Category: Machine Shop, General Manufacturing, Project Based Manufacturing, Shop Management

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Metal Fabricator Reduces Setup Times by 18% Thanks to Robust ERP Software & APS Module

Heartland Fabrication & Machine, Inc. is a machine and fabrication shop specializing in the production of handheld cutting blades for some of the biggest names in the food processing industries, such as Tyson Foods and Kraft Foods.

After years of managing the business with Quickbooks™, company ownership decided to upgrade to a more sophisticated ERP software. They selected Global Shop Solutions ERP software for its ability to handle Heartland’s diverse job shop environment, which involves a combination of make-to-order, make-to-stock, and project-based jobs. They also brought on board Operations Manager Craig Feeler, who had 20 years’ experience working with the software at two different manufacturing companies.

“I first started working with Global Shop Solutions in the mid-‘90s,” says Feeler. “Since then, the evolution of the software has been amazing. From the Shop Floor Data Collection (or GUI) stations or employee timekeeping to the barcoding and mobile materials management, the company continues to add new features to keep up with the ever-evolving manufacturing environment.”

“The software has gotten easier to use even as it has grown more complex. And the Advanced Planning and Scheduling (APS) software is the best in the industry. Its ability to efficiently schedule jobs in a wide variety of production environments is unsurpassed.”

– Craig Feeler, Operations Manager at Heartland Fabrication & Machine

18% Reduction in Setup Times

In today’s cost-conscious manufacturing environment, many companies are ordering more frequently and in smaller quantities in order to minimize inventory. When bidding on smaller jobs, the ability to reduce setup times provides a real competitive advantage for Heartland.

“With Global Shop Solutions, we take information from the quote, put it into the estimate router, and then transfer it to the shop floor,” says Feeler. “Giving our operators all the information right there on the router has enabled us to reduce setup times by 18%. Shorter setup times can make a big difference when costing and quoting smaller volume jobs, so it’s an area we constantly strive to improve.”

At the same time, APS enables Heartland to efficiently schedule jobs with their standard three-week lead time and those with a three- or four-day lead time. For standard jobs, Feeler enters the due date and uses APS to backward schedule the job. APS identifies where machines have capacity and automatically fills in the job at appropriate times to ensure on-time completion. For rush jobs, the ability to see available capacity on every machine allows Feeler to determine where he can squeeze in a job or move other jobs around to meet the customer’s due date.

15% Reduction in Inventory

Implementing Global Shop Solutions’ barcoding capabilities has simplified the materials management process while improving inventory accuracy.

Heartland purchases raw material to the job rather than inventory. Previously, employees had to manually enter the job number, sequence number and other data to assign material to a job. Scanning the material automatically applies it to the job as soon as it comes in the back door.

“Barcoding also eliminates the human error you inevitably get with manual data entry,” says Feeler. “The only input employees have to do is their good parts and scrap parts when they time out of each sequence. As a result of these process improvements, we’ve reduced total inventory by 15%.”

Proactive Manufacturing Management

One of the biggest impacts has come in purchasing and costing. Buying to the job makes Heartland more susceptible to fluctuations in pricing of raw materials. Global Shop Solutions ERP software provides a complete history of all purchasing, allowing management to easily compare current prices against historical.

According to Feeler, the wide variety of reports built into Global Shop Solutions ERP software plus the easy access to data enables Heartland to operate in a proactive, rather than reactive, mode.

For example, the sales order report gives Feeler a snapshot of all jobs coming up and their due dates. Using APS to keep track of machine loads, he uses this data to warn the shop floor supervisor when they might have trouble on a specific workcenter and which jobs are scheduled across it.

With the regular updates on the shop floor screen, Feeler can see if a job is falling behind and immediately address it with the workcenter lead or supervisor.

Great ERP Software, Great Support

After 20 years of use, Feeler remains a big fan of Global Shop Solutions ERP software and the company that stands behind it.

“They’ve always been good about updating the software, especially within the last few years,” he says. “The ability to customize Dashboards saves time looking in the system for specific information we need to see. The quoting function has become simpler and easier to use. And the ability to instantly see our job costs has made a huge difference in how we operate.”

To learn about all the ways that ERP software improved Heartland’s business, download the full case study.

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