Three ways you can integrate the IoT into your ERP
by Rick Carlton
ERP is about creating managed information control, whereas the Internet of Things (IoT) is really more about trying to drink data through a fire hose; so how does one get from here-to-there without choking? Well, it ain’t easy…but it can be done as long as you’re willing to embrace the necessary awareness, patience and persistence required.
Consequently, and since we’re always up for an editorial challenge, we decided to identify three ways that ERP operators can start incorporating near-term IoT elements in their recurrent business operations. These points are based on the technologies available today, since God only knows what is likely to show up down the road.
1. Expand ERP-driven delivery/warehouse/distribution activities using RFID/NFC devices
Radio frequency identification, or RFID, has been part of the market’s technical lexicon for many years, however these send/receive systems, usually associated with product-applied firmware ‘devices’, or thin adhesive strips, have gotten a lot smarter. Today RFID systems are represented by hosts of sensor arrays that talk and respond within the IoT constellation in real-time; or downstream, which can be directly integrated with ERP project or product management processes.
Another IoT, ready for prime-time firmware/software system, relates to Near Field Communications (NFC) devices. In this event, these smart devices project specific data packets that, in turn, can be received by various, compliant receiving systems, such as merchant terminals. A simple example here would be waving one’s smartphone over a intelligent terminal at a consumer product sales check-stand, or tracking elements across the manfacturing floor.
Once requisite data has been received and processed locally, the packet stream can be directly integrated and applied to various home or remote ERP management, production, and financial modules.
Practical use examples include:
-Merchant transaction processing
-FTE clock-in/out processing
-Raw-to-finished goods tracking
-Warehouse equipment management
-Overall end-to-end production measurement
2. Enhancing enterprise revenue management by leveraging an ERP/IoT device matrix
In the same way that RFID/NFC represents the combination of firmware/software processes; general inventory, warehousing; FTE time/motion; transaction, and virtually any other revenue/cost-related element, can be identified, processed and pushed along to necessary home, or remote, ERP bookkeeping/finance modules in real-time.
Practical use examples include:
-Inventory bin calculations
3. Expand ERP-supervised production operations utilizing IoT control systems
On the manufacturing floor, various IoT enunciators comprised of combinations of RFID/NFC, or purpose-built control elements can manage the evolution of an entire raw-materials-to-finished product chain; in addition to stability monitoring, or triggering various active-status, and functional-state processes. In turn, these active system-states can be trapped and stored for follow-on action for affiliated system actions; or they can also be logged and stored within ERP’s various manufacturing modules in the event that remedial action is called for later.
-Materials handling measurement
-Line-based product completion announcements
-Production failure alarms
-Mechanical failure alarms
Again, these are only three ways that today’s IoT elements can be directly integrated with active ERP systems, but our very short list is nowhere close to being comprehensive. So, take your time, and above all, be sure that you fully understand and comprehend your own enterprise systems before you move on. Once that’s done, and if you’re confident enough to take a run at creating a fully-integrated ERP/IoT device matrix, there will be plenty of opportunities to choose from.
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