Marwood Metal Fabrication, Ltd.

Metal Fabricator Reduces Machine Downtime, Improves Inventory Turns 50 Percent

At a Glance

Marwood Metal Fabrication Ltd. replaced an outdated system and 10 disparate databases with the Plex Manufacturing Cloud.

Multi-site users access accurate real-time data anytime from anywhere, avoid redundant data entry, and achieve other efficiencies.

Measurable performance results include a 50 percent improvement in inventory turns.

PLC integration by Plex Systems’ partner Kors Engineering takes shop floor communication to a whole new level.

Less Disruption and More Innovation

Tillsonburg, Ontario-based Marwood Metal Fabrication Ltd. is a multi-facility stamping and modular assembly supplier. Marwood produces an extensive range of components for use in the automotive manufacturing industry.

Like many other manufacturers that introduced some of the first ERP systems years ago, Marwood faced a dilemma. Its outdated DOS-based system needed another upgrade, and management had
to decide whether it was worth the investment to throw more money at a system that was far less than state-of-the-art.

After a thorough evaluation, Marwood selected the Plex Manufacturing Cloud to replace the legacy system. The team selected Plex for its leading-edge support and comprehensive capabilities of ERP, manufacturing execution systems (MES), quality management, customer relationship management (CRM), shop floor integration, and much more.

Also, because Plex is delivered by a cloud model, Marwood avoids the cost, hassles and business disruptions associated with new version upgrades. With Plex, there are never any new versions to install. Enhancements are made to the software on a real-time basis at no additional cost.

“Everybody and their brother offers financials, but Plex is the only system that encompasses everything, including areas that we didn’t even have systems for but tracked through manual spreadsheets.”

Integrated System Replaces a Dozen Databases

The Plex Manufacturing Cloud seamlessly integrates data from every aspect of Marwood’s operations, enabling the company to effectively and efficiently manage financials, bills of material, purchasing, receiving, inventory, manufacturing, quality, planning and scheduling, shipping, EDI, engineering change tracking, subcontracting, document control, program management, human resources, supply-chain management, and more.

System users from all of Marwood’s departments and facilities access accurate, real-time data and pull reports anytime, from anywhere.

The Plex Manufacturing Cloud replaced Marwood’s antiquated ERP system as well as 10 disparate databases that hadn’t even talked with each other before, and it eliminated the need for management to track and update a lot of redundant data.

“We’ve discovered that the Plex Manufacturing Cloud is the only true ERP—as in ‘enterprise-wide’—solution,” noted Marwood’s Vice President of Operations Steve Spanjers. 

PLC Integration is a Game Changer

Thanks to Plex Systems’ partner Kors Engineering, all of Marwood’s shop floor machines have programmable logic controllers (PLCs) that enable seamless, real-time communication through the Plex Manufacturing Cloud.

“PLC integration provided by Kors enables the system to manage large volumes of machine data and detailed shop floor information,” said Tony Kaczmarkek, President of Kors Engineering. “Marwood’s operators have everything they need at their fingertips to meet rigorous quality standards.”

“Integrating PLCs with Plex allows all of our machines—many different makes and models—to communicate with each other,” said Spanjers. “With the PLC integration, we automatically report production at a highly detailed level, increase equipment uptime, and ensure a consistently high-quality part output. It completely changes the way we do business.”

Kors Engineering implemented the PLC integration 100 percent remotely, without any business disruption to Marwood. After Kors brought the first few machines online, Marwood brought up the rest of the machines in all three of their plants on their own. This allowed them to optimize their time and resources.

Shop Floor Controls Lead to Customer Satisfaction

The keys to Marwood’s shop floor productivity are the quality checksheets that must be completed before any job is run. The Plex Manufacturing Cloud randomizes the details on the checksheets, ensuring they are carefully reviewed for each job.

For each operation, if the associated checksheet isn’t completed, the machine stops production. The checksheets require supervisor sign-offs. If something is out of spec, the supervisor won’t sign off on the part, and this prevents any quality issues or production delays.

Noted Spanjers, “Marwood customers are delighted with this function, as they can review the number of quality checks and be assured that any part that does not meet quality specifications will not be shipped.”

The combination of the checksheets and the overall PLC integration lets Marwood achieve high levels of customer satisfaction.

“Our customers are assured that all production data can be tracked, indexed and searched,” said Spanjers, “and thanks to our machine integration, they know we’re doing exactly what we say we will. It’s a highly reliable system, and it makes them feel confident in us.”

“Overall, we do the same amount of business we did before the economic downturn, and we’re doing it with half the number of people. Plex is definitely a big part of that.”

Efficiencies Bring Measurable Improvements

The Plex Manufacturing Cloud enables Marwood to achieve measurable improvements in operations.

“With on-time inventory tracking, for instance, we reduce raw materials and work-in-process inventory costs, and we’ve improved our inventory turns by 50 percent,” explained Spanjers. “Our overall productivity has increased, and we are beating the Precision Metalforming Association (PMA) index to which we track our performance, in every single category.”

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