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One of the lessons learned in Jerry Foster’s Innovation Keynote at PowerPlex 2018 is that innovation can take many forms. While we most often think of product innovation, there is also business process innovation, innovation in the way we communicate, and many other lenses through which we can view innovation. Here are several compelling examples of innovation highlighted at Plex 2018.
Shank’s Extracts manufactures extracts, flavors, and colors in addition to providing packaging solutions to commercial and private label markets. Shank’s has about 2,400 active formulas with 3,300 SKUs for finished goods – with new flavors being added regularly based on customer preference. With that much variation in an industry that is becoming increasingly regulated, it is difficult to remain compliant.
According to Cherie Forrester, Director of Quality and Food Safety, Shank's uses Plex for its risk management compliance process – handling visual standards, reference documents, supplier rules, preoperational inspections, schematics, hazard assessment protocols (HAP), environmental monitoring and other documents. Plex is highly customizable for easy internal document access for all users, making audits stress free. By innovating the process of the way audits are done, users can easily navigate through a variety of risk and compliance assessments more quickly and also set up assessment attributes and naming conventions to enhance internal processes and create more effective reporting.
Romeo Power, based in Vernon, California, builds quick charging high capacity battery packs for three markets – stationary storage, electric vehicles (EV), and consumer products. This business competes by offering innovative features across all three product areas. The battery packs use standard cells but the company provides innovative design features that enable the batteries to fit into a smaller space. They are equipped with an intelligent battery management system (BMS) that translates to a more powerful battery that lasts longer – ideal for the EV market. Also significant, the BMS of Romeo’s stationary storage offering has enough intelligence to enable it to be used for regular power or back-up – with the flip of a switch it can operate as a generator using clean energy instead of fossil fuels. On the consumer product side, Romeo differentiates from the competition by offering both USB and an AC outlet.
According to Cody Boggs, the company uses Plex on the consumer side. As Romeo entered the market, they needed a direct-to-consumer model so they brought in an ecommerce platform. With the help of DKM, a local Plex ERP implementation partner for the past 4 years, Romeo integrated the webstore with Plex to fulfill orders and manage inventory – everything from when the order is placed until it arrives at the doorstep.
Jefferson Elora Corporation (JEC)
JEC is a Tier 1 automotive supplier that manufactures and distributes automotive parts for Honda and Toyota. The company was founded in 1996 and is based in Elora, Canada. In order to sell parts to Honda, JEC must follow a strict process for parts delivery and follow Honda’s vanning requirements. Containers need to get to a specific position on a truck and a lot must go in a specific position in a particular container. As a result, a custom load sequencing application was required. The application had to interact with Plex, guide the user through the container pick, guide the user through placement, allow for overrides and have Plex validation. Vanning diagrams had to be built- in, with the application locating the best diagram to fit to the selected shipping method. The user must be guided through what serial number and part number to pull and where to place it in the trailer.
JEC turned to the Revolution Group to deliver the application. Revolution Group was Plex’s first partner and has 14 years of Plex experience. They have worked with half of Plex’s customers and spent the last eight years developing custom applications. Revolution built the application for the Microsoft Azure cloud, and has done similar applications for Toyota’s validation process.
Argent Tape and Label
Led by female CEO, Lynn Perenic, Argent Tape and Label is a leading Michigan-based supplier of adhesive solutions to the automotive, industrial, pharmaceutical, and food and beverage industries. Argent produces pressure sensitive labels in a digital print room – a humidity and climate-controlled clean room with a state-of-the-art Domino digital printer. Argent is focused on growth and is leveraging the Plex Manufacturing Cloud (PMC) on the path to 10 million in sales.
Not only is Argent on the cutting edge of innovation in adhesive solutions, the company is also an innovator in company culture. Argent is dog-friendly! While this is fairly commonplace among start-ups in New York City and San Francisco, it is fairly rare for a manufacturing business. Perenic notes that the dog-friendly atmosphere creates a happier and healthier environment for its employees, with workers being more engaged and missing fewer days of work. One other unique aspect of the company culture is the open book management model with employees sharing ownership and responsibility for company operating metrics, and gainsharing which returns profits to the workforce. According to Perenic, employees “know the numbers and know the costs” and Plex has helped with that. Using Plex to provide better visibility and to support the company’s growth goals, Perenic plans to “go where no label company has gone before.”
From innovation in culture to innovation for very specific requirements like those that allow customers to sell to Honda, Plex customers are innovators. These are just a few examples of how Plex customers are making innovative products, using innovation to do things better or more cost-effectively, and doing new and unique things with Plex to differentiate their business.