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THE COMPANY: Incorporated in 1992, and headquartered in Montreal, Que., WeighPack Systems is a packaging equipment industry leader with an extensive, high-quality product line, and leading-edge packaging equipment designs. For more than 18 years, WeighPack has delivered packaging equipment for applications throughout the world, within industries as diverse as food, hardware and pharmaceuticals. "Our core business is the manufacture of weighing and bagging equipment," says company president and founder, Louis Taraborelli. "Our machines process snack food, frozen food, candy, hardware - anything in a bag." While WeighPack's primary market is the U.S., the company is rapidly expanding its international presence with locations in Chicago, Las Vegas and Shanghai, and a new location in Southern Florida. THE CHALLENGE: "We're not a high-volume business," says Taraborelli. "Most of our sales are build-to-order. Our products are extremely variable, and our customers typically require a high level of customization. In consequence, we need to maintain a huge inventory of stock codes and componentry across multiple warehouses and subsidiary companies. We require an ERP that gives us complete control over our inventory, and provides us with real-time financial information." THE STRATEGY: During the early 1990s, WeighPack hired a third-party consultant to research the ERP products available at the time. "We considered several brands of ERP," says Taraborelli, "but there was one product that clearly came out on top. In 1995, we implemented Syspro." Today, WeighPack has been leveraging Syspro for more than15 years. To prospective ERP users, Taraborelli offers a word of advice. "To gain optimal benefits from your ERP system, a company must be willing to make some changes to both workflow and work processes. After making the decision to buy, dedicate a project team to speed the implementation process, and facilitate the necessary changes." THE RESULTS: "We now have a standard platform across all our warehouses and subsidiary entities," says Taraborelli. "Using a centralized server, we can access real-time inventory information from any of our warehouses. We can also access the bookkeeping records of our subsidiary companies, allowing our accounting department to stay on top of our financial health. To get the same level of information without Syspro, I'd need double the accounting staff." Syspro lets WeighPack know to the penny what a job will cost in advance. "We can now predict the cost of a finished product before we do the job. And within seconds of the job being closed, we know the real cost, and can advise our sales department if they need to adjust the price for future business opportunities. "Syspro continually upgrades and revises its software to make use of emerging technologies," Taraborelli says. "Syspro invests in keeping its product leading edge. From my perspective, everyone at Syspro Canada is accessible, personable and interested in the well being of our company." For more information on WeighPack Systems, visit www.weighpack.com. For more information on Syspro, visit http://canada.syspro.com/?//.
THE COMPANY: B.C.-based StructureCraft Builders Inc. harnesses master-craftsmen traditions, sophisticated engineering and modern construction techniques to create complex structures. The company recently demonstrated its engineering and design prowess in building the now iconic roof for the 2010 Richmond Olympic Oval. THE CHALLENGE: StructureCraft has earned particular recognition for its exposed wood and timber structures. But designing wood structures does have its challenges - in particular, balancing aesthetics and function. Not only did the Olympic Oval roof need to be beautiful, it had to control and dampen echoes, as well as hide electrical, mechanical and sprinkler systems. In addition, StructureCraft co-ordinates and communicates with a wide range of stakeholders on projects, from the project owner and architect to manufacturers and subcontractors. THE STRATEGY: Co-ordinating a project such as this without visual models would be nearly impossible. StructureCraft relied on Autodesk Inventor software, which helped the company to iterate complex design options more quickly, co-ordinate with subcontractors and project partners, communicate designs clearly to stakeholders, and streamline fabrication. To meet the acoustical and aesthetic requirements of the Richmond Oval roof, StructureCraft explored in Autodesk Inventor software the many different options for the pattern that ultimately drove the WoodWave roof panel design. For project co-ordination, Autodesk Inventor incorporated components from other trades and manufacturers into its design. StructureCraft credits the interoperability and extensive user base of Autodesk software with making co-ordination with trades and manufacturers easier, allowing them to efficiently share data with subcontractors. And if an issue arose, StructureCraft could pass along the information to the appropriate trade accurately and quickly. THE RESULTS: By making the data manageable, StructureCraft was able explore design changes easily, and keep complexity at bay. With help from Autodesk Inventor software, StructureCraft completed the Richmond Olympic Oval project on aggressive schedules, meeting the complex design requirements within budget.
THE COMPANY: Magna Advanced Technologies is a division of Magna International Inc., a global automotive parts manufacturer based in Aurora, Ont. The company designs, develops and manufactures automotive systems, assemblies, modules and components, and engineers and assembles complete vehicles. The Advanced Technologies division focuses on the development of new products and technologies - from prototyping to tooling. THE CHALLENGE: The automotive market is very competitive, and has faced many economic challenges in recent years. As a result, "capital is always constrained, [and] companies, Magna included, are always looking to conserve capital expenditures where possible," explains Durward Smith, director of Magna Advanced Technologies. "We need our programs and processes to be running as fast as possible." The company aims to develop new products and technologies that will help make parts faster and better without sacrificing quality. THE STRATEGY: Magna Advanced Technologies chose PowerSHAPE and PowerMILL, from Delcam, to machine parts because the software allows them to easily transition from prototyping to tooling. PowerSHAPE CAD software provides a complete environment to take product ideas from concept to reality. It offers the freedom to manipulate surface form of the CAD model, to build from wire frame and make global changes with solid feature operations and editing. PowerMILL CAM software is designed for the manufacture of complex shapes typically found in the aerospace, automotive, medical device and tool making industries. The solution allows for high-efficiency roughing, high-speed finishing, five-axis machining techniques and fast calculation times, and provides powerful editing tools to ensure optimum performance on the machine tool. THE RESULTS: Paul Miranda, a project leader for Magna Advanced Technologies, and a designer of many of the company's inventive and inspired creations, couldn't be happier with the Delcam solution. "I've used several softwares in the past. PowerMill, by far, is the quickest, easiest to use," he explains.
THE COMPANY: Based in Port Coquitlam, B.C., Wesgar Inc. is one of the largest precision sheet metal manufacturers in Western Canada. The company's slogan, "Artistry in Metal," reflects Wesgar's innovative approach to manufacturing and its overall mantra. Wesgar prides itself on being the premier provider for companies throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico with precision sheet metal requirements. In business for nearly 45 years, Wesgar designs and manufactures products for a wide variety of industries. THE CHALLENGE: Wesgar began implementation of Epicor's Vantage manufacturing solution in 2008, and moved to the next-generation Epicor 9 enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution in June 2009. "We wanted a modern manufacturing platform that offered better access to data for reporting and customization," explains Troy Richman, IT manager at Wesgar. "We also were looking for improved scheduling capabilities, and the ability to leverage fully integrated financials." Richman says the move to Epicor took less than three months to implement and go live, and the process was pretty smooth throughout. "Everything worked out very well," he says, adding that one of the biggest challenges was getting users comfortable with the system in a relatively short time period. "We definitely took advantage of Epicor's online educational tools, and the onsite support from Epicor consultants who were at Wesgar for about a week and half." THE STRATEGY: The company maintains a total manufacturing space of 80,000 square feet, and its 5,000-square-foot assembly cell has the capability to perform simple to complex mechanical and electrical assemblies. Richman explains that the company is "viewed internally and externally as a branch plant for each of our customers." The company's goal is to ensure its customers become the most cost-effective manufacturers in their industry. To achieve this goal, Wesgar employs state-of-the-art machining, highly skilled personnel and systems, as well as Lean Manufacturing practices combined with Continuous Improvement methods to simultaneously increase the quality, decrease the costs of component parts, and increase velocity to the market. Wesgar looks to Epicor's fully integrated suite of manufacturing and distribution management solutions to help support such initiatives. THE RESULTS: Among the new features of Epicor that Wesgar is leveraging is the solution's streamlined graphical user interface, which enhances visibility of data by making it easier to drill down for more detailed information, and "right-click" features, which facilitate customized reports. "Users know how to get the data they need. This is very empowering to them, and it saves me a lot of time not having to show each user how to find the information they are looking for," explainS Richman. Integrated scheduling functionality allows Wesgar to schedule more resources more efficiently than ever before. It vastly improves the visibility and access to schedules throughout the plant, and reduces lead times. Wesgar has been able to improve its operational visibility and efficiency via Epicor's Material Requirements Planning (MRP) capabilities, which help manage materials consumed, forecast end-product requirements, adjust production as forecasts change, and generate suggested purchase orders to fill anticipated gaps in raw material inventory. For custom jobs, this enables Wesgar to closely manage costing of each set of production; and Epicor's comprehensive Quality Suite automates the regulatory compliance process, helping Wesgar meet ISO requirements. Richman also says the company has benefitted from Epicor's integrated financials, which provide users with the ability to drill down into financial reports to provide the requisite high-level "big picture" information, as well as access to more detailed information for financial "power users." "Prior to Epicor, our accounting was mostly a manual process," says Richman. "Now it's all in one place, and we have visibility to all transactions. Our accounting group is particularly happy with the system's support for FIFO (First in, First out) costing. We're also now able to quickly see and track our estimated costs versus real costs, for improved financial control and management of the business."
THE COMPANY: Davis Controls, based in Oakville, Ont., is a distributor, representative and licensed assembler for international manufacturers of instrumentation and control products, offering a range of products for the industrial market. Founded in 1933, Davis employs 50 people in seven offices, working with more than 30 suppliers to serve thousands of customers across Canada and the United States through local sub-distributors and representatives. THE CHALLENGE: In an organization such as Davis Controls, seamless communication and information exchange with the entire value chain is crucial. When the company's sales and distribution began to excel, the organization started to take another look at their internal business processes to insure they could meet competitive pressures, one of which was customer service expectations. Davis Controls was having difficulties wrapping their arms around their growth and accelerated internal processes, putting a real strain on their relationships with customers, partners, suppliers and distributors. The company kept their information in separate silos, and frequently did not have instant access to their own workplace information, leading to timely delays and poor communication. THE STRATEGY: Davis Controls immediately recognized the need to streamline its business processes and consolidate its workplace information for real-time review and analysis across the entire value chain, aiding in customer support. "Integration of both disparate solutions and multiple processes was critical to us, not only between departmental information and function, but between employees, customers and suppliers," states Neil Montgomery, president and CEO of Davis Controls. THE RESULTS: Davis Controls was already using Exact Macola ES for its back-office ERP needs, so the integration with Exact Synergy was an easy transition for the company because it provided what other solutions did not - one holistic view of the company's business operations, and the ability to enhance its existing ERP investment. Exact Synergy's web-based collaboration platform brought together the essential people, processes and knowledge by allowing real-time collaboration between departments, offices, countries and, just as importantly, Davis Controls' outside partners, so that everyone was working with the same, accurate information. "Synergy, by default, breaks down functional silos through its integration of workplace data, while its workflow facilitates function through communication," explains Montgomery. "We have complete management of value chain, financial, workflow, document and project information through an online browser. You can't get more powerful than that." Davis Controls continued to invest in the Exact Software e-business suite, with the purchase of Exact Event Manager, which enables organizations to define the events important to their business and the actions they would like to take in response to these events. This application, along with Synergy workflow, truly provides a complete business operations system for Davis Controls, helping to streamline processes across the entire organization. With Exact Synergy and Exact Event Manager, Montgomery believes the possibilities are endless. "Synergy grows as Davis Controls grows, and has improved our bottom line and increased productivity," says Montgomery. "Bringing the value chain into our organization has resulted in faster customer feedback, true collaboration and greater efficiencies. We can't imagine our corporate life without Synergy." For more information about Exact Software, visit www.exactamerica.com.
THE COMPANY: Backed by 40 years of experience, Drayton Valley, Alta.-based Surefire SCADA Inc. creates web-based hosted SCADA systems that encompass all aspects of industrial automation. The company designs and implements industrial control systems and maintains information technology. THE CHALLENGE: One of Surefire SCADA's customers was looking for a solution to get a fast, reliable update performance. Previous solutions from industry leaders couldn't deliver both. Kyle Chase, a systems integration specialist for Surefire SCADA, describes the dilemma: "One product gave them the reliability, but it could only give updates once every eight seconds, and the customer needed updates every second. Another product they tried provided the performance needed, but it would shut down every day." THE STRATEGY: Earlier this year, Chase found Ignition by Inductive Automation, which included an OPC-UA server, making the entire software system Linux compatible. Having used Inductive Automation software for the past three years with much success, he was confident in trying out the company's newest release for the distillation refinery project. THE RESULTS: After conducting dry runs with the system, Chase has been more than pleased with the results. "The performance is absolutely crazy," he says. "Ignition is actively subscribed to 30,000 tags with updates every second. We can finally monitor all of our tags at the speed we want, with the reliability we need." Chase is sold on OPC-UA and being able to use Linux for control systems. "To me, the move to a true cross platform environment is important," he explains. "This holds many advantages, especially when it comes to system flexibility and security. It helps keep costs down as well." For more information about Ignition by Inductive Automation, visit www.inductiveautomation.com.
Dassault Systèmes, a provider of 3D and product lifecycle management (PLM) solutions, recently launched V6R2011, the latest release of its PLM 2.0 platform, as part of its Lifelike Experience strategy. The release includes advances in collaborative creation with 874 new features, additional collaborative innovation enhancements, as well as an entirely new V6 Academia solution. V6R2011 includes CATIA advancements in systems functionality and content, such as various automotive-focused Modelica libraries, as well as Lifelike Human and Lifelike Conveyor - two new DELMIA production solutions for enterprise resource modelling. V6R2011 also updates Dassault Systèmes' PLM Express offer with new key attributes for the mid-market. A complete list of functionality enhancements in V6R2011 is available at http://www.3ds.com/products/v6/latest-release/.
Remtec Inc., a subsidiary of Remcor Inc., designs and manufactures tanker trailers for petroleum products. These are the big tanks you see delivering gasoline to service stations but they also transport other petroleum products, such as asphalt. While from the outside it may look like one big tank, on the inside, it is divided into four to six separate compartments. Remtec is the main petroleum tanker trailer manufacturer in Quebec, based in Chambly, but its parent company owns a similar business in British Columbia as well as two in the U.S. (in Nebraska and South Carolina). According to Remtec's director of research and development, André Bourgault, the market for these tanker trailers is not as large as for other truck trailers, so competition is strong. Customers expect faster and faster delivery times, so "the ability to design and assemble a trailer fast is a competitive advantage," he says. In addition to the pressure to deliver tankers quickly, Remtec faces other challenges in the design of its products. First, these tanker trailers consist of many parts (some designed in house, others provided by suppliers) and it's necessary to keep track of everything with an accurate bill of material (BOM). Second, because Remtec's tankers are oval rather than round (to lower the center of gravity and prevent rolling over), designers must work with complex shapes, in particular where the front and back "heads" of the tanker interface with the main portion of the body. Third, the majority of these designs involve sheet metal, making the creation of accurate flat pattern drawings crucial. Remtec's previous CAD system was 2D AutoCAD. It claimed it was difficult to do this work in 2D, especially when creating the complex surfaces of the heads as well as keeping BOMs up to date. It was necessary to create a new BOM each time a design variation was made. This was also true for the sheet metal flat patterns. With AutoCAD it was also more difficult to detect interferences prior to having parts made. Errors that were detected on the shop floor delayed delivery and increased development costs. Realizing that 3D modeling could address these issues, Remtec evaluated a number of solid modelers, and the first couple was ruled out due to cost. SolidWorks and Solid Edge were put through a thorough benchmarking process that led to the selection of Solid Edge. "The Solid Edge guys took better care of us and we were satisfied with the capabilities of the software," Bourgault explains. "Also, Solid Edge is easy to learn and use." WORKING QUICKLY, VIRTUALLY Remtec now builds virtual, complete tanker assemblies in Solid Edge, parameterizing the model so that it can be changed quickly to meet a customer's needs. "We have several models and depending on what the customer wants, we simply modify variables such as length, height, width, number of compartments and so on," Bourgault says. "With parametric modeling, this happens much quicker than it used to with AutoCAD." Once a parametric model is done, it takes Remtec about half as much time as it did in the past to tailor a design to a customer's specifications. One very important benefit of Solid Edge is its sheet metal modeling environment. Once a sheet metal part is designed, the flat pattern is generated automatically. "With 2D this was very time consuming, but with Solid Edge it is just a mouse click," Bourgault notes. A BOM is also just a mouse click away once the model is finished, saving the company the 12 to 15 hours that used to be required to generate a single BOM from drawings. The BOMs are also more complete because Solid Edge counts all the small items such as fittings, washers and bolts that used to be omitted in the past. When a customer asks for something unique and a new design is required, Remtec no longer builds a mockup. Remtec is confident about doing this because the company is able to detect interferences in the software. The accuracy of the designs created in Solid Edge has made it possible to design and build a first production unit 20 percent faster than before. And because there are fewer errors and scrapped parts, the company saves money on development costs. Solid Edge brings other advantages as well. Production drawings are now easier for shop personnel to understand. "They are clearer than before because now we can do exploded views and 3D views. The guys in the shop all like that and there is less error in assembly now," Bourgault says. "Another advantage of Solid Edge is that designers like it. It is a lot more motivating to work in 3D." Remtec also sends its 3D images to its customers for design reviews. The customers find the 3D images much easier to interpret than 2D drawings. John Smith is a technical writer for Siemens PLM. (c)2010 Siemens PLM Software Inc. Reprinted with permission.
For manufacturers looking to add, upgrade or replace ERP software, one of the most apparent concerns is what the system can do. Can the system handle the company's scheduling needs? Does it offer production monitoring and quality control? Can it streamline communication? While these are important, what an ERP system can and cannot do is only one consideration. In fact, functionality should be considered against the backdrop of the entire package: its technology and its vendor. Only by doing so can manufacturers ensure they make a right and lasting choice. • Platform. While platform (e.g., .NET, SQL, hosted, etc.) is important, an ERP system should not be selected based on platform alone. Doing so may distract from the real value an ERP system can provide. Choosing based on a pre-conceived idea that only one platform will fit the selection criteria may eliminate viable options before they are considered. Instead, look for high-caliber functionality then consider whether the functionality compensates for the platform difference. • Technology. As technology evolves, so too should a good ERP system. If a vendor is not on the leading edge of technology, chances are that vendor is not a viable option for the long haul. Check to see how they are keeping up with technology. Are they focused on research and development for future applications, or are they focused on past technology that will soon be outdated? • Number of vendors. It is important to understand how many total vendors will contribute to a package. Some are built upon technology developed by and acquired from multiple sources, but packaged as a single system. Sometimes the number of vendors can be as many as the number of system components. Sustaining multiple vendors can be cumbersome and should be a factor in determining the long-term affects on an information systems department. • Product demo. Product demonstrations are often a good way to see an ERP solution first hand, and knowing what to look for will provide the clearest picture. Consider whether questions are answered clearly and concisely. Be persistent when gathering desired information. As well, the most valuable tool is personal experience, so test-drive the system, too. • Customer referrals. While existing customer referrals are beneficial, remember three things: customers are on the referral list for a reason; vendors don't typically give out the names of problem customers; and vendors will most likely provide only the number of references requested (if two are requested, only two will be provided). Then check the vendor and customers' websites for case studies, quotes, customers in the news, etc. Ask for referrals from companies that used the same system, are similar in size or are in the same product industry as your own. The vendor may not have an exact match, but a software vendor that can offer a variety of customer referrals is more likely to have many happier customers than one who cannot. • Implementation time. When provided with an estimate for the number of days to complete an implementation, ask how the vendor arrived at the number. They may have a proven plan that does not match what their competition is offering. Times will vary from package to package, but don't take for granted the number of days noted by the salesperson. Get feedback, so when contacting a reference customer, ask whether the vendor met their implementation schedule. If they did not, how much longer did it take, and why? • Customer retention. It is one thing to have a short list of current, happy customers - but it is something else entirely to maintain the customer relationship for years to come. Ask the vendor what their customer retention rate is. Do a majority continue on with them for years - even decades? With the buyouts and recession of past years, no ERP vendor can claim 100-percent retention, but anything less than 80 percent should raise a flag to ask a question. • Think realistically. While it is always good to think about where you want to be in five or more years, also think about where you are now. Buy a package that focuses on your current market position but can carry you to your next goal and beyond. An over-the-counter ERP system bought at the local office supply store will not see a company through to its multimillion-dollar goal. On the other hand, the software solutions used by the Nikes of the world may be too big. An ideal package is one that can be purchased with only the components that are needed but expand with a business as it grows. • Consultant catch. The utilization of consultants in the ERP selection process can be useful and informative. However, beware of the consultant who has affiliations with a specific ERP system. Hiring a consultant should be paying for an unbiased opinion of which software truly is the best match for your company and not a test for them to see how they can sell you their ERP system. Daniele Fresca is the director of marketing for IQMS.
To bolster a critical new product launch and cut down on repetitive data entry (as well as to anticipate future needs), Ionics Mass Spectrometry Group took the plunge and deployed a company-wide enterprise resource planning (ERP) system - and saw immediate results. Founded in 2001, Bolton, Ont.-based Ionics manufactures solutions for customers in the mass spectrometry market. Over the years, the 50-employee company has emerged as a leading player in this market and its research has led to world-leading patented developments. Most recently, this included its small-footprint 3Q molecular analyzer, a triple quadrupole mass spectrometer with the highest of standards in performance, ease of use and serviceability, which the company launched in 2009. As Ionics was planning to expand its existing product line, the company realized it needed integrated supply chain planning and engineering tools to manage product development and inventory. With thousands of parts per machine, using spreadsheets for engineering revision control and material planning was no longer efficient. "With no MRP or ERP solution, we relied on manually entering data into spreadsheets," said Ionics vice-president of operations Vince Hamilton. For example, its new molecular analyzer "includes nearly 12,000 parts and we needed a better process to understand our inventory." With no previous inventory management solution, the company turned to Epicor and Six S Partners, an Epicor certified partner, to implement a new ERP system with integrated supply-chain planning and engineering tools that could support the company's critical new product launch and scale to support future needs. The company also selected Epicor 9 for real-time material requirements planning (MRP) and next-generation ERP functionality delivering in-context business insight and flexibility to meet both current requirements and future needs. "Epicor's staged implementation process was extremely beneficial for us," Hamilton said. "We took a 'crawl, walk and run' approach, starting off with a cost-effective manufacturing process platform that allows us to add other solutions down the road." Epicor is delivered 'out of the box,' with built-in workflow processes that enable manufacturers to manage the entire order cycle: from marketing and sales through production and planning, sourcing and procurement, installation and service and, finally, financial recognition. It also offers a range of supply chain management and distribution capabilities, delivered within a single business platform. After a four-month implementation period, Ionics went live with Epicor. During the beta testing period, the company was able to complete the Epicor training and see the benefits of a proven, formal planning and control tool. It also allowed the company enough time to input their inventory to support the upcoming product launch. It now has the ability to manage materials consumed, forecast end-product requirements, adjust production as forecasts change, and generate suggested purchase orders to fill anticipated gaps in raw material inventory. "We started to see the value and capabilities of Epicor 9 on the shop floor right away," Hamilton added. Ionics outfitted the Epicor platform with quality assurance, inventory management, purchasing and procurement modules. The solution provided greater visibility into the status of the inventory to determine what purchases needed to be made and when. The implementation also provided full engineering change control and management, and multiple revision control of products within a single solution "And we see this as just the beginning," Hamilton continued. Moving forward, the new platform will grow with the company, providing the ability to add new capabilities as needed. While Hamilton says Ionics plans to extend the use of Epicor by implementing CRM, quotation, sales, finance and accounting modules in the future, he says the company saw benefits right from the start. Kelly Poffenberger is a consultant with Lutz PR.
Flexpipe Systems masters product traceability with handhelds and IFS Applications Project delivers lean improvements, environmental protection for oil and gas industry vendor THE COMPANY: Flexpipe Systems Inc., of Calgary, Alberta, manufactures and sells proprietary non-metallic, corrosion-resistant pipeline products and crimped steel fittings primarily for oil and natural gas producers. The company was acquired in 2008 by a global energy services company, ShawCor Ltd., and migrated from its existing Epicor Vantage enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution to Shawcor’s version of IFS Applications. THE CHALLENGE: Because Flexpipe Systems’ products are used in oil and gas gathering systems and other environmentally critical applications, lot tracking is critical. Flexpipe Systems has not had a fitting recall in recent memory, but wanted to proactively ensure the company could quickly mobilize a precise recall if necessary. Early on, Flexpipe Systems recognized the need to record the location to which each fitting was shipped, but their only means of collecting this data was doing so manually. This manual process was slow and labor intensive and was not practical, particularly in an emergency situation. “We provide pipeline systems and services to a highly regulated industry; keeping concise records, including the fabrication specification of each individual fitting is key,” inventory control manager, Colin Moyer, said. “In the very unlikely event of a pipeline failure, a thorough investigation into the possible cause is paramount to the reinstatement of that pipeline.” Flexpipe Systems was also performing extensive non value-added work by recording inventory and shop floor transactions manually and entering into them into IFS Applications. “We were recording everything on paper, which was then physically carried to an IFS station,” said business analyst, Grant Clarke. “Shipping or receipt details including the part number, serial tracking numbers, etc. would then be entered into IFS by someone when they had time… not necessarily at the exact time of the product shipment/receipt.” THE SOLUTION: Flexpipe Systems retained Cinqcon, of Vancouver, British Columbia to help them integrate Intermec bar code scanners with IFS Applications. Cinqcon leveraged IFS Applications’ service oriented architecture, using web services to drive data directly through IFS Applications’ business logic. Handheld devices now read barcodes generated by a Loftware, Inc. enterprise labeling solution, capturing serial, lot and batch data automatically and entering it in IFS Applications. “We offered Flexpipe Systems a standard transaction package to which when added a few enhancements to fit exactly what the company and its parent, Shawcor, had in mind,” Cinqcon Consultant Ilona Pretorius said. Cinqcon found that Flexpipe Systems did not require IFS Applications’ existing and very robust handheld interface, and instead chose to develop its own simplified data capture environment, easily tying this interface into the open architecture of the ERP solution. “Flexpipe Systems gained working efficiency and speed by opting for a more minimalistic interface and passing just the essential fields back and forth” Pretorius said. Despite a concurrent networking project that sapped resources from the handheld integration process, the entire project took less than four months, according to Moyer and Clarke. THE RESULT: The project has delivered lean improvements and allowed Flexpipe Systems to mitigate the risk of a recall. “It definitely helps purchasing, it helps the MRP planners for distribution orders, and it will soon be rolled out to other areas of the company,” Moyer said. “Prior to the implementation of the handheld devices and IFS interface, we had limited visibility on serial, batch and lot numbers. With our manual processes it may have taken days to identify and recall a potentially problematic batch of products,” Moyer said. “We have streamlined the process into a query search that now takes no more than 10 minutes. This also increases the speed at which we can ship our fittings. With our new system, were are able quickly scan each barcode as the products are staged prior to shipping; the manufacturing details, serial numbers etc. are captured and logged instantly increasing labor efficiencies and eliminating the potential for human error.”
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