Investment in PSL Datatrack production management and business administration software has played a major role in the recent success of Mach-Tech, the Oxfordshire based engineering and manufacturing sub-contractor. As part of its growth strategy, the company’s management team identified a number of key performance indicators (KPIs), which were considered central to the future success of the company.
The continuing achievement of these differentiates the company from many other similar organisations and has put Mach-Tech in a very strong position for growth in a sector that has not been immune to the adverse economic conditions of recent years.
Mach-Tech offers its CNC engineering services to a wide range of companies in markets ranging from aerospace and automotive to pharmaceutical and scientific products as well as general engineering. The company specialises in one-offs, as well as small and medium batch sizes. Components can be manufactured from free issue material or Mach-Tech can supply complete assemblies including materials and process sourcing. There has been continued investment in CNC machining technology, measurement and quality control equipment as well as a continual appraisal of production systems and business administration to both maximise productivity and provide the highest customer service levels.
Mach-Tech Chairman Phil Merison recognised that the establishment of key performance parameters and the ability to achieve these would be key to success. “Delivery performance, quality levels, quotation conversion rates and communication with customers are some of the key issues,” says Phil, ”And within these there were many specific areas where we needed to understand our performance levels in order to achieve continuous improvement.”
A typical example of the issues that had to be addressed was the time consuming task of having to reenter manually and repeatedly customer order information into spreadsheets. Looking for a solution for this particular task, Mach-Tech assessed possible software suppliers before selecting PSL Datatrack. “We saw Datatrack as being ideal for continuous improvement, not least because its modularity meant that we could keep adding to the system as our business grew and our needs changed,” says Phil Merison.
Initially the company invested in the Datatrack Sales Order Processing modules covering the generation of quotations, the raising of works orders, control of component stocks and deliveries and the allocation of materials and processes to cost centres. These modules immediately gave Mach-Tech a complete overview of some of the essential drivers within the business and a snap shot at any time of the company's performance and efficiency in these areas.
For control of purchasing, the investment in Datatrack purchase order processing, goods received and materials stocks modules gave Mach-Tech tighter control of suppliers and the ability to ensure the availability of all supplied materials and services to complete scheduled orders.
On the shop floor, Datatrack process layouts and shop floor data collection modules have provided essential information on aspects such as machine capacity and the value of work in progress. Status Board visual displays give operatives instant and real time information on the status of orders.
In Mach-Tech's management offices, Datatrack is linked to the company's Sage accounts system. Invoicing, credit note and purchase order creation are all taken care of by Datatrack. Mach-Tech’s management team use all the information gathered by Datatrack from throughout the factory in order to analyse performance against KPIs.
There are now six users of the Datatrack system at Mach-Tech and each manager has different requirements from the system. They all have individual responsibilities for ensuring that the business as a whole is run as efficiently as possible. Managing Director Neil Tyler says: ”Datatrack has also improved specific aspects of our business. For example, ISO 9001: 2008 accreditation was achieved in 2011, reflecting the high quality standards of our business. Using Datatrack to track suppliers' material through the shop floor and giving us full traceability is essential to maintaining our accreditation. From a customer relationship viewpoint, Datatrack enables us to identify where there may be an issue with a customer delivery and we can communicate more effectively with our customers in advance.”
Datatrack has also been instrumental in assisting Mach-Tech to acquire new business. Potential customers who visit the factory are not only impressed by shop floor layout and tidiness, but also by the role of Status Board in visualising exactly what is happening to customers' work in progress without reams of associated paperwork.
Modernisation, efficiency and productivity are key motivators behind the success of Mach-Tech, as witnessed by current plans to improve the layout to the shop floor. Phil Merison concludes: ”Customers are returning for repeat business because of their confidence in our capabilities. Our deliveries are consistently on time, our quality levels are high and we offer competitive prices. Datatrack has been essential to us and we'll continue to use it as an important element of improving our operations still further in the future.”