Production Machining

DEC 2014

Production Machining - Your access to the precision machining industrial buyer.

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SOFTWARE Te original plan was that the software would handle payroll, receivables, payables as well as help the company with part counts and similar tasks. "It was a huge task," Jim Roberts explains. "All of our books were on ledger cards, and the shop was run by referencing note cards where meticu- lous notes indicated run times, throughput, and so on. "We brought in two college kids who started writing a program using a UNIX database. It took the better part of 2 years to complete the task and get us to where we felt we needed to be to go live with the system. It seemed to work, but to keep it running, we had to commit to always having a programmer on staf to keep us up-to-date and current with where our operation was going." Years later, Roberts was employing an older gentlemen who was handling the programming, but he was getting up to retirement age and a decision had to be made. Should the company hire yet another programmer to keep the old system going, which was now held together with bubble gum and masking tape, or was it time to migrate to software that was available and targeted to their industry? Te decision was made easier because of the fact that the UNIX system was close to breaking down, and there was nobody available who could easily fx it. Shopping for ERP and More Years before Roberts settled on Henning Software, they tried another ERP system but, unlike Henning, this system was not developed specifcally for the machine tool industry. "After a few months," Mr. Roberts noted, "it was clear the other system we looked at prior to settling on Henning was not going to work for us, so we left a considerable amount of money on the table and walked away. We knew this decision was too important to go with the wrong system." Even though Roberts Automatic had looked at a number of systems that were written specifcally for contract manufac- turers, they didn't feel any were robust enough for their needs. A few years later, when Roberts renewed their search, a number of systems had added modules that made their systems much more robust and much more attractive to Roberts Automatic. Finding a Flexible Vendor When it came down to the fnal decision, it was Henning's Visual EstiTrack that rose to the top. "We had looked at it earlier, so we were already familiar with the primary features," Mr. Roberts says. "We were also infuenced by the fact that we knew the Hennings through PMPA and knew they had devel- oped the system for their own job shop when they started out, so we knew it was built for a company like ours. In addition, we queried a number of other PMPA members who were using Visual EstiTrack, and they were all appreciative of the fact that Henning was open to 'tweaking' the system to work precisely for their operation. Te 'big guys' did not seem as open to that." Rich Henning, president of Henning Software, says, "We recognize how difcult it can be for a new customer to migrate from their own home-grown system that was designed specifcally for their unique needs to a more of-the- shelf solution. When working with customers, we try to be sensitive to the fact that they may need some features that we may not ofer out of the box, and when needed, we provide customization services to help make the customer's transi- tion more seamless. Tis usually ends in a win-win for both Henning and our customer, because they get the features they want while we get an opportunity to improve our products and include even more functionality." Mr. Henning adds, "We have found that the close, personal relationships we develop with our customers as we go through this process typically result in an evolution of our products, which ultimately helps all Henning customers in the future. When our customers attend our Annual Users Conference each year, we even have them vote on which new enhancements they would like to see in the next software update. Tis way, we know that updates we make to the system are truly going to help our customers and not just be updates for the sake of updates." "I guess like a lot of family-owned companies, all things being equal, we like doing business with other family–owned companies," Mr. Roberts says. "When you are looking at :: Parts coming from the washer station receive a dry count to confrm the order. The parts are packed and ready to move to the shipping foor. 38 PRODUCTION MACHINING :: DECEMBER 2014

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