In this short post I will describe for you a short example of my client that has achieved enormous success by implementing and seamlessly integrating Ridder iQ ERP and TruTops Fab.

 

Client Contact:
Ing. Laurens Singeling, B. Eng.
I: www.singeling.com
E: info@singeling.com
T: +31 75-6164726

The situation at Singeling

Singeling B.V. is a metalworking company specializing in engineering, laser cutting, bending and welding sheet metal. The company owns multiple Trumpf laser cutting machines, bending machines and does its own in-house engineering. 

The production department was faced with a major challenge in preparing, planning  and managing the production of laser-cut products. Especially with converting 3D models into CNC code for machines and keeping track of the progress of individual parts. 

The previous manufacturing system was outdated: Previously, people worked with an overcrowded Outlook calendar, which was dragged around daily. Files were stored in folders. Communication to the shop floor was on paper.  There was a constant need for overtyping and production was managed on paper. This used to be somewhat manageable, but nowadays customers order increasingly larger variations, smaller order sizes and shorter delivery times.

In addition, they also had no access to the current stock levels. It was a matter of counting, measuring and sometimes even ‘go by intuition’  to determine if a needed material was in stock. This caused a lot of frustration, uncertainty and unnecessary failure costs.

Regarding post calculation of manufactured products, the system only issued the production time on a paper report, and no costs or actual material consumption. This also had to be manually added to each individual part afterwards. The results were overloaded management employees, having to figure out for each part the question “What did this actually cost?”. 

A bottleneck problem

In total this resulted in a bottleneck problem: the laser cutting machines were able to operate 24/7, the bending machines could run in shifts, but the output of the work preparation was limited. 

This resulted in a lack of overviews: the more parts that were taken in production, the less the actual output per week became of the machines. This is because the time that was needed to search for products, the planning and organization were increasing significantly. The more work that was taken on, the less the effectiveness of the organization became.

Automation as a solution

It was clear the situation needed an improvement and it soon became clear the path to go is the one of automation. To do so, I started an ERP-integration project. 

No options could be found by recruiting staff  because the company no longer had workplaces available and this would have resulted in a cost increase. 

Also, it was not an option to change the order portfolio to bigger series or customers that would order based on repeat products. The management and I agreed that the margins would be the highest on the smaller series and engineering-to-order products.

After analyzing the necessary components for the system and their respective functions the selection of software suppliers was started. 

The decision fell quickly on the new TruTops Fab software, also because the company already started experimenting with the Calculation software of Trumpf (TruTops Calculate) and had gained experience with their laser programming software. 

In 2015, Singeling was one of the first users in the Netherlands that would start the implementation of this new software. This was in line with the innovative thinking of the business, since they were also one of the first users that implemented Ridder iQ prior in 2014.  Both this and previous implementations were successfully completed by me. 

4-Step Process for Implementation and Integration 

The project was delivered in the 4-step process that I tend to apply to all my clients:

  • Step 1: Strategic design of the ideal business process with matching IT
  • Step 2: Create software links with ERP software to decrease manual actions.
  • Step 3: Training in its use, to be able to work flexibly and efficiently.
  • Step 4: Optimization of usage and processes to decrease throughput times. 

Step 1: Strategic design of the ideal business process with matching IT

The software systems that were selected are: 

The process was designed to work seamless with the systems. This is a challenge, since all systems operate differently. With help of both software suppliers and researching the in depth functions the following workflow was developed: 

 

Step 2: Creating software links with ERP software

The integration design was done by me, including expert user input, designing the flows and making sure that the development was being tested extensively before releasing it to the end user. 

The software company behind Ridder iQ ERP, Ridder Data Systems, was responsible for the development of the source code. 

In return the customer and the supplier of TruTops Fab, Trumpf,  would bring in the experience, design specifications and use case information. In this way a win-win collaboration was created. 

It was also needed to reconfigure TruTops Calculate for the new process, where both the ERP and the programming software were now sharing one materials database, with matching codes and specifications. So that both systems can communicate in the same ‘language’: the material code is equal in all systems. 

Step 3: Training in its use, to be able to work flexibly and efficiently.

The client received an extensive training in the usage of the software integrations, including manuals, videos and in person explanation. 

This helped to quickly get employees operational and get feedback from the users in a short time frame. Later, a few new functionalities were adapted, and other requests were planned for a later project. Such as integrating further with a customer portal, automatic cost calculation of 3D assemblies and welding calculation software. 

By doing the training, the amount of work preparation staff doubled, so that the organization was able to handle lower employee capacities during vacation times more flexibly.  

Step 4: Optimization of usage and processes to decrease throughput times

One year after implementing the major project, an optimization project was launched to apply Quick Response Manufacturing (QRM) in the processes of production to further reduce the throughput times. Read more about QRM in my other articles. 

The results:

  • All cutting orders are automatically clustered by material type, resulting in faster and paperless nesting activities.
  • Any employee in the office can now calculate prices, the ERP does this fully automatically (both before and after!).
  • Insight into necessary orders and stock, which leads to smarter ordering. This saves 25% purchasing costs because there is now a bulk advantage.
  • Reduced lead time for laser cut products by 50%, reducing work-in-progress costs.
  • Due to tight planning, the percentage of work that is completed on time has increased with more than 20%.
  • The integration also gives them an improved overview of the turnaround time for projects.

Good integration saves you enormous time, costs and gives more overview to the management. An additional benefit of the solution is that it helps with gaining more satisfied and motivated employees on the shop floor, because of the calmness and confidence the office brings to the shop floor. 

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