Dwayne On Manufacturing Solutions

From Dwayne Wright - www.dwaynewright.com

I have only worked on one solution that had a manufacturing element to it. It was for a company that makes trade show displays, much like the booths at the annual FileMaker Developers Conference. I’m in the preliminary discussions to add another manufacturing related action for our QDB line of products at SolutionMakers.

I’m lucky to have a co-developer at SolutionMakers that comes from an extensive manufacturing background. It’s very interesting to hear him discuss all the different mentalities around the world of manufacturing. He built the a FileMaker database to track the manufacturing process for the largest donut machine manufacturer in the world.

All in all, FileMaker is a good fit for small to medium sized manufacturing needs, mainly due to it’s low cost, rapid design and flexibility. Each manufacturing situation has unique elements and FileMaker bends to the unique needs of a business owner as good or much better than any database product on the planet.

From my perspective, the main areas of concern are the BOM (bill of materials) and the job (the process of tracking the product builds and all affected areas around it like inventory and labor). As in most cases in a FileMaker project, there are a number of different fundamental ways to meet your database goals. Some methods are better than others and some have strengths in key areas but weak point in some others. The design implementation really comes down to being strong where you need strength and positioning weak areas where they are not relevant to your business.

In regards to the inventory, you have the standard inventory transactions of adding to inventory when purchased products are received, the deduction of inventory when products are sold and the adjustment transactions that can add or reduce inventory. In the manufacturing arena, you also have the build or work order transaction. This documents pulling the products off the shelf in order to build a finished good, lining up your labor needs and recording when the products have been successfully built.

So you “potentially” have a great need to track products that are in a committed state. That is to say they may be within your inventory now but they have been committed to a customer order or a production job. That opens the door for the occasional need to release a product from committed status for an immediate need.

This dovetails into the BOM which lists what inventory components make up a finished good. In my situation, parts and finished goods reside within the same table and are flagged by a field that identifies that record as a part or a finished good. A finished good record has a self relating table that shows what part / component records are used to build a finished goods record.

So I’ve discussed that the inventory table in a manufacturing environment will have a self relationship for finished good products and the inventory used to build them. This dovetails into the production job or work order. Here you create a record that says how many finished goods you are going to build. A status on that record (such as working status) will flag the component inventory levels as committed. It may also flag the finished good inventory item as being produced. This way sales staff and decision makers can see that the inventory levels for something are going to be changed shortly after the production job is complete.

When the production is done, the work order is flagged as complete. This will clear any committed values for the inventory products used in the work order. It will increase the inventory quantity of the finished goods, because you just built them. It will decrease the inventory of the components in the build order because you used them in the manufacturing process.

This is a brief overview of how my current manufacturing project worked. I’ve seen situations where every build was unique, because it was a build to order type of situation. That situation warranted a kind of collection of possible BOMS for particular builds and the work order is adjusted for the “build to order” unique requirements.
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More info about the author and FileMaker in general, contact me at info@dwaynewright.com.

© 2007 - Dwayne Wright - dwaynewright.com

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