiently schedule work orders through a production facility, using finite capacity scheduling (FCS) techniques, to arrive at predicted completion times for each of the orders. It takes each work order, assigns it a priority, looks at the route to build it, reserves time on the work centers it will use, and predicts a date when it is expected be done. With this method there is no need to manage queues as every step on a job has time slots assigned on work centers.
The scheduler supports Synchronous Manufacturing, a very advanced way of tying the production schedule to MRP planning. The key is that the components on a bill of material can be matched up to the route operation steps on which they are used. When the steps on work orders are scheduled you are, in effect, also scheduling when the material is needed.
Perhaps the most powerful tool in ALERE is the Plan module. It is in this module that the full range of MRP techniques that use bill of materials, inventory data, and scheduling are used. All levels of a bill, from the item being manufactured down to the raw materials, are calculated in one pass instead of the traditional MRP method of one level at a time. Not only are the requirements for materials calculated, but the purchase orders and production orders that are recommended can be automatically generated and released. In addition, because the planning is time-phased, it makes recommendations to reschedule open purchase orders and work orders when they are not in phase.
This tool employs bills of material data, inventory data, sales orders, purchase orders, and the production schedule information to calculate requirements for materials. Using a time-phased approach, planning is accomplished by exploding the bill of material, adjusting for inventory quantities on hand or on order, and offsetting the net requirements by the appropriate lead times.
The Cost module fulfills multiple functions. It monitors work in process (WIP) which can be one of the most difficult aspects of managing inventory valuations. Especially for a company that is primarily order driven where a significant portion of its inventory is tied up on the shop floor. It measures actual versus planned costs on an order-by-order basis to help detect and correct problems with manufacturing processes.
Lastly, it performs item cost roll-ups using a BOM, a route, an inventory cost, and fixed and variable overhead methods to find the predicted cost of manufacturing an item. This cost can then be used to automatically set the standard cost of the item in inventory with adjusting general ledger entries.