Finding the right fit: An ERP designed for manufacturing

Maintaining a productive and cost-effective workplace requires a software system that knows manufacturing. Manufacturers’ Monthly finds out what such a system entails.

For Jonathon Worner, finding an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system that could fit into his specific needs as a manufacturer was as essential as finding a software partner who will stick.

“We were juggling between two other systems. One of them was only run by a two-man band and the service didn’t really live up to our requirements. And the other one was half-implemented and also wasn’t the right fit for our manufacturing company,” Worner said.

The manufacturing company that Worner is referring to is Pressform Group, where Worner is the group general manager. Started by his father John in 1976, Pressform not only continues the work of the original business, Pressform Engineering in fabricating metal products, but also encompasses three other subsidiaries: Alloy Design, Pressurelube, and Valve Sales Australia. The ERP partner that Worner was looking for had to satisfy all these businesses’ needs, and Worner found that in Global Shop Solutions.

“Global Shop Solutions was specifically directed towards manufacturing, and encompassed all of the processes and attributes that we were looking for from an ERP software system for our four companies,” said Worner.

Global Shop Solutions ERP software includes applications for shop management, scheduling, inventory, accounting, quality control, CRM, and more. Available in the cloud or on premise, Global Shop Solutions’ headquarters are in The Woodlands, Texas, US.

Getting Global Shop Solutions onboarded across these varied applications required a close and productive relationship between Worner and employees of Global Shop Solutions. They began with implementing ERP into Alloy Design’s processes and moved up to Pressform Engineering, the largest business in the group.

“We had the team from Global Shop Solutions visit our facility on a number of occasions before, during, and after implementation of our four companies,” said Worner.

Once the system was implemented, its manufacturing- specific nature began to be realised in the capabilities of the platform. One area in particular, however, stood out to Worner.

“Job costing for a manufacturer is essential, especially when you have different products made each time. Other software companies on the market don’t have the background knowledge of job costing, such as the materials, labour, overheads, and subcontract requirements, to manufacture a product along with that cost broken down into separate buckets. That knowledge, along with the software functionality, really helped our decision to go with Global Shop Solutions,” said Worner.

With the system now up and running at Pressform’s site in Bassendean, Western Australia, work is tracked through a barcode system that then provides real time vision on estimated and actual times for making a standard product. This system enables Worner and others at Pressform to get a comprehensive understanding of what making each product takes.

“We make many different items with estimated materials and times. We did not think in the past that packaging cost so much and packing the actual product took so long, but it became apparent when we were going over our Estimates vs. Actual report in Global Shop Solutions. This detail has helped us improve our job costing and our production planning,” said Worner.

The status of production is not only monitored from laptops that are dotted around the shop floor, but Pressform has set up a large television screen for everyone to see what is being worked on at the time. For Ryan Fisher, operations and sales director for Global Shop Solutions’ in Australia and New Zealand, this method of visualisation is one of Global Shop Solutions ways of ensuring that time spent on the shop floor is productive and valued.

“It’s that constant reminder that your time here counts, and that your time being productive as possible matters to the organisation. It helps with communicating that to the shop floor employees,” said Fisher.

These insights have allowed for Pressform to identify what aspects of their production cycle are most productive, and where areas of wastage can be eliminated. One area that Worner has found highlighted is indirect, unproductive labour, such as materials handling, cleaning, supervisor meetings, and machine maintenance.

“We’re able to then show the guys in the factory a graph of how we’re tracking unproductive hours and all the productive hours that we have,” said Worner. “It’s a motivator for them because they know, ‘I might need to walk a little faster’ or ‘I might need to streamline how we’re getting materials off trucks with the forklifts,’ to save time, and make more money.”

Having this visualisation of what was happening on the shop floor has allowed Worner to not only identify areas of wastage, but also products and services that were not bringing in money to the company. For one large, welded product that Pressform were making for a local company, seeing what went into producing this product through Global Shop Solutions enabled Pressform to realise that the cost of production was higher than the price they were selling the product for.

“It was a turnover of almost $500,000 a year and provided our welders, our plasma cutter, guillotine and our overhead 600 tonne press a lot of work, but we weren’t making any money on it.”

Ultimately deciding to discontinue the product, Worner made this decision based on the calculations that could be done through Global Shop Solutions.

“It was only probably a $3,000 item, but it took many hours to make with lots of heavy steel materials and we had to make it in a really short period of time, which was another factor we weren’t able to assess with our other ERP software.”

Utilising Global Shop Solutions for Pressform has been a process of finding the right information needed to make informed business decisions. One tool that Worner uses is the Dashboards function. Having multiple Dashboards open at once enables users to find information quickly and easily. In addition, when adding new items to the production process, the functionality of Global Shop Solutions allows for a flexible production system.

Global Shop Solutions has designed the
software to be intuitive for manufacturers.

“A customer might come in with a new product request, or we might develop something new, so we have all of our standard materials, lengths, shapes and types of materials required to make the product in our ERP software,” said Worner. “So if it’s a new product, you create that work order straight off the bat, or if you’ve got a similar product that you know you’ve made in the past, you can adapt it to suite the new product.”

Throughout the process of adopting Global Shop Solutions, Worner and the team at Pressform have been guided by the support which Global Shop Solutions provides. Via its local offices in Australia and New Zealand and around the world, the company supports thousands of manufacturing facilities in over 25 countries and nearly 30 industries.

With resources available at each stage of the process, Worner has found constant support from Global Shop Solutions.

“To make calls to the US, that’s a really good comfort for us because that’s not what we were receiving from other companies. Sometimes we would wait days and maybe a week until we’d get a response. Support from Global Shop Solutions has been great and has been a big win for us. Especially when we get stuck, we have an answer from Global Shop Solutions the same day.”

Having now implemented the system, the relationship between the two companies has allowed for the further development of the platform, as Pressform’s system has been migrated to the cloud from a locally-based server, which provides greater security and access.

However, throughout the journey with Global Shop Solutions for Pressform there was one key stakeholder who had to be brought along for the journey.

“As lots of companies may experience, change with staff is sometimes a challenge and we did have those challenges. One of those was the managing director, who is my father,” said Worner. These concerns were allayed, however, when Worner and his father visited Global Shop Solutions’ headquarters.

“Dusty Alexander, the CEO, and other stakeholders at Global Shop Solutions spent two days with us and just talked about their experience and how you handle change and implementing ERP and that was absolutely one of the most rewarding and also successful meetings with a supplier that I’ve ever had.”

Worner was able to then share these insights with staff back in WA, and the first-hand experience of working with Global Shop Solutions made all the difference.

“Suddenly, it clicked. The whole path of Global Shop Solutions implementation and everything just worked. And that’s half the battle because if you don’t have your staff on board, on the same page, well it’s not going to work.”