For background on this particular project, please visit Build vs. Buy vs. Both.

Situation ...

This multi-location structural steel fabricator needed to migrate off the mainframe-based business system of its former parent, for both functionality and cost reasons.

Problem ...

Mainstream ERP systems lacked the capability to operate within the industry and its unique inventory requirements. Even high-end industry-specific systems lacked full integration between the operations and accounting modules, and support for the percentage completion and interim billing methods used in this industry.

Because no single package could meet most of our client’s needs, the options were to:

  • Purchase an industry-specific solution and devise linkages for the separate systems.
  • Develop a custom solution in house.
  • Identify an existing product that met base needs and could be further tailored.

Solution ...

After assessing our client's key operations, management, and accounting needs, we identified an existing product meeting many key needs and having a good design lending itself well to customizations needed by our client.

The Shop Bill organizes and summarizes the key material needed for a section of the fabrication job. Numerous validity checks ensure that all pieces and operations are well-defined before the job is released to the floor, allowing accurate and efficient processing, and eliminating duplicate data entry.

The Cutting Ticket allows Inventory Control and Purchasing personnel to aggregate production requirements and optimize orders against material in stock or on order. These routines permit various user-defined options, and are designed to minimize waste, maximize efficient inventory usage, identify additional material purchase requirements, and serve as the initial production order.

We worked closely with client personnel in Selling, Estimating, Planning, Scheduling, Operations, Billing, Accounting, and Management to understand all current processes. As enhanced modules were installed and tested, any issues identified were quickly researched and resolved. We then defined the functional and technical requirements for the customizations and managed the work performed by the system vendor.

Results & Benefits ...

Our client obtained the functionality they needed to run their business, tailored to their unique needs in a cost-effective manner. Other benefits realized were:

Improved front-end job planning and setup validation has significantly improved operations on the floor.

  • Automated cut optimization, with appropriate consideration of variable length inventory, has greatly increased material efficiency.
  • Accounting and billing processes are now highly automated, reducing errors and slashing the monthend close process.
  • Customized software automated many tedious manual processes and instilled appropriate setup and discipline throughout the entire company, ensuring that the streamlined fabrication flow is routinely and accurately executed.

Conclusion ...

When faced with a "build vs. buy" decision, we were able to help our client plan and successfully execute a "buy and extend" strategy to deliver the technology needed to support their streamlined operations and accounting processes.

For More Information ...

To discuss how technology usage and business process improvements could be applied to the issues facing your business, call us at 336.297.4200 to schedule a no-obligation consultation, or click here to contact us online.