214 systems found
Finding software can be overwhelming. We've helped thousands of manufacturers choose the right manufacturing software so they can optimize production quality and manage resources.
Manufacturing software provides functionality to plan and execute projects from beginning to end, while automating materials planning, production tracking and scheduling and product lifecycle management.
Manufacturing software provides your business with several tangible benefits, including the following:
Our digital world requires that businesses adopt a sufficient level of technology just to remain competitive. Manufacturing software designed for your specific type of production helps your company:
Manufacturing software is used by many businesses, across a variety of production types. Each company has its own needs, but you'll likely fall into one of the following segments:
When comparing manufacturing software, it's important to understand the functionality included in each. The most common functions of these systems are listed in the table below:
|Material requirements planning (MRP)||Automates the front end of the production process. Functions include planning and costing of materials, labor and equipment; automated quoting; order processing and resource scheduling. Systems should also process advanced shipping notification from suppliers to reduce receiving errors and report any changes in cycle counts for inventory management.|
|Manufacturing execution system (MES)||Controls the actual production phase and shop floor operations. Functions include work-in-progress reporting, production tracking, labor tracking, equipment utilization and scrap reporting.|
|Manufacturing accounting||Manages all of the financial transactions and operations for a company. In addition to the traditional accounting functions, which include general ledger, accounts payable, accounts receivable, inventory and payroll, the accounting application offers support for sales orders, purchase orders, change orders, work-in-progress reports and job costing modules.|
|Production planning & scheduling||Creates production schedules, which includes reviewing inventory levels, tracking lead times and making build-versus-buy decisions. This is a subset of MRP; planning and scheduling does not generally include automatic ordering or inventory tracking functionality.|
|Product life cycle management (PLM)||Organizes all manufacturing information around the designing, producing, supporting and disposing of manufactured goods. May include computer-aided design software, bill of materials data and document management.|
Material requirements planning (MRP): An MRP functions to ensure the various factors that make up the final process and product come together, which involves a bill of materials, labor and equipment costs, reordering for inventory, scheduling production tasks for machines and generating quotes. An MRP is fundamentally used to manage all of the events that drive production efficiency.
A bill of materials in Fishbowl Manufacturing
Manufacturing execution system (MES): A manufacturing execution system is specifically designed to help companies optimize their production efficiency and quality. An MES takes and executes the production plan created in the MRP, which includes the bill of materials, schedules for production machines, inventory requirements and more. The system also tracks machine use so scheduling can be maximized.
A dashboard view of all production machines in Global Shop Solutions' One-System ERP
Manufacturing accounting: This functionality manages all the financial records of the company, focusing on the costs and revenue from production. Some items are specific to the manufacturing process—such as sales orders, purchase orders, change orders, work-in-progress reports and job costing modules. When integrated with an ERP or standalone accounting software, this gives you a valuable view into the financial impact of production.
EVO~ERP's financial records table
Production planning and scheduling: This feature works to help companies make more analytics-driven decisions about dividing up work, based on available capacity instead of just total capacity. This way, managers can prioritize jobs that are more critical to the business and shift others around intelligently. This functionality is particularly useful for make-to-order or highly complex manufacturing processes.
A scheduling view in E2 Shop System
Software buyers typically ask for a few key features most often—ones like MRP and MES, which are manufacturing-specific. Accounting, quality management and supply chain-related functionality are requested to compliment the core systems.
Top Requested Manufacturing Software Features
Due to the specificity of needs and requirements for which manufacturing software is developed, companies can almost always find a system that fits their budget and deployment model. However, manufacturing vendors don't publish full pricing details on their websites and instead ask you to call for a price quote based on your company's needs.
Pricing models run the gamut, from subscription-based models paid monthly to one-time, upfront payments. While cloud-based software is a popular choice for most industries today, the traditional on-premise deployment—where the vendor installs the system on your hardware—can offer greater control over the data produced on your shop floor.
Alternatively, the cloud-based model offers a greater level of convenience and (typically) a much lower upfront cost.
Looking at a recent sample of manufacturers who call us for software, most (77 percent) say they don't have a preference between cloud or on-premise systems. That's normal—these buyers usually want to weigh other factors before deciding on how the system is delivered.
Cloud-based software is very often subscription-based, but vendors may have monthly pricing or perpetual license for both types of deployment. During discussions with our software advisors, buyers relayed their expected budgets for each pricing model:
(Please note that these prices do not include any potential up-front fees, such as installation and training.)
Budget for Manufacturing Software, Monthly Subscription Per User
Budget for Manufacturing Software, Perpetual License
Due to the complexity of a manufacturing environment, a handful of hidden costs exist in the form of services that get the system to perform the way you want and to help your employees and managers to use it correctly.
To recap, manufacturing software offers some key functionality:
Demos of the system can give you a feel for whether the product is a good fit. Evaluate manufacturing software carefully and ask questions based on your specific needs, production type and business goals.
Some of these questions may include:
What features of your system are particularly useful for my type of manufacturing?
Depending on your production situation, you may be able to distinguish among a few top products by the functionality that is designed for your needs.
What parts of the software do users most frequently report problems with?
It's important to get a sense of the common issues users have with the system. This can reveal ongoing problems and the strengths and weaknesses of the vendor's support services.
What are the set-up costs for the software?
This question is especially important for manufacturing vendors. You'll likely need some help integrating the system properly due to the complexity of a manufacturing setting.
What are some popular add-on modules or hardware?
Most vendors offer extra modules that add niche or advanced functionality. Make sure to ask vendors about these options to understand which are most valuable to customers similar to you.
The manufacturing software market is evolving, leading to multiple systems with overlapping functionality. It can be confusing, but we have research to make things more clear: MRP vs. MRP II: What's the Difference?
We've delved into the vast amount of options for manufacturing software buyers and laid them out in a couple of reports about ERP modules and ERP feature comparison. Review our research and create a list of necessary features and those you want to implement later.
Maybe you're a larger manufacturer and need something robust to help keep your operations healthy. Software giant SAP provides solutions for thousands of companies, but their competitors could be your best option. This report includes a breakdown of SAP's major competitors: Top SAP Competitors: The Best SAP Alternatives for Your Business
Here are some recent articles about manufacturing software you should check out:
Here are some important recent events concerning manufacturing, the economy and software:
The manufacturing software landscape includes a set of highly-related, but specialized, systems that can be used alone or in combination with your manufacturing software to help you meet business goals:
Take this short survey so we can help you identify the products that best fit your needs.
A Graphic of the Top-Rated Manufacturing Products
FrontRunners uses real reviews from real software users to highlight the top software products for North American small businesses.
Our goal is to help small businesses to make more informed decisions about what software is right for them. That’s why we engineered FrontRunners.
To create this report, we evaluated over 170 Manufacturing products. Only those with the top scores for Usability and User Recommended made the cut as FrontRunners.
Scores are based on reviews from real software users.
The Different Graphics Show Different Sizes of Vendors
Small and Enterprise refer to the size of the software vendor company—not necessarily the size of customers they serve.
We break vendors into two groups for two reasons: It’s a more equal comparison of products, and software buyers have told us it’s helpful.
To determine who’s Small and who’s Enterprise, we look at how many employees the vendors have. All products in FrontRunners, whether Enterprise or Small, are evaluated using the same process.
Each graphic shows the top 10-15 performers for each the Enterprise and Small vendor categories. You can switch views simply by clicking on the version you’d like to see (above the graphic). You can read more in the full FrontRunners methodology here.
Products Are Scored Based on User Reviews
The gist is that products are scored in two areas—Usability and User Recommended—based on actual user ratings.
To be considered at all, products must have at least 20 reviews published within the previous 18 months, and meet minimum user rating scores. They also have to offer a core set of functionality—for example, material requirements planning (MRP), manufacturing execution system (MES), quality management and product life cycle management.
From there, user reviews dictate the Usability and User Recommended scores. Usability is plotted on the x-axis and User Recommended on the y-axis.
You can download the full FrontRunners for Manufacturing report here. It contains individual scorecards for each product on the Frontrunners quadrant.
Check Out Our Additional Resources!
Have questions about how to choose the right product for you? You’re in luck! Every day, our team of advisors provides (free) customized shortlists of products to hundreds of small businesses.
For more information about FrontRunners, check out the following:
FrontRunners constitute the subjective opinions of individual end-user reviews, ratings, and data applied against a documented methodology; they neither represent the views of, nor constitute an endorsement by, Software Advice or its affiliates.