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Ray Little likes the ability to schedule his machines in advance, and the what-if scheduling. He can plan for jobs still in the quotation phase, so he’s always ready when the order comes in.
Calframax specializes in making molds for both thin-wall and industrial plastic containers for the food and packaging industry.
Mold manufacturing technology and scheduling software must enhance the quotation process. Specifically, any solution for mold builders must generate quick, accurate quotes as well as create detailed estimate re-caps of labor, overhead, material and outside services—toggle the profit margins and/or selling prices to win a competitive job.
Most mold manufacturers will need to crank out a quickie quote, and enter the details after the job is secured (often attaching drawings, bitmaps, jpegs or other files—and print them with the job packet). This type of quotation technology must allow firms to compare similar quotes or quote histories easily while seeing exactly what percentage of quotes turn into orders.
Calframax Technologies (Oldcastle, Ontario) specializes in molds for both thin-wall and industrial plastic containers for the food and packaging industry. Adopting an aggressive strategy of guaranteed customer satisfaction and for providing on time delivery of reasonably priced, top quality molds, the firm has grown continuously since opening its doors in 1995—more than doubling business revenue since that time and continues to add new customers.
Calframax operates more than 20 different machines—including CNC mills, CNC lathes, vertical lathe and more from Hass, Okuma and DMG—in its Ontario plant. After looking at all of the scheduling software available, Owner Ray Little needed to find software with a strong database and reasonable pricing.
He selected the E2 Shop System—developed and distributed by Shoptech Software (Glastonbury, CT). The E2 Shop System is comprehensive manufacturing software designed just for job shops and make-to-order or contract manufacturers. He notes, “We can now plan for jobs still in the quotation phase, so we are always ready when orders come in. The powerful, yet flexible reporting software system that features easy-to-use modules and Quickview™ for dashboard data access brings business operations into one, easy-to-use solution. From quoting to accounting and every business function in between, E2 allows us to schedule the shop floor realistically. By knowing where every job is at all times this allows us to promise and deliver on expectations to our customers.”
Little reports that with E2 Calframax's shop operations run much more smoothly and scheduling became much more efficient, “With the increased ability to see where everything is at on the shop floor with the scheduling whiteboard we can give customer updates whenever they call at any time.”
Accurate time and attendance information is readily available. The scheduling whiteboard and data collection gives Calframax accurate time on jobs and how long it takes to complete the job up to the second. This shows what employees, machines or jobs are overbooked, which. Little reviews daily to get a good handle on how efficiently the shop is running. Advance planning capabilities using the “what-if” feature and the scheduling whiteboard allows the company to concentrate on quality, rather than last-minute scheduling changes.
The company’s previous software did not have the scheduling capability to coordinate the operation of all of their machines, nor could it allow Calframax to do any advance scheduling or long-term planning. Little adds, “I particularly like the ability to schedule machines in advance, and the what-if scheduling, which allows us to take the guesswork out before committing to due dates while increasing customer satisfaction with on time delivery.”
With tight margins required to win a mold project, the ability to add speed and efficiency to order processing and automatically trigger profit-building actions throughout the job shop is a vital technology requirement. From a lean manufacturing perspective—reduction of waste and enhanced efficiency and accuracy—technology solutions must automatically turn quotes into orders; no double entry required. The ability to flow complete bills of material and routers into job orders, as well as post finished parts or material directly from inventory and automatically notify purchasing of any materials shortages, creates elements of continued process improvement and bottom-line impacts.
It is very helpful if technology solutions have the capacity to set up multiple releases for blanket order customers and time-and-material jobs, and of course, easily accommodate changes in due dates and quantities—even after the job has started. The ability to automatically schedule jobs—backward or forward; infinite or finite—for better job start/finish dates is crucial. The need to then print out the entire job packet—bar-coded router, material list or any attached documents—with the click of a button is one of the important differentiators afforded moldmakers like Calframax with the use of E2.
Moldmakers must have the capacity to send out RFQs to get the best price and delivery as well as precisely align purchase needs with entered orders. Purchasing material for a job or stock, and tracking vendor on-time delivery and scrap performance, is critical to profitability. The right software solution must automatically generate complete LIFO, FIFO, average and standard costing inventory. Sourcing, ordering, stocking and controlling all components, parts and assemblies with the right software solution that delivers effective materials management will drive profits.
Thomas R. Cutler is the President & CEO of Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based, TR Cutler, Inc. Cutler is the founder of the Manufacturing Media Consortium of nearly four thousand journalists and editors writing about trends in manufacturing. Cutler is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists, Online News Association, American Society of Business Publication Editors, Committee of Concerned Journalists, as well as author of more than 500 feature articles annually regarding the manufacturing sector.