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Advantages of using MRP software in manufacturing

Material requirements planning, or MRP, plays an integral role in key processes within manufacturing businesses such as production planning, inventory control and scheduling.

MRP can be described as a manufacturing management system that focuses on these vital elements of the manufacturing process, although its exact meaning has not always been well understood. The acronym is often interchangeably used to refer to material requirements planning (also known as MRP I) and manufacturing resource planning (MRP II).

As Haley Boehm has explained for SoftwareConnect, material requirements planning is the older of the two terms, dating to the 1960s, while manufacturing resource planning, or MRP II, emerged several decades later, and effectively built on MRP I.

This means that today, any platform on the market described as ‘MRP software’ is essentially an MRP II system. So, what real benefits does 21st-century MRP software bring to manufacturing businesses? Below are just some of those that have been observed.

Better inventory control

If manufacturers today are to achieve the highest possible levels of manufacturing efficiency, they must continually optimise how they manage their inventory.

MRP software can be instrumental in achieving this, by maintaining optimal inventory levels for both parts and materials, on the basis of what is needed to meet demand. The right MRP system both keeps down inventory carrying costs and helps to ensure the necessary components and materials are always available, so as to avoid any costly delays due to shortages.

Delivering the right product at the first attempt

In the words of Rich Dale, writing for the website of the modular cloud-based MRP software Flowlens, “there is nothing worse than delivering on-time, but then discovering there has been something missed in the spec, usually something that was written down or shared verbally.”

This is probably a good moment to add that the term ‘MRP system’ has not always been synonymous with ‘MRP software’; MRP systems have not always taken the form of a software product. But as Dale explains, depending on a manual system or process can bring the risk of errors and communication problems.

Many manufacturing businesses have therefore increasingly turned to MRP software as a means of ensuring that whatever requirements were agreed with the customer match the requirements met by the final product.

Saving both money and time

MRP software packages are a key feature of the ever-more streamlined manufacturing processes that characterise the digital age.

Before the emergence of today’s MRP software, which automates many vital tasks, there was much greater need for direct human intervention in these processes. Now, many more manufacturing businesses are using sophisticated MRP platforms that they can depend on for such functions as inventory control, purchase planning and production planning, which previously took up much labour time. Further time and money is saved in the long run by the sheer accuracy of these systems, far exceeding what could be expected from human method alone.

Indeed, MRP software’s management and storage of production data effectively renders entire departments redundant compared to the situation before these platforms became widespread.

Don’t underestimate the invaluable impact of MRP software

The most suitable and refined MRP software solution, then, can make an immense difference to manufacturing businesses’ production efficiency and costs – and consequently, their output, revenue and growth prospects.

The benefits for manufacturers and customers alike look set to accumulate with the continued advancement of MRP technology. This trend will build on the increasingly modular, cloud-based and customisable platforms we have already seen in recent years.

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