EDI-ready ERP: Automotive supplier finds enterprise system to support internal processes, customer requirements
When Nissen Chemitec America, a plastic injection molder serving leading automakers, found its ERP system was hindering its Lean manufacturing efforts, the company launched a new system search. It settled on the EnterpriseIQ package from IQMS. “We are now managing a leaner supply chain,” says Mike Hopkins, production material control and MIS manager at Nissen Chemitec America.
As a leading plastic injection molder serving automakers like Honda and Toyota , Nissen Chemitec America thought it was making the sensible choice in adopting an ERP system that was advertised as being tailored for auto industry suppliers. As things turned out, this system helped Nissen Chemitec comply with many of its customers’ requirements, but it hindered the company’s efforts at practicing Lean manufacturing.
“As a supplier to major automakers, we have to comply with our customers’ quality standards and business transaction requirements,” explains Mike Hopkins, production material control and MIS manager at London, Ohio-based Nissen Chemitec America. “We wanted an ERP package that understood our particular business. 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.”
Hopkins says Chemitec found a system that offers the perfect balance between manufacturing-specific functionality and automotive industry compliance capabilities in the EnterpriseIQ suite from IQMS .
According to Hopkins, EnterpriseIQ supports Nissen Chemitec’s Lean efforts in numerous ways, starting with its integrated EDI module.
The IQMS EDI module is embedded within the EnterpriseIQ system, which operates entirely within a single database, so Nissen Chemitec has no 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. Since there is no need for manual data entry, Nissen Chemitec is confident that it is disseminating accurate, timely information across its supply chain.
With its previous system, which transferred EDI data via modem, Nissen Chemitec often had trouble finding and correcting any problems associated with orders.
“In the automotive 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.”
A completely integrated—and automated—EDI package also has saved 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
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—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. “It allows our operators can see what a machine is doing and be proactive in catching issues before they get out of hand.”
Hopkins says having 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.”
Annual Salary Survey
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.