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Headquartered in Burlington, Ont., Higginson Equipment was founded in 1945 as a manufacturer of pneumatic and hydraulic NFPA-style cylinders, and as a distributor of fluid power and industrial product lines. In addition, the company manufactures “Economax” corrosion-resistant cylinders for the trucking industry, custom designs and builds special cylinders for a variety of uses, and leverages its expertise in pneumatics to create C-frame air presses. In 2009, Higginson decided to part ways with its 15-year-old business software. “There were three factors motivating our decision,” says company president Bill Allan. “First off, we'd been with our old system for 15 years. It was simplistic, and it didn't have a materials resource planning (MRP) component. The writing was on the wall. Secondly, the recession – we needed to increase our productivity without increasing our manpower. Finally, we received funding in the form of two government grants, one through the Yves Landry Foundation, and the other through the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters' SMART Program. I was already a big believer in ERP. With government assistance, I couldn't say no.” A 20-person company with revenues in the $7 million range, Higginson recognized the necessity of optimizing itself for the future. “We've been steadily growing,” says Allan, “but we needed something to help us get to the next level. We wanted to eliminate the inefficiencies and bottlenecks in our processes, and in doing so, we wanted to build a solid base for improvement and growth.” To facilitate its strategy, Higginson engaged its long-time VAR to perform an assessment and recommend an approach. “Our company-wide processes were analysed in detail,” says Allan. “As a result, we were advised to implement a new, more advanced ERP system. After doing due diligence, and on their recommendation, we chose Syspro.” When it came time for implementation, Higginson did it with alacrity. “We took what is usually a six-month process,” says Allan, “and did it in two months. We spent late nights, inventing on the fly, even made some rash decisions. Fortunately, the VAR that sold us Syspro gave us amazing support, and at the end of the day we got what we wanted.” Bill Allan says the company's new ERPbrought new efficiencies. As Higginson implemented its new ERP, says Allan, most of the old, inefficient processes were funnelled into one of the following categories: • Automated functions available in Syspro (e.g., automated work order creation from sales order; automatic serial numbers generation for manufactured parts) • Product configuration (to automatically define product specifications, Bill of Materials and cost at the time of quotation)• Integration with office productivity tools (such as Microsoft Office)• Electronic faxing and remote connectivity. “Syspro has made us much more efficient,” says Allan, “especially as far as the Bill of Materials and work orders are concerned. We used to have to do an excel spread sheet for every job, and then more spreadsheets to calculate cut-lengths of different materials. Now we just put the model number in and Syspro calculates everything for us.” Before Syspro, adds Allan, Higginson's system supervisor, a highly skilled machine operator, sat at his desk three hours a day doing repetitive calculations. “Thanks to Syspro,” says Allan, “he's now gained three hours a day in production time. We've also managed to eliminate a good number of mistakes. Occasionally, in the past, we'd cut a batch of tie rods incorrectly – not anymore.” Because of Syspro's modular nature, one can add efficiencies to work-flow as time and energy allows. “One thing we want to do more of is load levelling,” says Allan. (Load levelling is the process of evenly distributing demand, in terms of orders or schedule, over a given period of time.) “We haven't quite figured out how to take advantage of it, but load levelling will give us a bird's-eye view of production. That will help us smooth things out, and see problems that might be coming down the road. It's a nice feature that we still have to leverage completely.” When asked about Syspro's ROI, Allan gives thanks again to the government-sponsored grants. “The grants considered,” says Allan, “Syspro is going to pay for itself in a year. The company is out-of-pocket approximately one person's yearly salary. For a relatively small amount of money, we automated our business processes and removed the repetitive paperwork. But the real money-saving consequence of Syspro is that we can now do more with fewer people – and that makes us more competitive. I would definitely recommend Syspro to any manufacturer.” For more information on Higginson Equipment, please visit www.higginson.ca. Odete Passingham is marketing manager for Syspro Canada.
Dassault Systèmes, a leader in 3D design software, 3D digital mock up and PLM solutions, has announced that SolidWorks World 2014 will take place from January 26-29, 2014 at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, Calif.
CAD MicroSolutions presented the launch of SolidWorks 2014 to a room full of customers and also announced it would be representing electronics PCB design software from Altium across Canada. Darren Gornall, CAD MicroSolutions president, talks about the support his company provides for customers and provides an example of productivity gains that can be achieved. Chris Watkinson, managing director, explains some of the key the benefits of SolidWorks 2014, including SolidWorks Electrical, and introduces the Altium platform and how it fits into the product design process.
With the release of Edition 3 of the IEC 61131-3 PLC programming standard as defined by PLCopen, automation software programmers now have advanced object-oriented design capabilities at their disposal. This greatly expands the programmer’s options in terms of automation programming and future-forward concepts for advanced machine functionality that can be implemented as a result.
VSM Abrasives Canada Inc. is a subsidiary of VSM AG, a global leader in the abrasives market headquartered in Hannover, Germany. In Canada, the company manufactures more than a million abrasive belts a year and sells its product through a network of distributors to industrial end users, most of whom are in the metalworking market. The company also manufactures and sells woodworking abrasives.
Contrary to some popularly held views, implementing enterprise resource planning (ERP) software does not create an inherent conflict with a lean manufacturing philosophy. Sure, material requirements planning (MRP) functions might operate in a manner inconsistent with pure demand-pull systems, but companies don’t have to take an all-or-nothing approach to lean.
Accenture has announced plans to acquire PCO Innovation, an international consulting and systems integration group based in Montreal, Que., that specializes in product life cycle management (PLM) software technologies.
Invensys, a supplier of industrial software, systems and control equipment, has acquired Austin, Texas-based InduSoft, a provider of HMI and embedded intelligent device software for the automation market.
Whether it’s designing a high-tech new vehicle or gaining new insight into the entire supply chain, Canadian manufacturers are turning to the latest software technology to stay competitive in the 21st century. These new tools now offer advanced functionality, deeper integration and a faster return on investment—and a whole lot more. Want to know how these manufacturers met their challenges through software? Read on for their stories. Autodesk: Digital prototyping opens the door to new product design The Company: Since 1981, British Columbia-based manufacturer Weatherhaven has been a leading provider of portable shelters, camps and systems for remote sites around the world. The company engineers, manufactures and installs custom shelter systems for a wide variety of commercial, military and medical applications. The Challenge: After winning a highly competitive contract from the Department of National Defence (DND) to replace an aging fleet of military trucks with complex container-based shelters, Weatherhaven embraced digital prototyping by standardizing on software tools such as Autodesk Inventor, a software solution within Autodesk Product Design Suite. The Strategy: Weatherhaven has traditionally used Autodesk Product Design Suite to reduce the time required to create and deploy the shelters. The software helped quickly move the Medium Support Vehicle System (MSVS) project—which called for delivery of nearly 700 units—from prototyping through manufacturing, to production. The software also paid additional dividends when Weatherhaven recently won the second half of the MSVS contract: equipping each container to serve as a distinct type of shelter (ranging from kitchens and bathrooms to medical and dental centers). The configuration work for each shelter type leveraged the designs from the first half of the contract—all of which was completed in Inventor software. The Results: The positive ties between Weatherhaven and the DND have helped open doors for Weatherhaven with new customers. After the DND announced a procurement of Boeing CH-47 Chinook helicopters, Boeing needed to quickly develop mobile facilities to support the helicopters. As a result, Boeing tasked Weatherhaven with the development and manufacturing of the specialized CH-47 support shelters—Weatherhaven’s first introduction into the aerospace industry. The process of collaboration and design review was made significantly easier by the use of Autodesk software. “Autodesk Product Design Suite has given us the capability to engage with major aerospace companies in collaborative design projects, and pursue programs and develop products that we wouldn’t have thought possible before,” says Ryan Savenkoff, Weatherhaven special projects engineer. www.autodesk.ca Epicor: New ERP shines a light on lighting manufacturer's operations The Company: CRS Electronics Inc., based in Welland, Ont., manufactures LED lighting products for commercial architectural applications. The Challenge: Fast growth and rising sales opportunities with national commercial distributors put pressure on systems. New supply chain systems were required to manage international supply requirements and handle the challenges of long lead times and forecast planning. CRS Electronics also needed to meet the financial requirements and controls of being a publicly traded entity. Realizing that the company had outgrown its legacy software—a financially-centric software package—the management team began evaluating options to address their growth needs. Given the growth needs and the business timing of the move to a new system, CRS Electronics desired a fast implementation of 60 days. The Strategy: After evaluating its vendor options, CRS Electronics decided to take a closer look at the next-generation Epicor enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution, and teamed up with Epicor local partner Six S Partners for an in-depth review. Epicor was the only vendor who could address all scenarios and meet CRS Electronics’ unique requirements and implementation timeline. Together with a tailored “quick start” implementation strategy, CRS Electronics was able to go live and get up and running on the core finance and supply chain aspects of the system, allowing them to meet the demands of their distribution and commercial client base. Following the Epicor best practices methodology for implementation carried out by Six S Partners, CRS Electronics is better enabled to increase and streamline its operational effectiveness in meeting the day-to-day challenges, and replace the individual spreadsheets and islands of information that were not previously integrated, shared effectively or properly controlled. “Six S Partners was great at helping us understand the software and the best practices to meet our needs without limiting the flexibility for the future,” says Justin Koetsier, director of IT, CRS Electronics. “The quick start program and knowledgeable consultants from Six S Partners guided our project to get us up and running effectively.” Six S Partners takes a unique approach to the implementation that puts the customer in control of the amount of functionality that they wish to employ, along with the time, budget and scope elements. By managing the project with its Lean tools and leveraging the Epicor Signature Implementation Methodology, the customer’s assessment becomes the blueprint for the project success. By forging a strong partnership with its clients and ensuring clear expectations, the Six S Partners team is able to meet and exceed customer expectations within the budget and scope that was agreed upon. “Every customer’s requirements are unique. For CRS Electronics, they were interested in a platform for growth—so getting results early was key,” says John Preiditsch, president and founder, Six S Partners. “Today, they are expanding and opening new markets and launching new products. By extending a systematic approach to the use of Epicor, we have already helped CRS Electronics realize the benefits of a standard package and best practices where most firms would have gone through the trials of manual or custom tools that would eventually need to be brought back in line with the organizational objectives and systems. Six S Partners has learned that regardless of customer size, sticking to the proven implementation process allows us to remain within scope and on budget.” Key functional areas: All departments play a vested role in the information they put in the system. Epicor was instrumental in establishing a close connection between all business units inside CRS Electronics, from sales and finance to production and shipping. In addition to better collaboration, built-in functionality provides opportunities for continuous improvements and efficiencies across the entire organization, including forecasting, purchasing, bill of materials, job travelers and a comprehensive MRP system. From an IT standpoint, Epicor is an intuitive and easy-to-use system. User-specific dashboards are easy to configure, which in practice means employees from different divisions, including finance, sales, shipping, purchasing and engineering, have access to information that is relevant to their job needs. “New modules can be applied as we need them, and information stays behind a wall until we’re ready for it. We’re able to easily create dashboards to tailor information for the entire company so each department has the right information for their day-to-day work,” says Koetsier. The Results: Coming in on time and under budget, Epicor was able to meet CRS Electronics’ challenging implementation timeline of just 60 days. “With Epicor we now have world-class tools to manage our supply chain and improved operational controls in place,” says Koetsier. “Epicor provides us with a strong foundation for growth that allows our organization to manage international, multi-company operations in a challenging marketplace without adding overhead or office staff, which met the original mandate.” “As we prepare to take a giant step forward marketing two new brands, each sold through different sales channel partners, promoted by separate regional sales management teams, and serviced via brand-specific inside sales co-ordinators, this ambitious upgrade is critical to providing industry-leading service,” says Travis Jones, president and CEO, CRS Electronics. “Six S Partners and the next-generation Epicor ERP solution are the perfect solution to meet our needs.” www.epicor.com www.sixspatners.com Infor: Custom fabricator gets a streamlined approach to system management The Company: Fabris Inc. is a highly specialized precision machine shop, manufacturer of custom engineered products and leader in custom-built equipment. Fabris Inc. is a global supplier servicing a wide variety of customers in the steel industry, as well as a provider of precision machined components to the power generation and oil & gas industries. The Challenge: In 1995, Fabris Inc. began evaluating new enterprise applications because the company’s previous methods were becoming outdated—manual processes added on administration work and duplicated team efforts. This lack of visibility made order management and tracking tedious for employees, and was impacting the bottom line, in both time and money. The team at Fabris Inc. selected Infor VISUAL for a more streamlined approach to system management. Because of the software’s flexible architecture and scalability, it can easily evolve with the times and the changing needs of the business. Most importantly, modernized scheduling capabilities are paramount. Infor VISUAL ensures the most efficient use of materials and resources and provides the necessary information to deliver products on time. The company has been able to translate business plans, including forecasted demand, into production plans using firm planned orders in a true multi-level, optional-component scheduling environment. Infor VISUAL also displays all key statistics on a single screen, helping to ensure that schedules are met, materials arrive on time, and costs are in line with estimates, and uses a scheduling concept which increases shop throughput without increasing overhead. The Strategy: Every department is touched by Infor VISUAL, and Fabris Inc. has been using the application from start to finish in the sales and order fulfillment process. Sales teams use the estimating window to quote out jobs with real-time information to build quotes, and everything flows down from there. Those quotes turn into orders which flow to the appropriate teams. It continues to streamline the business and keep the teams confident that the data shown is accurate, helping to speed through orders and positively affect customer service. Infor VISUAL provides a compelling visual presentation that shows how each part of the manufacturing process relates to the others—helping to resolve bottlenecks, schedule effectively and price jobs accurately. The Results: Since implementation, Infor VISUAL has been able to streamline orders, create a more predictable process and generate greater revenue. Productivity continues to increase organization-wide and the teams are able to get much more work done with less people. Scheduling, which was one of the most critical components of decision-making, went from the 60th percentile in customer on-time delivery to now nearly 97 per cent. The system automates key tasks and provides staff with direct information on what needs to be done. In addition, Fabris Inc. has lowered its scrap rate from 12 per cent to two per cent. The company continues to update and upgrade the product since it was first purchased, so Infor VISUAL evolves as Fabris Inc. does and the company is still finding ways to better use the software to help challenges that are facing them today. www.infor.com Omnify: Out-of-the-box PLM helps security company boost productivity The Company: Genetec, Inc., located in Montreal, Que., is a pioneer in the physical security and public safety industry, and a global provider of world-class IP video surveillance, access control and license plate recognition (LPR) solutions to markets such as transportation, education, retail, gaming, government and more. The company was recently named one of the world's leading vendors of Video Management Software (VMS) by IHS Research. The Challenge: Genetec had previously implemented an open-source Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) system to replace the use of spreadsheets for managing product information. Although they did realize some improvements in their processes, they needed to find a new PLM solution to meet their requirements in an electronic manufacturing environment. They found with the open-source solution that minimum functionalities—such as intelligent reference designators, redlining, Bill of Material (BOM) compare and importing capabilities—had to be implemented via customization of the software. The time spent by software designers to customize the tool to meet their needs was extensive and counterproductive. It was becoming important for Genetec to have the ability to catch product documentation problems early on, prior to manufacturing, and to have a complete history of the changes for accountability. Genetec needed a PLM system that delivered robust, out-of-the-box functionality, including: electronic management of part data, engineering changes, BOMs, and product documentation that did not require customization to implement. They also needed a system that offered easy integration with their existing engineering design tools (Altium Designer and SolidWorks) and the ability to interface with their ERP system (MS Dynamics)—at a price that made sense for their organization. The Strategy: “After looking at some very expensive PDM-style software from large corporations well known for their CAD systems, and also looking at Oracle Agile, we quickly nailed it down to Omnify Software,” states Danny Roy, hardware development manager for Genetec, Inc. “Ultimately, we were impressed by how easy the software was to use and the amount of functionality offered out-of-the-box.” “Migrating all of our legacy data from the previous system to Omnify Empower PLM went seamlessly with the help of our assigned Omnify project engineer,” says Roy. “We had minimal time to invest on our side, and we were able to quickly import the data and start using the system with only one day of downtime.” The primary goal of implementing the Empower PLM solution was to fill the voids of their previous tools in order to make engineering processes, such as new part creation, completely automated and more formal. “Previously, MCOs/ECOs were processed in Excel, even while using the old PLM system, because it did not provide redlining functionality to easily visualize the details of product changes,” notes Roy. Another goal was to improve visibility across the organization with regards to hardware product changes. This process was in place for software, but not for hardware. Omnify Empower allows Genetec to automatically notify appropriate parties of the intended changes and when they become released. “We already see the benefits with this aspect of the tool and it is not even considered fully deployed, as we still have plans to make use of task assignment features and giving viewing abilities to other groups, such as technical documentation, in order to continuously improve the awareness across the organization and foster team communication,” says Roy. The integration with Altium Designer enables electronics designers to browse existing parts inside the Omnify Empower database directly from within their Altium environment. This promotes team collaboration by enforcing official library management for part symbols/footprints. Designers can quickly determine if they need to create a new part in Omnify Empower, and then get immediate access to it in Altium during the approval process. BOMs can be exported from Altium and imported into Omnify easily and quickly, due to pre-configured mapping. When a schematic is modified, an Engineering Change Order (ECO) is issued directly from a new BOM out of Altium, and redlining on the existing products is automatically generated. “The loop is closed and efficient,” says Roy. “Omnify feeds Altium with parts, Altium feeds Omnify with design/assembly information such as BOMs and drawings, and then Omnify confirms visually any change that was implemented in Altium at the schematics level.” The process is similar with SolidWorks, except that parts are not browsed directly from within the SolidWorks environment. The process is performed via a BOM export/import and accurate field mapping. “We are targeting to reach full integration with SolidWorks in the next few months by using the Omnify CAD toolkit, which will allow SolidWorks to push a BOM directly into Omnify,” notes Roy. “Since the highest level BOM in the hierarchy is a mechanical assembly, for most of our products, SolidWorks has control over the final end-assembly details through its native PDM vault for progressive versioning during development. Once the design is ready to release to production, SolidWorks pushes this official released version (assembly) to Omnify and makes manufacturing documentation available to the NPI/production group.” The Results: Productivity has increased greatly since implementing Empower PLM with notable improvements in data quality and time savings. With Empower PLM, Genetec has transitioned to a completely automated system for managing product documentation and changes, and eliminated the need to partially manage processes in Excel spreadsheets. This environment removed the data integrity issues commonly associated with hand-entering information into spreadsheets. For the engineering group, the more formal and thorough part creation process now in place addresses issues early on. Parts are verified via an automated approval process before they are released and propagated to outside sub-contractors. Communications between the NPI/production group and engineering group has improved, with guided workflow approvals and easier traceability of product versions. Eliminating the need to customize the system or perform partially manual processes has saved the company a significant amount of time and money. A design engineer is now able to import a large BOM (electronic board or mechanical assembly) into Omnify Empower, easily and within seconds. Genetec’s previous PLM system required a cut and paste, item by item. Furthermore, Empower PLM offers the ability to compare BOMs between different, but similar flavours of the product, to quickly confirm that the new product version has been correctly implemented. “Overall we executed close to 90 changes over the course of nine months, and I could not imagine performing those changes via manual formatting in Excel,” says Roy. “We have realized huge organizational benefits compared to our previous open-source PLM/Excel process, including time-savings, improved data with completely automated processes, enhanced communication and traceability of product change history.” www.omnifysoft.com Siemens PLM: Advanced CAD/CAM software speeds up design of a high-tech vehicle The Company: The Composites Innovation Centre Manitoba Inc. (CIC) is a leading not-for- profit organization focused on the development and commercialization of composite materials and technologies. Based in Winnipeg, CIC employs a staff of 26 at its 21,000 square-foot facility. The facility includes laboratory space for composite material characterization and a prototype assembly area, in addition to office locations for digital design and analysis activities. The Challenge: Motive Industries, a respected design outfit, approached the team at CIC for assistance in developing a fiber-reinforced plastic passenger car. Dubbed Kestrel, the vehicle is underpinned by an aluminum frame and powered by a hybrid drivetrain. CIC was called in to incorporate exotic bio-fibers, including flax and hemp, into the body of the vehicle. Engineers at CIC used multiple tools for geometry preparation and analysis of composite structures. Despite being functional, this computer-aided design (CAD)/computer-aided engineering (CAE) approach was time-consuming and repetitive due to the disconnected nature of the tools themselves. Engineers at CIC wanted a more cohesive workflow and the productivity benefits it would bring. After evaluating numerous systems, they decided on Siemens PLM Software’s NX software for its tightly integrated design and simulation environment. The Strategy: The goal with Kestrel was to create parts that were as light as possible without compromising structural integrity. This meant frequent design-analysis iterations to be certain this delicate balance was being met across the entire vehicle assembly. The seamless associativity between design geometry and analysis models using NX allowed design changes to be quickly pushed to analysis models, with no need for manual updating. The Results: With NX in place, engineers at CIC are taking on increasingly complex projects and exploring a greater number of design variants, while delivering results to their clients in record time. Whether it’s down-selecting from a wide range of initial options or verifying and optimizing the performance of a more mature concept, NX represents a single, integrated digital solution for accomplishing this swiftly and intuitively. The use of NX helped the CIC team secure dramatic weight reductions on the Kestrel project without compromising the safety or durability of the vehicle. The ability to evaluate such a wide range of design variables in a very competitive timeframe allowed them to maximize the use of lightweight biofiber composite materials in the design. “The switch to NX software allowed us to perform design and analysis projects that would have previously been impossible,” says Alastair Komus, principal engineer responsible for the ground transportation sector at CIC. “The efficiency with which we can make design changes and verify their performance has dramatically increased.” www.siemens.com/nx Sage: Communications company "goes big" with new ERP system The Company: iS5 Communications, based in Mississauga, Ont. designs, manufactures, installs and services network routing equipment for use in harsh environments, such as those encountered in the utility, transportation, industrial, military and surveillance industries. While the company is young, its management team is a tenured group of professionals in this field. The Challenge: As a new company, iS5 Communications already had complex needs and sought a powerful ERP solution that offered all the required functionality in an integrated, scalable offering. The Strategy: “I have used many ERP applications during my career, including Oracle and Microsoft Dynamics,” says Clive Dias, president and CEO of iS5 Communications. “What always plagued these applications was the lack of integration. None of them offered all the tools we needed in a single system; we used other add-on applications to provide the necessary functionality. ” Dias sought to avoid integration challenges when selecting ERP software for his enterprise. A trusted, long-term business partner recommended Sage ERP X3. “It offers everything we were looking for in one application,” Dias says. “We have manufacturing, product configurator, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), service issue tracking, remote access, multicurrency, strong core accounting and financial reporting capabilities in one powerful product.” The Results: With the help of its business partner, iS5 launched the accounting and financial reporting modules of Sage ERP X3 quickly. Currently, the team is planning for the deployment of the balance of the solution, including the manufacturing, distribution and CRM components. “We are fortunate to have an experienced, knowledgeable partner to help us deploy the software,” says Dias. “They are well organized and are keeping the project on schedule.” The end result means iS5 Communications has a solution that will scale with it for years to come. All required functionality is available in the product, eliminating the need to purchase and maintain multiple applications. www.na.sage.com Syspro: New ERP lets manufacturer see operations clearly The Company: Since 1975, Multi-Glass Insulation Ltd. has been distributing and fabricating insulation systems and energy-conservation building materials to the commercial, industrial and residential construction markets. Multi-Glass is headquartered in Brampton, Ont., and maintains branches in Hamilton, Ottawa, Montreal, Dartmouth, Saint John, N.B. and St. John's, Newfoundland. The Challenge: Nasser Ahmed, Multi-Glass's operations manager, has been with the company for eight years. “In former jobs, I used a variety of ERPs,” says Ahmed, “including AS400 and SAP. When I joined Multi-Glass, the company was running its operations on ACCPAC and Excel. There were problems with our basic business processes, such as production, planning and scheduling. As luck would have it, my boss at the time was aware of the difficulties, and I was hired in time to assist with the implementation of Syspro ERP.” Alex Wannan, Multi-Glass's former corporate controller, explains the chain of events that led to the choice of Syspro. “Multi-Glass acquired a company in Atlantic Canada that used Syspro on a Unix system,” says Wannan. “They hadn't upgraded in a long time. It took us 12 updates to arrive at the Windows environment with SQL. We still weren't sure we should roll it out, so we performed an ROI, and told the Board that the system did 86 per cent of everything we needed. We were in acquisition mode at the time, and the Board didn't want to spend money on an ERP when a suitable one might be acquired. In light of the ROI, however, a budget was approved for the roll-out of Syspro over the rest of the company.” The Strategy: In fact, says Wannan, the roll-out only cost Multi-Glass one quarter of the approved budget. “We simplified the process by starting fresh and not carrying over the history, and two or three of us set it up over a weekend. While we were at it, we made a good number of internal process changes. The Atlantic company had been fighting the system. We realized that Syspro is an extremely well-designed ERP, and we changed Multi-Glass's business processes to match it. In the end, we spent very little money and it worked almost immediately. A year later, we rolled it back over the Atlantic company and they changed their processes to match Syspro's business logic as well. These roll-outs had a profound effect on the way Multi-Glass does business, and we realized a return on our investment in months.” The Results: “The improvement in our efficiency started from Order Entry,” says Ahmed. “In the past, incoming orders were written up by hand. After shipping they would be invoiced through ACCPAC. That almost guaranteed that our inventory was never accurate. Today, with Syspro, everything is live—orders go straight into Syspro, packing slips are automatically printed, and everything that's shipped today gets invoiced today. A day's work in a day is our process motto, and that works well with the way Syspro wants to do business. We can now easily go back and pinpoint our errors, and quickly disseminate relevant data to the employees who need to make informed decisions. This means, for example, that Customer Service can provide accurate promise dates to the customer while live with them on the phone.” “Once Multi-Glass had changed its internal processes to match Syspro's way of thinking,” says Wannan, “purchasers were able to trust the Syspro MRP for buying decisions, and the company's inventory turns improved beyond our targets. Eight years ago, Multi-Glass was doing half the turns it's doing today.” Higher turns reflected the improved efficiency of Multi-Glass's inventory investment, and led to reductions in stagnant inventory, and in the square feet required for storage. “One of the hardest things to get used to is the new low level of inventory,” says Wannan. “People would walk into our warehouse and wonder if we were going out of business. One of the things we discovered, once Syspro was in place, was that Multi-Glass was stocking a fair bit of inventory just to make our customers feel comfortable that we could meet their demands. Over time, we extended our trust of Syspro to them (largely by constantly meeting our promised delivery dates), and we were able to lower our inventory while still maintaining their level of comfort.” As with any major corporate change, Multi-Glass's personnel were initially cautious. “It took our employees awhile to become comfortable with the new processes,” admits Ahmed. “In time, however, they came to appreciate the value of Syspro, and we now have total team commitment. Today, we're using about 65 per cent of Syspro, including Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, General Ledger, Inventory, Analysis and Work Orders. We haven't had time to implement the Financial Reporting and Job Quote modules yet, but we plan to very soon.” According to Ahmed, the final part of the transition to Syspro involved eliminating the need for Excel. “That took a couple years, but the more Excel we got rid of, and the more we relied on Syspro for our business processes, the better our overall decision-making became. We analyse our transactions on a daily basis now. Every transaction is reviewed, and exceptions are examined, whereas we used to have to wait for our financial statements to see that something irregular occurred.” “Syspro ERP is critical to Multi-Glass's profitability,” concludes Wannan. “It can be very hard to quantify ROI, but now, even in years with lower sales figures, Multi-Glass is profitable. Giving our employees a tool as powerful as Syspro has made a major difference.” “Overall,” says Ahmed, “Syspro's been awesome. I'd recommend it to anyone in a similar line of business.” For more case studies on how Syspro ERP is helping manufacturers simplify their success, visit www.syspro.com/syspro-manufacturing. Watch Canadian customer testimonials here. SolidWorks: Bike component manufacturer rides high with new CAD software The Company: Dennis and DJ Paulson are mountain bike riders who wanted to go faster, higher and longer than possible with conventional bicycle components. So the brothers, who co-own the Straightline Precision Industries machining business in Victoria, B.C., started making their own gear and offered it to their friends. Their extra-rugged, custom-designed bicycle components became so popular with friends and extreme riders that the brothers launched the Straightline Components brand. The Challenge: Today, Straightline Components has become the choice of professional stunt, BMX, dirt and slope-style mountain bike riders. For example, one of the company’s products—a hydraulic brake line detangler, which allows handlebars to spin without tangling brake lines—was featured on the Edge Factor TV show in an episode entitled “Gnarly Metal.” Using this custom-designed component, professional rider Mike Montgomery won the Jumpship Dirt jump competition. Straightline’s transformation from machine shop to bicycle part manufacturer presented challenges and required a different development approach than the previous solution used on early designs. “Our breakthrough product was a durable pedal that uses polymer bushings to provide a more stable platform for landing,” DJ Paulson recalls. “While that product was very successful, we realized that we would need a 3D development platform to expand our product offering and take our operation to the next level.” The Strategy: Straightline is all about high-performance, so the Paulsons understood how a 3D parametric CAD system and integrated simulation capabilities could help them. “We need to work with expensive materials, such as titanium, and refine our strength and weight ratios without relying on cost-prohibitive prototyping. Almost all our machining customers use SolidWorks design software from Dassault Systèmes, and we’d had such a good experience machining their parts—because the geometry is a lot cleaner on SolidWorks models—that we decided to move to SolidWorks,” says DJ Paulson. “We switched to SolidWorks because we had witnessed the migration from 2D to 3D among our customers,” DJ Paulson notes. “Everyone we spoke with said SolidWorks was the easiest to-use 3D package and represented the best combination of power and value. We did a trial with a competing solution just to make sure, but in the end, we agreed with what our customers told us. SolidWorks is the best solution to help us advance product development.” The Results: Since moving to SolidWorks, Straightline has cut in half the time and cost associated with physical prototyping. Instead of machining actual parts for visualization and testing, the brothers can accomplish those functions in a virtual design environment. Working in the SolidWorks 3D environment also allows Straightline to use 3D design imagery to market and showcase the technology behind its products. On Edge Factor, Straightline was able to show an animation of a fluid dynamics simulation conducted to ensure that seals on the hydraulic brake line detangler were leak proof. “SolidWorks simulation capabilities allowed us to put the hydraulic brake line detangler through its paces—all on the computer screen—ensuring that it was safe and effective before Mike Montgomery attempted his first stunt, jump, or ride,” Dennis Paulson says.www.solidworks.com This article originally appeared in the September 2013 issue of Manufacturing AUTOMATION.
The Company Frost Fighter had its origins as part of a public company, ICG, in 1965. In 1985, it was sold as part of a private company and operated as a Division of ICE Manufacturing until 2011 when Frost Fighter was incorporated as a separate business entity. Its present manufacturing facility is over 60,000 sq. ft., and is located in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The tremendous growth of Frost Fighter to become the industry leader in commercial portable heaters is attributed to its continuous innovation and development of the most advanced engineering designs, tailored to best meet its customers' needs. Frost Fighter is at the top of industry standards in terms of efficiency, dependability and safety. Its proven designs pay off in low-cost reliable performance. “Our heaters are designed to withstand the harshest weather conditions in the world,” says Bill Speers, Frost Fighter's CFO. “A lot of our product goes to oil sands projects, mining, and construction. Most of the companies which use our equipment are in the resource sector, and most of our sales go to industrial-equipment rental companies.” Frost Fighter sells primarily into the United States and Canada. The ChallengeWhile still a division of its parent company, Frost Fighter was managed on a legacy Syspro ERP platform. “Our parent company was several versions of Syspro behind,” says Speers. “Once we'd split off, but while we were still running on the legacy version, we performed our due diligence and looked at several different ERP solutions.” The SolutionIn the end, Frost Fighter decided to stay with Syspro. “Syspro 6.1 resolved most of the issues that were important to us,” Speers says. “In addition, Syspro has very strong support in Winnipeg. After four months on the old version we began the implementation, which included moving our history over to 6.1. Now we have live General Ledger and all the benefits of a modern ERP.” Frost Fighter's ERP implementation was made easier and quicker by the decision to stick with Syspro. “Ideally, when you look at changing systems, you take a year to plan and select the software. Then you move through periods of transition and testing before you're up and running. We wanted to accelerate the process, and we ended up accomplishing the whole project in four months. What helped was the fact that our data conversion went quickly because we were staying with Syspro, and because the Syspro supplier in Winnipeg lent us their considerable expertise. To be honest, I was expecting a wheel or two to fall off – but none did,” Speers says. The year following the implementation was a time of rapid change. “Our employees were not used to relying on an ERP as much as they do now, and it took us a year to get up to speed. We needed to get our inventory correct, optimize our Bill of Materials and ensure the consistency of address fields. A number of new employees joined the company and were able to figure out Syspro without too much difficulty. In addition, a few of the employees from the parent company came with us, and that made the learning curve a lot shorter. It's an ongoing job to use the system better, but we've come a long way.” The ResultWith the implementation under its belt, Frost Fighter took the next logical step: Syspro Mobile's bar-coding solution. “We have about a dozen different models of heater, all serial numbered for CSA and ETL certification. Because heaters use fuel and are potentially dangerous, we have to be specific about models, and be able to trace each heater through manufacture and testing,” Speers says. In the past, Frost Fighter had a manual system for serial numbers, and errors accrued from having to manually enter a 10-digit serial number about six times. Now that its moved to a bar-coding solution, the serial number is entered directly into Syspro when the unit is tested. This initializes the back flushing, which receipts the finished product into stock, posts the relevant labor transactions, and records inventory depletions based on the Bill of Materials. “In addition, we can now use Syspro Mobile to pick the serial number off the shipping document, forward it to the person who prepares the invoices and have it auto-populate the invoice. That facilitates efficient order processing and shortens the time to invoice. Moving to Syspro Mobile took some work, but it's created huge savings of time and effort,” he says. According to Speers, the challenge for Frost Fighters is to learn how to use a fuller range of Syspro's capabilities. “Syspro 6.1 has helped our processes immensely,” he says. “Implementing Syspro Mobile was a big change that really helped our efficiencies, but there are many other examples. We chose to install the Electronic Funds Transfer module, for one. Now payments to suppliers can be made electronically, and that's been a plus. Not only are our suppliers appreciative, it's now more cost efficient to process our accounts payable.” Would Bill Speers recommend Syspro? “When I'm looking at an ERP system, I want to be confident that it will meet our needs 10 years down the road. Syspro has really kept up with the changes that have happened in business and technology,” Speers replies. “Twenty years ago you had to make a lot of modifications to fit an ERP to your business – and there weren't many ERPs that were suitable for a SME (Small to Medium-sized Enterprise). Syspro has a strong commitment to SMEs, and to staying at the forefront of ERP technology. So would I recommend Syspro? Yes – I definitely would.” Watch the Frost Fighter Video here. Odete Passingham is marketing manager for Syspro Canada.
Autodesk recently announced the availability of Fusion 360, a cloud based 3D CAD service poised to usher in the next generation of product design. Fusion 360 is designed to let users quickly develop designs from initial concepts to detailed engineering in a cloud-based environment. Designs can then be accessed and shared from anywhere at any time and the platform ensures that all data, models and information is automatically achieved, versioned and managed.
Since the late ‘90s, SAP and Oracle have dominated On-Premise ERP in the large, Tier-1 manufacturing enterprises, but primarily as the ERP system at the corporate level. They have not been that successful in being implemented in the next tier, the Tier-2 small and medium sized plants. Therefore, most of what is written about Tier-2 ERP understandably discusses different types of solutions being considered for the large enterprises’ next tiers’ plants and divisions—and how they will integrate with these larger, Tier-1, corporate systems. As late as 2009, Gartner reported only On-Premise ERP software vendors in their Tier-2 ERP magic quadrant. The adoption of Cloud ERP is gaining momentum and that quadrant will change significantly over the next five years. If one still believes in the “old school thinking” that one ERP software vendor will be installed in every plant, one is aligned with SAP’s view of this market: SAP at the corporate facility with SAP Business by Design or SAP Business One in the Tier 2 plants. If one believes that Cloud ERP software will dominate, they agree with NetSuite, a Cloud ERP vendor, which has trumpeted much about Tier-2 ERP. They have a different view:SAP or Oracle at the corporate level with Cloud ERP in the Tier-2 plants. Indeed, NetSuite is not shy to promote the virtues of such 2-Tiered ERP because they recognize that SAP’s view is no longer the commonly held view and they believe their ERP can support some of those Tier-2 distribution and very light assembly plants. What is really happeningOf surprise to some, but not to the majority that really understand what is occurring in the ERP and manufacturing world, is that the customers do not want these next tiers to emulate that which they already have at the corporate level. Instead, they hope that the next-generation solutions on the Cloud are different. Indeed, Tier-2 and even Tier-3 Cloud ERP vendors are making inroads in large corporations because those vendors whose names appeared in the 2009 Gartner Magic Quadrant don’t have a multi-tenant Cloud ERP offering. Because of this, the market can expect an entirely new set of software packages to emerge over the next five years. Packages will be created to fill the demand for customers wanting to implement ERP projects at divisional plants in smaller doses and for varying niches. These packages will adopt a Cloud ERP best-of-breed approach. Customers will prefer them in their overall best-of-breed ecosystems because of their lower costs and smaller risks associated with Cloud ERP implementations. Why best-of-breed is so important In many of these corporations, the Tier-2 plants are not necessarily in the same industries or businesses as the core business. They may be distribution sites, engineer to order divisions, configure to order companies, build to order facilities, job shops, machine shops, re-manufacturing, disassembly and even process manufacturing plants. It’s not been decided—some would say doubtful—that an SAP Business by Design, a NetSuite or any other single ERP software solution, Cloud or On-Premise, could support such a variety of manufacturing and distribution companies. What we have learned over the past 20 years, since Lee Wylie of Gartner coined the phrase ERP in the early 1990s, is that no one software ERP package can address all manufacturing and distribution operations. Therefore, customers must consider the selection of the top best-of-breed ecosystem that offers more than one type of ERP software package. An alternative standardConsider that large corporations will be contemplating Tier-2 Cloud ERP software versus Tier-2 On-Premise software in their small and medium sized plants as we embark on this new Cloud Computing Era. For those large corporations that want Cloud ERP solutions that are a better fit for their various types of plants and that want less dependency on a single vendor, here are two alternate ways to look at Tier-2 ERP:SAP or Oracle at the corporate center with a Private Cloud ERP solution at the Tier 2 plants; or,SAP or Oracle at the corporate center with one or more Public Cloud ERP solutions in the Tier-2 plants, especially on a Public Cloud platform that has one or more Cloud ERP solutions that can be installed in different types of manufacturing and distribution plants and still be integrated to the core at Corporate. Which makes most sense? As the best-of-breed approach begins demonstrating that it truly is the superior method, the latter option will be the choice for most. The Public Cloud solution at the plant level will become more and more popular for larger corporations. That’s because standardization for the Tier-2 plants won’t necessarily be on a single ERP solution but, rather, on a few ERP solutions, all part of a community of a Public Cloud. But, here’s the big question. Which Public Cloud will have the most serious business applications for these plants? There are several things to consider. Integration between corporate centers and clouds will be a key consideration, and there are only so many cloud ecosystems that will enjoy corporate sponsorship. As Salesforce is becoming the de facto standard for CRM in the Cloud and Workday strives to become the de facto standard for HR in the Cloud, corporate centers will be integrating with these clouds. Projecting into the future, given that On-Premise SAP or Oracle combined with the Cloud Salesforce CRM and Workday HR are all to be considered corporate systems, how should one evaluate their Cloud ERP Tier-2 package(s) for their small and medium sized plants that will need to communicate to all of these corporate systems? While there are other public cloud platforms that are emerging such as Amazon and Google, large corporate buyers have already made commitments to the Salesforce CRM and the Salesforce platform. Thus, a natural extension for most large companies will be to consider one or more Cloud ERP solutions on the Salesforce cloud, especially since they know there will be even more software solutions on this platform in the future that are integrated seamlessly to their Salesforce CRM and Salesforce Case Management systems. How can we be so sure?Public Cloud ERP solutions are gaining popularity and will continue to gain in credibility and cost-effectiveness as more solutions surface. Once organizations are convinced best-of-breed aspects of the Public Cloud provide superior user experiences versus the old single-sourced ERP system of the past, this will incite more companies to deploy a Public Cloud ERP solution. Most people will agree that Salesforce is becoming a popular public cloud platform. Salesforce CRM is already in most of the large corporations. The company boasts of having 100,000+ customers. They are only now beginning more significant promotions of Force.com, their Public Cloud platform. As Salesforce becomes better known as the best Public Cloud platform vendor, in the same way they are now recognized for Salesforce CRM, they will increase the awareness of the benefits of the Public Cloud as a platform. Having a plethora of software applications ideally suited for many businesses combined with their software vendors integrating one package to another will create an abundance of successful case histories. Today, unlike a few years ago, there are Public Cloud ERP software applications that can support small and medium sized businesses. The number is growing. If all these different cloud vendors, on Salesforce, have the same look and feel, are within the same cloud community, and adhere to the same standards for integration, this will be a very important criterion for the selection of Cloud ERP solutions to support the variety of corporate Tier-2 plants. This is especially true if those Cloud ERP solutions are superior in functionality to their Private Cloud ERP competition. Pat Garrehy is the founder, president and CEO for Rootstock Software and has an extensive background as a software architect and engineer. With more than 30 years of management, sales and technical experience, Garrehy brings a unique blend of analytical focus and business savvy to the table.
When you're watching news, sports, or entertainment programming—whether on a TV, the web, or a mobile device—you’re watching Grass Valley at work in today's connected world. For more than 50 years, the Grass Valley name has been synonymous with innovation, leadership, and performance. Providing a comprehensive portfolio spanning a wide range of sophisticated imaging, video and media solutions, Grass Valley customers include most of the world's leading broadcasters, teleproduction facilities, and service providers, as well as independent video professionals who rely on their products to cover the world's most high-profile live events. As the premiere video technology solutions company, Grass Valley knows what it takes to keep up with the fast pace of technology advancements, customer requirements and a global workforce. With an aging component database and a Product Data Management (PDM) system that eventually was announced End of Life (EOL) the company had to find a new way to support their complex product lifecycle requirements. Grass Valley needed a next generation solution to automate engineering change and Bill of Material (BOM) management, as well as streamline their engineering and manufacturing processes. A team comprised of Engineering and IT staff set out to find the ideal Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) solution. “We started with a benchmark of about eight to ten possible PLM solutions,” said Gerard Meijer, manager of Digital Hardware and Layout. “Besides the functional requirements, our main goals were to find an off- the-shelf solution that did not require customizations, was easy to use and offered a good price to performance ratio.” A few additional PLM requirements included out-of-the-box integration with their existing CAD (Computer Aided Design) tools from Mentor Graphics, bi-directional integration with their manufacturing systems and an internally developed engineering database, plus an easy to use and browser independent interface for their manufacturing floor. “All possible solutions were compared on a score card and Omnify Empower PLM was the best possible solution for us,” added Meijer. Even though Grass Valley had 20 years of legacy data to migrate into the new Empower PLM system, all parties worked closely together to make it a smooth transition. “The total project was complete in only six months, mainly due to the development of migration scripts, which was performed in small iterative steps to ensure a correct full migration of all of the legacy data,” said Meijer. “During the project, the support from Omnify Software and the local integrator, InnoFour, was prompt and to the point.” Grass Valley now has highly automated and integrated processes for ECR’s (Engineering Change Requests) and CQ’s (Component Qualifications). Empower PLM provides Grass Valley with the ability to easily search for information, view a complete hierarchical BOM list, and deliver automatic notifications on changes. The company is able to share pertinent development information (such as attribute values, BOMs, drawings, and repair sheets) across their entire enterprise by integrating Design, Manufacturing and the factory floor via Empower PLM. In addition, Grass Valley has opened the Empower PLM system to their Contract Manufacturer (CM). Their CM has full, yet controlled access to product documentation, BOMs, and ECOs and is included in the automated process flows. “This collaborative environment has resulted in consistent and complete datasets for the various types of items through the integrated CQ process, an early and direct involvement of our Contract Manufacturer during the ECR process, and shorter lead-times for both the ECR and CQ process,” said Meijer. “Furthermore, centralized product content eliminates having to transfer data via emails or an FTP site and thus reduces mistakes, time and effort. *Grass Valley works with Omnify Software Authorized Reseller, InnoFour, for ongoing training and support services.
It’s a new era in manufacturing. From increased global competition to compressed margins and volatile pricing, today’s market pressures are intense. Not only do they threaten profitability and growth, these rapidly evolving pressures are also forcing manufacturers to reexamine their entire systems. Efficiency is no longer a goal; it is an absolute necessity. Manufacturers are finding that a new paradigm of problem solving is also required. It’s the mindset that allows a company to go the extra step in the quest to be more agile, responsive and attuned to customer needs. Without an innovative approach to system-wide improvement, manufacturers run the risk of being surpassed by fast-acting competitors who seize emerging opportunities. This heightened competitive pressure is just one of the factors driving a new emphasis on technology’s role in process improvement. Not only can next generation ERP solutions speed processes, they also allow personnel—from C-level executives to line foremen—to be more strategic in their activities and decisions. By eliminating wasted steps, redundancies and gaps in communication, employees can focus on innovation, collaboration and building intimate relationships with customers. ERP solutions also must stretch far beyond the company’s walls and involve more than just internal budget planning and financial reports. Now they must include collaborating with customers, managing co-manufacturers and contractors and extending new value-added services. They also involve just-in-time relationships with suppliers, continuous connectivity with stakeholders, on-demand access to supply chains and engineered-to-order customizations for clients. To keep up with these ever-changing market conditions, manufacturers need flexible technology solutions that improve operational performance. Make smarter decisions, fasterFocusing on the physical manufacturing process is no longer enough. Today, manufacturers must also look at refining thought processes. Personnel must make smarter decisions faster. Executives must also be confident those decisions are accurate, strategically sound and comply with the corporate vision. Next-generation ERP solutions provide contextual decision-making tools that push relevant data to users, rather than relying on personnel to instigate a search. This helps speed response time and guides users to follow best practices. The consumerization of IT is infiltrating manufacturing. Personnel come to the plant expecting to find tools that look and act like the websites, smart phones and tablets they use at home. Highly powerful integrated mobile solutions certainly help manufacturers achieve higher performance. Managers may be on the shop floor, in meetings, coordinating activities and overseeing a wide variety of tasks across the plant. To be responsive to fast-changing demands, personnel must maintain connectivity and continue to have access to critical data—anytime from anywhere. Access to data is one aspect of solving problems quickly. Complex issues often require dialogue. Collaborative tools support these tactics, fueling problem-solving and creative thinking. Thanks to integrated technology, personnel can share schematics, comment on design configurations and jointly review performance data while troubleshooting engineering modifications. This type of creative problem solving and innovative use of employees’ talents are critical for manufacturers today. Only with this mindset that focuses on what is possible—rather than what isn’t—will manufacturers overcome the current market challenges and not just survive—but thrive. Mark Humphlett is director ERP – Industry and Product Marketing at Infor. This article originally appeared in the May 2013 issue of Manufacturing AUTOMATION.
Mechatronic solutions consultant Sean-Patrick Mulherrin of EPLAN previews functionality coming Fall 2013 in Version 2.3 of EPLAN software. A new Preplanning Module interface is shown that bridges the gap between a design concept "napkin" sketch and engineering a complete electromechanical system with drawings. www.eplancanada.com
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