Magazine Article | September 1, 2003

Take Control With ERP

Source: Field Technologies Magazine

With new ERP (enterprise resource planning) software, one company was able to improve inventory accuracy, obtain wireless capabilities, and develop real-time production monitoring.

Integrated Solutions, September 2003

Filling 1,000 orders a month became difficult for one custom thermo-plastic injection molding and engineering company, due to the lack of a reliable ERP (enterprise resource planning) system. Inventory was inaccurate, the company was unable to apply serial labels, and real-time monitoring of presses was impossible. These inefficiencies, combined with an unresponsive vendor, forced Core Systems LLC (Painesville, OH) to look elsewhere for a new ERP system.

Request For Inventory Accuracy
Core Systems wanted to improve inventory accuracy first and foremost, because that was the root of many other problems for the company. The next objective was to implement EDI (electronic data interchange) functionality, for both incoming material releases and outgoing ASNs (advance ship notices). An ASN is a notice sent to a customer to confirm what merchandise has been shipped. With an ASN, the contents of a package can be identified without the receiver having to open the package. "With all of the orders we fulfill and the amount of different part numbers, we needed to remove the manual entry of sales orders. Also, we wanted to find a way to automate ASNs on the outbound side, per our customers' requirements," says Eric Shultz, CFO of Core Systems.

During the process of finding a solution, Core Systems contacted IQMS (Paso Robles, CA) to request information on its Enterprise-IQ product. "We discovered some molders were already using Enterprise-IQ. We visited about four of these sites in California and Wisconsin to see the software in action firsthand," says Shultz. After a visit to IQMS' headquarters and internal discussions, Core Systems decided on the Enterprise-IQ solution.

Operating Two ERP Systems At Once
The installation began in August of 2001, but it was postponed for one year due to the events of September 11, 2001 and the national consequences resulting directly after. "We invested about six months of time in preparation before the new live date, October 1, 2002, and then planned on another year before the system was able to be implemented and tested," says Shultz. One new component to this ERP system is an RT (real-time) monitoring feature. Core Systems implemented this feature so floor employees can troubleshoot press cycle problems, schedule mold changes, monitor maintenance procedures, track scrap, and measure efficiency. The total system consisted of Symbol 4131 access points, Intermec 4420 thermal printers, Symbol PDT-6846 handheld scanners, and Dell servers and desktop computers. IQMS furnished circuit boards and Enterprise-IQ software. Other components include Cat-5 network cable, Label Matrix bar coding software V5.x, Crystal Report Writer V8.5, FRX Financial V6.x, and upgraded HP and 3Com Ethernet switches to accommodate additional workstations.

Integration was one of the most challenging parts for Core Systems. "Enterprise-IQ's real-time monitoring, scanning, and thermal printing capabilities required between 150 and 200 new devices be added to the network backbone. We needed to configure some type of network interface on presses, handheld scanners, thermal printers, PCs, and access points so communication could take place with the server," says Shultz. Until the live date of October 2002, daily operations had to be kept up, so employees were maintaining the old ERP system while entering information into Enterprise-IQ. Since the live date, Core Systems has gone from having few employees using the ERP system to almost all employees accessing the new system for some type of function.

100% Inventory Accuracy
By using Enterprise-IQ, Core Systems has integrated all of its functions, including sales orders, distribution management, manufacturing, financial management, inventory product management, schedule and planning, quality assurance, and human resources. A big improvement for the company is inventory management. "Enterprise-IQ's tools give us the ability to know where a box of parts is at any given time by doing a simple search through one of a few menu options," explains Shultz. According to Shultz, Core Systems hopes to have 100% control of its inventory management by the end of this year. The company has also gained EDI capability and improved production reporting by eliminating manual mistakes. With Enterprise-IQ, production reports record what has been produced at the end of each shift. Core Systems plans to add IQMS' IQ-Quality module, as well as the CRM (customer relationship management) package. In addition, it has considered adding IQ-Web Direct to offer Web access to its customers.