When you form solid raw materials to produce things you can easily touch, see, and/or count, you are most likely what is called a discrete manufacturer. Discrete manufacturing is often characterized by the making of individual or separate units, which is typically low in volume and very high in complexity. That is to say, in discrete manufacturing you are often either building single parts or assemblies of several other parts, with such assemblies often themselves even going into the manufacture of ever more complex products or machines.
This concept is distinguished from what is called a process manufacturing model that often involves notions such as formulas and mixing. Such process can be found in the production of items such as pharmaceuticals, fertilizers, foodstuffs, petroleum products, and so forth.
By its nature, discrete manufacturing involves variable lead times and high product complexity, and is increasingly is driving by the need for an extremely flexible manufacturing system that can improve quality and time-to-market speed while cutting costs.
To this end, manufacturing software has been designed to help discrete manufacturers be more efficient and productive. As an enterprise resource planning software application (ERP), the discrete manufacturing industry often calls such tools manufacturing ERP software, ERP manufacturing software, shop control software, job shop software, and any number of other iterations depending on the differing tasks it is designed to manage. ERP software helps discrete manufacturers improve their processes and to dispatch the products on time. Such software is suitable for small, medium, and large-scale companies, and it can be used for a wide range of applications.
A robust manufacturing ERP software completely integrates the planning and scheduling, manufacturing process, management and procurement of materials, and the other financial business processes of a discrete manufacturing operation. This software also provides all the necessary information that is required to take a more desirable and profitable decision for the company.
Often containing a number of modules where each module is programmed to perform a specified task, an ERP system can handle various processes including manufacturing, inventory, distribution, logistics, shipping, accounting, and invoicing. This is important to the discrete manufacturer who must analyze the data from diverse departments including quality control, packing, shipping, sales and quoting, and production. As a shop control tool, manufacturing ERP software helps provide complete shop management for nearly every niche of discrete manufacturing.