Process Manufacturing

Process Manufacturing is the branch of manufacturing that is associated with formulas or manufacturing recipes as compared to bills of material & routing as in the case of Discrete manufacturing.

Defining Process Manufacturing

The simplest and easiest way to grasp the definition of process manufacturing is that, once the output is produced, it cannot be distilled back to its basic components. In other words, once you put it together, you cannot take it apart. Think about it. Once you make a can of soda, you cannot return it back to its basic components such as carbonated water, citric acid, potassium benzoate, aspartame, and other ingredients. You cannot put the juice back into the orange. A car or computer, on the other hand, can be disassembled and the parts, to a large extent, can be returned to stock. Process manufacturing is common in the food, beverage, chemical, pharmaceutical, consumer packaged goods, and biotechnology industries. In process manufacturing, we talk about ingredients, not parts; formulas, not bill of materials; and bulk, not EA(each)’s. You may think that we are simply mincing words and terminology. But, as we will see later on this discussion, there is more than a subtle difference in their impact on manufacturing.

ome process manufacturing verticals

* Food & beverage
* Paint & coating
* Specialty chemical
* Bulk-drug pharmaceutical
* Nutraceutical
* Cosmeceutical

Formulation

Formulation is a fairly easy concept but don’t think it is the same as a bill of materials. And be leery of the vendor who says you can. Formulation specifies the ingredients and their proportions (i.e. pounds, gallons, liters) needed to make the product. The first thing that you realize is that measurements are different. To be able to work with a formula, you need a flexible unit of measure conversion engine running under the ERP software covers. Furthermore, you must be able to specify your own conversion rules to account for the unique requirements of your business.

Proportions of ingredients in a formula also highlight the need for another feature, namely scalability. Recalling that line about the Army cook who can only make meatloaf that feeds 500, a formula to make 500 liters of a chemical must be scalable to make 250 liters or 1,000 liters. Another aspect of scalability is the ability to make based on what you have. An example will illustrate this point. If you are making a car and you only have two of the required four tires, you cannot make half of a car. In other words, you must have all of the parts in their required quantities to make the finished product. What would you do in process manufacturing if you want to make 1,000 gallons of soda but you only have 500 gallons of the required 1,000 gallons of carbonated water? You have the option of making half of the 1,000 gallons of soda. In process manufacturing you can make the most of a finished product based on the least quantity of an ingredient in stock. The simplest and easiest to grasp definition of process manufacturing is that, once the output is produced, it cannot be distilled back to its basic components. In other words, once you put it together, you cannot take it apart.

Packaging

A packaging recipe is similar to a formula but describes how the finished product goes through its final assembly. A packaging recipe addresses such things as containers, labels, corrugated, and shrink-wrap. In process manufacturing, the finished product usually is made in bulk but is rarely delivered in bulk form to the customer. For example, the beverage manufacturer makes soda in batches of thousands of gallons. However, as a consumer, when you buy soda, you can buy it in 12-ounce aluminum cans, 16-ounce plastic bottles, or 1-liter bottles. If you are restaurateur, you may have the option getting a 5 or 50-gallon metal containers that keep the beverage in syrup form so that carbonated water can be added later.

Why is this concept important? How often do you think that Coke Cola changes the formula for Coke? On the other hand, how often do they change the packaging to announce a special promotion? It would be easier to keep track of the weather than promotions. If the formula and packaging recipes are combined, every time the packaging changes, maintenance of the formula would be required. Likewise, when the formula is changed, all of the recipes would have to be changed. This increases the maintenance and chances for error. In process manufacturing, the formula to make the product and the recipe to pack the product should exist in separate structures to reduce the ongoing maintenance function.

In the production cycle, a work order is issued to make the product in bulk. Separate pack orders are issued to signify how the bulk material is to be containerized and shipped to the customer. This is important in process industries which make “brite” stock or private labels. For example, large grocery chains sell products, such as soups, soda, and meats, under their own brand names, hence private labels. Don’t think, however, that these chains have their own manufacturing plants. Chains contract for these products. In the case of soups, process manufacturers create and warehouse non-descript, non-labeled aluminum cans of soup, hence “brite” stock. (Since the cans are filled, sealed, and, then, cooked under pressure, their shelf life can be expressed in months.)

By separating the product formula from a packaging recipe, a production order can be issued to make the cans of soup and, when the customer is ready to receive the soup, a work order can be issued to label the cans according to the customer specifications. Hopefully, you can see why the segregation of the formula and pack recipe works efficiently and effectively in the world of process manufacturing.

Process Manufacturing Software

Just like the products that they produce, discrete and processing manufacturing software have different focal points and solve different problems. Just as you would not put the proverbial square peg in the round hole, don’t expect to be successful using software geared toward discrete, or even a hybrid, to work smoothly in the process manufacturing setting. Even process manufacturing software need to be investigated in your business context. Critical aspects such as formulation, routing, ingredients, unit of measures, and pricing must be evaluated relative your business.


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