Automotive supplier finds system to support Lean internal processes, customer requirements
London, Ohio-based Nissen Chemitec America, a plastic injection molder serving automakers like Honda and Toyota, thought it was making the sensible choice in adopting an ERP system touted as tailor-made for auto industry suppliers. But while the system facilitated compliance with customer requirements, it hindered Nissen's lean manufacturing efforts “We wanted an ERP package that unders...
London, Ohio-based Nissen Chemitec America , a plastic injection molder serving automakers like Honda and Toyota , thought it was making the sensible choice in adopting an ERP system touted as tailor-made for auto industry suppliers. But while the system facilitated compliance with customer requirements, it hindered Nissen's lean manufacturing efforts
“We wanted an ERP package that understood our business,” explains Mike Hopkins, production material control and MIS manager. “If a system doesn't understand family molds or multiple cavitations running at the same time, it costs us more in terms of efficiency and maintenance.”
Nissen found a solution with the right mix of manufacturing-specific functionality and auto-industry compliance capabilities in the EnterpriseIQ suite from IQMS .
EnterpriseIQ supports Nissen's Lean efforts, starting with the suite's integrated EDI module, which operates entirely within a single database—without third-party hardware interfaces to manage. Incoming EDI files are automatically translated into the ERP system, instantly updating all pertinent records. Outgoing files are automatically transferred back to customers and suppliers.
“In the auto industry, EDI is a major component in a supplier's ability to deliver what customers want,” says Hopkins. “With our old system, 80 percent of the time we couldn't respond fast enough to EDI errors because the data transfer was slow. This problem was magnified with our biggest account because that customer's plant is only 40 minutes away, so shipping errors were arriving at the plant before we could catch them.”
The completely integrated and automated EDI package also saves Nissen Chemitec a great deal in operating costs.
With modem-based EDI, Nissen Chemitec was paying between $3,200 and $3,600 monthly to transmit data and support customer requirements. Furthermore, the company was experiencing between 30 and 40 EDI-related shipping errors per month. With EnterpriseIQ in place, Nissen Chemitec reduced its monthly EDI cost by roughly 90 percent to only $300—and virtually eliminated shipping errors.
“We literally turned the IQMS system on and started shipping error-free immediately,” says Hopkins. “And because EnterpriseIQ EDI is so much faster and easier to use, it speeds communication to better fulfill customer requirements for data transfer and labeling. Now our customers are happier, and we're saving time and money.”
Nissen Chemitec also has benefited from an EnterpriseIQ production management application called RealTime Machine Monitoring. This program connects each work center to the EnterpriseIQ database, allowing Nissen Chemitec to follow jobs as they move through production.
Because production data feeds directly into the ERP database, job status is automatically updated down to the minute. The system also supports graphical scheduling screens and reports that can be used by anyone, from anywhere—within the company or remotely—to assess job status, track downtime, and view quality data.
“We added RealTime Machine Monitoring so we could see what was happening on the shop floor without walking around,” says Hopkins. “Our operators can see what a machine is doing and be proactive in catching issues before they get out of hand.”
Hopkins says using a completely integrated ERP suite improved Nissen Chemitec's ability to manage its entire business.
“Before we were operating with only half the picture,” he says. “Now we have control over every part of the equation—from purchasing and scheduling to on-time delivery—for every part we make. We are now managing a leaner supply chain. With EnterpriseIQ, we've reduced maintenance costs alone more than 70 percent, and achieved lean objectives like reduced cycle time, automated workflow, and elimination of redundant processes.”
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After almost a decade of uncertainty, the confidence of plant floor managers is soaring. Even with a number of challenges and while implementing new technologies, there is a renewed sense of optimism among plant managers about their business and their future.
The respondents to the 2014 Plant Engineering Salary Survey come from throughout the U.S. and serve a variety of industries, but they are uniform in their optimism about manufacturing. This year’s survey found 79% consider manufacturing a secure career. That’s up from 75% in 2013 and significantly higher than the 63% figure when Plant Engineering first started asking that question a decade ago.