Formulation management software is essential to companies in the food, beverage, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics industries, and other sectors that use batch process manufacturing systems. In these environments, formulation management is a complex process, subject to numerous variables and regulations. However, with the right formulation management software, companies can manage ingredients, materials, and product information with greater ease and efficiency. Here, we outline how to choose a system that's suitable for your operation.
Key considerations when choosing software for batch process manufacturing
Identify your specific needs
Many formulation management platforms will tout themselves as the best in their field. However, the reality of the situation is that you need to identify a product that fits your specific needs – which is especially the case if your production line operates using batch processes. In some cases, the market leader may not be the best fit for your requirements. You need to identify your facility's needs and current bottlenecks and assess how these might evolve in the future.
Compare cost vs. functionality
Considering that formulation management software has various functions depending on the needs, size and sector of the company, it's to be expected that costs and functions will vary. A software vendor might be very good at getting a lead excited about the software's various capabilities and functions, but the reality of the situation is that you need something that represents value for money based on your requirements and budget. You also need a solution that can grow with your operation; however, do not be seduced into buying a platform that's full of features you're unlikely to use or 'grow into'.
Arrange a demo
Having an in-depth demo is invaluable when purchasing a manufacturing software platform. A vendor or supplier taking the time to add your business data to demonstrate how specific processes will look will be more meaningful compared to a generic demonstration.
Evaluate any implementations barriers
Once you have paired a platform with your operation's particular aims and objectives, you need to consider if there will be any barriers to implementation. These could include anything from resistance from staff members to the cost of training, to data migration, or indeed, your budget. During this stage, evaluating organisational buy-in is essential; you have to carefully consider whether or not the team believe that this system will enhance productivity and promote lean manufacturing principles.
Draw up your rollout plan
Evaluating your rollout plan is essential to ensuring a smooth implementation. You should consider the overall timeline, whether or not the system rollout should be done in stages and how you intend to advocate for the system to key stakeholders. Another key point to consider is data migration and whether or not you'll need additional support to carry out this operation. Once you have chosen your system, your provider should work closely with you go through these plans in detail.
Choosing the right system for your batch production process
The specific features and functions of your chosen formulation management software will depend on the requirements of your operation. Therefore, you need to carefully consider the steps to choose a platform that's right for you. For instance, formulation management software can be purchased in silos or as part of an integrated ERP system; whether you choose a stand-alone or integrated product will depend on your goals. With the steps detailed above, you can select a system that meets your aims now and into the future.