Conklin Metal Industries is a distributor and light manufacturer of HVAC products. Its core customers are sheet metal contractors, mechanical contractors, and duct fabricators. Conklin Metal services the entire Southeast out of three manufacturing locations and eleven warehouses.
TwinEngines was brought in to facilitate the implementation of a new Epicor Prophet 21 ERP system (P21) and host the system in the Azure cloud. ERP systems rarely align with all the unique operations of a distribution/manufacturing business, and several gaps were identified. TwinEngines modeled the unique workflows and designed Web applications on their integration platform. Using P21 APIs, the TwinEngines Web platform tightly integrates with P21 to work together to manage all operations workflows.
CHALLENGES WITH MANUFACTURING
One location manufactures slit coils and metal sheets and two other locations consume those materials and others to make pipe, fittings, and other custom components.
Each location needs a complete picture of inventory, all customer orders, and transfers to schedule work and coordinates with weekly intracompany truck schedules. During production, operators need to be able to decide which lot of coils or sheets are easily picked and tell the system if different materials were consumed. The P21 work orders were inflexible. They told operators what to pick, but the raw materials could not change.
MANAGING MANUFACTURING – THE API SOLUTION
TwinEngines developed a Web scheduling application to give production managers a complete picture of demand. They can create and edit work orders, even special “cut-down” work orders for coils and sheets.
Production managers go to the schedule to decide what to make and when to best match inventory and shipping schedules. Operators input the lots picked, changes to the raw materials and usage quantities. Using the P21 APIs, the Web application completes the P21 secondary process transactions and updates associated transfer orders.
CHALLENGES WITH TRANSFERS
Conklin Metal maintains a fleet of trucks to transfer materials between their locations and to ship products to customers. P21 immediately allocates (and locks up) inventory at the source location when a transfer is entered. This did not allow the flexibility needed to enter orders as they came in and update changing shipping deadlines.
For items that Conklin Metal fabricates, a transfer backorder was required in P21. The trouble with backorders was the lack of visibility and overhead required to effectively schedule work and manage inventory.
MANAGING TRANSFERS – THE API SOLUTION
TwinEngines developed an integrated Web application that leverages the APIs in P21.
Shipping managers enter transfer orders and operators pick transfers outside of P21. Changes can be made to meet dynamic customer needs and backorders are avoided. The ERP system is updated with the correct information of what was picked and loaded on the truck through the API.
CHALLENGES WITH RECEIVING
When a shipment of steel coils from the mill lands on Conklin Metal’s dock, it might include a dozen coils of different sizes and weights. After the shipment is unloaded, the receiving manager would manually enter each coil with all the lot attributes and generate labels. Then the warehouse employees would have to search and match labels with coils and too often find the data didn’t match.
RECEIVING MATERIALS – THE API SOLUTION
Using the API functions in Prophet 21, TwinEngines built a Web application to run on kiosks in the warehouse. Before delivery, the front office imports the Bill of Lading from the mill. When the shipment arrives, dock workers open the application, check off each coil and print a lot label to affix to each coil of steel as it comes off the truck. In the Web application using the APIs, the receiving manager creates the inventory of coils with all their lot attributes and generates the purchase order receipts in P21.
RESULTS – FILLING THE GAPS
The goal of digital transformation is to create a digitally seamless business – from order to fabrication to delivery to payment. In reality, the typical mix of applications, paper forms, and siloed operations creates gaps. Implementing a new ERP system is the perfect time to assess what gaps exist and which applications don’t integrate with others.
In the case of Conklin Metal Industries, the P21 distribution and light manufacturing ERP system met most needs, but gaps emerged in manufacturing, transfers, and receiving. In addition, data maintenance to update pricing, supplier contracts, and costs were tedious and time-consuming.
The custom software platform was limited in scope and not intended to create an end-to-end business system. By filling gaps and providing focused tools for employees – with API-connected Web applications – Conklin Metal achieved a productivity boost that exceeded the expenditure of resources needed to develop them.
- SQL Reporting Services (SSRS)
MS Visual Studio
Epicor Prophet 21 ERP system
- MS Excel
- MS Forms
By filling gaps and providing focused tools for employees – with API-connected Web applications – Conklin Metal achieved a productivity boost that exceeded the expenditure of resources needed to develop them.
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