At a Glance:
Looking for an industry-leading Food Safety Management solution? Food and beverage processors are under constant pressure to deliver quality products with more efficiency while managing customer and regulatory mandates. Food safety is of utmost importance in the highly competitive food processing market.
In this demonstration we show how Plex handles recipes and ingredients, handles receiving, production and shipping, improves quality and production controls, provides complete genealogy and traceability, and provides real-time recall management.
Good afternoon everybody, and welcome to this afternoon’s webinar of the Plex Manufacturing Cloud. We’re excited to have you here today, and we have a lot to show you, so let’s get started. My name is Tom Nessen, and I’m the Manager of the Solution Engineering Group, representing process manufacturing within Plex Systems.
Today we’re going to be talking about a revolutionary change in enterprise systems that represents how manufacturing is changing in today’s world. The Plex Manufacturing Cloud is truly different than anything you’ve seen before from an ERP provider, not only in the way we deliver our software, but also our perspective from the manufacturing environment and how we enable you to do more with truly world-class, modern business systems.
So we’re excited to show you today what we’re doing at Plex Systems. And the reason we’re so different, is that the traditional way that ERP systems have been delivered is woefully broken, and if you’ve used an old legacy system, you can probably vouch for these types of things.
The idea is that a system that starts with a central core of accounting usually has a series of bolt-ons that start a process of stitching together disparate systems, which ultimately ends up with a system that doesn’t work cohesively, that has fragmented data sources and is really difficult to leverage as the business grows. Those are legacy issues of legacy systems from years ago that Plex is changing.
We realize that the rules of the game have changed. Yesterday’s business model of steady demand signals, longer lead times from your customers, longer runs of standard products, is different. As time wears on, we’re being asked to do more things with less, respond to variable demand signals, shorten our product life cycles, reconfigure and tailor those products to certain needs, and then importantly, access a global supply chain.
Within that there’s a lot of data that’s swirling around, sometimes very, very, very hard to organize, and the Plex system is helping change that paradigm.
The rules have changed also on the technology side. If you look at yesterday’s model, it was buy a series of servers, buy a CD, load that CD on those servers and maintain his big iron minicomputer in the back room that control your business systems, and hopefully it stays up and running, and every year, year and a half or so, you’re asked to upgrade the system, which usually results in a lot of pain and anguish through that process.
What we’re doing is we’re changing that idea, and we’re saying, “You know, writing a huge check upfront for software and licenses is old. Delivering through a cloud delivery model is the new way to do things.” Providing a global ecosystem, providing a way to access the system from anytime, anywhere on any device, matches our expectations that we’ve seen in the consumer IT market, and we’re bringing that to the enterprise.
So what does Plex look like? At its core, Plex is a traditional ERP, Order to Cash, Plan to Produce and Procure to Pay, the classic ERP cycles, “How do you get paid? How do you pay your suppliers? How do you track manufacturing through the core?” The key parts of that are obviously purchasing, finance, engineering, R&D, maintenance. Those are all pieces of the Plex system that work together to provide a platform to operate all parts of the business.
But there’s something a little different about what we do at Plex. We extend that platform out to your supply chain. We want your suppliers to be involved, where appropriate, and where appropriate, we’d like your customers to be involved too, and we facilitate that communication with your supply chain through some pretty innovative tools.
We certainly can do EDI. We do that every day. But we can also extend our Supplier Portal and our Customer Portal out to your distributors, your customers. People who need to see inventory information, order status information, things they would typically get on the phone and make phone calls to your customer service department, let them take care of that themselves.
On the supplier side, provide a platform and a vehicle for your suppliers to upload certifications, to score themselves from a quality standpoint, to be involved with your purchasing decisions. We facilitate that through our Supplier Portal.
Then as your business grows, a system like Plex should also grow with you. So the ability to support multiple plants from a geographical perspective, multiple plants from an operational perspective, that’s part of what our system does as well.
So we’ll be spending the next hour and a half or so really going into the details of some of these functional areas and describing how Plex works and how Plex is delivered to you as a company.
If someone asked me, “What are the three key reasons people choose Plex today?” and it really centers around these three key parts: we are the only manufacturing cloud focused on this industry. We are built from the plant up, and we drive continuous innovation.
What do each of those mean? We are the only system, built purely for manufacturing, in the cloud. We provide a browser-based system, a device- agnostic system, a browser-agnostic system, for you to use anywhere at any time, powered by the secure data centers owned and operated by Plex.
We’re built from the plant floor up, meaning our system was not built as an accounting system first. It was built as a manufacturing system and specifically a quality system. As our company grew, we extended functionality and eventually came to the point where we have world-class financials, but our focus is manufacturing.
So instead of seeing the world through accounting transactions, we see the world through the manufacturing moment, which eventually makes its way up to the accounting transactions, but provides a lot more detail and granularity and precision to how you operate your business.
And lastly, and probably one of the most important things to our customers, about how we deliver our software in the cloud, is the idea that you never have to upgrade your system. There’s always new changes occurring. There’s always new functionality we’re putting into our system. We believe strongly you shouldn’t have to wait a year, 18 months, for that new functionality to be available to you. If it’s available today, it should be working for you today, if appropriate. We provide a tremendous platform, and a version-less platform, to let you adopt the best technology for your business, immediately.
Our customers are forward-thinking. These are some of the most innovative customers that you’ll find in the food industry today, companies like Green Flash that’s about to expand to an eastern manufacturing facility that still wants that single version of the truth but doesn’t want to write a huge check for IT infrastructure.
Companies like Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream that plans huge growth in 2014, with next to no investment within their ERP backbone, which is powered by the Plex Manufacturing Cloud. And complex organizations like Cuisine Solutions that tracks many, many, many, many different products through their very complex supply chain with near 100% accuracy.
These are the companies that we are very, very proud of that are leading the way for the Plex Manufacturing Cloud into the food and beverage industry. We’re proud of customers like Old Mill Kettle Corn that started out as a very small company but received immediate attention from regional and national distribution and within three months implemented Plex to support that rapid growth. And they achieved complete visibility across all their processing operations by using the Plex Manufacturing Cloud.
So we’re excited about our customers. They’re the backbone of what we do, and they’re the innovators that are leading the way.
So today I’m going to go into a demonstration and spend a lot of time in the system. Today’s demonstration is going to focus on a demo product, and it’s the Deli Potato Salad products. So you’re going to see this image in the system quite a bit today. It’s going to be the star of the show.
We’re going to follow a pretty detailed agenda. We’re going to start with the item itself. We’re going to move through looking at demand factors. We’re going to look at planning for production, purchasing raw materials, making the product itself, shipping it to our customers in an accurate time frame and then accounting for the financials at the end. So these are the phases we’ll go through.
But before we move into the system, I want to center your attention very clearly on this section right here called “Make.” For us at Plex, making is what it’s all about, and the way we help our customers make their products is very different from any other ERP provider you’ll talk to, and I want to make sure that’s front and center, and I want to talk about the old way versus the new way and illustrate what we’re doing within the four walls of our customer base.
So the old way was something that looked like this, a workstation with clipboards and bulletin boards and paper and pencils and pens and a lot of really antiquated ways to record data and hopefully react to quality problems, issues from suppliers, order dates and deliveries, those types of things.
What we’re doing is we’re breaking that model, and were also breaking this model. You know, the natural byproduct of the paper-based plant floor is a large room, somewhere in your facility, filled with paper, and we hope that your filing cabinet room is a little bit better organized than the one you see on your screen, but the fact of the matter is, you’ve got tons of data that’s bottled up in filing cabinets somewhere.
And what happens when the auditor comes in? You send runners back and forth, back and forth, to the filing cabinet room to try to pull the data out of these pieces of paper, to present to them.
It makes it very difficult to be a compliant business. It makes it very difficult to be a business that can respond quickly to your customers. So we’re breaking this model, and were happy to do it.
We believe in real time data collection. We believe that you shouldn’t be measuring your paper by the foot; you shouldn’t be recording critical quality data on a piece of paper where it can’t be checked and verified. We believe that a system should be involved that error checks, that notifies, that’s proactive, very similar to what you’re seeing on the screen on the right-hand side of your screen, which is a control panel.
This is a Plex screen that all of our customers use to record quality, production, receive alerts. Basically, it’s the heartbeat of our system, happening on the plant floor, and we’ll see more of that today through the demo.
We also believe that data entry shouldn’t be redundant. If your record something on a piece of paper and you want to analyze it, your next step is to go key it into some system somewhere. There’s multiple opportunities to have an error occur in transposing that data. You obviously have a pretty big time lag from the time the data is recorded on a piece of paper until it’s analyzed and put into the system.
So we’re shortcutting that at Plex. We’re big believers that you should put quality data directly into our system through a control panel that you saw earlier. The thing that we can do for you at that point is give real time control charting, analytics, graphical depictions of data, and let your people make decisions about what’s happening in real time, rather than waiting for the transposing of data.
We also believe that if a control panel is used, like the one you’re seeing on the screen, we can communicate proactively to your operators about performance. So in this case, you can see here, were able to provide metrics around how their performing against planned productions. In this case, we’re doing pretty well.
And what we’ve found, and what our customers have found, is that when employees are given information about their performance and targets they hit, they really want to hit those targets.But it’s only through a system like ours that you’re able to provide that information up to the employee in a meaningful way, and we’re doing that today through the control panel.
Another key piece here is making sure that were moving away from the three-ring binder, the 20-pound compliance document shelf that’s holding all your documents, the filing cabinet, the manila folders, etc. Within Plex, we provide a much more modern way for reporting compliance, storing quality scheme information and everything in general about test control, production, sanitation, training, etc.
It’s through our Document Control System, and what you’re seeing and your screen is a snapshot of document control that was set up by one of our customers.
So through the screens, we’re able to access the right report, stored with revision tracking that is secure from the wrong people viewing the documents, all within our native document control engine.
So we’re changing this model. This is the old model. Our customers have asked us very clearly, “How do we make it easier to integrate this information and keep it up-to-date? You know, we’ve reached a tipping point in our business, where we just can’t collect any more paper. It’s killing us. How do we move away from that?” and like I said before, what we’re doing is providing tools like the control panel, which really serve as a hub for all the information that we talked about, to be easily entered into a screen that looks like this.
Now is a quick recap here, Mixer 03 is our workstation, so the control panel gives me an easy way to report where I’m working. It gives me an easy way to report what I’m working on, in this case, a job related to Cold Deli Potato Salad. It gives me a chance to say, “Are we up and running or are we down for a break? Are we going through a maintenance changeover, or are we having a problem within the system?”
I also have the ability to touch the screen and record that critical quality data that we were talking about. So if I touch this part of the screen just like an ATM machine, I’m given a process control chart that is asking me to stop the mixer, check the consistency of the mix and record a data point. This is that first link to realtime data collection and proactive quality monitoring.
Recording production, starting the ability to build dynamic traceability, upstream and downstream, from ingredients to finished goods, is controlled by the control panel. The workcenter log gives me the detailed uptime and downtime that I can use to calculate efficiency metrics down on the plant floor, machine settings to communicate down to the PLC, based on the product that I’m running, how the line should be set up.
Plex has a full maintenance system, which allows me to report, as an operator, when an issue is occurring, or set up a preventative maintenance schedule around a certain asset, so we’re proactively getting our maintenance department involved with routine preventative maintenance.
The attachment system is part of Plex, of the control panel, as well. So work instructions, S.O.P.s, clean-in-place instructions, quality documents, work instructions, anything that an operator needs to see, can be presented through the control panel.
We also have a suggestion system that allows you, as a management group, to allow the employees to report improvements from the plant floor, up into a work-flowed approval process for implementation.
Then lastly, and probably one of the most important things for a regulated or highly-regulated business, is making sure the right people, with the right training, are actually doing the work down in the plant floor, and in this case, you can see my name on the left-hand corner.
It’s logged in, and because I’m logged in, the system knew that my certifications were up-to-date. If any of my training had lapsed and was expired, I couldn’t log into the control panel, and I would be barred from performing any work in the system.
So those are all important things about Plex. They’re important things about how we make products within our system, and the control panel really is the linchpin for everything that we’re going to see today in the system.
So let’s move back to our talking points and move into Plex and take a look at a few screens. So I’m going to drag out a dashboard from our system. So what you’re seeing on the screen here is now — when I log into the system, what do I see first? This is a role-based dashboard. It contains things like on-time delivery, OEE, an overview of accounting, monthly sales statistics, as well as a series of charts and graphs that represent the financial aspects of the business.
In the bottom parts are workcenter availability and a snapshot of customer service performance, again, issues that are being recorded within the business.
All of these screens can be tailored to a specific user login. So if there is a dashboard that you need to see, specific to your business or your business function, we can facilitate you creating that within our system, and it’s always there for you to see, immediately, when you login to Plex, but it’s more than just a pretty picture. I can actually use the screen to do things within the system.
So I’m going to tell a little story about a customer who calls us and has a problem with the product, and they have very little information; they only have a lot number and their customer name, and they’re asking us to track this information in our system to pursue a potential problem with an ingredient. So how can we use a screen like this to do that?
Well, the first thing I can do is flip the Delivery screen. When I go down into the Delivery graph, it takes me to the part of Plex that handles customer shipping history. This is my launching point to interrogate a customer problem.
So the first thing I’m going to do is put in the customer name. In this case, it’s Customer 1000, and lo and behold, it’s Costco, one of our biggest customers that we value greatly. Now you can see down on the left-hand side I’ve got a series of shipments that I’ve made over the last two years to Costco, but it’s not very specific to the lot number they’re calling about.
Well, if they tell me a little bit more information, like product name — you know, they may have Deli Potato Salad as the product, right? So if I put in “Deli Potato Salad” and click “Search,” they’re going to see all the shipments that contain Deli Potato Salad.
Now, I want to be a little more granular, because they are able to tell me the specific lot number that’s on that Deli Potato Salad, and it’s lot No. 20130206-999. When I search a little further, using that information — boom! — you can see the actual shipment that contained that lot number. Within a couple filters in the filter grid, I’m given the results that I need.
Now at this level we’ve got summary information: “What carrier did it go on? What order did it get connected to? What was the ship date?” Then over here on the right-hand side where my cursor is circling this icon, this shows me that someone, before shipment, added a document or image to this record in the database.
So this is your first example of Plex document control and how it’s built right into our system. It’s not a third-party bolt-on. It’s something that we’ve integrated and connected all parts of our ERP.
So if I click on this icon, this little yellow piece of paper with the paperclip, it tells me that I have a bill of lading document, a PDF, and I have an image of boxes loaded before that shipment left the building. If I click that image, you’re going to see a little picture of what the truck looked like before it pulled away.
Now we all know our customers have compliance requirements and certain ways to load a truck or configure a pallet. This is just a way that this customer is using our system to track that information, to show evidence to Costco that they did the right thing when the shipment was made.
All of these documents that you’re seeing on the screen have revision control, have full check-in, checkout capability. You can connect them to certain job functions within the business. All of that is managed in our Document Control System, natively within Plex.
So let’s tell our story a little further. So now we’ve identified the shipment that we shipped out to the customer. What do we do next? Well, I’m going to drill into the shipper ID, which is 136, and by drilling down into the shipper ID, Plex is going to take me down into the actual form that shows the ship-to, the bill-to, all the bill of lading information, the truck information, when it shipped, who touched it last, etc., and we get down to the bottom here and you’re going to see on your screen a list of what we call “Containers.”
So “Containers” is your first exposure to the Plex inventory system. Within Plex, inventory is really sacrosanct. It’s the bedrock on which we do business. The license plate, as you can see here, is the key to our inventory system. License plates have lot numbers associated with them.
So if you think of a license plate as a pallet or a case or some increment of physical inventory, we associate a lot number to every one of those license plates before it goes out the door. So it makes searching very easy, and it makes the ability to interrogate the license plate very easy as well.
So now if I click into the container, I’m taken to another screen where I’m shown the details of the inventory record, so: “What did we ship? When did we ship it? Who touched it last? What was the result of that shipping activity? What is the quality information that was taken before we shipped it out to the customer?” etc. Let’s see the screen come up here. There we go.
So job No. 313 was involved in the shipping activity. The lot number is what you saw before. We have a quantity, a net weight, a gross weight and a shipper. This is the linchpin for everything related to inventory.
Now inventory has some interesting attributes to it. We have the ability to do a trace, we have cost information, and we have quality checks, amongst other things. “Other things” meaning our audit trail that we keep regarding this inventory.
If I bring up a traceability tree, for instance, we can see some details about the genealogy of this product. Now I’m going to do some work to drag this out a little bit, but you’ll get the idea that what we do in Plex, as a function of doing normal manufacturing activities, is pretty powerful when it comes to tracking and tracing ingredients in ingredient lots.
So on the bottom right-hand corner of your screen we have a final package. At the final packaging operation we brought together twoingredients. In this case, it’s a cardboard case in shrink wrap. We went through a spilling operation where we brought together a twist tie, a label and some bag film, and in the step before that we brought together many different ingredients to start the process.
So for potato salad we may start with mayonnaise, vegetables, salt, pepper, etc. We track each of those ingredients as they’re consumed into a central activity, like batch mixing and blending. That batch mixing and blending then flows through to a next step and the next step, and then this ships out to the customer.
So as a function of doing the normal activities that you would do in a manufacturing plant, Plex is taking care of the traceability behind the scenes. So you don’t have to go back and collate the paper, POs, the bills of lading, the manufacturing orders, and try to make sense of a heap of paper. We’re doing that for you behind the scenes.
We’re also allowing you to do forward traces from this data. So right now, we’re looking at a backwards trace, so we’re going back upstream. We can also go downstream. So this is a minor ingredient. The minor ingredient can flow down into many different finished goods. So in this case, you see the finished good that we shipped Costco, and there’s actually one in orange, which means there’s one I haven’t shipped to a customer.
So before this goes out, I’m probably going to go create a new problem record. I’m going to go quarantine this inventory and I’m going to start the process of figuring out what went wrong with this product that we’ve sent to Costco.
So now let’s go back to screen. So that’s traceability. Just as a side note, if graphical traceability isn’t your thing and you want something a little more data-driven, that same information can be displayed in tabular format, so you can easily export it to Excel, you can see it in all its attributes laid out in a grid format. So that’s the container trace as well.
Now the other key pieces here are looking at things like actual cost and quality checks. If I bring up the quality information, what you’re going to see is a listing of quality checks that were taken for this product during its manufacturing process. In this case, on 3/26/2013, at 10:41 a.m., we took this quality measurement, and I’m going to bring that up on the screen.
We checked, or someone checked, in this case the operator was me, checked the color of the mixture. The packaging check, it passed, and one failed. We took a snapshot and a digitally signed the document and put it into our Document Control System.
So if I click this icon, you’re going to see that we have an image of an electronically-signed document stored away in document control, again, another opportunity to eliminate the paper and better control information within a modern information system. So that’s the checksheet.
The last thing, which is very important to manufacturing customers of ours is the ability to cost that information and provide costing data up to the accounting department. So if I look at this “Actual Cost” link on the screen here, you’re going to see a snapshot of what it actually costs to make this product through manufacturing.
So, $13.89 was this case cost as it is through manufacturing. Now those actual costs can be compared against maybe a standard that you’ve established, and then the purchase price variance reports can be used to reconcile a standard cost. We also have a variety of other costing methodologies, ones that may be more appropriate to your business.
So that covers the inventory container and kind of ends my story about traceability and the importance of inventory within our system.
So I’m going to use the “Back” button now and I’m going to navigate up through those screens that you saw me go through, shipper 136, back to the customer shipping history, and then back up into the dashboard that we started on, and the point here is you hear Plex people quite a bit talk about “top floor to the plant floor.” It’s just the idea that you should be able to go down to the lowest-level pieces of information from a top-level dashboard, within a minimum number of clicks. And within about five clicks you saw me go through delivery information to customer shipping, immediately to the inventory system, down to the traceability tree, pursuing a problem for a customer. I didn’t have to go to multiple systems. I didn’t have to go to paper. Everything was presented to me through my browser, using Plex.
So that’s the start off to today’s demo, is that story.
What I’d like to do now is kind of start to peel the onion back about how this actually operates. How do we do this within our system?
So let’s go back here and talk a little bit about the first one, which is the item, so the Deli Potato Salad. So I’m going to go use another navigation feature within Plex, and that’s what we call the “Hover Menu.” So on the right-hand side of the screen you can see this drop-down. It shows me all of my shortcuts: places I go to most frequently in the system. All of this can be personalized, based on your user ID.
So I’m going to go to the item list, and at the item list I have another filter box where I can start discriminating based on certain criteria about a product. So in this case, I want to indicate that it’s “Wet Salad,” or it comes from a certain item source, like contract,” “made in-house,” “purchased,” etc. So let’s just leave it as “Wet Salad,” and click “Search.”
When I do that, I’m given all my wet salad products that are in the building right now, Deli Potato Salad . . . Oh. Deli Potato Salad again, but it’s Version 3, so we’ve made about three different recipe changes to this. So that’s an important point in Plex. As you begin to establish new product recipes, new prototypes, new developments, we can track all those within our system.
And at the bottom here, here’s a fresh salsa item, as well. So if I want to tighten this up a little bit and just show everything that is Deli Potato Salad, I can put in the first part of the name, click “Search,” and the system will tighten up that search for me. Likewise, if I only want to see Version 3.0 of the Deli Potato Salad, I just change that revision to “3.0″ and now I only see one item.
At this level, we’ve got image information, category information, who’s the distributor, notes about the product, and the all-powerful Document Control System is here as well. So if you need to store things like label information, nutritional information, the artwork for a label, for instance, might be something you’d store at this level. All of that can be managed within the Document Control System.
If I click on “Deli Potato Salad,” we’re going to see another layer deep into our system. So obviously we’ve got to set up things like the item. We’ve got set up its formula, its recipe. We’ve got to set up its quality control plan, its item specifications. Everything related to the product gets a unique identification and a set up within our system.
So let’s take a look at a couple of these. So first thing, let’s look at the formula for the product, so what is it made of? On the left-hand side, here’s the process steps we used to make the product. We scale, we batch mix and blend and we fill and we package. At each step, we bring in certain ingredients.
So the first step, we do scaling. We bring in the Minor Ingredient 1 and 2 from the scale house where we maybe separate it from a larger bulk bag. And we do batch mixing and blending, where we bring in those minor ingredients and that one major ingredient that may be stored in a silo somewhere or a tank. We do fill-in, and we do final packaging.
At each of these steps we have a unit of measure that we convert from one unit to another. So for instance, Minor Ingredient 1 we may order by the pound, we receive it by the case, we inventory it by the bucket, we consume it by the kilogram.
Plex manages all of those unit-of-measure conversions that you define throughout the entire manufacturing process. So for us, unit of measures are very important when we talk about using and depleting the right inventory into the right manufacturing process.
Now, in addition to the formula, what we also define is a very detailed process recipe. So the process recipe is going to look fairly similar to what you just saw in the formula with a very distinct difference. So when we set up a process step, we connect it to a workcenter, and a workcenter is just the eligible place for you to do a certain aspect of work for product.
So for Deli Potato Salad, when we go through batch mixing and blending, we can only do that on Mixer 1 and Mixer 2, and there may be a very good reason for that. Maybe the capacity is — the only place that has the capacity to do this type of mixing activity, but basically, for a product and a product process step, you can identify the line, the mixer, etc., where this work can occur, and then we define, obviously, where the ingredients occur.
We also can define, if need be, the opportunity for things to go to subcontract or co-packers or co-manufacturers. So maybe you make a bulk item, and you don’t do the packaging. You send it out down the street, down to your packaging partner.
Well, if we do that, we’re bringing them into the Plex fold. We can track inventory at their location. We can allow them to submit information into the Plex system, based on the work they’re doing, and then that product can ship out from that customer location, as well, and that’s all defined within this process recipe.
Two other points I want to hit on, the quality specs, very important to what we do within Plex. We define ahead of time the quality control… I’m sorry. The quality specifications that we’re going to pay attention to for this product. So for this product, we check the color. We checked the packaging quality. We check the pH, all the way down to the degree of Brix, which is the sweetness of the product, are all measured within our quality system, specific to the Deli Potato Salad.
Once we’ve established our quality specifications, then we connect that information to a quality control plan, and the quality control plan looks something like this: process steps identified on the left side, inspection steps are in the middle. At this point, we’ve taken the inspection and we’ve also given it a sample size and frequency, which means when I click on one of these checksheets, Plex gives me the information I need to give the operator the right quality log sheets.
So in this case, “Check Color of the Mixture,” “One Per Batch,” “Pass/Fail.” Very simple. The important part here is that when you make a change to your quality system, which you are definitely going to do at some point, the change that’s put into place is immediately reflected down to the plant floor. And we can also put in different color codes and messages to that operator to let them know that there’s a change that’s been made to the quality profile for product.
Now, in the paper days, that would be a, you know, some quality manager would have to run around to all the three-ring binders and make sure the right paper’s been pulled and been replaced with the right information, and we hope there isn’t one around there floating that’s an older version of the document. So our quality system is very proactive, and you’ll see how it’s used at the control panel in just a bit.
The last thing here is the costing end of the spectrum, and what you’re seeing here is an example of our cost model that’s been built within the system for this particular item. Now, when I say “it’s been built,” what I really mean is when we decided what process steps we were using in the manufacture of this product, Plex built this out for me. It brought together all the cost types and the cost subtypes that are typically found in the batch mixing and blending operation.
Then based on a query that was done in the system, we brought together all the associated costs for ingredients, overhead for setup, overhead for cleanup and labor for production. All of this information is derived by the formulas that you see on the right side of your screen, which are completely up to you to define and control.
Now because Plex is built on one large database, the information we’re using in these formulas is pulled out of the place where you’ve done the setup, for instance a line, line speeds, crewing complements, set up time, cleanup time. As soon as you make a change to those and you need to see that reflected in your cost model, all you have to do is click the “Recalc” button.
Plex will then go out into the database, pull your new information forward and use it in the calculation of the standard cost for this product. So very powerful stuff when it comes to leveraging a relational database for costing.
So that’s a quick look at the item. What I’d like to do now is tell you a little bit more about the demand aspects of the business and how Plex works with that, as we go through down to the accounting side of the system.
So let’s go into, let’s talk about order management. Actually, I’m going to change this. I want to go into . . . What I want to talk about first is Sales and CRM. Let’s go into the CRM side of the system.
So in Plex, demand factors can be customer forecast that you manage on behalf of your customers. They can be orders or demand information that’s coming from an EDI feed. So Plex has a native EDI system that allows you to eliminate third-party EDI tools you may be using today, and it allows you to also eliminate the rekeying of data that may be going on between systems, or the loose integration that may be occurring between an EDI tool and your order management tool.
What we do is we provide the total package to you in one place. The first key part of this is the customer. So in this case, we have a CRM system. I have a customer list that indicates Costco as being one of our customers. If I click on “Costco,” you’re going to see we centralize all the information about the customer, contact information, addresses, financial details.
The very top part here is what we call the “Customer Cockpit,” which is really the central point of control for everything related to Costco’s financial information, their contact information, where we ship to, where we bill to, where we remit to, etc., and potentially, what kind of opportunities we’re following for this customer, as well. So we have the ability to track leads, see leads turned to opportunities, ultimately resulting in closed business for you.
We have a quoting system within Plex. So if you have complex quoting requirements, we can adopt those into our system and present them in a centralized CRM system like you’re seeing.
We have a full problem control system. So if you go through a complex, corrective and preventative action procedure, based on customer complaints or issues within the business, we can track that virtually in our system as well.
Then of course, we have customer communication. So every time I talk to a customer, we’re going to record that information within Plex and keep track of it as the relationship grows. Now all the while, we can attach documents, using our attachment system that you see on the right-hand side of the screen. So that’s the customer.
Back to what I was talking about before, customers give us forecast information. Customers call us with orders. We’ve got to have some repository for that information. So how do we do that? Well, within Plex, we’ve got two different order structures.
One order structure is what we call the “Three-Tier Order.” That would be a situation where a customer has an open blanket order. They’ve agreed to purchase 20,000 units, and then periodically, they ask for some of those units over a period of time.
We can include price breaks. We can include tiered pricing strategies. That’s a complex order.
We also have the order structure where a customer calls in, in the case of order entry, and we just need to put the order into the system and manage it until it’s fulfilled.
So I’m going to go ahead and put something in here, “Deli Potato Salad,” and say, “Show me all the orders in the system for Deli Potato Salad across all customers,” and that might be many orders, but the order log allows me to filter through this information, to show the information I’m most interested in.
So here’s all my orders. They happen to be all the Costco for this particular Deli Potato Salad. If I click on one of the orders, let’s do the order No. 300. Then this information is going to be displayed to me. So I have Order 300. I have a “Sold To”. I have a “Shipped To.” I have all the information from an order perspective, sales information, commission information, customer information. If we need to do freight rate quotes to the customer during order entry, we can do that as well.
Then we also have all the associated documents that are identified ahead of time, for compliance reasons. So we can track exactly what we mean to ship to the customer, at the time of shipping.
If I go to the order line rapid entry side of the house, you’re going to see all the details for the order. So I have an item number. I have a container type. I have a quantity that I’m shipping. I potentially could have a price book that’s specific to a customer, or a customer region, or a certain class of customer for certain prices that I get to them. All of this information is stored at the order detail level.
So once that information is put into the system, we’ve recorded adjustments or promotions or expected due dates, that order is now a factor in how I plan for my production.
So that takes us to the next point on our discussion, which is looking at the demand factors. I’m sorry, looking at the planning and the buying of raw materials, planning for production, purchasing raw materials, before we get into the “Make” side of the business.
So I’m going to use my shortcut hover menu over on the right-hand side of the screen, and I’m going to go to “Planning and Scheduling.” So when I click on “Planning and Scheduling,” I’m taken to a screen that has a lot of tools.
So in Plex, we have push tools, we have pull tools, so things that allow us to plan for production in different ways. If you happen to need lean production aroundKanban, we have a screen for that, where we can actually do a virtual Kanbanenvironment for you.
But what I’m going to do is stay very focused on two things. One is called “PRP” One is called “MRP.” PRP is the production requirements planning, so “What do we need to produce?” and MRP is “What do we need to purchase from our suppliers?” So both of these things work together to provide us a platform for making decisions about the business.
So I’m going to log into PRP first and talk a little bit about this. So I’m going to look at a multi-bucket view of production requirements planning, and that simply means look out over a period of time, in this case eight weeks, and tell me what I need to produce related to, in this case, a specific finished item.
Now this is a very simple kind of narrow focus. You could change these filters to say, “You know what? I’m really interested in doing planning for all my beef finished goods, or my chemicals, or whatever my item type is,” or I want to indicate that certain products are planned by certain people in the business. Identify those people, and I can use their name as a way to filter through their products.
In this case, again, very simple. Let’s just look at the Deli Potato Salad. Here’s all my related items. Here’s my lead times, my shipments, my minimum inventory, my current inventory, and then these factors are used to determine how much net inventory I’m going to have at the end of a period.
So we take the current inventory; we take away our customer releases, because those are orders, and we add back in planned production. So in the case of the week of 5/11, we plan on making about 91,000 units of this product. Well, that’s great, until we hit the week of 5/18, and a customer just placed an order for 250,000 units of that product, which doesn’t number to my “Net Inventory” line. So because this is red, it tells me that I need to probably record production for this product really quickly, to get ahead of demand.
If I wanted to look a little deeper into the orders, I could click “Customer Releases,” click “Search,” and Plex would show me all the orders that are currently in the system. So if I want to make changes or adjusted due dates or just really manipulate the order pool at all, I could do that from a couple clicks from the “Planning” screen, but I’m going to leave everything the way it is and go forward here.
So the “Net Inventory” line is negative. What do we do? Okay. Well I’m going to go click on this “Negative Inventory” line, and I’m going to go home into my “New Job” screen, and Plex is suggesting I make a 133,000 units of this product. I’m going to leave it as a “New Status.” I’m going to indicate . . . Well, maybe it’s a high priority. We need to get ahead of this.
And then I have the ability to connect this job or this production order to specific orders that my customers have given me. So if you do more of a make-to-order process, rather than a make-to-stock process, we can manage that process as well within the system.
So let’s keep this simple. Let’s just go ahead and order our factory to make 133,000 units of this product. If I click the “Add” button, what Plex is going to do next is check the process recipe that we looked at earlier, and it’s going to make some suggestions of where I might want to run this.
So if you remember batch mixing and blending, we have the option to go to Mixer 1 or Mixer 2. At this stage of the game, I can make an audible here and run it on Mixer 2, but I always have the ability to change this later. This isn’t something that’s locked in stone.
So now I’m going to click the “Add” button, and we’ve just added 133,000 units of work into the system. Plex is showing me the job, work construction. I’ll just bring that back up on the screen here. Oop. There it is. Let’s change this. There we go.
So if I want to . . . There we go. So if I want to use paper . . . I don’t advocate paper a lot, but some people don’t like to immediately go to a paperless system, so this kind of illustrates that we do have the ability to create job travelers or things that can be used on the plant floor to manage the production process.
So in this case, Job No. 520 was created. Here’s all of its ingredient attributes, formulation, routing through the plant, ingredients that were going to use, quality bulletins that have been logged by our Quality Department and then all of the specifications that were going to look through, through manufacturing.
So that’s Job 520, and you can see, Job 520 created demand… or, I’m sorry, work-in-process of 133,000 units, and it’s brought my inventory or my net inventory back to equal, the minimum that I indicated. So we’re going to be in good shape, it looks like, all the way out into the future, and that’s a quick way to show you how production can be planned within the system.
Now, if I want to see the work itself, I can quickly go over to the job manager and I can look at all the scheduled work in the system. So Plex does a really nice job of encapsulating the work into chunks. Those chunks are called “jobs.” In this case, here’s Job 520, 133,000 cases. It’s in production. Whoop. Remember we indicated it’s high, so that’s going to stand out to somebody.
It’s been scheduled, and we didn’t connect it to a specific order, but you do see up here that the jobs No. 518 and 519 were connected to a couple Costco orders, and that’s the way we really can put guardrails on the process. So if you make a product that has specific ingredients you’ve ordered specific to a customer, we can segregate those ingredients, we can use them in specific jobs.
And then when you make a product, we can only allow that customer to have access to that product. So you can take it down to that level, or you can kind of unleash the restraints and do something like I just did with job 520, which is basically making-to-stop.
Okay. So that kind of explains the production process. We have a number of other tools that can come into play in terms of capacity planning and workcenter planning. If I click on the “Calendar” link at the top here, this is just an example of our workcenter calendar that I can bring up for… let’s bring it up for Mixer 02.
Plex has a finite scheduling capacity, which, based on constraints that you establish for shifts and shift cycles and machine availability, we can use that information to give you pretty good visibility on your ability to meet the requirements of your customers when they call and ask about your capability to deliver against an order date. So the workcenter calendar is a big part of that.
We also have tools like a dispatch list, which is a virtual schedule board. We have a lot of tools that really allow you to execute properly on what the jobs are in the system.
Now if I go into a job itself, there’s a little more information we store here, job operation, job bill of material. We can do job-level traces, job costing. All of that is encapsulated into this element called a “job.”
If I go into the “Job Operations” link down here, again, same situation, process steps are outlined, based on our initial setup. We’ve identified the exact workcenter we’re going to use at this point, and then we have the standard run times.
We have the schedule that we’ve outlined, maybe using our finite scheduling tool, and then we actually have an actual bucket here. So these are empty, because we haven’t made this product yet, using this job, but at this level, I can capture the status, the start date, the end date, the expected completion date, the setup hours and the runtime.
All of this information, again, can be accessed later to do very detailed analysis around “How do we perform against what we intended to do on our schedule?”
So now I’m going to leave the job for just a minute, and I’m going to go back over to the procurement side of the house. So trust me, we are going to make something here very shortly, we are going to execute on this job, but the first thing I need to do is make sure we have the raw materials in place to support production.
So that takes me back over to planning and scheduling, using my hover menu. I’m now going to go into “MRP” that you see in the middle part of your screen. There is an “MRP Multi-Bucket View,” as well. So “Multi-Bucket View” just shows me an increment of either weeks, days or months, or whatever the increment it is you define.
I’m going to click “Search” for Deli Potato Salad, and instead of seeing just Deli Potato Salad, I’m now going to see all the constituent components that make up this product. So it might be bag film, a case for shipping, shrink wrap, labeling, Major Ingredient 1, 2, 3, etc. Everything we defined in our formula has been exploded out, and we can now see it all in one place.
I can also plan across multiple products. I can plan against a supplier. So if I want to look at all the items I purchased from Supplier 1000, I can display those here as well. So we have different ways to present the data.
Another thing that might be important is, for instance, on the shipping cases, this “Net Inventory” line that I’m highlighting is not red. So lets me know that I have enough shipping cases in-house to cover demand, at least for the next eight weeks. So as a planner, I can switch on one of these boxes at the top to say, “You know what? Show me only things that have a requirement, because I really don’t need to see things that we have a good inventory position on.” So by doing that, I tighten up the grid here, and now I only see things I have to order.
So one of the things is bag film. When I get out to the week of 5/11, because of my lack of purchasing but my huge amount of demand, I’m going to go down about -1 million or 1000, actually, this is 1 million, impressions. Let’s say for this specific bag that I put my product into. Well, let me click on “Bag Film” and let’s make this better.
So based on the information you’re seeing on the screen here, I can make a purchase decision. So I’ve got “Recommendations.” I’ve got “Bag Film Details,” which show me the standard order quantities that I have with my supplier. I’ve got a listing of approved suppliers.
Looks like I only buy them from Symrise, which is my lead supplier for this item, but I have two open POs for the supplier, so I can make decisions on what PO to purchase from.
Any of these hyperlinks would take me to either the customer record, take me to the PO record. So again, that connected nature of Plex allows me to easily move to different parts of the system.
But the bottom part here are my recommendations. That’s the key. Now, this is demo data, so there’s a little bit of lag in the jobs that I have in the system. So I’m going to scroll past this and go down to something a little more realistic.
So recommendations that are little more realistic would look something like this, “Hey Tom, you need to purchase 18,306 impressions of this film because Job 516 and Job 517 are coming due, and here’s their quantities,” and then you’d have a minimum inventory replenishment of 700 that you’d have to keep on hand to keep your head above water.
So now I come over. I click the box. I make the decision. I decide what PO they go on, and I do that over and over and over again, and I create the PO, and we’re off and running.
So creating that PO now enters me into a potential workflow, and that’s something we haven’t talked about today, but it’s a very important idea about how Plex can manage a business process as we use the system.
So if I go over to “Workflow,” we’ll look at… There’s a whole variety of workflows in the system. Now just to explain something, I have a bad habit of doing this, but if you need to go somewhere quickly in the system, you can always do a Ctrl+M and Ctrl+M will give me a dialog box here to allow me to type in all or part of the place that I’m looking to go within the system. So if I want to go to “Workflow,” I bring that up, click “Workflow,” and we’re off and running.
So here’s “Workflow Set Up,” “Workflow Actions,” “Workflow Documents.” I do “Workflow Set Up.” Then you’ll see a whole list of workflows that are available to search from. One of them is a purchase order, and if I search “Purchase Orders,” you’re going to see that there’s a six-step process that we go through to process a particular PO.
So the first thing we do is we make sure the right information is available. If the right information is available, then we move it forward in the workflow, and it gets reviewed by a Department Manager. If it’s approved by the Department Manager, we notify the Receiving Manager.
If it’s over a certain dollar value, we may need to get the CFO involved to make a further approval. Once it reaches certain approval levels, then were allowed to send that PO on to the supplier as planned. So the workflow part of this is very important for making sure the right process is being followed through the system.
And notifications can be sent out in a variety of different methods. So if you want to notify people through email, we can do that. If you want to notify people through a tool we have called “SmartPlex,” we can do that as well. SmartPlex is just a tool that will appear on your smart phone or your tablet in a native iOS or Android format that allows you to interact with the workflows within the system.
So that’s a quick review of workflow. You can apply this anywhere throughout the system, whatever the case might be.
Once we’ve procured these items in the system, obviously, the next step is to go through some sort of receiving process within the system. I’m going to illustrate the receiving process through the desktop, but just realized that Plex has a different mode of operating, and it’s around the idea of a mobile device.
So in this case, I’ve got my user ID, my password, my company code. I click “Login,” and after clicking “Login,” the system is going to take me into a mobile device-centric . . . Oop. Actually that was the . . . Let’s put in my right password here.
So it’s logging into the system. Oop. And it’s allowing me to go into Edge Foods where I can do functions like inventory, shipping, purchasing, receiving, contact lists, etc., all of this through a native mobile device screen. So as long as this device can access the Internet, we can use these barcode scanners out on the floor.
One other thing I want to show you here is, when I mentioned about workflow, is the idea of using a tool like SmartPlex. So if I bring that up on the screen here, this is an emulation of my iPad that’s running on the desktop next to me.
I click the icon. You’ll see we have an icon indicating “Plex” in its Smart Plex form. If I click on to that, then based on a secure login, which I did earlier, which is a pin code, I can tap into things like workflow, contacts, expenses, mail, Intelliplex, which is our business intelligence tool.
And by touching on something like “Workflow” . . . whoop. There is my passcode. So let’s go back into this and bring up “Workflows.” This is our approval process that I could use through my smartphone or Tablet to approve things like POs.
So in this case, the request is a resource request, but it shows me all the information, potentially, about a purchase order, everything I need to do. I have the ability to reassign it, complete it. If I want to reassign it to somebody else, you know, I can send it over to a different user, anybody in the system, and make changes to it. All I need is a tablet. All I need is a smartphone. It’s all native to our system and it’s delivered with the Plex Manufacturing Cloud.
So that’s a quick look at the iPad capabilities, the scanning gun capabilities. Let’s go back to the receiving operation here and get some of this raw material into the door.
So I’m going to put in here, let’s put in “PO 152″ I think is the line I want receiving it. Actually, let’s do PO 52. So “PO 52″ will come up on the screen. It is from Symrise, our favorite supplier. I have the ability to select the product that I want to receive. It looks like we have a lot of different products on this specific PO.
I’m going to select this “Cream,” and by doing that, it’s going to show me an image of the product, how much we received against the open PO quantity, the balance due, the process steps, the receiving gallons. We can obviously capture the location that we’re receiving into.
This is the receiving location. The lot number is very important, we capture that, and then we’re going to receive 100 gallons in one container. So all I do is click the “Add” button now and Plex will go ahead . . . Oop. And my PO is not effective, because it’s outside the date range.
So that you can see there, we can error proof, to make sure that we’re receiving in the right product against the right PO. So let’s change this from “PO 52″ to “PO 152,” because I think that one will be accurate. Let’s change this here, “152.” Okay.
We’re going to move forward here. So we would receive against this product. We would create a new barcode for this item, and that barcode would live on that inventory as it moves through the production process. I’m just going to bring up a new screen here. Oh. So that’s the start of receiving into the system.
Now there’s something else that’s important that happens at the receiving step. We’re also going to notify the accounting system of an AP invoice that might be coming from one of our suppliers. So we’re triggering the accounting system as we go forward, as well.
So let’s go back over to our PowerPoint and talk a little bit about the next steps here. So we’ve planned for production. We’ve purchased the raw materials. We’ve received them into the building. We’ve stored them in locations that have been clearly identified on the inventory. We’re now ready to use that inventory in the production process.
So what do we do next? We need to go in and use the control panel, and we need to walk this through production. So let’s go over to Plex again. Let’s bring up… I’m gonna bring up the Plant Floor Console.
So Plant Floor Console is an easy way for you to diagram your plant and lay it out within our system. So it’s nothing more than some icons that are provided, using some drawing tools to really create an environment that matches your production facility.
Now what you’re going to see is, every 30 seconds or so, this screen is going to flash, and is going to change, potentially, based on the up-time or the downtime that a certain workcenter’s experiencing.
So based on the color coding on the bottom, we may be in production, we may be in setup, maintenance, problem, off or in idle position. So once the screen refreshes, were going to pick up that status update from the database itself. So there’s the flash. Everything stays the same. So we haven’t gone into any kind of a downtime event.
If I want to drop into a workcenter where something is being done, I can drop into, let’s say, this mixer that’s mixing right now. It’s green and it’s moving, so something is happening. This whole screen really illustrates the capability of Plex to connect down to the machine level.
So if you have PLCs and you have lines that are running, you may want to kind of unleash that data and bring some of it into the ERP system. You may want to do long-run analyses of that data to produce probably decision points that you can make about certain products are certain lines. So we facilitate that. We love integrating to the PLCs. That’s where we got started.
So I’m going to click this mixer. I’m going to go into the control panel for the mixer, and we’re going to take a look at actually what we’re making. So now we’re at the control panel. We landed at “Mixer 01,” which is not the mixer that we’re making our products.
So I’m going to make quick change and tab over to “Mixer 02.” So when I go to “Mixer 02,” you now can see that the job is No. 464, our potato salad. It’s in production. The yellow boxes in the middle indicate that we have two quality procedures that we need to pay attention to because they’ve lapsed.
So every 15 minutes, we were supposed to do something, and every one hour we were supposed to do something, but we didn’t do it. Now, since we didn’t do it, some things in our quality system could trigger. For instance, we could notify the Quality Manager that someone hasn’t done their job in the correct period of time.
We can log the fact that there was a late quality check taken, so when our auditors ask us for evidence that we’ve been taking correct checks or we’ve been logging when we didn’t do correct checks, we can show that to the auditors. So very important information is being collected at this control panel.
So I’m going to go here and start recording some quality measurements. So I have to check the color of the mixture and have to check the packaging quality. I’m going to give this one a pass, this one a pass. Click the “Add” button.
Again, remember, if you can use an ATM machine, you can use the control panels. It’s very, very easy to use from the operating perspective.
If we wanted to do a digital signature on this particular item, all I have to do is click the “Sign” button at the top, and if my electronic signature was not expired, I be able to stamp this with my username, my date and time, and have it stored away in the Document Control System.
So this one’s green. We’re good. I can click on the next one, and the next one is a quantitative measure, so take the pH of the mixture. So let’s take… the first one is, let’s see, the 6.6, and let’s do… the next one is 6.5.
Now let’s say for a second, in the traditional quality system of paper, I could put in “5.6,” you know, a simple transposing of the number. In most systems, that doesn’t trigger anything, right, until the end of the shift or the end of the day when somebody’s transposing this into a quality system.
If I do that within Plex, what happens is that I’m immediately notified of the issue. “Hey Tom, you’re below the lower specification for this product. Are you sure you want to take this measurement?”
Well, no. I really meant to say 6.5. Okay. Now we’re back running normally again.
The interesting thing with this is that as soon as an operator, and let’s go back to our error condition, as soon as the operator overrides that out-of-spec measurement and clicks “Okay,” and then we’re going to notify that Quality Manager that they may want to go out and check Mixer No. 02 and make sure Tom is doing the right thing, so checking and preventing and making sure errors don’t happen.
If they do, notifying people immediately, and in the case of quality, if need be, have a control method ready to go and a reaction and corrective action plan that can be invoked by the operator.
So that’s a brief look at quality.
So I’m going to close out my electronic signature. We have our two quality checks that have been taken, here in production. We’ve paid attention to our virtual message board over here. We are dutifully watching for quality problems with consistency of the mixture, of course, and we noticed that, hey, there’s a new clock that’s available for clocking in on the east entrance where I always park. So we can message to the users very interactively through the control panel.
You can see I’m logged in, so obviously my user ID has the right training certifications. I have access to all my SOPs and clean-in-place instructions and SQF documentation, if need be. It’s all encapsulated here.
The next step is to record production. So this is the step where I’m going to record the output from the mixer. So if I click on the little section of the control panel that has a forklift, the system is going to take me over to the place I can record production. So the top part of your screen are a series of green boxes that match the ingredient profile that we set up for the formula.
So for this product, we have “Minor Ingredient 1, Minor Ingredient 2,” and “Major Ingredient No. 1.” Maybe the major ingredient is water or corn syrup or flour or something like that. We’re actually performing the operation in Mixer 02. We have the ability to waste product or create a problem record. We can look at the actual operation instructions that need to occur as we’re making the product.
So basically, this is my central point of control for telling Plex what inventory are we using and what is the output that we’re generating, and if you remember the traceability tree that I showed you at the beginning of the demo, this is where that traceability tree really starts to get created.
Each of these green buckets here have a unique inventory item identified, because when we loaded “Mixer,” we loaded it with uniquely identified inventory. We scanned that into the location sitting next to the mixer. Potentially, we scanned the bucket that had a barcode on it from the scale house.
We’re checking and rechecking to make sure that we have the right product loaded to this control panel before we use it in production. I can’t emphasize that more than at this point in the demo that if you’re using Plex and you’re big on the idea of barcoding and uniquely identifying product, this is where it all comes together and makes your life so much easier is when we make sure we have the right ingredients going into the production process.
So I’m going to go ahead and record 10 gallons of production from this output step. I’m going to indicate that we’re putting the work in process here at Mixer 02. I’m also going to tell you that in some cases there isn’t work in process. You may have a process that starts and is continuous all the way to the end step, where at that point, you have to back-flush all your ingredients.
We support that environment. We support an environment that’s very stepwise. Our project managers will work with you to come up with the right configuration of this control panel or potentially another control panel, to address your specific needs, but we have the ability to address many different modes of manufacturing.
What I’m going to do now is click the “Produce” button here, and I don’t have enough source. So let me produce a little bit less. So I’m going to make 1 gallon, and we’re going to store that in Mixer 02, and I’m going to click the “Produce” button, and we’re going to take a little bit of each of these inventory items, and we’re going to put it into a “Work-in-Process” inventory container that’s going to move through the rest of the process.
What you’re seeing on the screen here is the option to produce another barcode. In this case, it’s 10224. I’m going to make a quick copy of that, and I’m going to go over to our inventory of the system where we’re going to see the results of what I just did.
So I can go to our inventory system and I can put in our item number, which is “Deli Potato Salad Version 3.0,” click “Search,” and we’re going to see all inventory that’s in current process within our facility. So we have inventory that’s at scaling. We have batch mixing and blending. We have filling, final packaging. We have a lot of inventory out there. Some of it’s expired. Some of it’s okay. I’m interested in that specific license plate that we just manufactured, and I want to see if it’s in our inventory system.
So I put in the license plate number, and the system will do a quick search for me and tell me “Yes. We do have a license plate that was just created from job number 460, for 1 gallon, and it is at location Mixer 02. It’s in the ‘Okay’ status. It has the appropriate date to identify it,” and lo and behold, we were making it for Costco. So that inventory update happened in real time as that production was reported by me at the control panel.
If I click the “LPN,” or the “License Plate,” you’re going to see something very familiar. It’s that inventory form that I went to at the beginning of the demo to show you the traceability tree. From here, I can show you the product, the job it was created on, the location of the inventory, its expiration date and its shelf life, the quantity that we manufactured and who did it. So the audit trail is all here for you to see and continue to track.
If I want to see the traceability information for this product, all I have to do is click the “Traceability Tree,” and now I’ve got a clear description of what was made and where it came from. So I pulled a little bit of ingredients out of these three containers and I pulled the ingredients from these containers, and now this guy is moving on into the production process, or if it’s a finished good at this stage, it’s going to move on to the customer, but all of this legacy information and genealogy information is going to carry forward with this product ID.
Well likewise, I should have a quality check that we took. So if I look at “Checksheets,” here is the “In Process Check,” here’s the “1 Hour Check.” I open that up. If you remember, I took a measurement of 6.6 and 6.5, and I did it about six minutes ago.
If I wanted to tap into our SPC database, I can look at the process control charts that show that one process looks to be running south towards the lower control limit, and one of them is run above the upper control limit and is headed back south to the lower control limit.
The bottom shows that our Quality Manager is going to get an alert if pH measurements continue to go outside of these upper and lower control limits. So again, another big, big part of our system is statistical process control.
So that takes us to the end of the making process, and that Make process, again, was all predicated on the idea that our operators on the floor have a great tool called “The Control Panel,” which allows them to record production, record quality, record really all the actions that are occurring down on the plant floor.
And I’m going to end this section at the top —here on the control panel, just so you remember what we were looking at before.
So here’s the control panel. Here’s what it looks like, the attachments, the quality, the workcenter status, where we were working, what we were doing. All this provides an on ramp for great, great quality and traceability within the system.
So going back over to our PowerPoint, I want to end today’s discussion on two other points. One is the shipping side of the house, and then accounting for financials. So let’s take a little, a quick look at the idea of shipping.
So if I go to “Customer Shipping,” “Customer Shipping” is going to give me a profile of all the things that need to go out for a specific product profile. So I’m going to put in here “Deli Potato Salad,” and the system is going to show me all the shipments that I need to make, potentially today, for this Deli Potato Salad.
Actually, let’s make this a little bit tighter here. Actually, this is good. So Shipper No. 173 for Costco, due on 4/29, it’s the Deli Potato Salad 3.0. We’ve got a certain quantity on the order that’s 100 cases, and lo and behold, we’ve got 100 cases in inventory, so this should be pretty easy.
Now I want to say at this point, there’s a lot of work that can be done ahead of the shipping process around picking, packing, shipping. It’s a great place for tools like this to become part of the show, where you doing picking and packing through a mobile device, maybe through a fork truck, but your operators are scanning inventory out of locations, scanning them in to marshaling or staging areas, and they’re being checked and rechecked before they’re actually shipped to the customer.
In my case, I’m going to do a pretty easy step here. I’m just going to go ahead and loadthe inventory by clicking the blue truck here. It’s going to pop up a screen called “Shipper Line Loading,” and from “Shipper Line Loading” I’ll be able to identify exactly the inventory that I want to ship to my customer. So here’s the license plate number. It’s been staged, potentially loaded.
I click the “Update” button, and now, based on some label requirements from Costco, I’m going to generate a specialized label for this product, and you can see here, we’ve got a little bit of carryover from another demo, but this is the Deli Potato Salad, and this is the quantity that we have on hand. This is our specific customer label that will be applied before that product ships to the customer, ensuring compliance with their requirements.
So after we’ve labeled things properly and we’ve got the shipment ready to go, Plex will give us the “Shipment” link on the bottom right-hand side of the screen. I click the “Shipment” link. We’re going to be asked for some other critical information about crate amounts, if we have it, shipper tracking numbers, trailer numbers, seal numbers. Anything we can collect about the logistics information about this product, we’re going to try to do it before it leaves the door, and then I’m going to click the “Ship” button.
Now, a lot of things are going to happen on your screen. Right now, we’re printing everything to the screen. This probably wouldn’t be a realistic. We most likely would send it to a laser printer or a label printer, but I want to make sure you guys see the document capabilities that we have within the system.
So first thing that we indicated was a certificate of analysis needs to be printed, indicating the chemical composition and test characteristics of the product before it leaves our facility. We’ve also got a master packing list, and with the packing list we should have a bill of lading that’s been produced, and then we also have, in this case, a commercial invoice because it’s a cross-border shipment, and that gets printed as well.
Now any of these report screens, it’s important to note that you have the ability to print, obviously; you have the ability to email and you have the ability to fax this information directly from our data center. So from this screen — it looks like there’s a little bit of a lag here between the WebEx environment here. Let’s give it a moment to catch up here. I’m going to click the “Email” button. There we go.
And when I do that, we’re going to get a little dialogue box that’s going to come up and ask me if I want to email this. And it looks like WebEx has put a hold on here, so give me just a second, to change to a backup here. Let’s see if that does better. Okay. So let’s go back over to the presentation here and see if WebEx will catch up to me.
Okay. So the last thing I want to talk about is obviously the shipping part that you just saw. A few things happened in the system that obviously you may have not seen on your screen, because of the delay in WebEx, but the idea is that the product-to-ship, it’s labeled correctly, we decrement the inventory, we create the A.R. records in the A.R. system. So we’re working directly with our accounting system to update the information in real time and keep everything in sync from a production standpoint and a financial standpoint.
So let’s see if we can go back over here and talk a little bit about the financial side of the house. Okay. It looks like were moving on WebEx. And what I want to do is take a brief tour through accounting. So Accounts Receivable, Accounts Payable, General Ledger, these are usually the focus areas of accounting. I’m going to go into the Payable side.
We didn’t talk about this yet, but we do have a comprehensive supplier list. The supplier list lets me pull together information about who the supplier is, their supplier rating. We can store contracts in our Document Control System. It’s all central control for supplier information. If I bring up the supplier Symrise here, you’ll see a bunch of different information about who the supplier is, who the contact information is.
Important point to note within our supplier system is we have the ability — and I’m going to scroll down the form a little bit here — to indicate the quality characteristics of the supplier. So we may set up metrics around on-time delivery, maybe microbial analysis performance, those types of things. We can track that, collect that information, and then we can present it back to that customer or that supplier through the form of the scorecard. So we do that natively within our system today.
Another big, important thing for most food customers is the idea of certifications. So in this case of Symrise, they have six different certifications from the FDA Food Safety Plan, Organic Certification, and we need proof that their registered with the U.S.D.A.
When that registration expires, we can send an email to that supplier, let’s say two weeks ahead of time, so they can proactively update us, login to the system, upload their certification, and we’re off and running. Instead of chasing certifications for your supply community, we’d like to make that a proactive approach.
The other thing that’s a pretty big impact there is, if somebody’s certification expires, we can prevent the receiving activities from occurring because of a violation of certifications in our “Supplier Quality” module. So pretty big impact here from a quality perspective when we’re talking about suppliers.
But let’s go back to our discussion about accounting. So Symrise, we should have created some supplier invoices, potentially, when we received… Actually, we didn’t receive the product, because my PO is expired, but if I put in “Symrise” here, you can see, we do have some previous receipts that were done, this one back on 2/3/2012.
If I scroll to the bottom, they have a more recent one that was done on 3/5/2014. We can . . . Actually, let me go back to the one on 3/4. When we do actually receive in the invoice, I can put in the invoice number, click “Update.” The system will keep track of those changes within the system.
If you’ll notice, we have a green book at the top part of the screen here. This green book is just an indicator that we’re keeping an audit trail on hand. So for instance, if I add a row and we call it “Freight,” if I can spell, then we update the invoice and then we take a picture of the invoice before and we have a picture after, showing what the invoice lines looked like before I added the word “Freight.” So all this is stored within the system. So you always have the ability to understand the changes that are being made by different people using the system.
So going back to the “Supplier Invoice” table, again, we can take a look at the invoices, decide which ones we want to pay, potentially decide which ones are going to put on hold, but once we decide we’re going to pay something, the pay process is pretty simple.
All we do is come in here, put a checkmark, hit the “Pay” button. Plex will take me through a cycle here to pay the invoices. In this case, I’m going to pay by check, but we can do A.C.H.; we can pick out “Wire Transfers.” Click the “Pay” button. Yes, I want to pay this amount, and we’re going to pay it, and the check is going to be produced and potentially sent to the printer sitting behind me.
So I’m going to cancel this, and we’ll go back to the AP registers. That’s a quick payment cycle.
Now, within Plex we have native recording capabilities. One of those might be an AP Aging report. In this case, we’llbring up “AP Aging,” show all of our suppliers and all of their aging profiles.
Same thing for AR. AR, we’ve already looked at who the customers are. We have the same register for AR invoices that we’ve sent out, so customer invoices for instance, I want to look at the supplier that we just shipped the product to. Here’s a supplier. Here’s the invoice dated 5/6. This is what we just shipped out to the customer. I can look at the invoice there and see how much we are owed and the details there: “Deli Potato Salad.” They owe us, it looks like $1,200.00.
Cash collection is possible within Plex. We have a “Deposit” screen to report payments against certain invoices, and we also have a pretty good tool for doing AR aging and also collection. So if I ever went to the AR Aging report, for instance, and do a quick search, you’re going to see all of my customers, in this case Costco at the top, and you can see their Aging Profile on the top part of the screen.
If I have someone engaged in doing collection activity, all I have to do is click the “Supplier” code, and then Plex is going to show them the contact name, who the customer is, past-due invoices, aging totals, credit details. If they want to see payment history, they just go to the top of the screen and click the white link.
Here’s what they paid over the last few years or few periods. If I want to record specific indications, going to have a snapshot of the communication log, and then I have also just the general collection details. So that’s all offered within this part of Plex, as well. So that’s a quick look at AP/AR.
The other thing that I wanted to emphasize in the accounting system, through our general ledger and specifically looking at account activity, there’s a lot that’s going on within all sorts of corners of the system. If it has an accounting impact, then we’re recording it against the accounts that we’ve laid out in our chart of accounts.
If I show you accounts, excluding zero activity, that have been charged or credited or debited over the last couple days, you’ll see a lot of activity here. Here’s the check we just wrote. Try this one as the one we just wrote, to Symrise for $14,000 for outstanding payments that we owed. We also have unapplied cash. We have accounts payable.
All of these accounts are being updated in real time, and if I want to drill down and to see the underlying detail, all I have to do is click the hyperlink and Plex will tell me, “Okay. What are your invoices you paid, and what was the corresponding account distribution?”
If I want to see a little more detail around what invoices we paid and why we paid them, all I have to do is click the “Invoices” link, and I’m taken right to the invoice that were interested in.
So again, that idea of a connected system that is a single point of control for all information is especially apparent when it comes to looking through account ledger activity. So I wanted to make sure that was pointed out.
The last point on accounting — financial reporting obviously is very important. We have a report designer. You can lay out your individual financial reports within our system. We do things like fixed assets, as well. Cash management we spoke about. There’s a lot going on in the accounting system that really could demand its own two-hour demo, but I think I’m going to stop there right now.
But I do want to talk one more thing about recording in the system, and this is more along the lines of long-run analytics that can be done within Plex. What you’re looking at is a snapshot of the screen called “Intelliplex.” It’s our business intelligence reporting tool.
So along with your subscription to Plex, we’ve already taken care of embedding a business intelligence tool that’s powered by technology from a company called “Information Builders.”
Plex handles all of the plumbing behind the scenes to make sure that the data from the production database is making it on a four-hour basis, over to the recording database, so there’s only a four-hour difference between production and report.
And it allows you to build very feature-rich graphs and charts like you’re seeing on the board here, and bring them together into a portal, send them out on a scheduled basis, at a certain time every morning, let’s say, and it’s a modern reporting tool, modern business intelligence tool that’s accessible anywhere, and we’re providing that right along with Plex Manufacturing Cloud.
So I wanted to make sure that was front and center as the last kind of external screen from what we’ve been seeing today.
What I’m going to do now is kind of wrap up, and as I’m wrapping up, I want you guys to be aware that I’m happy to field questions that you may have about what you’ve seen today through the Q&A panel, which, if you go to the top part of your screen, there should be an icon that says “Q&A.”
Feel free to ask me any questions. I’ll respond to them. If there’s something we can’t respond to today at the close of this demo, we’ll be following up with you after the demo.
So I want to leave you today with the idea that we are very different at Plex. We are believers in the manufacturing minute. That the data from the plant floor should be important to the top floor. We want to connect that plant to profit, and we want to be able to provide you a platform that allows you to scale up or scale down on a moment’s notice, and it’s the tools that I’ve shown you here today that really give you that flexibility.
So from an operational perspective, we provide a very different system than you might see from most ERP providers.
From an IT requirement standpoint, again, a cloud-based system that’s not a hosted model, which is really legacy technology put into somebody’s rented data center. This is a data center that we own, that we operate. It’s a multi-tenant cloud solution, continuous upgrades. It’s versionless. You always have the latest and greatest Plex functionality to use at your fingertips. And that’s really the point I wanted to end on today.
So I want to thank you very much, and I welcome your questions, and I’ll be looking at the “Q&A” panel.
So the first question asked here is about the data center. So the question is, “Where is your data center, and who is it maintained by?” This goes back to my previous point about Plex that our data center is maintained by us. We don’t sublet that to a third-party. It is not a public data center.
It’s maintained and operated in Auburn Hills, Michigan, and we also have a full backup disaster recovery data center in Denver, Colorado. So not only all the great manufacturing features and business intelligence features come along with Plex, but also a full disaster recovery plan comes along with our system as well.
So one customer I was working with in the last few months was looking for an ERP system because they realized what kind of risk they put their business in, because they had a flood within their facility. This flooded the data center and essentially knocked out the servers that control their ERP system.
Obviously, with our system, we’re not on-premise, so we don’t have that risk. We take over the risk of hosting the data center, but even if we have a problem, we’ve already baked in a disaster recovery plan to provide that business continuity to all of our customers.
Okay. That looks like all the questions that we have today. Again, I appreciate your time and interest in Plex. Have a good afternoon.