Reduce waste, improve the bottom line, and slice and dice your product range with Epicor Advanced Unit of Measure

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As an advanced Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, Epicor is continually evolving to solve business problems. A powerful new feature, Advanced Unit of Measure (UoM), was released to production for Epicor ERP 10.2.700 during October 2020. The release notes are deceptively simple, describing UoM as “Seamlessly conduct business in a different unit of measure. A new capability, primarily aimed at the metals industry and adjacent industries, provides the ability to buy and value material in one unit of measure and transact in a different unit of measure.”

Hiding under this brevity, UoM provides powerful new functionality for manufacturing and retail. It can make the difference from not knowing your product’s genuine raw materials cost to fully leveraging all your reusable offcuts. It can make the difference from knowing broadly what you sell to having tight granular data on all your SKU sales metrics.

One of the key tenets of Lean thinking is to remove waste from work processes, yet by nature manufacturing involves dissecting raw materials and unless the unused portions can be tracked and used elsewhere, the invariable result is waste – wasted product, wasted time, wasted cost.

Epicor UoM tackles this head on, through the simple application of attributes to parts, and building-in support within the full range of Quote to Cash Workflow and Stock Management.

Attributes

Let’s illustrate: you have a metal bar or piece of extruded aluminium with a part number and a quantity on hand. The bar is longer than you need for the job, so you cut it. What do you do with the leftover portion? You may simply discard it, or you might want to track the length and quantity of offcuts to maximise your reuse and minimise waste. Previously, this required manual effort. You might need to use different part numbers or lots for each size of offcut, or you might even resort to a spreadsheet.

Today the story is different. Out-of-the-box UoM lets you apply attributes to each individual metal bar. In this case we might assign an attribute ‘length’ and give it an initial value of 1200mm. When you chop the bar you can record you now have a spare metal bar with the same part number, in the same lot, but with a different length. It’s recorded within Epicor, it’s trackable, and importantly, it’s usable next time you’re sourcing parts for a job.

Consider a sheet of aluminium, or board or MDF. Here we might record attributes of length and width. You can cut down a sheet, and continual cutting to size, leaving leftover pieces of all different dimensions. Again, it is now effortless to record and track these in Epicor. You can see them in the system, and you can reuse them.

You can go on, applying as many attributes as makes sense for your product. Consider a piece of timber; this time you might use attributes length, thickness, and width. Again, rip this down the middle with a saw, cut it over and over, and all the leftover pieces can be stored, tracked, and used.

Manufacturing Applications

To give a real-world example, a manufacturer has an order to create ten 90cm x 130cm aluminium window frames. They have 5.5m lengths of aluminium available. Each window frame requires 4.4m of aluminium, being two sides at 90cm and two sides at 130cm. Thus, 10 window frames require 44m of underlying aluminium product.

Mathematically, you might think this is eight lengths of aluminium, by simply dividing 4.4 into 5.5.

Yet, it’s actually nine lengths. If you had a single 55m bar of aluminium that would be a different story. In this case, our bars are 5.5m and invariably we create offcuts as we slice them to the customer requirements.

Cutting optimally, we will end up with four lengths of 20cm offcut, one length of 30cm offcut, and four lengths of 110cm offcut.

Frustratingly, the offcuts all add up to 5.5m but in nine pieces, not one convenient leftover 5.5m length.

Here’s the maths:

4 lengths = 4 x (2 x 130cm + 3 x 90cm + 1 x 20cm offcut) = 8 x 130cm + 12 x 90cm + 4 x 20cm offcut

1 length = 4 x 130cm + 30cm offcut

4 lengths = 4 (2 x 130cm + 2 x 90cm + 110cm offcut) = 8 x 130cm + 8 x 90cm + 4 x 110cm offcut

So, we have these offcuts and store them.

The customer likes your window frames so much they ask for another 90cm x 130cm window frame. We know we need another length of 5.5m aluminium because we don’t have any 130cm offcuts, but we only need one more. We can trim down the 110cm offcuts for the shorter 90cm side, leaving 20cm offcuts, and we can buy one more length of raw product for the longer sides.

Without Epicor UoM you would have to work this out yourself. You need to know the offcuts you have available, and where they are.

However, with Epicor UoM the calculations are built right into the system. Epicor MRP – Materials Requirements Planning – will identify the lengths you need, match these with the lengths on-hand, and create a purchase order suggestion for a single 5.5m length of aluminium. It will calculate the best use of your offcuts, searching stock for the attributes you need, and order only what is absolutely required.

Retail Applications

Changing industry, let’s consider retail and the rich variety of differing combinations a clothing outlet might have. We’re not going to cut these up, by any means, but we may well have dresses or handbags or shoes that come in many flavours of size and colour, and varying accessories.

As an example, imagine part “1950Dress”. It looks terrific, customers love it, and we can apply attributes for colour, size and whether it has a bow or not. Suddenly, we can cater for a wide array of variations without the need for enormous amounts of part numbers.

Your attributes might relate to the quality of lace or any other element you can consider that lets you deeply analyse your data and sell-throughs. In this environment you gain finely grained data on all your SKU sales metrics, delivering actionable insights into what’s in-demand and what’s not.

Really, the only limit to attributes is your own imagination.

Deeply embedded in ERP

With Advanced Unit of Measure, Epicor has worked hard to deliver a fully baked-in product. Attributes don’t exist purely at the surface, but have been included right through, including each of these modules:

In the Quote to Cash Workflow:

  1. Quoting
  2. Available to Promise
  3. Engineering
  4. MRP
  5. Purchasing
  6. Receiving
  7. Order Fulfilment
  8. Material Queue
  9. Customer Shipment Entry

In Stock Management:

  1. Part Tracker
  2. Inventory Transfer
  3. Quantity Adjustments
  4. Material Issue
  5. Job Receipt to Inventory
  6. Salvage Receipt to Inventory
  7. PCID
  8. Cycle Counting
  9. Epicor Manufacturing Wireless Warehouse (EMWW), BISCIT’s own technology

What can UoM do for you?

Advanced Unit of Measure is a real game-changer, and it can make huge differences to your business. It helps you track inventory, minimise waste, reduce unnecessary costs, streamline processes, deliver products faster, and provide deep analytics for decision making.

BISCIT consultants have decades of experience in solving real-world problems. Contact us or give us a call on 1300 BISCIT (1300 247 248) to discuss ways UoM can assist you.

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