Why ERP solutions are the building block for South Africa’s manufacturing sector.


Despite South Africa’s manufacturing sector coming up against load-shedding and a biting economy, there is still cause for optimism. The country’s manufacturing output rose 2.5% year on year in May while the industry has also been identified as a key part of the National Development Plan (NDP). Furthermore, South Africa’s vehicle manufacturers continue to impress.

Renai Moothilal, executive director of the National Association of Automotive and Allied Manufacturers recently told a Creamer Media webinar that the sector’s network is highly sophisticated and the country enjoys a proud history in vehicle production that enhances its reputation globally.

What will be crucial to manufacturers’ success going forward is ensuring that they keep up to date with the latest technology and be able to negotiate an increasingly complex business environment. A big part of that will be streamlining processes so they can be managed more effectively. According to South African business solutions company Times 3 Technologies (T3T), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions will be central to this process.

Integrated ERPs effectively consolidate functions such as human resources, finance and accounting, inventory, sales, distribution and manufacturing, as well as other complementary areas such as project management into a single database that allows different departments to access and share information in real time. The result is improved decision-making and optimisation of operations. T3T has identified important ways in which ERP solutions can help the manufacturing sector. These include:

Inventory management

Real-time visibility into inventory helps manufacturers maintain optimal stock levels to ensure that raw materials and finished goods are available when needed.

Production planning and scheduling

Detailed production plans and schedules based on demand forecasts, resource availability and lead times can be produced to optimise on-time delivery.

Quality control

Quality data allows manufacturers to identify quality issues and take corrective action quickly. Not only are products improved but wastage also becomes a thing of the past.

Management of suppliers

An integrated ERP solution offers insights into supplier performance, lead times and costs. This means manufacturers can make informed decisions about sourcing and build strong relationships with reliable suppliers.

Shop floor control

By integrating with shop floor systems, the ERP solution provides real-time data on machine performance, progress and employee productivity. The outcome is that opportunities for improvement can be identified and taken.

Managing costs

Being able to monitor expenses related to materials, labour and overheads is another huge advantage. Particularly in battling economies, the ability to implement cost-saving strategies is gold.

Regulatory compliance

South Africa is awash with industry-specific regulations and standards. Thanks to ERP solutions, document compliance-related business can be tracked closely to ensure adherence to prescribed controls. T3T is a Platinum Business Partner for software solutions giant Sage in South Africa and works with the company to develop add-ons that are particularly relevant to the manufacturing sector. Its Sage X3 add-ons, for example, unlock even greater automation and functionality with Sage X3 software.

Among the standout features is Cloud Connected Currency Upload, a function that caters to manufacturers that handle various currencies on a daily business and require the latest exchange rates. This removes the risks and financial repercussions associated with manual inputting. Another add-on is Bulk Stocktake Import, which simplifies the upload of stock count Information into Sage X3.

Manufacturers also stand to benefit from T3T’s Delivery Manifest Add-On, a module created to integrate driver, logistics, and warehouse functionality into a single function within Sage X3. Ultimately ERP solutions and add-ons work in concert to streamline any manufacturing process. The outcome is improvement in everything from financial reporting to customer service.

 Stephen Howe, Director at Times 3 Technologies