Case Study: Prompt Machine
"Everything at Prompt Machine is guided by and dependent on our Global Shop system…Our on-time delivery is over 98%, while before the integration of our Global Shop system that figure was more like 70%. This steady increase in our on-time delivery is all due to the Global Shop Advanced Production Scheduling system that allows us to forecast all of our loads, capacity, abilities—to focus a dedicated effort on scheduling."
~ Tim SullivanPrompt Machine Grows Revenue Stream Diversity through Global Shop ERP Flexibility
Vice President Operations
Prompt Machine, in Chatsworth, Calif., is one of those machine shops that succeeds through a whole lot of thinking outside of the box. As one job types closes for Prompt Machine, their flexibility in both management style and production technique allows them to go after products and jobs completely outside their machining repertoire. From auto parts to medical components, from aerospace precision to Hollywood award statuettes, Prompt Machine shows what a company can do when they have the tools that accommodate their needs for diversity. It is for this very reason that Prompt Machine’s Tim Sullivan, vice president operations, selected Global Shop Solutions ERP software.
"With the stiff global competition we were facing a few years ago," Sullivan relates, "we needed a different way of operating. One thing we did was to begin taking in more and more jobs that were outside the parameters of our usual machining orders." When the need for a total enterprise makeover was apparent, Sullivan started with his systems management and looked for a way to merge the data being produced by all areas of the plant.
In 2001, Sullivan was introduced to Global Shop Solutions by another Global Shop customer in California. "Before Global Shop, we were doing everything in our operation in Excel and there was no place where all of our data was consolidated and easily available for analysis. There were only bits and pieces of information that we would find at various times and in various locations. But what Global Shop did was to consolidate all of our plant information and to make this available at our desktops. Their ERP software system let us harness all of the data and to use the information daily in practical applications in our business and to come up with real solutions to the serious problems we were always coming up against before we started using Global Shop."Advanced Planning and Scheduling Made Easy
Over the last few years, Prompt Machine has made both major operational changes and minor adjustments to its CNC production system. Much of this change involves their response to the continuously evolving globalization of manufacturing. In a hybrid process that shifts the manufacturing model, Prompt Machine increasingly imports completed parts and preassembled items as components of finished goods in their California plant. Though this operational flexibility was something Sullivan was always striving for, it has only been possible through the use of an ERP software system that is equally as flexible. The wide array of forecasting capabilities within Global Shop affords Prompt Machine a great advantage, Sullivan believes.
As Sullivan points out, there are, in fact, several significant benefits in their use of Global Shop software. "First, we have the ability to track and monitor our complete manufacturing process using the Advanced Production Scheduling (APS)system. This is especially important in our ability to manage our capacity, workflow and work loading. Global Shop really helps us anticipate bottlenecks ahead of schedule," he says. For Prompt Machine, the APS system offers a planning capability that interfaces very well with their needs for doing business with foreign vendors and the extended lead times necessary for parts shipping from abroad. From sales and work order generation to purchasing, inventory management, and shipping, Global Shop software helps Prompt Machine keep the process organized from a single data-driven platform that is constantly providing the real-time information necessary for critical decision-making. Sullivan adds, "We’re able to manage our sales and inventory, and to have cost accounting available at a click. It’s especially important to look through Global Shop at a job we just ran to find where we made money, where we lost money—to see if there’s anywhere we can save on costs of production." Positioned for Growth
From their acquisition of Global Shop in 2001 to their total dependence on the system today, Prompt Machine attributes their continuing success to the flexibility that Global Shop provides to their way of thinking about the manufacturing business in general. As their use of Global Shop increased, so did the volume of work orders and their physical plant expansions. All along the way, Global Shop provided a stable environment that easily integrated with company growth. As Sullivan observes, "Now that we have many more people and many more machines as a result of using Global Shop, the software is a great benefit because it’s both so flexible and so stable. It works on a single, uniform platform that is consistent all the way through. This makes it easier to design procedures and implement them. For example, if someone new comes into purchasing, all of the procedures are already there and then we’re able to build up off that basic platform when we need to. It’s all consistent, it’s all uniform, all the way from order entry to shipping out the door. Everything at Prompt Machine is guided by and dependent on our Global Shop system. And, we use everything in Global Shop —every feature is used by our shop."Global Shop: A Total ERP System for Prompt Machine
With Global Shop software, Prompt Machine has found the importance of not only having all shop information in a central location, but also using that data to improve efficiency, productivity, and profitability. Rather than an ERP system that requires multiple interfaces and downloads through multiple and detached databases, Global Shop stores and analyzes all shop floor data within a single system. This is important for Prompt Machine, where only a couple of managers wear a multitude of hats. For Sullivan, the total ERP system management provided by Global Shop makes his life much easier. As he points out, "For historical information management in areas such as cost accounting, sales history, purchase history, scheduling, and to have all of that data on your desk monitor in just one click, this all makes Global Shop the best computerized information management system I’ve ever seen in the industry."
This management efficiency translates into production efficiencies on the shop floor. Since the Global Shop integration into Prompt Machine operations, the software has been responsible for improved efficiency in just about every aspect of production, which itself has produced better customer relations. "Our on-time delivery is over 98%, while before the integration of our Global Shop system that figure was more like 70%," Sullivan observes, "This steady increase in our on-time delivery is all due to the Global Shop Advanced Production Scheduling system that allows us to forecast all of our loads, capacity, abilities—to focus a dedicated effort on scheduling."
As a total ERP system, Global Shop also provides cost reductions through efficiencies in other costs as well. Like every other manufacturer, indirect costs subtract all-important profitability directly from the bottom-line. In the past, daily balancing of work cells and employee performance required a time consuming process of hand-coalescing data from several sources, often with less-than-accurate results often due to the absence of information. As seen with its use in Prompt Machine, Global Shop costing provides a quick and easy means to enhance bottom lines. Sullivan points out, "Our indirect labor costs have come down considerably due to the daily balancing capability of Global Shop. This makes employees more accountable for their time on the clock. Through this, we’re able to spot employees who may not be as productive with their on-the-clock time, or be as conscientious in accounting for their time on a daily basis."Prompt Machine and the Global Shop Support Team
One of the reasons Prompt Machine chose Global Shop over all other ERP systems is the high regard held throughout the manufacturing and job shop industries for Global Shop’s customer support. Prompt Machine has experienced Global Shop customer support on a variety of levels—each to great success. Sullivan attributes the production and sales improvements in their company directly to Global Shop customer support. This close relationship has been vital to the success of Prompt Machine. "The support at Global Shop is, simply outstanding. A feature I particularly like is the ServiceWeb. We’re able to go on-line, type in our question and in a surprisingly short amount of time get the help we need so we’re back on track with our operations," Sullivan observes. "I especially like the fact that we’re able to get specific training for our labor with the Global Shop system in any number of ways--virtually online, through on-site consultants, or even down in Texas in their facilities. It’s really helpful to know that we can get all the help we need to learn the system, and that there is always a person there to help when you pick up the telephone. In our experience, it’s a real helpful support system that they have at Global Shop."
Overall, Prompt Machine is an example of a company that depends very much on flexibility in thinking, in production and in management. Like the myriad other similarly successful Global Shop customers who have benefited from its unique planning capabilities, Prompt Machine sees the advantages that Global Shop has created. It is a long-term relationship in which Global Shop works side-by-side with Prompt Machine to improve overall performance. Sullivan agrees in saying, "My experience with Global Shop has been one of the most rewarding. It’s really provided us with a solid foundation to increase our manufacturing confidence and a platform on which to build our business. It’s given us an eye-opening experience to objectively reveal where our weaknesses are in our business, what areas need improvement. Global Shop gives us vital information that we’re able to analyze and to use in the business."