An associate in the welding department interacts with the ERP ShopData application. While data such as start and stop time are automatically recorded, information regarding the reason must be added—and is added in real time.
Quicker Data Access, Greater Visibility

Unlike prior to the new ERP implementation, production reporting now is a real-time reality. Downtime, scrap and more begin recording as soon as a machine or cell starts, with inventory adjusted immediately upon production of each container quantity. Real-time capability delivers the ability for supervisors, engineers and others at TOA USA to quickly assess production, inventory and other issues, with alerts sent immediately to designated recipients. And, from the data, reports can be created to provide issue assessments, trends and more. All of this enables quick action. Perhaps most importantly, employees can act off of full, accurate data to better address issues and plan ahead.

“With real-time reporting and the alerts, we can react immediately instead of finding out the next day about an issue that occurred yesterday or last week,” explains Bob Whyte, TOA USA vice president of operations and quality. “And, instead of waiting weeks or a month, we can access reports, including trends, when we want them. That’s a big change, making us all more effective.”

Accessing the information and entering data also is more controlled via the ERP upgrade. For example, prior to the upgrade, generic user accounts provided no visibility into who was adding or changing information, and why. Now, each user has a unique account, which has bred the input of more accurate and detailed information.

“Not only are we intentional when making adjustments, but we are intentional in our documentation, which has led to more comments in the system,” Weller says. “Users are more detailed in comments because they become responsible for that information. And, again, user accounts help bring complete visibility.”

Adoption Increases as Successes Mount

Seeing successful use of the ERP system in some areas has led other areas to buy in and sign on. Case in point: TOA USA’s maintenance department, which has gained the ability to real-time-witness equipment and other maintenance issues, and respond accordingly.

“It has really helped organize the maintenance department,” says Weller, noting that the department now seeks to integrate work orders into ERP. “Seeing success in one module or one process drives other departments to engage and seek the resources available within the ERP system. Internal success stories are huge in the buy in.”

A monitor hangs in the TOA USA maintenance department listing any open work orders, including open duration and who is assigned to the work order.
Product labeling represents another area of ERP success. One customer requires its own labels on its products, which TOA USA picks up from the customer’s website. Before, TOA USA carried the labels, preprinted, on hand in stacks. Employees manually had to sift through the labels to determine how many were needed and when and where they go—a day-long process. Now, the labels import into the ERP system, and are generated as the shipments are generated. In addition, the system automatically retrieves the correct labels for the shipment. Before, personnel manually scanned product and labels to make sure that they matched, as the customer’s identifying labels did not synch to TOA USA’s part-identification codes. Today, all of that is automated.

The labeling example speaks to traceability offered in the ERP system. That covers not only production processes and products, but material and other inventories. Automotive production demands traceability for product and process, whereas TOA USA’s volume of operations and supply chain demands traceability of materials, resources and shipments. Unlike in the past, the ERP upgrade provides paperless traceability in a more efficient manner.

Adding Day By Day

As successes mount, so do adoptions of ERP throughout TOA USA, and the company plans to continue researching, testing and implementing the system where appropriate. Given the scope of data gathering and reporting required, such implementation requires effort and resources as well as buy-in. TOA USA associates and management have worked hard to get on board with the ERP upgrade, and are tapping the experiences and expertise of others through IQMS user-group meetings. With each interaction, report Weller and Whyte, comes insight into new opportunities to leverage the power of ERP. MF

Industry-Related Terms: Case, Lines, Point, Scrap, Tapping, Transfer
View Glossary of Metalforming Terms

 

See also: IQMS Manufacturing ERP & MES

Technologies: Management

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