Case Study: Suncast
Constant change is inherent in today’s business environment. Whether that change is driven internally or by customers, it relentlessly tests the short-term adaptability and long-term viability of an organization’s enterprise software. All too often change exposes the software’s limitations and decision-makers are compelled to make a judgement call: To what degree are they willing and able to compromise their company’s processes in order to work around those limitations?
About the Company
Suncast, a plastic injection molder serving big-box retailers with extremely tight shipping schedules and heavy EDI requirements, needed an ERP solution that not only boasted out-of-the-box and
fully integrated functionality, but one enabling tight EDI integration and a solid interface with the company’s existing 3rd party demand planning and forecasting solutions. “When you have a 3-day turnaround on orders, you better have a high finished goods inventory ready-to-ship, which is why we use specialized demand planning and forecasting applications,” says Mr. Booth. “But once we develop our inventory plan, our ERP application needs to handle the demand side – purchasing, processing orders and scheduling production, for example – dynamically and real-time.” Equally important from Mr. Booth’s perspective, given a manufacturing environment consisting of over 100 state-of the- art presses and the need to optimize those assets, was a robust shop floor monitoring system with tight integration between it and the ERP application.
Ed Booth, director of IT for Suncast Corporation, took a hard look at his company’s 10-year-old, highly modified legacy ERP system, along with a list of over 500 additional system enhancement requests
from his internal user community, and he decided the time had come for a new solution.
“We could have either continued tackling those outstanding issues one-by-one, constantly enhancing the existing system, or we could identify a solution which inherently handled them,” says Mr. Booth, who notes that many issues related to enhancing the integration,
consolidation and visibility of production scheduling. “We’d reached a point where our system was very difficult to maintain and lacked essential functionality, so we determined it would be much more efficient to switch.”
The Situation & Solution
He found everything he needed with Solarsoft Business Systems, which had recently purchased long-time production and process monitoring system provider, Mattec Corporation. “We had two key systems, ERP and Shop Floor Monitoring, that needed to be replaced, and we got it all - Solarsoft iVP and Mattec ProHelp EPM , plus robust EDI support - under one umbrella. Once we found out that Mattec was already integrated into Solarsoft iVP, the decision was pretty straightforward.” According to Mr. Booth, the depth of functionality Solarsoft iVP offered to an injection molder, as well as the technical integrity of the application’s code and database also influenced Suncast’s decision.
He notes that with the implementation of the combined Solarsoft iVP/Mattec solution, his system enhancement to-do list immediately dropped from 500-plus to zero. Among the areas most notably impacted by the Solarsoft selection is production planning and scheduling. Throughout virtually every department, Suncast has replaced Excel spreadsheets with Solarsoft iVP’s White-Board Scheduler, a graphical tool that enables managers to visually evaluate and adjust workload and resource allocation at each work station in order to most efficiently meet production and delivery goals.
“We used to have a lot of spreadsheets – customer service would use one set of data, purchasing another. Nobody was looking at one concise production plan. And like most manufacturers our production plans might last a day before we have to modify it,” says Mr. Booth. “The White-Board Scheduler on Solarsoft iVP integrates customer service and purchasing with production. So if an order comes in via EDI it interfaces directly with Solarsoft iVP, and if that order impacts the production schedule the change is communicated immediately to the shop floor. Purchasing also knows what they need to buy in order to fulfill a production plan. There are no gaps; we’re not waiting for people to update a spreadsheet.”
Benefits & Solutions
Suncast schedulers also exploit the integration between Solarsoft iVP and Mattec ProHelp EPM , with Solarsoft iVP managing and adjusting the manufacturing workload (work orders and scheduling
of work orders) on a macro basis, based on the real-time shop-floor activity data provided by Mattec.
“The Solarsoft iVP White-Board shows how long a job is going to run based on a quantity and a standard cycle. Mattec records actual cycles at the machine-level, so if it’s slow or fast the MRP schedule
is updated and everyone sees it,” says Booth, who points out that his schedulers work with two monitors, one displaying Solarsoft iVP and the other Mattec. “With our old system, there was a huge disconnect between the production monitoring system and our ERP once we sent the work order down to the shop floor.” Mr. Booth characterizes Suncast’s deployment of Solarsoft iVP and Mattec as
“jumping in with both feet”. “We feel like we’re pushing the limits of the software, and I don’t think we could have asked for anything better in terms of the solutions’ impact on our day-to-day operations and in terms of Solarsoft as a partner; their willingness to make sure our needsare met. It’s an excellent functional and cultural fit.”
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