We just released a new video featuring GainSeeker Suite customers at Exacto, Inc. In the video Exacto’s manufacturing team explains how a new integration between GainSeeker Suite and their ERP system (Enterprise Resource Planning) system now saves them an enormous amount of time and enables them to easily drill down into their data to get to the root cause of problems in a short time.

Watch the video and read below for the back story.

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Back Story

“I just want to play with the data,” That’s what Al Swain, Quality Manager for Exacto, Inc., told me a few months ago as we were discussing his ERP system.

Exacto is a high-precision machining company based in Northern Indiana. It’s also “A small company with big-company ability,” as they describe it. Al had been using GainSeeker for real-time shop floor SPC for years. He appreciates the flexibility GainSeeker provides for slicing, massaging, and analyzing data to drive improvements on the shop floor

Even though GainSeeker Suite includes a comprehensive defect management system, Exacto had never implemented it because operators were already collecting scrap data in their ERP system. The ERP system needed the information to keep track of WIP, inventory, and costing. Data entry into two systems wasn’t an option.

Data shuffle doesn’t cut it

So once a month, Al’s boss, Andy Jordan, generated a report from their ERP system that listed all the defects. Al imported that report into an Excel spreadsheet. After about 3 or 4 hours of “doing the data shuffle,” he had some rudimentary Pareto charts. Drilling into those took more time. In fact, it was not uncommon for him to have to dedicate an entire day each month to getting to the root cause of problems. That’s why he only tackled this task once a month.

Even then, he was usually looking at problems that had cropped up six weeks before—way too late to make a difference.

Al found himself wanting to to do more with the data in his ERP system, and he wanted to  do it sooner—even daily—if possible.

Partnering with ERP system for real-time integration

At Al’s request, we partnered with his ERP provider, Global Shop Solutions. They generously provided data table layouts. With a little bit of custom programming, we created an integration process between GainSeeker and Global Shop that runs every morning at 5 a.m. We could have set it to run more frequently, but it was decided that compressing the delay from six weeks to the next day constituted a small miracle in itself, so they didn’t feel a need to push it further.

This new interface automatically stores the data in GainSeeker Suite. It includes not just scrap counts and defect reasons, but also scrap costs. We have added a new feature to GainSeeker 8.3 that allows GainSeeker to track different costs for the same product at different points in the process—and for different job runs.

Drill-down delivers results

As you’ll see in the video, Al can now quickly spot trends in the data, and analyze by defect count or defect cost. He can drill down into the data by work order, product, work center, operator, and more. His newfound ability to “play with the data” has already opened their eyes to a few previously unknown situations  in the shop.

“Sometimes the data shows you exactly what you expect, and other times the data surprises you,” says Al. “Having good data and having it now makes it possible to learn what is going on.”

GainSeeker fills a known gap in ERP data systems

ERP systems are an essential backbone of manufacturing information systems, but they are not all things for all people. GainSeeker fills an important gap in these systems: the ability to easily connect with your data.

How about you? Do you have an ERP system with inadequate statistical quality and data analysis tools? Please leave a comment, or  write to me at ejmiller [at] hertzler [dot] com. I’d love to hear from you.