This article first appeared in the Autumn 2015 issue of OnWindows magazine.
Modern manufacturing is highly regulated, and product liability laws typically require manufacturers to retain documentation for 30 years. Failure to demonstrate adherence to GxP, ISO or local legislation can render a manufacturer’s products unfit for sale, with potentially devastating outcomes.
Much of this documentation can be leveraged by manufacturers to add value to customers and suppliers, as well as to improve internal operations. However, one major challenge is how best to capture, share and distribute information across complex and deep supply chains. Meeting regulatory needs and ensuring minimal disruption to manufacturing operations is also vitally important.
Many manufacturers are now supplementing their enterprise resource planning (ERP) and material requirements planning (MRP) systems with document management systems (DMS). These powerful tools are capable of extracting information from documents, machines and data services; manipulating electronic information; managing, storing and retrieving information and associated documents; and controlling the delivery of information and documents when, where and how it is needed.
Perhaps the greatest advantage however is the ability to automate the majority of this information, which not only reduces the regulatory demands on manufacturing operations, but also typically reduces compliance exceptions by as much as 85% (Aberdeen Group, October 2013).
When using a DMS, start by focusing on what regulatory information you need to capture and generate. Information generated from other systems or individual machines can also be extracted and translated into an appropriate format and stored.
Information for many manufacturers arrives in the form of paper or electronic documents. Studies have shown that removing paper from processes can increase efficiency by up to 300% (AIIM Feb7 2012). A DMS can automatically extract data from freeform paper and electronic documents, turning their content into searchable and processable data.
DMS can also significantly enhance ERP and MRP capabilities when it comes to meeting regulatory obligations, storage and retrieval, and have very powerful data file translation and reformatting capabilities. Companies can now supply data files with information, specifically formatted to the recipient’s needs such as HTML links to their document repositories.
The value of DMS increases significantly as a business matures and document and information infrastructures are extended and integrated. A specialist company such as Bottomline Technologies adds functionality to ERP/MRPs for thousands of clients every year, and understands the best working practices and the need to drive greater back office efficiency.
Ian Bamber is head of product – Financial Document Automation at Bottomline Technologies