In 2020, firearm manufacturers produced over 11 million guns. While consumers only see the end product, there’s much more that goes into producing every one of those firearms. From managing raw materials and finished goods to maintaining compliance and supply chains, the logistics of firearm manufacturing is often more complex than the firearms themselves.
For decades, FFLs relied on paper and pen to run their operations before adopting more capable computers and software, with many manufacturers still using these traditional or older methods of managing materials and manufacturing processes. However, modern problems require modern solutions, and top manufacturers – across all industries – have turned to enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems.
Used to manage day-to-day business activities such as accounting, procurement, project management, risk management, compliance, and supply chain operations, ERP systems connect business processes and enable a flow of data between them. Systems can even be tailored to specific industries to better overcome common production constraints, with a well-suited system becoming the backbone of a business.
To better understand the benefit of a firearms ERP, below are two ways an ERP system can help FFLs overcome everyday operational challenges.
By law, all firearms must have a serial number. But before a series of unique characters can be marked on firearm frames or receivers, the serial numbers must be created and reserved to prevent duplication. In the past, reservation would be done manually in paper logbooks or using tools like Microsoft Excel. Though these processes work, they lack the automated efficiency of today’s ERPs.
Designed for firearm manufacturers, firearms ERP systems integrate serialization into its software, allowing serial numbers to be reserved by multiple attributes, created in bulk for mass production, adjusted to remove specific numbers, and tracked through completion. Serial numbers can also be reserved for internal use and third-party jobs, as well as controlled for variances.
Reserving serial numbers is only the first step, though. Next is marking the firearms, a process typically using laser engravers. A firearms ERP system can help with that too, integrating with laser machinery and software to provide control over each individual firearm. Further, ERPs can connect to FFL A&D Bound Books to automatically acquire firearms as they’re being serialized, avoiding potential compliance violations.
According to a recent ATF report, failing to timely record firearms as manufactured or acquired in A&D record is the number one most-cited inspection violation of Type 07 FFLs in the last five years, with five of the top 10 most common violations relating to firearm serialization and marking. But firearms serialization is not the only way a firearms ERP system can better manage inventory.
Whether manufacturing firearms, ammunition or other related products, chasing down inventory and fulfilling orders can be timely and costly tasks. If your employees have ever struggled to find products, overestimated backstock, lost orders, or shipped the wrong items, you can attest to this.
Armed with a firearms ERP, firearms and inventory can be barcoded for entry into the system and tied directly to production and customer orders. Firearms can then be tracked from operation to operation with movements timed and monitored to identify problems before they happen. Then when products are ready to ship, Advanced Ship Notices (ASN) can be deployed to set customer expectations.
Of course, inventory management is dependent upon strong inventory transaction controls. Permitting mass entry of unvalidated and uncontrolled inventory data is a recipe for risk and increased expense, and as they say, “garbage in, garbage out.” With a firearms ERP system, admin users can limit access to firearm inventory adjustments and IT overrides, while barcode scanning and dual entry can force quality inputs with fewer keystrokes for more accurate data.
And with real-time data being a catalyst for business optimization, it’s critical that inventory – especially firearms – be managed effectively and efficiently with the utmost compliance.
At Orchid, our team of firearms industry professionals has decades of experience working for and with firearms manufacturers. Experts in FFL operations, compliance and technology, we not only know the challenges facing manufacturers, but also the best solutions for eliminating production pain points.
Orchid ERP Accelerator™ combines the best features and functionality of leading enterprise resource planning systems from NetSuite, SAP, Epicor, SAGE and others with our knowledge of how to run an efficient, profitable and compliant firearms business. Our cloud-based system natively integrates with other Orchid solutions, including leading A&D Bound Book, Orchid eBound™, and firearm serialization software, Orchid eSerial™, plus top third-party accounting, laser marking and distribution integrations, to provide a comprehensive tool designed for today’s firearm manufacturers.