Miller Welding & Machine
Case Study: Miller Welding & Machine
About The Company
The year was 1963. The Dodgers, behind the arm of Sandy Koufax, beat the defending champion Yankees for the World Series, while the first Super Bowl wouldn’t be played for another four years. The astronaut, Gordon Cooper, became the first human to spend more than a day in space, and the last American to fly there alone. And, there wasn’t a single Toyota to be found anywhere in the United States. A new America was in transition, maturing in the age of postwar prosperity. It was also the year David Miller opened the doors to the Miller Welding and Machine Company.
Today, over four decades later, David still opens the doors to the shop, usually showing up before his wife, his five children and five grandchildren who also work there alongside him. With three generations of Millers involved in the day to day functions of the company, the family maintains a solid foundation of American working tradition, while also looking to the future for the operations of their two Northeastern Pennsylvania plants: the 98,000 sq. ft. Sandy Lick facility, and the massive 134,000 sq. ft. Maplevale plant.
The Situation & Solution
To meet the inevitable management advancements ushered in with enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, MWM turned to the leader in ERP software development—Global Shop Solutions.
According to MWM’s IT Manager Eric Miller (and David’s grandson), taking the family company into the 21st Century with the robust Global Shop ERP software system was not only important for short term bottom line considerations in a dual plant configuration, but was necessary for long-term company survivability in an age of globalization. “The problem with our business, especially right now in a busy global economy, is that the minute we get on time, our customers push more work to us and drive us to be back on time,” Miller states. It’s an ironic fact found on the road to success: the better you get at on time delivery of orders, the more your customers ask of you in order volume and delivery speed. That is to say, the reward for throughput efficiency is more and more pressure to improve upon customer delivery mandates.
For MWM, their Global Shop software system is able to build efficiencies into manufacturing operations, efficiencies that result in the saving of WIP time to meet customer delivery expectations. Global Shop Solutions ERP Software Reduces Overhead. MWM is an industrial manufacturer that produces heavy steel fabrications from one pound up to 40,000 pounds. They’re a fully integrated shop and a single source solution for customers needing high quality industrial fabrication, finishing, assembly, or all of these things. They are an on time OEM outsourcing operation, an industrial processor capable of producing one or thousands of parts to spec, and an industrial refurbisher that revives parts to working order. Inventory control is their prime focus in controlling overhead, and for MWM, Global Shop is a perfect fit. Also, like MWM, Global Shop is a single source provider. “It’s a powerful system where you can do everything that is related to the manufacturing process, from accounting to payroll, job tracking, scheduling. It’s simply everything we need in one place and in real time output. Global Shop has made us a much more efficient operation and has allowed us to produce more parts and maintain our on-time delivery at a high rate,” Miller states.
On any given day, Miller Welding has dozens of work orders flowing through to the shop floor. However, before acquiring Global Shop, maximizing plant capacity for the greatest efficiencies was not always easy, or even considered. In the past, backward scheduling of man and material for such volume was a major headache for management. Without every aspect of the enterprise running in synchronization through the use of real time data, scheduling of man and material becomes inherently inaccurate and time consuming. As Miller observes, “Before Global Shop, we were using another ERP package. As we grew into a larger company, we started running into issues with the software because it was more job based rather than inventory based.” It was at this point, in 2002, that MWM turned to Global Shop to solve their growing inventory control problems, as well as the inefficiencies springing up throughout their plants as a result of the increased growth. “What Global Shop has done for us is to increase our throughput and efficiencies dramatically. For example, in terms of our direct rates to indirect, before Global Shop, we used to have three buyers, now I have one buyer doing three times what those three buyers accomplished in the same amount of time. So, with Global Shop, we’re able to drastically reduce our overhead compared to what had been going on before we acquired Global Shop software.” And, in a total plant space of 232,000 square feet, that’s a lot of overhead.
Results & Benefits
Continuous improvement is a hallmark of the Global Shop approach to ERP. In their headquarters in The Woodlands, Texas, Global Shop research and development works every day to produce cutting-edge modules that will help the modern manufacturer realize enhanced profits and greater management efficiencies. One recent feature coming out of R&D is the Dashboard, and this, along with the various other modules, is what sets Global Shop apart in the world of ERP software systems. “We do use the Dashboard constantly, and it has been a really nice added feature for us in the Global Shop software. It’s easy to use and a key place to go to get quick metrics on the spot,” Miller relates. In fact, MWM has fully implemented their Global Shop system, including graphical user interfaces on the shop floor, and their employees use it to its fullest capacity. “We use all of the modules in the software. The ones we probably use the most are Inventory, Supply and Demand, Shop Tracking, and Advanced Production Scheduling (APS). In fact, APS is a huge thing for us. Our Global Shop system literally schedules everything we do.”
When you’re a family-owned and operated business like MWM, you know the importance of customer service and its impact on your long term profitability. MWM incorporates this philosophy into every aspect of their operation, and it is the same sort of approach they receive from Global Shop. According to Miller, “The service we’ve received from Global Shop has been phenomenal. Anytime we have an issue it’s dealt with promptly. They have a very good staff there, and we get the feeling that they truly care if we succeed. They’re very down to earth people and they treat us well. Like us, Global Shop is a family run business, it’s one of the main reasons we went with Global Shop.”
Not only is continuous improvement to the software an everyday R&D effort at Global Shop, but increasing customer knowledge of the complete system is something Global Shop works very hard to facilitate. To this end, Global Shop produces a variety of continuing education programs in the form of on site consulting, webinars, and conferences. “I’ve been to their annual user’s conference twice, and each time I’ve learned something new and useful about the software and the upgrades. The conference and the consistent improvements and additions to the Global Shop system exhibit the progressive nature of the company, and that fits with our business philosophy,” Miller states. Ultimately, it is Global Shop’s philosophy that is at the heart of their relationship with MWM. As a progressive software developer with an aggressive R&D program, Global Shop provides new features and applications that their customers are looking for now, and will need and expect in the future. Miller agrees and points out that “Global Shop has helped Miller Welding succeed because of the efficiencies we’ve realized through its use. We’re able to integrate the software and upgrades seamlessly into everything we do. And, now with the Global Application Builder, we can drive the software even further and customize it to fit our emerging needs. Global Shop is a very flexible system, and that flexibility is something we really need as a growing company.” Global Shop Solutions and the ERP approach of Miller Welding and Machine: family-run operations in lockstep with each other now and for generations to come.