Category: Metal Fabrication, General Manufacturing, Job Shop Manufacturing, Truck & Trailer Manufacturing

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Make-to-Stock Manufacturer Sees Better Estimating, Quoting and Cost Analysis with ERP Software

C.E. Smith Company, Inc. manufactures precision metal stampings, fabrications, and assemblies for a wide variety of industries, including boating, fishing, hunting, and trailer parts. The company’s make-to-stock boating and fishing products, which are distributed through retail sporting goods stores, range from stainless steel rod holders to fiberglass electronic boxes, T-top storage bags, navigation lights, antenna brackets and more.

C.E. Smith implemented Global Shop Solutions ERP software in 1995. Back then, the company was a small, custom job shop just beginning to develop its retail product lines, and Global Shop Solutions seemed like the perfect fit for its operating environment.

Reducing Inventory Costs

C.E. Smith makes about two-thirds of its products to stock; the rest are custom orders, primarily from boat trailer customers. This combination of stock/make-to-order jobs creates some interesting inventory management
challenges. According to Vice President Bo Adams, their ERP software handles these challenges with ease, giving the company much greater control over inventory levels for both stock and custom items.

“Global Shop Solutions gives us a lot more control over managing inventory costs,” says Adams. “At year’s end, our variance on several million dollars of inventory is typically less than six thousand dollars. And knowing where
we stand with inventory at any given time improves our quoting accuracy and ability to determine margins on every job. In today’s markets, if you can’t accurately track your costs and margins, it puts you at a real competitive disadvantage.”

Document Control Saves Time, Reduces Paper

Another challenge for C.E. Smith involved interfacing with the many different EDI (electronic document interchange) systems used by their large retail customers. Fortunately, Document Control integrates well with these programs, making it easy to import and manage the documents.

Using Document Control, sales staff can import customer documents and automatically link them to the correct customer, part, or work order. On the shop floor, production workers can then access those job documents
electronically with just a few clicks of the mouse. This saves time and ensures that workers have the most recent and accurate versions of every document.

Better Estimating, Quoting, Cost Analysis

As any manufacturer knows, scheduling and quoting custom jobs can be a complicated task that involves a certain amount of “guesstimating.” Here again, Global Shop Solutions lends a hand.

Within the ERP software, schedulers and estimators can quickly search and retrieve information from similar jobs for comparison purposes. This improves their ability to estimate setup and run times, while making it easier to identify job costs and determine the amount of materials required.

“We used to manually trace everything throughout the plant. Now, Global Shop Solutions does it automatically. It gives us our costs quickly and efficiently, so that we can monitor runs when material costs fluctuate rapidly, which they often do in today’s markets. And Global Shop Solutions helps us quickly see the movement of costs so that we can respond faster in the marketplace with quoting and pricing on our products.”

Bo Adams, Vice President at C.E. Smith Company, Inc.

A Complete Business Management Tool

On the sales side of the business, Adams has found Global Shop Solutions’ ability to create custom reports to be a real asset. Recently, his staff created a custom sales analysis report that assists in the company’s
efforts to grow sales.

On the purchasing side, C.E. Smith uses Global Shop Solutions auto purchasing screen a bit differently than most. Rather than setting up automatic purchases, he runs custom reports to help analyze the company’s purchasing needs. He uses the information to determine when to buy raw materials, but then manually purchases those materials in order to maximize inventory turns and explore opportunities to buy at lower prices.

“Global Shop Solutions allows us to compete more effectively because we can do more with less people,” continues Adams. “Any time you can do more with less, it gives you a real edge in the marketplace.”

To learn more about all the ways ERP software improved C.E. Smith’s business, download the full case study.

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