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Moving from paper-based processes to software-driven integrated processes has given FT Precision instant access to real-time data, allowing for faster and better decisions. (4:14)
Kent Baxter (FT Precision): I did look in Plex this morning, and the month of our go-live we had about six million WIP and finished goods on our shop floor. So we were controlling about six million pieces with a paper-based system.
Brad Cook (FT Precision): FT Precision, we make our rocker arms and we will do aluminum rocker arms all the way from an ingot, melt it down, cast it, machine, all the way through to an assembly product that will go directly into an engine. We also make the steel components where we actually receive forgings in and those forgings are machined, hardened, and then also assembled.
Rick Kuba (FT Precision): Originally the mother company Tenaka was an engineering company developing very high strength steel. And in '96 our customer was building a brand new product line of V6 engines to be made here in the U.S. and FTP became the supplier of that product line.
Kent: And as far as tracking production goes we did everything on paper, how many parts they made, how much downtime they may have had, any problems they may have had all went on that piece of paper. And then at the end of the shift, our team leaders came around and collected all that paperwork and sat down and input it into a computer. We were maxing out the potential of that paper-based system. In order for us to continue to grow, we needed to change that somehow to make it more efficient and more real-time. We met with a lot of our peer suppliers and they were all using Plex successfully, so they showed us kind of some of the benefits of it.
Once I was able to get into the software and see how it worked and see how modern it was, I realized that this was going to work for our company. We weren't technically savvy on the floor. A lot of people didn't have computers at home. They didn't really know how to use computers. So I was a little concerned about people picking up the system, and once we got in and used it, those concerns kind of went away. I was like, "We could teach people to do this." And that's where we kind of interviewed a few different people and ran into Plante Moran. One of the main reasons is because of the bilingual aspect of their company that they'd be a great partner for us, us being a Japanese-English company.
Yuzo Suzuki (Plante Moran): We have a fairly significant Japanese practice area, which serves all of the Japanese-owned businesses operating in the United States, primarily in this area of the Midwest. So many of those clients are in the automotive supply chain.
Monti Piccioni (Plante Moran): When you look at the implementation methodologies, a lot of times people want to make the perfect... "I want to sit in the conference room and I want to come up with the perfect plan. Here's how it's going to look on the floor." But you can't solve every problem in a conference room. You have to actually take the software to the floor, put it in place, and actually use it on the floor. Because when you're using it on the floor, now you're seeing the true problems.
Kent: We were mostly focused on maintaining our server system and maintaining our PCs. There was not really a hard software-driven mindset and we were very reactive. We were putting out fires. Now, a lot of the team has turned to more of a project base. We're looking at ways that we can utilize the ERP, Plex, to improve processes. That kind of forces them to become more in tune with our manufacturing side. So before, they were just kind of looking at a computer as a computer. Now they're actually having to learn our manufacturing process, and it makes them more well-rounded, I think, from an employee standpoint.
Brad: I see the whole company from a different point of view now. I see kind of whatever single department does. In essence, when people are having trouble with communication between two departments, I actually know what's going on before they do.
Kent: I think the fact that Plex stays ahead of technology is ideal. But I think their development and their technology, they try to stay real time and they try to see what's going on and actually get ahead of that. That's going to help any company stay on the leading edge.
Monti: When I look at the people at FT Precision, I see that we've made their jobs easier. We made them a lot more efficient. I think that's success.