That's the verdict of Empire Manufacturing director Stuart Wade, whose precision subcontract engineering company has now been using the production control software system across two generations of the family business.
Based in Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire, Empire Manufacturing was established in 2008 as a precision subcontract engineering company providing its services to customers in the aerospace and automotive industries, among others.
Specialising in 0 - 180mm diameter CNC turning and milling as both primary and secondary operations on a range of components in many different batch sizes, the company has enjoyed steady growth after a tough start in a recessionary period. There has been continuous investment in additional machining capacity and inspection technology (including a new dedicated inspection department), as well as in the PSL production control software.
When Mr Wade started Empire Manufacturing, he was managing it single-handedly whilst his father Peter was running a separate engineering company that already used PSL Datatrack. He had also worked with his father and had gained first-hand experience of the benefits of the software in the production environment. When his father subsequently joined him at Empire Manufacturing the decision was made to take advantage of the software there too as it was already proven, easy to use and had an industry-wide reputation.
“It was really my dad’s decision to use Datatrack at both companies and that was also mainly due to our familiarity with the software at the time,” he says.
PSL Datatrack was used on a full-time basis within the new business and Peter Wade became its main user in addition to providing the company's own training manager with training in its use. The immediate requirement was for a single user licence for sales order processing and invoicing modules which were identified as being crucial to providing the level of business control required at that time.
As the company acquired a larger manufacturing unit to cope with increased business, the demands on Empire's production and administration systems also grew. The led to extra Datatrack modules being added to cover quotations, purchase order processing and stock control. The facility to be able to quote work for customers quickly and easily as well as having the facility to recall those quotes has been vital to the business.
“A major advantage for us is the time we save when preparing customer quotations,” says Mr Wade. “The ability to create new generations of existing customer quotes quickly and easily saves a huge amount of time.”
It was also important that works orders were organised properly and subsequent modules were added covering process layouts to produce more detailed shopfloor route cards, document control for managing incoming supplier certificates, and component drawings, to provide vital issue control. The number of user licences at Empire has now increased to four.
“PSL Datatrack has provided a system that prioritises which jobs have to be done for which customers and when, in order to complete them within required time frames,” Mr Wade explains.
“Once an order has been placed, PSL Datatrack modules are employed throughout the production process, which also gives us the traceability that is now being demanded by our customers. This ability to view and track an order through its entirety, from the sourcing and stocking of any materials required to complete the order right through to the parts or assemblies going out the door and then being invoiced, is essential.”
Mr Wade also says he could name many other specific benefits of having PSL Datatrack, including the traceability that the production control software provides on past jobs.
“This is very important, as it would be to any manufacturing business, but the biggest one for us is the organisation side of it. In short, without the software we would be lost.”
Since investing in basic PSL Datatrack modules at the start-up of the business when money was tight and the company was operating from a single unit, Empire Manufacturing has since found it easy and affordable to add modules when needed as the company has grown. This lean approach has continually improved internal organisation, helping to streamline new processes that have been implemented.
“In this respect PSL Datatrack's support has been invaluable,” Mr Wade says. “The service from them is excellent. We always get a prompt response, with a workable solution to a production problem we may have or to a new process requirement that we want to implement.
“On the rare occasions there isn’t an immediate solution available from PSL, it will be worked into the next update of the software. This forms part of the customer Wish List initiative which is very handy. It’s great to see our ideas actually taken on board and implemented.”
PSL Datatrack www.psldatatrack.com