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March 29, 2023

Top Features of Business Central for Manufacturers and How to Use Them

By Hazel Jeffs

If you haven’t yet fully explored the world of Dynamics 365 as a Manufacturing Business, you could be missing out on some top-tier functions which can help to make your business processes simpler and more transparent.  

One of Microsoft’s newer “modules” within its popular Dynamics 365 Suite, Business Central for Manufacturers provides an all-in-one solution for managing every step of your production, sales, management, customer service, and more. 

Below you can find an overview of just a few of the module’s more popular features, along with a guide on how they can be accessed and used within Dynamics.  

Setting up the Manufacturing Module in Business Central 

Before any of the below features can be used, it’s important to setup your Manufacturing Module correctly. The initial step of this is easy, simply go to the “modules” page and make sure the Manufacturing option is enabled.  

From there, the setup will depend on the scope of your business and the features you’re planning to use. It might include:  

  • Entering information about the different physical locations in your manufacturing plant as “Work Centres” 
  • Grouping your machines by similar functions to create “Machine Centres” and enter information about where they are and what they do. 
  • Defining various Routings and which Work Centres or Machine Centres are used for each operation 
  • Creating Production BOMs (Bills of Materials) and linking these to the Routings which will be used for the items. 
  • Entering information such as your production calendar, working hours, and unit capacity for different centres set up Capacity Planning 
  • Configuring the settings in the Ship Floor Control page, such as entering different stages of production progress and establishing a production journal 

This initial setup might seem overwhelming, but it’s what will enable you and your team to effortlessly use Dynamics from going forward, without encountering gaps in information which may interrupt processes or make it difficult to understand what’s happening on the shop floor or plan efficient working hours.  

If you would like assistance with this step of the process, our team of Dynamics experts are happy to help you understand exactly what’s needed for your manufacturing endeavour and guide you through the process. 

Production Orders 

One vital feature of Business Central for Manufacturers is the ability to manage and track Production Orders for each item (or batch of items) you manufacture. 

This is extremely helpful when it comes to keeping everyone who might need to access this information on the same page, as anyone with the correct level of clearance will be able to view all the order details with a single click to find out exactly the status of the production and what’s needed to move it forward. 

Being able to track this also gives you a greater insight into where there are recurring holdups in the process and allows you to put more in place to streamline the production or hold the right people accountable. 

This function can be set up on the Production Order Page. To create the order, input the item number, quantity, due date, and anything else relevant. You can also choose to link to a pre-existing Routing and BOM. The order can then be planned in as much detail as you want, specifying Work or Machine Centres where production will take place and scheduling each operation, before releasing the order to the shop floor. 

As the order is in progress, you are then able to monitor it through the various stages and view the total percentage of completion. Those managing these various production stages will also be able to enter any issues which have occurred. 

When the order is complete, you can view the final quantity produced, any inventory adjustments which should be made for the next order, and the final quantity produced. 

Agile Manufacturing 

Many manufacturing businesses today use The Agile Method in ERP.  

In case you are unfamiliar, this is a method based off Agile software development, emphasising continuous improvement, and collaboration. In ERP for manufacturing, the process is broken down into small parts called “sprints” which typically take between 2 and 4 weeks.  

During sprints, cross-functional teams work together to design, test, and implement new features or improvements. The teams collaborate closely with customers and stakeholders to ensure that any changes meet their needs and requirements. This makes the process more flexible, allowing companies to respond quickly to changing market conditions or customer demands. 

The Agile Method for Manufacturing is built right into Dynamics 365 for those who wish to use it. This can be seen in a number of ways:  

  • Agile Project Management. Agile sprints can be planned, tracked and managed through the Project Management Functionality, including assigning tasks to individual team members 
  • Collaborating with customers and stakeholders through the document sharing, communication, and feedback features of the module 
  • Using the Manufacturing Execution System and business intelligence to track quality and performance metrics, identify bottlenecks, prioritise certain orders, and adjust production plans on the fly 
  • Synchronised integration with other Agile tools so you can manage tasks and sprints and track data from a single interface. These tools include Azure DevOps and JIRA.

Supply Planning 

The goal of Supply Planning is to help manufacturers anticipate future demand for their products and plan their inventory and resource levels accordingly. By doing this effectively, businesses can reduce both stockouts and surplus inventory, save money, and streamline production. 

One tool Dynamics 365 uses to support this is Demand Forecasting. This uses market trends, historical sales data, and seasonal fluctuations, and customer preferences to anticipate future demand. The module also allows you to track actual sales performance over time, to adjust and make more accurate predictions going forward. 

To set up Demand Forecasting in Business Central, you should import any historical sales data you have about your products, select your preferred settings for the forecast horizon and method, and create worksheets to specify data for individual products or product categories. 

Using this, you can create a supply planning plan. This involves setting up inventory parameters such as minimum order quantity, safety stock level, and order lead time and then automatically generating plans. These can then be reviewed and adjusted as appropriate. 

Assembly Management 

Assembly Management is a feature which allows manufacturers to manage the assembly of finished products from component items. It helps to simplify the manufacturing process by managing the creation of production orders and assembly orders, as well as the tracking of components and finished goods. 

This in turn allows manufacturers to assemble finished products more efficiently and with greater accuracy, reducing the risk of errors and improving customer satisfaction.  

This process uses the Bill of Materials you will have created during the setup and the production orders we covered earlier. Once you use these with an Assembly Order, a list will be generated of all the materials needed to produce the component items. Your team will be able to track whether these items have been received from suppliers and when you have everything available on site to continue production. 

After the goods are finished, Business Central also allows you to track the shipping process as products are sent out to customers. 

Learn more about Business Centre for Manufacturing  

Still have questions? Fantastic! Business Centre has far too many options to fit in a single blog. If you’d like to explore how it could fit into your manufacturing endeavour, the best people to talk to are our team of Dynamics experts.  

They can help you understand exactly the best tools for you within the module and how they can help your business make changes for the better, as well as how they will fit within your existing processes. From training, to implementation, to ongoing support, they’re your one stop shop for a great experience integrating Dynamics. 

Contact us today. 


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