At a Glance:
- Plex Cloud ERP allows ARCA to double production volume with the same amount of staff.
- ARCA has reduced inventory on hand and associated carrying costs.
- Improved quality controls have helped the electronics manufacturer double its market share since launching Plex.
ARCA is one of the largest manufacturers and systems integrators of cash-handling devices in the world. The company develops software applications and supplies components and diagnostics for cash dispensers, cash recycling machines and coin dispensers. Its locations include U.S. headquarters in North Carolina, European Division operations in Scotland, and a facility in Northern Ireland.
Since it began operations in 1998, the manufacturer had been using NetSuite ERP to manage accounting, costing, inventory and other typical ERP functions. Over time, as the business grew, the NetSuite software was unable to meet the company’s need for more detailed, complex financial information. Because the system was a standalone ERP, it also lacked the production visibility, quality controls, distribution support, and integrated functionality ARCA required across its entire enterprise.
ARCA’s management team searched for a new ERP solution that would provide better ERP support for its financial departments while helping drive improvements in other functions across its enterprise. The team wanted a solution that could meet the requirements of its OEM distribution function as well as the needs of its manufacturing assembly operations. After reviewing several solutions, the company selected ERP from the Plex Manufacturing Cloud.
Comprehensive, Integrated Solution
Management believed Plex would meet its needs because it is designed for manufacturers and it is much more than just an ERP solution. It combines the capabilities of ERP, manufacturing execution systems (MES), quality management, customer relationship management (CRM) and supply
Plex was launched in six months at ARCA’s U.S. operation, and then expanded to both of its European sites just a few months later. Today the cloud solution provides ARCA’s 70 employees with access to consistent, accurate, real-time business information “from the shop floor to the top floor.” It enables the company to more effectively and efficiently manage virtually every aspect of its business including bills of material (BOMs), purchasing, receiving, inventory, manufacturing, quality, planning and scheduling, shipping, EDI, engineering change tracking, financials, document control, human resources, and supply chain management.
Before the launch of Plex, management was unable to get a clear view of what was really going on across the business. The lack of integration between ARCA’s ERP solution and other internal spreadsheets and homegrown databases also led to duplicate efforts and inaccuracies.
B.J. Hanson, director of Customer Support said, “Plex provides a complete, accurate view of the real-time state of the company. The solution includes customized dashboards so we can keep our fingers on the pulse of the entire enterprise.”
Optimized Inventory and Productivity
Plex’s manufacturing resource planning (MRP) functionality has allowed ARCA to improve inventory management. Management can review real-time, accurate inventory levels and purchase only what it needs when it needs it. According to Hanson, days of over- or under-buying are a thing of the past.
“We have been able to reduce our inventory on hand and associated carrying costs,” she explained. “Plex also allows us to better control the timing of inventory deliveries and reduce our production ‘time to build’ so that we can do twice the production volume with the same number of employees.”
Automated BOMs and ECRs
Most of ARCA’s assemblies are custom-ordered. Prior to the launch of Plex Cloud ERP, ARCA’s BOMs were created manually. For complex BOMs that often include 300 or more parts, this was a time-consuming, error-prone process.
Today, multi-level BOMs are created easily, right within Plex, using a customized tool within the system. When a salesperson takes an order, he or she selects
the part number choices from among a series of checkboxes that include all possible options. The salesperson can also select a checkbox to indicate whether or not those details should appear on customer-facing documents. The system creates a 100 percent-accurate multi-level BOM, calculates prices, and tracks the parts. It advises buyers which parts need to be acquired and monitors the progress of the corresponding jobs. When the production job is created from the BOM, that job includes only those options that were selected during the customer order process.
“When an engineering revision is needed, the system creates an engineering change request. Notifications are automatically generated and sent to each department for necessary sign-off before the change is implemented,” said Hanson. “These automated yet flexible processes for creating BOMs and generating ECRs have completely transformed the way we run our business. We have been able to standardize and streamline our processes.”
Improved Costing and Financials
Plex Cloud ERP provides accurate part costing and inventory valuation. ARCA can calculate true and accurate costs of goods sold, which it had not been able to do with its previous ERP system. As a result, the manufacturer is able to monitor the financial effectiveness of its costing and inventory models. Management is able to produce GAAP-compliant financial reports and statements and run audited financials.
“We have benefits from an estimated 20 percent efficiency gain across our accounting department,” said Hanson. “This is primarily the result of improved visibility into the components of costs of goods sold and the ease with which we can now access all financial metrics within Plex.”
Improved Quality Controls Drive Increased Business
Before implementing Plex Cloud ERP, ARCA did not have real-time visibility into quality issues so it had difficulty identifying and isolating non-conformances. Also, complying with customers’ quality audits was cumbersome.
“Our previous system did not include quality functions, so we were forced to manage quality on a manual basis,” explained ARCA President Aubrey Meador. “With Plex’s integrated quality and supply chain functionality, we are now able to measure ‘first-pass’ production quality, identify suppliers’ non-conformances as soon as items are shipped and manage corrective actions quickly as problems occur.”
“These improved quality controls have allowed us to win and maintain relationships with several Fortune 500 companies — doubling our market share.”
Solution That Grows as ARCA Grows
ARCA continues to benefit from Plex’s dynamically growing feature set driven by the system’s active user community.
Plex Cloud ERP enhancements that are made at the request of individual customers are also immediately available to all other customers. When a change is available, ARCA can choose whether or not to implement it based on its business needs. If the company decides to “opt in,” it receives new configuration settings and adds the enhancement easily, with no business disruption.
Hanson explained, “Plex’s strong community following has driven innovative system enhancements that have helped us further improve our business in ways we had not even thought of ourselves. For example, we have added several supply chain management features that help us perform even more efficiently.”
As ARCA continues to grow, the company plans to implement additional Plex functions. In the meantime, management is pleased with the results it has achieved.
“The bottom line is we would not be able to move our business forward without the capabilities that Plex brings in quality, production, supply chain management, accounting and more,” said Meador. “We look forward to having Plex drive ARCA’s continued growth and success.”