7/14/2017 | 8 MINUTE READ

The Five Reasons ERP Software Needs To Provide a Nesting Interface

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Nesting software provides a measurable improvement over the old manual process for ERP software.


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In today’s highly competitive global markets, lean manufacturing is no longer a nice-to-have—it’s a way of life. Costs must be reduced, operations simplified and productivity improved on a continual basis, or business will be lost to competitors that do.

Lean manufacturing starts with having an integrated ERP system to manage the business from quote to cash, including purchasing raw materials, scheduling jobs, tracking costs, shipping product on time and invoicing customers. The best ERP systems are flexible and customizable, enabling third-party software integrations to be used to support lean manufacturing efforts.

In the case of nesting software, which automatically and efficiently arranges individual part shapes on sheets or plates of stock material in a way that produces the least amount of waste, manufacturers save time and labor costs by eliminating the manual process of determining which parts to cut on an individual sheet of metal. This software can reduce purchasing costs by minimizing wasted material.

Nesting software provides a measurable improvement over the old manual process. However, it has one major limitation—it can’t talk to the ERP system. This communication requires both systems to work independently of each other, so inefficiency still ends up built into the process.

For example, issuing cut material to a job requires creating a workorder in the ERP system, re-entering the data in the nesting software, printing the nesting report, and then going back into the ERP system to issue the material based on the nesting report. These steps take time, add to labor costs, and lead to the human error that inevitably occurs with manual data entry.

Fortunately, there’s a better way—using a nesting interface that resides in the ERP software to automate the process.

Integrate the Shopfloor Cutting Process

A nesting interface is a plug-in offered by many ERP providers, including Global Shop Solutions, that integrates with the shopfloor cutting process by enabling the ERP system and nesting software to share data with each other.

The ERP system sends workorders, inventory information, workcenter details, and other data to the nesting software. The nesting software uses this data to optimize material usage and the cut patterns for individual sheets of material. Then it sends data back to the ERP system, including cutlist details, material drops, scrap, and estimates for routing and workorders.

Instead of going back and forth between each software to manually re-enter the data, the entire process is simplified and synchronized, providing multiple opportunities for time savings and process improvement. Automating the exchange of data also frees up employees to focus on producing a quality product on time.

Save Time and Money, Simplify Production

Nesting software packages such as ProNest and SigmaNEST enable manufacturers to dramatically improve material utilization and reduce waste. Integrating the nesting program with ERP software takes lean manufacturing to the next level by offering five key benefits.

1. Tighter Inventory Control

Nesting software can optimize material usage and reduce scrap, but it can’t determine how much material is in inventory and how much of it is available for any given job. With an ERP nesting interface, both are possible. The ERP inventory management module tells the nesting software exactly what is in inventory, down to the exact size and shape. The nesting software can then identify the best piece to cut that will produce the least amount of scrap.

Upon completion of the cutting process, the nesting software communicates the material drops that need to go back in inventory or can be used for upcoming workorders. The result is a seamless exchange of data between the two programs that keeps inventory figures up to date while ensuring the most efficient use of materials.

Many manufacturers also have a “bone yard,” an area out back or in some remote corner of the warehouse where material remnants often sit unused until they are eventually scrapped. With a nesting interface, the ERP inventory module can automatically notify the nesting software of these materials, turning them into highly managed and tracked extensions of regular inventory. Inventory can be optimized and costs reduced by eliminating unnecessary material purchases.

2. Improved Waste Management

It wasn’t too long ago that wasted material was considered just another business expense. Shops would simply total up the costs and add them to the price of the job. Problem is, today’s customers are no longer willing to pay for waste. They want the lowest possible cost and consider wasted material to be someone else’s problem, not theirs.

Even with nesting software, using an entire piece of material can be difficult, especially when grouping different jobs on the same piece. However, integrating the nesting software with the ERP system can significantly improve usage of leftover material by automatically creating and receiving material drops.

Suppose 3’ × 5’ piece needs to be cut from an 8’ × 10’ piece of material. Using the cut details data from the nesting software, the ERP system will assign a part number to the cut piece, providing a permanent record of when it was created and what part number it came from. The ERP software will also create a part number for the drop and record the quantity. The entire process is done automatically and is made possible by the ability of the ERP and nesting software to communicate with each other.

3. More Accurate Estimating

Lean operations require minimizing downtime as much as possible. A nesting interface lets jobs get to the floor faster by electronically inserting them into flexible schedules or cutlists. A scan of a barcode or the push of a button is all it takes to get employees working on the job.

Linking nesting data to machine and employee capabilities in the ERP system also enables more efficient production scheduling. Efficient scheduling, in turn, enables jobs to be estimated with greater precision because it is known how long each job will take and how much it will cost.

Routers created in the ERP system act like templates for workorders. As the nesting software sends over its reports, the ERP system builds a historical database of actual versus estimated material use. Using summary reports containing this data, every router that uses a specific sequence can be adjusted based on whether estimates are high or low. From that point on, subsequent workorders will have the updated estimate without the need to manually enter the data.

4. Optimized Time and Material Utilization

One of the biggest advantages of nesting software is the ability to group parts from different jobs onto the same piece of material. However, without a nesting interface, it takes time and effort to make sure the cut parts get issued to the proper job. With an ERP nesting interface, this time-consuming task happens automatically.

Integrating the ERP cutlist application with nesting software also clarifies the number of workorders currently in the queue that can fit on the current piece of material from inventory. This information saves time and money by enabling shopfloor employees to clock in to a single cutlist instead of multiple workorders. The nesting interface also communicates to the ERP software the amount of time required to complete projects, making it easier to update estimates.

5. Reduced Costs and Errors

Without a nesting interface integrating with ERP software, a manufacturer must commit operator hours to an individual (or multiple individuals) to type in data to both the ERP software and the nesting software. An individual must spend time entering the inventory data into the nesting application and the nesting information into the ERP software. It can be a time-consuming process and ripe with opportunity for error.

When an ERP nesting interface is used, a workforce’s time is spent working on higher value items that affect the bottom line. The ERP system and nesting software speak to each other, reducing the opportunity for error and saving time and money. Employees spend less time clocking on and off workorders or entering data into multiple systems and more time machining the parts. These benefits culminate in a more efficient and productive workforce that spends more time doing what they are paid to do and less time getting ready to do it.

Nesting Interface “Need to Knows”

Currently, several good nesting software packages are on the market, and a number of ERP products offer a nesting interface. However, it’s important to understand that not only is every nesting software different, even a single nesting product can have different options and configurations based on the type of product(s) that are made.

As a result, there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all nesting software. The ERP provider must offer a customized interface (plug-in) that works with the nesting software. Otherwise the two systems won’t be able to communicate with each other.

The following points should be considered before installing a nesting interface:

  • Implementation. Downloading and installing nesting interface software is a relatively simple process, especially if the ERP vendor has already built a plug-in for the specific nesting software. If not, they will have to build one before it can be implemented. Global Shop Solutions has already built plug-ins for some of the most popular nesting products. However, if the nesting software provider has made some tweaks for the customer, the plug-in needs to be adapted to integrate with these changes. Either way, the best approach involves treating every nesting interface installation as a custom project to ensure it is done right for the customer.
  • Choosing a nesting software. If nesting software is not already being used, considerable effort should be put toward acquiring the right package for a specific business, learning how to use it properly, and making sure it works well in specific environments before adding the nesting interface into the mix.

Lean manufacturing operations require seamless coordination between employees, tools, and machines—including software programs. Interfacing the ERP system and nesting package will enhance the functionality of both systems while enabling everyone on the shop floor to work together more efficiently as a team.


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