Today, businesses are trying to make important decisions accurately and efficiently — and to do that, you need access to the right information. But, keeping up with all of the available data can be exhausting – from sales figures and inventory data to financial management information. Do you know how your business is really performing?

EDA Dashboards and Scorecards Webinar

Dashboards and scorecards give valuable insights into your business and allow your teams to uncover new opportunities and improve efficiencies. Join our webinar, Dashboards & scorecards: How is your business really performing and discover how you can turn your raw data into actionable insights to open up new opportunities, reduce costs and streamline processes with Epicor Data Analytics.

In this webinar, you’ll learn how to:

  • tailor dashboards to your business needs
  • summarize an entire database in a single interface
  • create an overarching view of your business that can be accessed anytime, anywhere.

When:

September 10, 2020

1PM ET

During this webinar, you’ll see EDA dashboards and scorecards firsthand and learn how you can become a trailblazer in self-service, reporting, dashboards and analysis. We look forward to seeing you there.

About Epicor Data Analytics

Epicor Data Analytics (EDA), powered by Phocas, is an easy-to-use cloud service with powerful tools to help you reduce costs, identify new opportunities, and speed decision-making.

  • Stay up-to-date with the daily changes of your business
  • Eliminate time-consuming and error-prone manual reporting processes
  • Visualize data across all of your business systems from production to sales

About Encompass Solutions

Encompass Solutions is a business and software consulting firm that specializes in ERP systems, EDI, and Managed Services support for Manufacturers and Distributors. Serving small and medium-sized businesses since 2001, Encompass modernizes operations and automates processes for hundreds of customers across the globe. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. By identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of Industry.


ERP for start-ups may seem like a bit of an oxymoron. The nature of ERP is to connect several departments  in a unified information system. This allows you to leverage crucial data to make informed decisions that drive the success of your business. When most people hear those three little letters, they tend to think large scale enterprise, multi-national conglomerate, or global entities. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Small And Medium-Sized Businesses Include Start-Ups

The modern enterprise isn’t a fortune 500 company. It isn’t even a fortune 5,000 company.

In the US There are roughly 17 million businesses with fewer than 500 employees. This number represents 99.7% of all US businesses and almost half of total private sector employment.

With that in mind, it would make sense the market for ERP that speaks to the small and medium sized enterprise is ripe for development. In the last 40 years it has done just that with tremendous effect.

Among businesses surveyed in a 2017 Deloitte report commissioned by Google, the top 20% of the most digitally advanced companies:

  • Earned 2 times as much revenue per employee
  • Experienced revenue growth over the previous year that was nearly 4 times as high
  • Were almost 3 times as likely to be creating jobs over the previous year
  • Had an average employment growth rate that was more than 6 times as high
  • Were also 3 times as likely to have exported over the previous year

Those stats can’t be ignored. However, what were the digital advancements these successful companies used to gain their edge in the market? Here’s how the levels of digital transformation of business is represented among those surveyed:

  • Basic – An email address
  • Intermediate – Website, basic marketing tools, online directories, and third-party marketplaces
  • High – Advanced website, mobile or e-commerce capability, engagement on multiple social media platforms, online marketing channels
  • Advanced – Advanced data analytics and applications for business management and customer interactions

It’s clear a business using advanced digital tools to help their business will perform better than those businesses using only basic or intermediate tools. But what does advanced really mean?

In this case, advanced digital tools includes:

  • Data analytics used to examine characteristics of customers, to inform business decisions such as online marketing strategies or products offered.
  • The ability for customers to make bookings and purchases through online channels, such as enabling payments through the business’ website or use of third-party e-commerce platforms.
  • Digital technologies and tools utilized internally in order to improve business processes or worker productivity (e.g. cloud-based software, video conferencing, corporate social networks).

Epicor ERP For Start-Ups Facilitate Sales Excellence

Let’s start with the first benefit of ERP for start-ups. It’s no secret that sales are top of mind of a start-up.

Whether you are in it for the long-haul or just long enough for get an offer, proving viability through sales is key in attracting investors and securing longevity.

Epicor ERP CRM and Sales Management tools drive intelligent marketing and provide insightful data about what products are and are not moving. Add to this the ability to collaborate with internal teams as well as customers externally through one unified system and you have a recipe for success.

With Epcior Sales Management tools Improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your sales team. By giving your sales teams the ability to manage their opportunities and automating administrative tasks, you free up their time to focus on building lasting, profitable relationships. It also enables your sales team to:

  • Produce accurate estimates
  • Streamline your order-to-cash cycle
  • Fulfill perfect orders and ensure high customer satisfaction

Components of the sales management module include:

Estimate and Quote Management – Easily generate and track all customer or prospect requests for quotation (RFQs)—from the time of receipt until an order is placed. Create estimates and get quotes out more quickly with more accurate pricing and lead times with a wide range of powerful tools.

  • Generate accurate and timely estimates and quotes
  • Import data from a variety of customer and system sources
  • Check inventory availability during quote entry
  • Manage the sales cycle with dynamic task lists that ensure the right people are working on the quote at the right time
  • Automatically cross reference customer part numbers to your part numbers during the quoting process

Order Management – Order Management drives the Epicor system. From the time an order is entered, its progress is tracked through final shipment—producing perfect order fulfillment on demand for maximum customer satisfaction.

  • With the Order Job Wizard, generate appropriate jobs for new orders in a single step
  • Check customer credit status online at quote entry, order entry, and shipment entry
  • Using blanket orders, establish multiple releases for each sales order line and pull parts directly from inventory
  • Link sales orders, jobs, purchase orders, field service calls, cases, tasks, milestones, and budget information to manage projects

EDI/Demand ManagementEntrust EDI/Demand Management secures your competitive edge by incorporating electronic data interchange (EDI) with demand scheduling.

  • Get full flexibility and control for setting up customer contracts and handling their schedules in the Epicor ERP system
  • Reduce lead time and effort for planning and procurement
  • With Demand Management, set up contracts per customer with such agreed-upon parameters as pricing, initial demand schedule, and contract end date

Point of Sale – Epicor Point of Sale (POS) extends the power of your Epicor ERP to a customer-facing sales environment—regardless if you need a single POS station or if you’re a multinational chain.

  • Feature-rich system that empowers store personnel to deliver an enhanced customer experience
  • Comprehensive functionality includes electronic gift cards, gift receipting, customized receipt per transaction type, coupon redemption/issuance, layaways, special orders, suspend and resume, item marking for various functions, additional input fields, multicurrency, start/end of day functions, cash management, and more.

Epicor Commerce Connect – B2B and B2C eCommerce are the new norm. Epicor Commerce Connect (ECC) provides your buyers and sales channels with a simple online shopping experience that encourages repeat purchases and sets your brand apart.

  • Launch an attractive, simple-to-use eCommerce site with your own branding in less time
  • Manage only one product database with tight integration into Epicor ERP
  • Simplify channel support by letting your partners make payments on accounts, access pricelists, and place quick re-orders

Epicor Customer Connect – Today’s customers want new access to information. Epicor Customer Connect helps you improve customer loyalty and online commerce.

  • Special promotions and pricelists
  • Enable your customers to make repeat purchases

Startup Growth And Innovation With Advanced Digital Tools At An Affordable Price

Epicor technology is powered by industry-leading innovation and expertise. The software empowers businesses of every size and is modular to fit the needs of a start-ups, no matter their stage of growth. Epicor solutions feature seamless integration with thousands of existing software applications, web-enabled platforms, and fully configurable interfaces and reporting systems.

Utilize the components of Epicor ERP your start-up needs here and now. Add more functionality as you scale, customize the framework to fit your unique business components, and take as much control of your technology as you like with on-premise, cloud, and hybrid deployment options. Mobile solutions can further be utilized to access the system from Windows, iOS, and Android devices.

Epicor ERP for start-ups is designed to be both accessible and affordable for the small business and start-up. Financing, subscription models, and even tax write offs are available for Epicor ERP software purchases.

About Encompass Solutions

Encompass Solutions is a business and software consulting firm that specializes in ERP systems, EDI, and Managed Services support for Manufacturers and Distributors. Serving small and medium-sized businesses since 2001, Encompass modernizes operations and automates processes for hundreds of customers across the globe. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. By identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of Industry.


Epicor Data Analytics (EDA), powered by Phocas, is an easy-to-use cloud service with powerful tools to help you reduce costs, identify new opportunities, and speed decision-making.

  • Stay up-to-date with the daily changes of your business
  • Eliminate time-consuming and error-prone manual reporting processes
  • Visualize data across all of your business systems from production to sales

EDA factsheet – Download
EDA customer success story – Download
EDA top-ranked Highlights in Business Application Research Center (BARC) Report – Download

Epicor Data Analytics Prebuilt Content Packs

Each of the currently available Epicor ERP content packages for EDA provides starter dashboards and deep integration into a specific set of Epicor ERP data. You have the freedom to build onto these content packs with any additional fields from Epicor ERP and augment from any other data sources, such as Salesforce and ADP.

Epicor Data Analytics for Sales (sales, orders, quotes)

Quickly discover business trends by visualizing the sales data in your Epicor system. Get deeper insight into sales results by account, location, geography, order, and more.

Answers questions like:

  • What is my average sales and gross margin by invoice?
  • Who was buying, but is not buying now?
  • Where are we succeeding geographically?

Gain full visibility into:

  • Net sales
  • Quantity shipped
  • Quantity ordered
  • Material cost
  • Fixed burden
  • Variable burden
  • Labor cost
  • Other cost
  • Gross margin

Epicor Data Analytics for Materials (inventory, purchasing, and shipping)

Improve the productivity of what is likely your largest fixed asset—your inventory—by making sure you invest in the right inventory mix. EDA can help you see your inventory data more clearly.

Answers questions like:

  • What is our current inventory value today?
  • What are our potential inventory shortfalls?
  • What is on order in my open POs?
  • Where are my shipments?

Gain full visibility into:

  • Quantity on hand
  • Inventory value
  • Cost
  • Allocated
  • Backordered
  • On PO
  • In transit
  • Quantity ordered

Epicor Data Analytics for Financials (AR/AP and general ledger)

Improve overall visibility into your business by drilling down into categorized accounts and transactions within your income statement and balance sheet.

Answers questions like:

  • What are this year’s actuals versus last year’s actuals by account?
  • How long is money held up in accounts receivable?
  • What payments are receivable and what invoices are due?
  • Did we take advantage of discount terms and how much did we save?

Gain full visibility into:

  • Amount paid
  • Terms taken
  • Allowed
  • Bad debt amount
  • Amount receivable
  • Owing
  • Items invoiced
  • Invoices paid
  • Memos
  • Terms taken
  • Transactions for income statement and balance sheet

Epicor Data Analytics for Production (production, reporting and quality)

With the production content pack for Epicor ERP and iScala, make certain that quality products are produced for the right customer at the right time—for the right price and profit margin.

Answers questions like:

  • What are my resource earned hours?
  • Do I have differences in production rates between shifts?
  • How do I improve the overall effectiveness of my resources?
  • What is the most frequent cause for product rejections?

Gain full visibility into:

  • Good quantity
  • Total quantity
  • Good value
  • Total value
  • Estimated setup hours
  • Estimated production hours
  • Actual production hours
  • Actual production
  • Rework hours
  • Actual setup hours
  • Actual setup rework hours
  • Production run standard
  • Production labor rate
  • Setup labor rate
  • Production burden rate
  • Setup burden rate
  • Actual labor cost
  • Actual burden cost
  • Rework labor cost
  • Rework burden cost

About Encompass Solutions

Encompass Solutions is a business and software consulting firm that specializes in ERP systems, EDI, and Managed Services support for Manufacturers and Distributors. Serving small and medium-sized businesses since 2001, Encompass modernizes operations and automates processes for hundreds of customers across the globe. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. By identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of Industry.


An Encompass customer in the Industrial Heating industry recently fell victim to an opportunistic ransomware attack that had encrypted all internal system files, as well as their Epicor application files. As a result, work was unable to continue, bringing operations to a standstill. Encompass’ Managed Services (MS) were enlisted to help get things back up and running. The company requested this case study on their ransomware recovery project be posted anonymously.

Ransomware Recovery Project Background

The company’s network fell victim to a severe ransomware attack. Unfortunately, it had affected all internal systems, including backups. The attack took down the company’s systems completely in a matter of hours, forcing the company to rebuild from scratch.  Fortunately, the company was able to save its Epicor Database.

The Plan

Initially, there was no internal plan in place at this company to address the initial attack or the fallout from such an event. The results from the attack were a focused effort to get systems up and running as fast as possible as well as restore a state of operational functionality.

Objectives for the engagement with Encompass Solutions’ Managed Services team were to recover system use, rebuild what was lost, and establish backups.

A plan to instate standard operating procedures that would minimize the potential for reoccurrence and maximize the efficiency of response and ransomware recovery followed.

The Execution

The company’s staff were able to provide Encompass with the necessary documentation, in the form of a blueprint of the existing Epicor environment, to rebuild the system in a more structurally sound way than the original.

Encompass’ MS team worked with corporate IT staff to ensure backups and other security precautions were in place moving forward.

Overall, Encompass has just been a great asset to our organization. We have been through both a major Epicor upgrade and recovery process with them, and I am extremely impressed with everything they have done.  They definitely make my job easier.

– C.R., IT Manager

The Results

Encompass’ managed services team were able to work with the parent company to reestablish a stable network and functional Epicor system in less than one week.

Next Steps

Documented SOPs were put in place to routinely establish backups and test recoverability on a regular basis.

This company was pleased with Encompass’ level of service and expedient reaction to the situation. The two organizations will continue to work together on future Epicor projects and system maintenance.

About Encompass Solutions

Encompass Solutions is a business and software consulting firm that specializes in ERP systems, EDI, and Managed Services support for Manufacturers and Distributors. Serving small and medium-sized businesses since 2001, Encompass modernizes operations and automates processes for hundreds of customers across the globe. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. By identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of Industry.


In today’s business environment, distributors need the flexibility to adjust their metrics to adapt to current market conditions — not spending time looking in different places to get basic reports on the status of business operations. Introducing: Epicor Data Analytics (EDA) Financial Statements powered by Phocas, the first-ranked vendor for many KPIs across all of its peer groups. EDA Financial Statements allows for timely, accurate, and accessible financial reporting. to cover this all-new component of EDA, an Epicor Data Analytics (EDA) Financial Statements Webinar will be taking place in the first week of June.

Epicor Data Analytics (EDA) Financial Statements Webinar

Join our webinar to see how modern finance leaders configure statements for their entities as well as branches, departments, product lines and more. And with permissions in place, empower users to proactively manage their performance and effectively answer their own questions.

In this webinar, we’ll uncover:

  • Why it’s urgent to advance from static spreadsheet reporting
  • Automated consolidation and presentation of month-end reports
  • Ways to empower managers with the information they need to perform
  • A centralized source of timely and accurate financial data
  • Why secure cloud access is critical for business continuity
  • How to do so much more than analyzing AR/AP and ledger data in EDA

During this webinar, you’ll see EDA Financial Statements firsthand and learn how you can become a trailblazer in financial self-service, reporting, dashboards and analysis. We look forward to seeing you there.

Watch The Epicor Data Analytics (EDA) Financial Statements Webinar Recording

Phocas and Epicor Data Analytics receive 34 top rankings in BARC’s The BI Survey 19

The Phocas-powered Epicor Data Analytics (EDA) is recommended by 100% of customers and continues to outpace BI competitors in many KPIs in its peer groups, according to BARC’s The BI Survey 19, the largest BI user survey in the world. This year, Phocas/EDA finished on top of 34 rankings and received 49 leading positions across the three groups, with a 28 percent adoption rate compared to the industry average of 18 percent.

About Encompass Solutions

Encompass Solutions is a business and software consulting firm that specializes in ERP systems, EDI, and Managed Services support for Manufacturers and Distributors. Serving small and medium-sized businesses since 2001, Encompass modernizes operations and automates processes for hundreds of customers across the globe. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. By identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of Industry.


The article “7 Simple Ways to Keep Your Data Safe” was previously published by Epicor Chief Information Officer Rich Murr, here.

It’s challenging to understand how to keep your data safe and secure from hackers. Whether you’re moving your IT assets to the cloud, keeping them on-premises, or taking a hybrid approach, data security is a top concern.

Not everybody is an IT expert, so I’ve created a list of actions that even non-technologists can take to get started:

1) Simplify the Goal—Secure Your Data

Data security is like most other IT disciplines. It’s full of arcane acronyms, complex technologies, and thousands of vendors claiming they can help. All these factors can make it difficult to confidently assess risks and solutions.

Cut through the noise. Simplify your goal to:

  • Preventing  unauthorized users from accessing your data, or
  • If they do get access, being able to quickly detect and remove them

I’ve found that these two simple goals resonate with both technologists and business leaders. Filtering every security effort through this lens will get you off to a good start.

2) Find a Trusted Partner To Help Keep Your Data Safe

Wading through countless security risks and potential solutions is a daunting task. Find a trusted security partner to help. There are plenty of boutique firms ready to lend a hand. Some of the larger, enterprise-class security vendors also have credible resources you can tap.

Don’t hesitate to leverage your own network to help find experts—your peers likely face the very same challenges. Interview potential partners just as you would an employee—it’s a critical role and relationship.

So, how do you know if you’ve found a good match? If they can both explain your security risks in plain English and how potential solutions line up with the above goals, it’s a pretty good sign.

3) Don’t Install a Security Solution You Don’t Understand

The incentives to protect your data are extremely high. You may feel pressured to buy expensive solutions you don’t yet understand.

Spare yourself the headaches that come from ill-fitting and poorly implemented security solutions. Take the time to fully comprehend:

  • The problems they claim to resolve
  • How to successfully implement them
  • How to measure the solution’s efficacy once it’s in production

If you find a trusted partner, this task becomes a little easier.

4) Educate Your Employees on Their Role in Preventing Data Breaches

Employees are often the biggest security risk in an organization. Teach them how to spot phishing and other social engineering attacks. Education is one of the least expensive and most valuable data security measures you can take. Education is one of the least expensive and most valuable data security measures you can take.

Staying ahead of the hackers requires regularly refreshing employee security awareness training, making security awareness part of your staff training and development, and—ultimately—establishing clear, security-related goals for everyone.

5) Weave Security Into Your Daily Operations

Learn how to read the reports that your security vendors and systems generate. Make sure you know what actions to take based on the information they provide.

Walk around the office and ask your colleagues if they’ve received any suspicious emails. Ask your trusted partner (see #2 above) to teach your employees about some of the current top security threats and how to react to them.

Bottom line—do at least one very visible thing every single day to keep security top of mind in your organization.

6)   Identify Problems, Fix Them, and Confirm They’re Fixed

Once a security issue is brought to your attention, never leave it unexamined. Set a great example by taking each one seriously. Even simple issues like phishing emails can balloon into something very damaging if left unremedied. You should only check issues off your list of to-dos when you know for sure that the risk has been satisfactorily addressed.

7) Pin This Data Security Checklist in Your Office or Cube

It’s easy to lose sight of data security. You have a million things demanding your attention every day. Tie a string around your finger, put your watch on your other wrist, or better yet, print this list and tape it to your office or cube wall.

About Encompass Solutions

Encompass Solutions, Inc. is an ERP consulting firm, NetSuite Solution Provider, Suite Success Partner, and Epicor Gold Partner that offers professional services in business consulting, project management, and software implementation. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems or addressing the emerging challenges in corporate and operational growth, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. As experts in identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of Industry.


This press release regarding Epicor’s acquisition of Majure Data was previously published by the Epicor newsroom

Acquisition of Majure Data will expand Epicor solution’s portfolio for lumber and building materials dealers and distributors

Epicor Software Corporation, a global provider of industry-specific enterprise software to promote business growth, announced today that it has acquired Majure Data, a leading provider of warehouse management solutions for the lumber and building materials (LBM) industry. The transaction closed on July 1. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Based in Milton, GA, Majure Data is a leading provider of warehouse management solutions to the building products industry in the U.S. and Canada. Majure Data has over 35 years of experience in warehouse management and has developed their solutions with a focus on the lumber and building materials industry for more than 18 years.

an image of the majure data logo

“Both companies offer deep industry expertise and are committed to building long-term relationships with customers, providing increased efficiency, accuracy, and operational improvements in warehouse operations,” said Bill Wilson, senior vice president, retail and building materials industry solutions, Epicor. “Majure Data offers full integration tools for leading industry ERP platforms, allowing a broad range of LBM dealers and distributors to transform their warehouse operations.”

Prior to completion of this acquisition, Epicor acted as a reseller for the Majure Data products “RF Navigator” and “RF Navigator Foundations”. Bringing Majure Data into the Epicor family continues to demonstrate Epicor’s commitment, focus and investment in the LBM industry. The acquisition allows Epicor to offer a powerful solution for LBM customers striving to improve their On Time In Full (OTIF) performance by increasing inventory accuracy and productivity, reducing shipping errors and providing direct insight into the daily operations of the warehouse, enabling them to better serve their customers.

“This acquisition strengthens our ability to deliver innovative technology that accelerates sales growth, improves productivity and enhances customer loyalty. With the combination of Majure Data’s deep industry functionality and Epicor’s scale of technology, we look forward to providing a premier business growth platform for lumber and building materials businesses,” concluded Wilson.

About Majure Data

Majure Data is a leading supplier of Warehouse Management Systems for the building products industry. With over 35 years of experience, we have the technology and expertise to transform your current warehouse and yard operations. We partner with the leading ERP providers in the industry to offer you a tightly integrated solution for millwork, roofing & siding, hardwood, pro dealer, cabinet, lumberyard and wholesale distribution.

About Epicor Software Corporation

Epicor Software Corporation drives business growth. We provide flexible, industry-specific software designed to fit the precise needs of our manufacturing, distribution, retail, and service industry customers. More than 45 years of experience with our customers’ unique business processes and operational requirements are built into every solution―in the cloud or on-premises. With this deep understanding of your industry, Epicor solutions dramatically improve performance and profitability while easing complexity so you can focus on growth.

About Encompass Solutions

Encompass Solutions, Inc. is an ERP consulting firm, NetSuite Solution Provider and Epicor Gold Partner that offers professional services in business consulting, project management, and software implementation. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems or addressing the emerging challenges in corporate and operational growth, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. As experts in identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of Industry.


in Industry 4.0, Manufacturers and distributors have access to data on a scale that has never existed before. The two are leveraging the insights gleaned from that access to pursue new innovations in automation and systems that are reshaping the face of these industries. Pairing innovations like these with a robust ERP solution is the most effective way to ensure your business is prepared to address emerging technology trends that can reshape your industry overnight. Learn more about emerging technologies in manufacturing and Industry 4.0 to remain to be the competition, rather than simply competitive.

Industry 4.0

First, there was industry 1.0, the emergence of mechanization, as well as water-, steam-, and fossil fuel-powered systems. This was followed by mass production of goods, assembly line manufacturing, and electricity powering it all in Industry 2.0. With 3.0 came computers and automation using robotics. Today, we’ve reached the next milestone in revolutionizing Industry. Connecting established trends and emerging technologies between automation and data exchange in manufacturing is Industry 4.0. Also referred to as the fourth industrial revolution, it is focused on bringing cyber-physical systems into the mainstream and placing them at the forefront of the manufacturing industry.

The first Industry 4.0 conference was held last week by Troy, Michigan-based Automation Alley (AA), a non-profit tech and manufacturing business association that connects industry, academia, and government to accelerate innovation in manufacturing. During the conference, a report outlining what AA and industry experts see as the next wave of industry tech to influence innovation emerged. In the report, a roadmap outlined several core technologies that professionals and researchers agree will direct the trajectory of manufacturing in the coming years.

Noting the biggest challenge of innovation on the manufacturing floor as supply-side participants being able to keep up, executive director of Automation Alley Tom Kelly remained optimistic, stating, “The world (of manufacturing) is changing so fast, we can’t assume any company really knows where it’s headed. But based on what’s possible, we hope to help them turn this into action instead of stagnation.” Industry 5.0 has already appeared on the horizon with technologies that are only now being conceptualized and brought into existence.

 

a picture of a welder at work welding part of a steel frame structure

New Manufacturing Technologies And The Next Industrial Revolution Are Here

 

The full report on AA’s research into industry 4.0 will be released in April 2018 for those who were unable to attend last week’s conference centered on deconstructing the “siloed thinking” of manufacturing in its current state and nurturing the “smart factory” megatrend of connecting machines, workers, and factory systems through the internet and cloud computing.

The Industrial Internet Of Things

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) utilized relevant information and completes essential tasks through smartphones, tablets, and other edge devices. Businesses can use this performance data in real-time to adapt and change their operations into a more streamlined process internally and externally for both short-term and long-term gains. This superior connectivity facilitates faster response times from all departments and brings with it improved agility for operations of every size.

An image displaying introducing Industry 4.0 technologies.

Emerging Technologies Are Ushering In A New Industrial Revolution – Industry 4.0

 

Robotics

As robots become smarter, cheaper, and more efficient in their roles on the factory floor, these entities will command a greater presence in shaping the manufacturing industry. Advances in robotics technology allow these machines to take on more complex traits, including machine learning, heightened dexterity, memory, and the ability to collaborate more effectively. As a result, robots will usher in a new set of standards that every manufacturer will need to adopt to remain relevant.

An image displaying how Robotics and root systems are a significant component of Industry 4.0 technologies.

Advances In Robotics Means Smarter, More Agile, And More Efficient Robots.

Artificial Intelligence

Commonly the subject of doomsday scenario horror films, AI is nothing to discount as the stuff of science fiction gone wrong. The technology is already in our daily lives in the form of self-driving cars and industrial robotics. In manufacturing applications, the technology will become the new standard by which large sets of data are analyzed and predictive maintenance is undergone. In short, companies will have no choice but to “go digital” in order to survive.

An image a personal robot as part of Industry 4.0 technologies.

The Next Generation Of Artificial Intelligence Will Work side By Side With Humans On The Shop Floor.

Big Data

The means by which we capture data and store it is changing by the day. The even more complex and daunting tasks are how to sift through it and how to identify the relevant bits for different applications. New standards in search, sharing, transfer, visualization, querying, updating and information privacy are emerging as a result. To keep up with the data, rather than being mired in it, manufacturers will need to adopt more robust technologies than traditional data processing software, which is where specialized ERP solutions give your business the critical edge it needs to succeed. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is one more example of how automation technologies are increasing productivity and how we manage data in the manufacturing environment.

An image displaying how Big Data systems are a significant component of Industry 4.0 technologies.

With More Data To Store And Sift Through, It Will Become Increasingly Necessary For Powerful Tools To Assist In Making Sense Of It All.

The Cloud

In many circles, the cloud is considered a four-letter word. The technology is new and traditional operators across industries are skeptical of its intangible nature. It is not maintained locally and can’t be monitored, stored or secured using traditional methods. That being said, Cloud-based technology is how the companies of the future will operate as it allows in-house users and remote workforces to collaborate in real-time more effectively than with traditional data systems. The cloud approach is faster, improves manageability, and reduces maintenance.

An image displaying how cloud computing and cloud technology systems are a big component of Industry 4.0 technologies.

Data Stored Digitally Can Be Utilized And Amended At A Moment’s Notice.

Cybersecurity

As more and more operations move toward cloud-based solutions and rely more heavily on a robotic workforce, maintaining the security and integrity of these systems becomes a much larger issue. In fact, cybersecurity in the manufacturing sector is listed as the highest priority of the National Association of Manufacturers. Industrial control systems are among the most sensitive targets, which is the class of computers that help to manage the shop floor. As more manufacturers simultaneously build and integrate their systems through the industrial Internet of Things, more opportunities for threats emerge.

An image displaying how cyber security systems are a big component of Industry 4.0 technologies.

Cybersecurity Will be One Of The Most Crucial Concepts To Address As New Innovations Bring Change To The Manufacturing Industry.

Advanced Materials And Additive Manufacturing

An emerging advanced manufacturing technology, you might know Advanced Materials And Additive Manufacturing by the more common name of 3D printing. A process that used to take weeks to accomplish on a small scale, 3D printing can know construct large and complex structures, like housing, in less than a day. Organic compounds, custom plastics, and a host of other materials can be utilized in the process, harmonizing product and nature through innovation.

An image displaying how additive manufacturing and 3D printing systems are a big component of Industry 4.0 technologies.

Advanced Materials And Additive Manufacturing Utilizes 3D Printers For Projects Large And Small.

Modeling, Simulation, Visualization, And Immersion

Analyzing, manipulating, and leveraging data is essential when it comes to making decisions on the future of any business. With new forms of visualization, simulation, and interaction available at the press of a button, businesses can leverage the latest technology to more effectively review, report, and forecast using their data. 3D visualization, virtual reality, and immersion tools are just a few of the innovations available to a host of businesses that rely on massive amounts of data daily, including manufacturing, healthcare, sciences, finance, and energy. Beyond data, these innovations and associated tools help develop tech and lead teams to greater success rates with more thorough and effective preparation for mission-critical tasks.

About Encompass Solutions

Encompass Solutions is a business and software consulting firm that specializes in ERP systems, EDI, and Managed Services support for Manufacturers and Distributors. Serving small and medium-sized businesses since 2001, Encompass modernizes operations and automates processes for hundreds of customers across the globe. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. By identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of Industry.


Patrick Miskill’s technical series on ERP tools, particularly the Epicor DMT, wraps up today with a look at all the variables you’ll run into when building your ERP system and how learning about your errors is even more important than learning about your successes.

My actual experience with a manufacturer of fabric belts for large conveyor systems (Fenner Dunlop Americas) saw two uses of DMT: One for a major upgrade, a second for updating their Method of Manufacture/MOMs.  In the first case, we used DMT scripts to upload data from an older version of Epicor to a newer one.  Similar to a new installation, we pulled data out of the source system and formatted it in several dozen spreadsheets for uploading to the new target system. Knowing how the data was structured in the old Epicor system was a big help. For new Epicor customers, extracting and massaging the data from a non‐Epicor legacy system is quite a project; in such cases DMT is an invaluable tool.

Where The Epicor DMT Comes Into Play

In the standard product, an engineer would have to run a “where­‐used” report to determine which part revisions used the raw material; it could be just a few dozen or it could be over 100. Each part revision would require changing in the Engineering Workbench, one by one. It is a time consuming and manually intensive process.  So we developed a process starting with a Business Activity Query (BAQ) which went out and extracted only the MOMs affected by the change. The BAQ was developed specifically for subsequent use in DMT, i.e. column headings matched those required by DMT, we extracted all columns required by DMT (because we already knew the “rules” for MOMs) and only those optional columns we needed to update.  We then entered Excel column formulas specific to the change(s). E.g. if the old raw material was a polyester yarn and the new material was a nylon yarn, unit weights and other factors specific to the textile industry (ever hear of a “twist contraction” variable?) could be entered into a formula that resulted in the new variables for the MOM.

Once the extract and validation of the Excel data was completed, it was simple to format the final output for use by DMT.  Testing a few rows in a copy of the LIVE database, we could easily validate the final updated MOMs.  In fact, we could use the original BAQ extract programs to look at the updated data in the TEST system and quickly evaluate the results. Once we got the process down, we turned what would have been a 100+ hours of manual updates in Epicor to an electronic process that ran in just a few hours.  Once documented, the process could be reviewed, validated (the client was ISO compliant) and repeated as­ needed.

Of course like any software tool, DMT has its quirks. We learned the hard way that despite how illogical a data template may appear, it was critical to supply the required information in exactly the format requested. And interpreting the error logs is sometimes an exercise in the art of editing.  I highly recommend acquiring and using the free “Notepad++” data editing tool; it can help you read a jumbled up error log file and it is essential to always check the final DMT file you create from Excel, prior to uploading it to DMT.  A common mistake is to save an Excel spreadsheet as a comma­‐separated variable file and the resultant ASCII file has extraneous commas and/or columns or just plain garbage. And if your data (e.g. Descriptions) contain commas, you must enclose them in double­‐quotes (or just use a wacky character as the delimiter­‐even safer).

Words Of Caution For Epicor DMT

Just remember that “with great power comes great responsibility…”. So before you change data in a system, make darn sure you’ve chosen the correct target database, since DMT will not issue any warning whatsoever if you update LIVE instead of TEST (not that I’ve EVER made that mistake!) and will merrily chug along, processing the data with the full expectation that the operator knows what the target database should be.

This is why it is CRITICAL to always test your DMT script before you run it in a production environment. Note that if you don’t have a recent copy of LIVE for test purposes, you should seek out technical services that can assist you (usually by taking a copy of your most recent backup of LIVE and bringing it up on a similar environment) this is something that Encompass Solutions as an Epicor certified partner does on a regular  basis and offers as a managed service.

About Encompass Solutions

Encompass Solutions is a business and software consulting firm that specializes in ERP systems, EDI, and Managed Services support for Manufacturers and Distributors. Serving small and medium-sized businesses since 2001, Encompass modernizes operations and automates processes for hundreds of customers across the globe. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. By identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of Industry.


Patrick Miskill’s series on ERP management continues with a closer look at how the most powerful tool you can get for managing your system, the DMT, works alongside the most important feature, the Method of Manufacture, or MOM. That’s right, love your MOM is stll the best advice ever. 

The Epicor ERP system, like similar systems from SAP or Oracle, contains hundreds of tables in a single relational database.  The database is almost irrelevant; however, the logical “rules” regarding how the data exists in the database is critical.  Generally speaking, ERP systems consist of simple code (e.g. Unit of Measure) tables, then more complex entity tables (e.g. Suppliers) and finally transaction‐based tables.  All these data must follow rules for “referential integrity” and the underlying database engine must keep track of the data and enforce the rules whether we are talking a few dozen rows of data in a single table or millions of rows of data in hundreds of tables.

The Ease Of Epicor DMT

The beauty of these “back door” tools is that they are quick and easy to load and run. And they also provide instant feedback to the user as to the program’s progress. Either a row insert succeeds or fails.  You can test a single row in just a few seconds; it if fails, the Data Migration Tool provides an error log telling you why it failed.  Error messages can be somewhat cryptic, but usually, it is straight­‐forward.  E.g. you are missing a required column (e.g. the “Company” column). And when all else fails, you can always go enter a row via the standard product then look at the resulting data in the underlying table(s) to deduce what the business object requires. Each DMT template lists the required and optional columns with a basic description of the data. As long as you follow the “rules” the data loads from the spreadsheet, just as if you keyed it manually into the system.

Some data relations, however, are quite complex and even the data template from DMT will cause you “instructional anxiety” (that feeling you get when you read an IKEA instruction guide and say, “What the heck?”). Rule­‐of‐thumb:  Just follow the rules, get one data set to load OK, then attempt a larger data set until you get it right.  Big mistake: Run a spreadsheet with tons of rows without testing and end up with garbage in the system, or better yet, a crashed system!

Case‐in‐point:  Method of Manufacture 

Epicor stores the Method of Manufacture (MOM) for a part as a series of operations and materials linked to the finished goods Part and Revision. It is the “how­‐to” cookbook to make something as simple as a screwdriver or as complex as a 747. It may consist of a single Operation with one or two raw material parts or it can be multiple sub­‐assemblies, each with their own operations and materials. It provides not only the “how­‐to” instructions to build something but it also contains estimates for the labor and burden rates to perform the operations.  These estimates are critical to any manufacturer since they provide the baseline for each manufacturing job in determining how well the actual product conforms to the method and whether the actual costs are in line with the estimated costs.

In the Epicor Production Management module, before a single MOM is created, all dependent data must be loaded into the system.  Example, all raw material parts must be entered, each with a given unit cost. All machine resources used in the manufacturing process must be loaded and activated.  All labor resources (Employees) must be entered along with their labor and burden rates. All operations must be defined and assigned one or more resources. It is an enormous engineering task to get these data entered and all the relationships established properly so that the Epicor ERP system’s production jobs can begin tracking and documenting each step of the MOM, including capturing all related costs for management review.  When done correctly, a company can then take advantage of the “Holy Grail” feature of ERP: MRP (Manufacturing Resource Planning, where the system can analyze demand and forecast part, labor and machine requirements for meeting that demand).

Of course just as in life, “things change” like the cost of raw materials, labor rates and then you always have “Acts of God.”  For example when the earthquake off the coast of Japan struck in 2011, the resulting tsunami wiped out many manufacturers along the western coast of the country, leaving companies like Toyota in a serious bind as their “just­‐in‐time” processes ran out of parts and sub­-assemblies needed to manufacture cars and trucks. Imagine the sleepless nights that production managers must have had, re­-engineering their MOMs and seeing their MRP rules flushed down the proverbial toilet!

About Encompass Solutions

Encompass Solutions is a business and software consulting firm that specializes in ERP systems, EDI, and Managed Services support for Manufacturers and Distributors. Serving small and medium-sized businesses since 2001, Encompass modernizes operations and automates processes for hundreds of customers across the globe. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. By identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of Industry.