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Steel Manufacturer CutsDowntime With ImpressiveERP System
by Global Shop Solutions
For years, Brunswick Steel operated the business with one foot in the past and one in the future. The com- pany employed the latest in modern steel cutting andprocessing equipment to produce its high-quality steelproducts. But many facets of the production processes reliedon outdated manual procedures, forcing workarounds thatslowed production times and reduced shop floor efficiency.
Their old system functioned more as a service centersoftware than an ERP system. It worked reasonably wellwith its regular stock products but lacked the ability tohandle complex custom jobs, especially on the processingside of the business.
When Adam Plouffe, an experienced ERP user, joinedBrunswick Steel as General Manager a few years ago, herecognized the need for a change. After convincing ownership of the benefits of a fully integrated ERP system,Brunswick Steel implemented Global Shop Solutions ERPsoftware, setting in motion a process that revolutionizedhow the company works.
One ERP System That Does It All
When researching ERP systems, Plouffe identified threeprimary selection criteria:
1. A robust system that would automate as many manualprocedures as possible
2. A fully integrated system that made current and accurate
production data easily accessible throughout the business
3. The flexibility to handle Brunswick Steel’s mixed-mode
Located in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Brunswick Steel is a
full-service steel production job shop providing custom
products, one-offs, and scheduled production for manu-
facturing and construction customers throughout Western
Canada. The firm works 24/7 to produce sheet, plate, and
long products for companies in agriculture, mining, trans-
portation, and oil and gas. Their products can be found
anywhere from potato farms to skyscrapers to a variety of
shop floors and manufacturing facilities.
“The ERP systems we looked at all had the automation
and data integration,” says Plouffe. “But most of them had
major weaknesses when it came to managing both produc-
tion processing and stock sales. Those two business lines
run very differently, and Global Shop Solutions was one
of few that said, ‘Yes, we can do that.’”
“In addition, the Advanced Planning & Scheduling (APS)
module really got my attention,” continues Plouffe. “When
I saw how it can schedule jobs, precisely track capacity,
automate purchasing supply and demand, and provide
immediate financial data, I knew Global Shop Solutions
was the right system for us.”
Visible Improvements on the Shop Floor and in theBack Offices
After going live with the software, Brunswick Steel beganexperiencing wins in many areas of the business.
The first big impact came in finance, where having a
fully integrated ERP system eliminated the need to run
financials through separate systems. After only a month
of using the software, the company’s CFO sent Plouffe an
email saying, “Thank you for pushing this change. I can
now run all financials through our ERP because the data
is all tied together.”
Another big-time saver came from integrating Global
Shop Solutions with Brunswick Steel’s nesting software.
Previously, laser-cutting steel pieces were tracked manually.
Now it’s all done within the system. As soon as the machine
cuts a part, the data from the nested sheet is available to
anyone who needs it.
Another major improvement came from what shop floor
personnel are not doing when it comes to recording jobs.
“For the first two months, employees kept asking whenwe were going to train them on using the system,” saysPlouffe. “I explained they were already using it as we intended by not having to perform all the manual administrativetasks they were used to doing. That produced a big win interms of time and labor efficiency.”
Reliable Delivery Dates = Happy Customers
So far, Plouffe ranks the biggest win as having a masterschedule that everyone works from. Having sales, purchasing, finance, and production all work off the same real-timedata enables Brunswick Steel to provide a great customerexperience, starting with accurate delivery dates.
In the past, scheduling personnel had to manually calculate the available capacity for any given day. Withoutan integrated system to provide timely capacity updates,sales reps sometimes sold more machine hours than wasavailable. This required a scramble to rework the schedule,reset the due dates, and keep customers happy.
“Working from the same master schedule has eliminatedthat problem while improving on-time delivery for customjobs,” says Plouffe. “It enabled us to change some of ourstock goods from one or two days to same-day delivery.
We’ve also reduced inventory to limit our exposure tovolatile markets while increasing turns in purchasing.”
Great Product, Great Company
To date, Brunswick Steel has achieved what they initiallyhoped to accomplish with the software, but Plouffe considers it just a beginning. He continues to learn more aboutwhat the software can do, and applies it to simplifying moreprocesses. Overall, he considers the software’s flexibilityas the driving force behind Brunswick Steel’s continualimprovement efforts.
“As I mentioned, we didn’t want an ERP system that wouldforce us to do things a certain way,” he says. “Global ShopSolutions provides the flexibility to make changes as we needthem and run our business the way we need to run it. We alsolike the fact that Global Shop Solutions is a family-ownedbusiness. Brunswick Steel is family-owned as well, and weprefer to partner with like-minded companies.”
Image courtesy of Brunswick Steel