Plex Manufacturing Cloud | Weber Metals

Case Study: Weber Metals
Solution: Plex Saas ERP
Industry: Metal Fabrication
Country: U.S.A.
About the Company
Weber Metals of Paramount, California, is a full line aluminum and titanium forging supplier as well as the market leader in hand forgings. It specializes in stress relieved products with minimum distortion during machining. Employing over 200 people, Weber prides itself on providing the shortest lead times in its industry. Its primary customers are in commercial aerospace, military aerospace, electronics/semiconductor and jet engine component industries and in shuttle and space programs. It is wholly owned by Otto Fuchs Metallwerke of Germany.

The Situation
The management team at Weber Metals knew it needed an ERP system that could integrate its quoting system with its order system. Its current ERP system did not provide quote-to-order capability, and because of the nature of the products produced, quotes need to be 100 percent accurate. They needed exact data with zero difference between the quote and the order. They also wanted a more flexible scheduling module and the ability to integrate Intranet documents with their applications software.

Weber also needed the ability to schedule like items together in order to reduce set-up times at work centers. They wanted the ability to quickly change time schedules and queue and move jobs. It took about 18 hours to reschedule the entire shop.

In 2002 Weber Metals began researching a new ERP system. Middle managers from nine different departments formed a team which developed a 13-page RFQ and evaluated 32 prospective systems. They had eliminated all but four companies but knew none of these four could fully meet all their requirements. Before the final evaluation, Weber’s IT manager read an article about Plex Online in Forging Magazine. She discussed it with the team and learned of a co-worker who had seen the Plex Online system at work. The team decided to investigate Plex Online.

The Solution
After meeting with Plex Online, the Weber team realized it had found an ERP system that could meet all their criteria. Weber purchased the entire core package and set up an implementation schedule that allowed them to start with the modules that would give them the greatest return for the time invested. In February 2003 Weber implemented the Purchasing Module and then the Quoting Module. Once the entire package was programmed for Weber, it went live only one month later. The entire implementation took only three months.

Weber says it has had “fantastic” success with the Quote Tracking Module and that they can now quote more rapidly. Entry is two to three minutes per quote, down from 10-15 minutes per quote. Pricing a quote used to take up to one hour but now takes only 1-2 minutes.

Plex Online’s Scheduling Module was one of its strongest selling points for Weber. The Scheduling Module is not only flexible with both finite and infinite work center scheduling, but it also has overlap operations, concurrent operations and “what if” scenarios in addition to master schedules. Weber shop floor supervisors can now make real time decisions on changing crew sizes, overtime and work center changes. Prior to the Plex Online implementation, scheduling took so long that it was done only at night. Now it takes only 10-12 minutes.

Weber found that Plex Online not only met its RFQ needs but also brought considerably more value than originally expected.

Order errors and delayed shipments reduced
In order for a customer to accept a product, Weber must certify that the product has certain metals with tight tolerances as specified in the original quote. This must be done for every piece produced. Prior to implementing Plex Online’s Quote Tracking Module, changes were keyed in and a manual review had to be conducted before every shipment, which sometimes delayed delivery. From the quote process to the shipment of forgings, Weber’s data and processes are now completely visible online and tracked in real time. Now that the quote system integrates with the order system, there are no order errors or delayed shipments. 

Shop rescheduling time reduced from 18 hours to 10-12 minutes
Weber needed to schedule like items together to reduce set up time at the work center, and they needed the ability to schedule in advance rather than trying to backwards schedule. They wanted a program that allowed them to schedule work stations with both finite and infinite capacities, move time schedules and queues, and maximize throughput. California’s laws regarding electrical power require Weber to be as efficient as possible, and its ability to schedule tightly is crucial. The Plex Online Scheduling Module positions all information at their fingertips, dramatically reducing scheduling time and significantly improving throughput. Shop floor supervisors can analyze “what if” conditions and make real time decisions on changing crew sizes, overtime and work center changes. Weber can determine its capacity compared to its schedule in real time.

Inventory module streamlines inspection
The Plex Online Inventory Module now has Weber inventory every single piece of material with a barcode which identifies every detail associated with it. Weber has complete traceability from the time they place a purchase order with a supplier until even after parts are shipped. Each supplier now labels every piece of material it provides with a barcode. When Weber wands the barcode upon receipt, Inspection sees the material receipts on their screens and inspects the material. Weber can then use the newly received material within hours of its receipt. It’s an extremely streamlined process. 

Work instructions and drawings now online, reducing job instruction time from 30 minutes to 60 seconds
Before Plex Online software was installed, all Weber job instructions were done manually. After the software installation, the shop floor employees access job instructions online within 60 seconds with the push of the button. Job instructions include pictures as well as text instructions. The Plex Online system is user friendly, making it easy to train employees.

Everything is now done in real time
Weber now tracks inventory and jobs in real time. All jobs move through the plant in paperless fashion.