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Integration with ERP: quick access to production data

In our article, you will find out what you can gain by implementing an ERP system in your company and how it is integrated into the WOODEXPERT furniture design software. Let’s find out!

What is an ERP system?

Every developing enterprise faces the challenge of systematising processes, which results in the selection of an ERP system appropriate for the company. In order to make the right choice, the question that needs to be answered at the outset is: what exactly is an ERP system?

An ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system is an extensive IT system that allows for efficient planning and management of the company’s resources, comprehensively integrating all the company’s activities, from accounting through production and warehousing. It allows control over all processes inside and outside the company (external suppliers). ERP systems operate on a database basis, which allows for easy integration with other systems within the company. This can be boiled down to saying that ERP is the brain of the company, supporting its processes.

The precursor to the first enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems is considered to be material requirements planning (MRP – Material Requirements Planning), which was developed in the 1950s (not to be confused with the first computers – the first systems were analogue). The gradual development of computers allowed new IT systems to emerge to manage the various branches of the company. Thus, the first ERPs created at the turn of the 20th and 21st century unified and brought everything together, giving rise to a revolution in business management.

What do we gain by implementing an ERP system?

The main objective of implementing a new IT system is to increase revenues and competitiveness in the market. What, then, do enterprises deciding on ERP-class systems gain? Some examples of profits are presented below:

  • increase in process efficiency
  • improved process management
  • effective inventory management
  • efficient data processing
  • improved logistics and production processes.

A long-term analysis of the implementation of this class of system reveals a significant reduction in costs, both in terms of resources (human and physical) and processes, which, when working correctly, will allow us to make savings at each stage. Properly implemented ERP, gives the company a huge competitive advantage over businesses working on non-integrated systems.

Structure of ERP systems

ERP systems are most often composed of separate modules, which allows them to be gradually implemented into a company without having to halt its growth. The following system structure can most commonly be encountered:

  • Finance
  • Human resources and payroll
  • Administration
  • Human resources management
  • Logistics
  • Production
  • Warehouse
  • Sales
  • Customer service
  • Service
  • Analytics (BI – Business Intelligence).

The current form of the systems allows for a flexible approach to the customer, who at the start of the implementation does not need to know whether and in which direction his company will develop in a few or even several years. Implementation can be divided into phases and the modules to be implemented adapted to the company profile. To this end, it is important to choose the right system provider, with whom you are likely to be bound for years. We have been implementing business management systems for years and our portfolio includes some of the largest companies in Poland.

Integration of the ERP system with WOODEXPERT

WOODEXPERT, like ERP systems, is also based on an SQL database. This makes integration very simple and convenient for the user. We can distinguish two paths of data exchange between the ERP system and the furniture design and manufacturing software WOODEXPERT:

  • importing data from the ERP system into WOODEXPERT
  • exporting data from WOODEXPERT to the ERP system.

Data import consists of loading the data provided by the ERP system implementation company into the WOODEXPERT database. It takes place between the databases/tables of the IT systems without the user’s involvement. In this way, information such as index, price, cost, material description or other required or provided information can be inserted. Based on this, the BOM Manager allows us to plug in names, indexes and a preliminary cost estimate for the materials that make up our project. These can be boards, co-operatively manufactured components, fittings or edging.

The export of WOODEXPERT data is also based on the integration of system databases; it consists of sending information generated in WOODEXPERT (e.g. complete material lists or customised reports) to the database/transition table of the ERP system. This data can be configured in any way during the implementation of CAD – WOODEXPERT based on the requirements presented by the customer or the ERP system supplier.

Data export can also be done by a more ‘traditional’ method – by generating a *.csv file, which most ERP systems available on the market can import. However, database-to-database integration is recommended for reasons of simplicity, lack of human factor and absence of intermediate files.

Examples of integration: ERP – WOODEXPERT / WOODEXPERT – ERP

The first example is the import of data from an ERP system directly into WOODEXPERT. The user of the software is able to price a piece of furniture in the BOM module of WOODEXPERT by linking it to the list of materials in the system.

WOODEXPERT is also equipped with a convenient search engine, which makes it possible to narrow down the list of results to a minimum.

The workflow in this case is as follows:

  • Opening a window with a list of material spectra in the project.
  • Opening the search engine in the ERP table.
  • Searching the table using the stepwise filtering function.
  • Selecting the appropriate record.
  • Mapping the record from the ERP table with the BOM Manager material spectrum.

This provides the user with an accurate and up-to-date quote with the supported indexes in the bill of materials.

In addition to the above, there is also an option to update the mapped data by selecting the ‘Update’ button.

Another example of integration is the export of data from the 3D CAD system WOODEXPERT to the ERP system. This is done by selecting ‘Action’, which enables data to be exported to other systems, e.g. Format5 or ERP. The data can be customised, while the export itself can be done via an interim file in *.csv format or a table in the database.

The exported data can be customised and recalculated in the WOODEXPERT database, as can be seen in the example reports:

“List of cut parts” contains only panel parts, with information about the surfaces and edges to be veneered, while “Material summary” counts the sum of materials and fittings required. This data takes the following form when exported to *.csv (import format for ERP systems):

Summary

The right choice of ERP system and the company that implements it is the key to success for medium-sized and large companies in terms of increasing their competitiveness, making savings and stabilising company processes. Only a correctly implemented system will give us satisfaction and the feeling that the company is ready to take the next step on the road to development.

 

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