Integrated ERP Offers Better Access to Data, Improved Scheduling

March 15, 2010
For shop-floor management, one sheet metal processor gets continuous performance improvement with real-time, in-context insights.

Wesgar Inc. fabricates a wide range of finished products for multiple consumer markets, so it require a sophisticated ERP that would bring reliable insights from its production data.

One of Western Canada’s largest sheet-metal processors is Wesgar Inc., in Port Coquitlam, B.C. The company’s slogan “Artistry in Metal” reflects its approach to manufacturing, which is confirmed by the products it supplies to satisfied customers in Canada, the U.S., and Mexico.

Wesgar’s total manufacturing space totals 80,000 sq. ft, with a 5,000-sq. ft assembly cell for simple to mid-complex mechanical and electrical assemblies. It designs and fabricates metal products for companies that produce electronics, industrial goods, printing materials, medical devices, testing and measurement devices, computer enclosures and parts, power switching and management components, and telecommunications and radio-frequency parts.

The volume and variety of its products demands a sophisticated enterprise planning solution.

The shop began implementing Epicor’s Vantage manufacturing solution in 2008, and updated to the Epicor 9 enterprise resource-planning (ERP) platform in June 2009. “We wanted a modern manufacturing platform that offered better access to data for reporting and customization,” explained Wesgar IT manager Troy Richman. “We also were looking for improved scheduling capabilities, and the ability to leverage fully integrated financials.”

Richman said moving to Epicor took less than three months to implement and go live — fairly smooth process throughout.

“Everything worked out very well,” he said. One of the biggest challenges was getting users comfortable with the system in a relatively short time period: He pointed out that educational tools, and the onsite support from Epicor consultants for over a week were a great advantage in that effort.

As described by Richman, the company is “viewed internally and externally as a branch plant for each of our customers.” Its goal is to ensure customers become the most cost-effective manufacturers in their industry.

To accomplish this, Wesgar uses state-of-the-art machining systems and skilled personnel, as well as lean manufacturing practices combined with continuous improvement methods to increase the quality, decrease the costs of component parts, and increase velocity to the market — simultaneously. The fully integrated Epicor suite of manufacturing and distribution management solutions supports those initiatives.

Among the new features of Epicor that Wesgar is leveraging is a streamlined graphical user interface, which enhances data visibility by making it easier to drill down for more details, and “right-click” features that make it easier to generate customized reports. “Users know how to get the data they need; this is very empowering to them and it saves me a lot of time not having to show each user how to find the information they are looking for,” Richman said.

Integrated scheduling functionality allows Wesgar to schedule more resources more efficiently than before. It significantly improves plantwide visibility of and access to schedules, and reduces lead times.

Wesgar has been able to improve its operational visibility and efficiency via Epicor’s Material Requirements Planning (MRP) capabilities, which help manage materials consumed, forecast end-product requirements, adjust production as forecasts change, and generate suggested purchase orders to fill anticipated gaps in raw material inventory. For custom jobs, this enables Wesgar to closely manage costing of each set of production; and Epicor’s comprehensive Quality Suite automates the regulatory compliance process, helping Wesgar meet ISO requirements.

Richman also said Wesgar has benefitted from Epicor’s integrated financials, which provide users with the ability to drill down into financial reports providing the requisite high-level “big picture” information, as well as access to more detailed information for financial “power users.”

“Prior to Epicor, our accounting was mostly a manual process,” he said. “Now it’s all in one place, and we have visibility to all transactions. Our accounting group is particularly happy with the system’s support for FIFO (“first in, first out”) costing. We’re also now able to quickly see and track our estimated costs versus real costs, for improved financial control and management of the business.”