Case Study: Technology Focus Drives and Supports
Rapid Growth at Applied Engineering
In the competitive manufacturing industry, technology separates the best from the rest – driving everything from job costs to part quality to production speed.
With high-speed machines, multi-pallet rail systems and one-of-a-kind robotics, Applied Engineering of Yankton, South Dakota is a model for leveraging technology to automate labor-intensive operations, reducing costs and shortening cycle times.
The company’s lights-out, unattended approach to precision, low-cost machining operations has paid off, earning it contracts with major military and commercial companies like Honeywell and Rockwell Collins.
Renee Hejna and Dave Schuster next to a replica of South Dakota's famed monument – Mount Rushmore. A team of crafty programmers and skilled machinists used over a million lines of CNC code to change a 12"x16"x26" block of aluminum into this machined replica.
This focus on innovation extends beyond its machining operations to its business systems. However, in 2000, the company struggled with inflexible, cumbersome manufacturing Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software that created – rather than reduced – inefficiency. Upgrading was so time-consuming that the company would stay on older versions to avoid the hassle. Moreover, the vendor’s level of support didn’t adequately address Applied Engineering’s needs.
Automation with Integrated ERP Software
A contact led Applied Engineering to M1 by B & G™ software, an application that provides total integration and automation from quoting through invoicing, specifically for manufacturing environments. M1 stood out for its ease of use and customization capabilities.
The company quickly tested M1’s customizability by integrating the software with critical machining systems, including its Flexible Manufacturing System (FMS) and its tooling inventory system. Converting to M1, and tying it to the company’s systems, took just a few hours.
“We knew we made the right decision with M1 when we converted so easily,” said Renee Hejna, MIS manager at Applied Engineering. “In fact, it was the best thing we ever did.”
Integration with FMS brings job specs from M1 to FMS, without any manual intervention. FMS then uses that information to schedule jobs and produce parts per specifications. By tying M1 with the company’s tooling inventory system, all receiving and accounting information automatically feeds from the inventory system back to M1 each night, eliminating manual data entry.
Beyond these more significant integrations, the company regularly customizes M1 to accomplish its specific business objectives – without having to invest in costly consultants.
“It’s been so nice that we can match M1 to our manufacturing floor, instead of changing our business to fit our software system,” Hejna said. “With M1, you can be creative and make the software fit your business.”
Real-Time Information across the Project Lifecycle
Every Applied Engineering employee uses M1, and the company takes advantage of nearly all M1 capabilities to provide real-time information through the lifecycle of its business: Contact Management, Employee Management, Estimating & Quoting, Order Management, Job Management, Scheduling, Shop Floor Entry, Timecard, Inventory, Warehouse Management, Quality/Warranty Management, Accounts Receivable and Payable, Shipping, Payroll, General Ledger and RMA Management.
When new employees start, Applied Engineering provides a half-hour introduction with minimal instructions, which is all new hires need to understand and begin using the application in their workflows.
With every function integrated in a single system, employees can see the complete picture of current jobs and plan their schedules more precisely. Those on the shop floor know which new projects are coming, inspectors see the queue of parts headed toward inspection, and anyone can answer customer inquiries about the status of orders.
Enhancing Customer Satisfaction While Keeping Costs Down
The ability to plan jobs ensures that staff work on “the right jobs, at the right time,” ultimately reducing cycle times. That, along with having the information on hand to respond to customers immediately, increases Applied Engineering’s level of service.
“In our industry we’re known for our service and for developing the newest things,” Hejna said. “Customers notice our information systems and we’ve gotten praises from them.”
Applied Engineering’s focus on quality and customers has led to rapid growth. In the past year, the company doubled its work force, now employing about 125. In part due to efficiency with M1, Applied has kept operational costs down. It no longer needs as much staff to simply enter data into disparate systems. Though the work force doubled, the company did not have to increase support staff accordingly.
As the company continues to grow, Applied can count on Bowen & Groves to evolve M1’s capabilities. Hejna is perhaps most impressed with Bowen & Groves’ level of service and product development. When an issue came up at the end of a week, Bowen & Groves had it resolved by Monday. Likewise, when Applied Engineering suggests improvements, they see them quickly integrated into M1.
“Bowen & Groves’ commitment to the product is huge,” Hejna said. “You don’t find a software company where you can say, ‘This needs to be enhanced, and they do it.’”
The M1 by B&G™ ERP software offers comprehensive modules designed and fully supported to meet the needs of growing manufacturing businesses.
With more than 500 installed sites around the world and a comprehensive user group interface ERP Software has never been more affordable or beneficial.
About Bowen & Groves
Bowen & Groves is setting the standard in Enterprise Resource Planning software (ERP), for the small to medium manufacturer. Founded in 1992 Bowen & Groves is a privately owned software development company operating in the United States of America, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. M1 by B&G™ sets the standard in affordability and ease of use.