17 February 2017
PSL Datatrack’s head office team has experienced further growth recently as the company has now taken on its first apprentice. Dean Manley has joined the team at PSL in a Marketing and Customer Service role, an appointment which has seen the business’s staff count more than double since Geoff and Tara Gartland took over the company in 2013.
Dean’s day-to-day duties will involve the development of the company’s online marketing projects, including social media activity, promotion of the PSL Datatrack website and email campaigns, as well as helping to provide the high quality customer service that the business prides itself on. He joins a strong support team at PSL and will receive internal training from technically able colleagues, whose backgrounds include experience in Information Technology, engineering, accounting and business management. This will aid the completion of his apprenticeship with an external provider.
PSL Datatrack Director, Tara Gartland, comments: “Having Dean join the PSL team has already proved a real benefit to the company. I know he is looking forward to helping our customers more and to meeting the challenges of his apprenticeship training over the coming months.”
25 January 2017
Finding readily adaptable ‘off-the-shelf’ production management software for special machine building and jig and tool manufacture is not easy. Brown and Holmes (Tamworth), however, became the first jig and tool company to use the PSL Datatrack system, which provided well-supported production control modules for the complex operation.
Brown & Holmes (B & H) produces customised work holding fixtures, builds special production machinery and is the UK agent for Forkardt precision chucking systems. Founded originally in 1939 by the Brown and Holmes families, the company was acquired by today’s owners in 2003, with Carl Baker and Kevin Ward as joint Managing Directors. Today, B & H employs around 48 personnel, including 32 on the shop floor. Annual turnover is around £3.5 million.
Introducing production control software came in early when a local IT consultant developed in-house computer software to replace, as Carl Baker said, “A very good paper-based system.” Problems arose when the ‘IT man’ changed career. “The system had run very well for four years,” said Carl Baker. “But without the guy who had written the system we suddenly had no IT support. Production control is the key to our successful operation, and we therefore had to look for a replacement, specifically an off-the-shelf system if possible.”
In 2002, Carl Baker’s team had narrowed production control software suppliers down to three. One provider was PSL Datatrack of Bracknell, Berkshire. “PSL Datatrack showed us some existing users, mostly producing higher volume batches than we were used to. But we could see a promise of flexibility and tailoring,” said Carl Baker. “We knew that as the system stood it was not ideal, but it could be easily and readily tailored to our needs. We also noted that the software undergoes constant improvements and was competitive in price.”
Carl Baker explained: “We wanted a ‘user-friendly and easy-to-learn production control software system that would not stop day-to-day business during the learning period. Our operation was too big for an excel based system and we felt it would take ‘an age’ to bed in a larger MRP/ERP type system in an operation like ours. This, and the flexibility of design of the software, is why our ultimate decision to purchase PSL Datatrack was made.”
As Carl Baker also explained, the jig and tool and special machine building business varies constantly. Very few manufacturing jobs are similar and rarely repeat. Some workholding fixtures may need a lot of special machining and assembly. They may be made up partly from machined parts, standard components and ‘bought out’ items. So over a period of time, it is very difficult to achieve any kind of proper balance on the shop floor between the different machining processes.
An example is a three-face, hydraulic clamping, workholding fixture ‘cube’ for three separate workpiece holding positions. At the quotation stage, the engineering team, including jig and tool designers would agree the best solution. They would discuss details like workpiece locations, orientation, clamping systems and perhaps whether the workpiece needed slight modification to simplify location and clamping.
From this, the quotation would be entered into the PSL Datatrack system and a proposal sent to the customer. Following an order, a detailed CAD drawing would be produced and process layouts for every manufactured part input into PSL Datatrack. This PSL Datatrack information would then produce work orders for use on the shop floor to book manufacturing time, allowing comparison between actual costs and calculated costs. At B & H the system also controls the purchasing function as well as producing delivery notes and invoices.
In addition to their many manufacturing customers companies, B & H also produces fixtures and work holding systems for major machine tool companies providing ‘turnkey’ systems (machine tools plus fixtures, handling systems), such as NCMT and Mori-Seiki.
Most of the CNC machine tools used by B & H are integrated into the PSL Datatrack system. ” In addition, all our toolmakers are skilled in at least two disciplines,” explained Carl Baker. “We have a core of toolmakers and machinists who can move around the shop floor. Some men can switch from prismatic machining to grinding, and then to turning, which minimises bottlenecks in production. Our investment in training three graduate design staff and two current apprentices is further evidence of our commitment to customer support through relevant skills.”
Over half of the machine tools used are CNC, including multi-axis turning and milling, jig-boring and large bed surface grinding. Also linked into PSL Datatrack is the co-ordinate measuring machine where the company's quality engineers also book inspection time into PSL Datatrack. This, together with on-going investment in new machine tools, keeps B&H at the forefront of technology and competitiveness.
Production data is entered into PSL Datatrack daily to provide accurate end-of-job costing which, together with purchased items such as material, subcontract and finishing operations, ensures we constantly monitor our production effectiveness and estimating procedures.
At present, B & H operates 10 seats with PSL Datatrack running in Microsoft Windows XP and Windows7. “We occasionally throw challenges at PSL Datatrack,” said Carl Baker. For example, B & H recently acquired the UK agency for Forkardt precision chucks, collets and mandrels. “We wanted to separate the Forkardt operation from the jig and tool operation, using different customer codes,” said Carl Baker. Work measurement, margins and sales levels had to be separated too. “PSL Datatrack very quickly tailored the system enabling us to run virtually two businesses with a single system.”
In addition to the jig and tool and Forkardt operations, PSL Datatrack has helped B&H through the recent recession by keeping the operation lean, controlling purchasing costs and giving instant feedback on operating costs. It also enhanced the company’s ability to support new markets such as Aerospace and Power Generation, resulting in membership of the Midlands Aerospace Alliance, a vastly increased customer
base and a rapid recovery from the recession. All of this was achieved without any redundancy and without the need for additional management personnel.
In conclusion, Carl Baker commented: “For me, the system we chose is right, and PSL Datatrack has developed their systems in line with our development of our business. The software is flexible enough to be tailored to suit our changing needs, communication between our companies is excellent and they have proved themselves to have a good understanding of our business.”
25 January 2017
In the space of just eighteen months, Track Components became so convinced by the benefits of the Datatrack business administration and production management system that the company went from an initial investment in a simple Datatrack Quotation software package to a fully blown installation.
Track Components of Amersham is a leading sub-contract engineering company that manufactures precision CNC turned and CNC milled components. The company provides an engineering service that embraces CADCAM design and the manufacture of components from customer drawings, supported by a full or sub assembly service and stockholding facility.
The BS EN ISO 9001: 2008 registered company has invested consistently in its production facilities that now include fixed and sliding head, multi-axis CNC and robotic machines. Surface finishing services, including heat treatment, plating and anodizing, are also available through the company’s own sub-contractors.
From small batches to longer production runs, and with the capability to machine a wide range of materials, Track Components’ customer base has steadily grown and the need to manage the business more efficiently became more critical. Reliance on manual administration was seen to have disadvantages for owner Clive Purchase who was spending an increasing amount of time dealing with the burden of coordinating customers’ needs and suppliers services whilst also ensuring that quotations were both accurate and timely.
Once orders had been placed, some key challenges were to ensure that work in progress was managed satisfactorily, costings were accurate and deliveries were made on time. Whilst these challenges represented everyday critical routines, they also distracted Clive from the equally important goal of expanding his successful business even further.
To start to address these administration issues, PSL Datatrack was invited to demonstrate its Datatrack Quotation software package. It was soon acknowledged by Track Components that there could be major advantages in integrating this estimating function with additional administration procedures surrounding the company’s day-to-day business.
As a result, PSL Datatrack was also requested to quote for and Track Components subsequently ordered, the ‘Datatrack Core Sales and Purchase Order Processing modules. Over the next few weeks owner Clive Purchase and selected management staff got to grips with the Datatrack application and their confidence in the system led to investment in an additional nine concurrent users including selected shop floor operatives. Comprehensive training in the use of the system, allowed Track Components to extend control throughout the business and to fully delegate administration duties to key staff.
PSL Datatrack imported data from Track Components’ existing records to provide historic customer order information and current details for a ‘quick start’ to live use of the “Core System”. Within just two weeks of its installation, a further demonstration of the Datatrack Shop Floor Data Collection module was requested, highlighting the huge confidence that Track Components already had in both the Datatrack system and the support from PSL Datatrack, the company.
Less than four weeks after installation, Track Components were running ‘Live’ data and within a few further weeks the order was placed for Shop Floor Data Collection, Bills of Material and Job Costing modules too.
When Track Components applied for its BS EN ISO 9001: 2008 accreditation, the company recognized that the addition of Datatrack Scheduling, Quality, Non-Conformance, Gauge Calibration and Management modules would enhance their credentials. These were duly installed together with two additional users, giving Track Components a full quality package to support their accreditation.
PSL Datatrack’s Tool Management modules were also installed and data imported from existing spreadsheets. Two further users were added in April 2010, bringing the total number within the company to 13 as Datatrack was rolled out to a fully delegated workforce.
The timeline for ‘Live’ use of the administration was less than six weeks. The confidence that existed between Track Components and PSL was exceptional - as seen by the speed with which the system extended. The company now has a fully delegated system and every employee has been trained in its use, ensuring their involvement in the effective administration procedures of the company as a whole.
Quality and accreditation are easily maintained and Datatrack returns large amounts of information about the company’s efficiency, profitability, supplier performance and both process and product quality - all to the benefit of Track Components and the company’s customers.
24 January 2017
ND Precision Products of Barnstaple has an established reputation for its precision engineering services. The ISO 9001:2008 accredited company makes complex tools for customers from many different market sectors including automotive, aerospace and medical products.
With demand for its engineering services strong, the company wanted to examine how to improve its business administration and production processes in order to maintain the highest levels of customer service and be prepared for an increase in sales turnover. The company decided to invest in a bespoke management information system that would cover all areas including stock planning and general management of all office administration and production procedures. This would both streamline the company’s production capabilities and provide improved communication with customers as well as suppliers and control/secure their on-going overhead costs.
Prior to investment in a new system, the company relied upon manual administration methods including, for example, using e-mails for raising quotations. This approach would typically result in problems such as missed payments, under costing and consequently losses on some jobs. There was also poor tracking of both work in progress and overall quality control.
Before making the decision to invest in PSL Datatrack, the company considered alternative systems but could not find anything with the flexibility or ease of use of the PSL Datatrack system. Since investment, ND Precision Products has not only been able to reduce lead times but also to accurately cost all the manufacturing processes involved for even the most complex bespoke contracts. Even with a large number of prototype jobs, PSL Datatrack allows the company to predict and easily confirm their tooling requirements and then manage effectively the complex nature of these engineered solutions.
Today, ND Precision Products uses a number of PSL Datatrack modules including the Sales Order Processing for the creation and administration of quotations, works orders, components stocks and deliveries. This has given ND Precision Products close control of work in progress and the production of highly efficient reports that allow effective management of their entire supply chain.
With Works Capacity Planning, PSL Datatrack monitors Work in Progress and provides Shop Floor Data Collection. “This module is excellent for shop floor planning and chase lists,” says Nick Squire, ND Precision Products.
For financial administration and planning, PSL Datatrack provides the generation of customer invoices, credit notes and job costing. The Purchase Order Processing module covers purchase orders' generation, details of goods received and automatically controls material stock, affording ND Precision Products close control over suppliers enabling them to accurately assign costs to jobs.
“It has been an invaluable and a fool proof method of checking payments in and out of the company, with good integration into the company’s Sage accounts packages,” says Nick Squire.
As a go-ahead company, ND Precision Products has invested consistently in the latest engineering equipment and CAD facilities, with the stated aim of offering the most cost effective and high quality tooling solutions to all customers, often advising on alternative methods of manufacture to reduce costs and improve productivity. Now, with PSL Datatrack, ND Precision Products can clearly demonstrate to its customers complete efficiency in its fully integrated administration processes right through from the quotation stage to delivery and invoice resulting in consistently on-time deliveries and even greater customer satisfaction.
“PSL Datatrack has provided excellent training and the flexibility to address ND Precision Products’ specific requirements. Great reaction times to queries and ongoing support have resulted in a well nurtured relationship forming between our two companies," says Nick Squire. “We are both
members of the GTMA and we recommend PSL Datatrack to our customers and suppliers alike. It is an ideal system for a company of our size with the capability of coping with bigger applications in many areas of business in addition to engineering services.”
24 January 2017
Investment in PSL Datatrack production control 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 re-enter 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 PSL 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 PSL 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 PSL 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, PSL 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, PSL Datatrack is linked to the company's Sage accounts system. Invoicing, credit note and purchase order creation are all taken care of by PSL Datatrack. Mach-Tech’s management team use all the information gathered by PSL Datatrack from throughout the factory in order to analyse performance against KPIs.
There are now six users of the PSL 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: "PSL 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 PSL 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, PSL 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. PSL 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.”
24 January 2017
Technoset, the precision engineering company specialising in the manufacture of high precision turned and milled components, has improved its supply chain and production routines thanks to PSL Datatrack. The advantages of highly effective process and product traceability delivered by the PSL Datatrack Process Layout module have had a major impact on the company's continued success. Not only can Technoset underline traceability as a key element of the services it provides, but also the company’s production and administration standards are continuously set at the highest possible level.
Technoset’s sub-contract business primarily serves the aerospace industry where traceability is absolutely critical. Customers are also based in the opto-electronics & lasers, marine, sensors, telecommunications, motorsport and medical devices sectors amongst others.
Before installing PSL Datatrack, Technoset operated a manual based production administration system with inherent disadvantages such as a plethora of paper based records, lack of a back-up system and, critically, poor presentation to potential customers. To address this, a number of production management software packages were investigated, but PSL Datatrack was the system chosen based on the nature of Technoset’s business and its already proven track record within the sub-contract manufacturing sector.
The advantages of using PSL Datatrack to help achieve complete production traceability are based on some key features. For example, it accumulates data automatically as different process transactions are carried out. It records and reports on specific single and multiple material batch control data and builds a complete history of processes associated with components and assemblies. This includes details of the actual production machinery used; the inspection equipment used and associated results history, the certification of materials and any other relevant aspects of the production process. Traceability of products throughout the production process is therefore guaranteed with the creation of a history of
every part and how it was made. Precise electronic documentation is available including the complete component history at-a-glance. A powerful search feature is also included.
Importantly, PSL Datatrack also works together with Technoset's AS9100 Auditors to ensure rapid, efficient conformance, satisfying most certification requirements for aerospace as well as other commercial and motor vehicle applications. “PSL Datatrack has transformed the way we operate our business. The traceability we are now able to demonstrate to all customers is a major contributing factor to our success,” says Technoset's Managing Director Kevan Kane.
PSL Datatrack's Process Layout module has also proven to be a particularly valuable tool for Technoset with its ability to provide a history of improvements and refinements in the production process and reductions in production cycle times which has inherently led to more accurate forecasting of costs and production capacities.
At shop floor level, the function of the Process Layout module is to promote discipline in Technoset's manufacturing process. It confirms the engineering definition of the component or assembly to be manufactured. It provides drawing and issue number control, confirms the requirements of the works order, the production equipment required, gauge and tool requirements for the job in hand. The quality requirements of first-off and production parts are also controlled.
Based on historical experience the optimum manufacturing process is defined. Technoset's production team is directed in the sequencing of the manufacturing process and critical points such as subcontracted operations are identified and monitored. Shop Floor Data Collection procedures are captured by touch-screen or barcode, giving immediate analysis of progress throughout production.
“The Process Layout aspect of PSL Datatrack has definitely assisted us in the on-going refinement of our manufacturing processes,” continues Kevan. “Our shop floor operatives get better instructions each time a specific job is repeated, thereby leading to a reduction in scrap and reworking as well as other advantages including a reduction in downtime.”
Technoset's success to date has also been based on the high degree of flexibility that can be offered to customers, including scheduled deliveries and the ability to deliver component batches of different runs as well as assembled components. The company can also undertake the management of sub-contract processes such as heat treatment and plating to allow the supply of parts ready for production. PSL Datatrack manages all these aspects of the business.
Technoset first invested in the PSL Datatrack system in 1999 and the simple, clear user interface has allowed them to be extremely self-sufficient in their use of the system. PSL Datatrack has been the backbone to the growth of the business since its installation. Continuous support and system upgrades have enabled Technoset to take advantage of system updates to meet the ever-changing demands of customers and the industry.
The service and support provided by PSL Datatrack has been excellent according to Kevan: “PSL Datatrack responds to our needs in a timely manner and overall we are very pleased with our system some 13 years since its initial installation.”
24 January 2017
Wealdpark Limited of St Helens in Merseyside manufactures precision turned parts for a wide range of customers. A member of the BTMA, the company has BS EN ISO 9001 and a major strength is providing a high quality service that includes a commitment to supplying defect free products manufactured to the most exacting standards. To help the company achieve these goals it has invested in PSL Datatrack production control software, contributing to an all round improvement in production procedures, product quality and traceability.
Wealdpark supplies a wide variety of companies in the aerospace, automotive, electrical, fastener, fire fighting, military and thermocouple industries. This diversification has helped when certain sectors have been quiet, but it also means that at any given time the company can be processing high numbers of individual orders which all have to be administered quickly and accurately. Many customers also ask for input into new designs and, approaching it from a different viewpoint, Wealdpark can often help them to reduce product costs.
The workshop includes the latest CNC sliding and fixed head lathes and vertical machining centres. This enables them to offer precision parts with quick turnaround times, in a range of materials including steel, brass, stainless steel, aluminium, copper, phosphor bronze, nylon, PVC and others.
Wealdpark decided it needed a system like PSL Datatrack because its existing system for quotations, purchase orders and order input required data to be input several times. This then had to be manually entered into the company’s accounts program for invoicing and financial records. It was a long and laborious process open to frequent errors and omissions, so in 2009 the company looked at a range of different software systems that would enable them to dispense with this repetitive manual administration.
“PSL Datatrack virtually mirrored our existing layouts and seemed easier to use than other systems,” says Director Phil Smith. “It has enabled us to streamline our processes and we can now retrieve any information at the push of a button. For me, the biggest benefit is the ease of invoicing and transfer of data to our accounts software in just a couple of clicks. To be honest, it is difficult to see how we managed before we had PSL Datatrack.”
Wealdpark does not have any sales force and business comes on recommendation. Therefore, the company needs to make sure everything is right and in this respect the all round benefits of the PSL Datatrack production control software cannot be underestimated. Employees have been empowered to be responsible for their own quality and this approach has seen a dramatic improvement in product quality, while PSL Datatrack’s automatic traceability system ensures rapid, easy and accurate ISO audits at the push of a button.
Further investment in PSL Datatrack Status Board display screens highlight critical progress on the shop floor, monitoring current and imminently due orders. Status Boards are visible to everyone and give real time information and instructions.
In terms of support, any queries that Wealdpark have can be resolved over the phone within minutes directly with PSL Datatrack's designers. This support is important because it prevents Wealdpark staff spending time looking for an answer to a query and, more importantly, ensures that orders are not processed incorrectly.
“PSL Datatrack has really good help files, but by talking things through we can also get to understand more about the system, seeing things that we were not even aware PSL Datatrack could do for us,” says Phil Smith.
It was the economic crash of 2009 that gave Wealdpark the impetus to do something about its administration procedures that were struggling to support a very successful, busy and established business. Investing in PSL Datatrack at that time has given the company the platform to reap the benefits of an economic upturn and take on new business without having to be concerned about the administration or increased overhead costs that may go with it. The company is looking to implement on-going training for its staff with PSL Datatrack and this will also help to ensure that the company maximises the potential of its investment.
24 January 2017
First Components of Brierley Hill in the West Midlands invested in PSL Datatrack production management and business administration software to ensure effective management of two businesses within its group. They supply both components and assemblies to a wide range of industries including aerospace, automotive, medical, electrical, white goods and general engineering.
Under single management, the specialist engineering services and capabilities of First Components Limited and Savigny Oddie include CNC turning, CNC milling, presswork, wire cutting & forming, wire erosion, tool making and design. Services are backed by ISO 9001/2000 and QS9000 accreditations. A system was needed that would be able to manage both businesses but with the economic benefits and simplicity of investment in a single system.
As with many businesses of this type, the administration of all tasks ranging from the initial quotation through to the final invoice are non-productive and need to be dealt with in the most efficient method possible - and in this case across two operating companies. Fundamental parts of the business administration that need to be managed include the production of sales orders, production planning, purchasing, bill of materials, stock control, scheduling, quality control, tooling, data collection and job costing, all whilst managing the generation of relevant documentation and answering customer queries.
First Components were keen to ensure that implementing a new system, such as PSL Datatrack, would not detract from the primary aims of ensuring all customers should receive the highest levels of service and that administrative matters would not stifle the development of new business. To achieve this aim the new system needed to be simple to use, yet powerful enough to deal with the complexity of their businesses.
First Components investigated possible software packages to assist them and also heard first hand about the capabilities of PSL Datatrack through Chartway Industrial Services, an existing Datatrack customer. Chartway made them aware of the advantages that Datatrack had brought to their own business.
“We contacted PSL Datatrack and were convinced that they could supply us with a ‘matched’ package that would meet the specific need of our business too,” says Carl Wakelam, Managing Director of First Components.
First Components required a production management software package that would help to manage the administration surrounding all aspects of their businesses. “With two businesses, all these areas demanded high levels of management and manual paperwork. We needed a flexible system that would automate much of the administration across both businesses, allowing us to focus more closely on our technical expertise and customer service.” continues Carl.
First Components initially purchased seven Datatrack user licences and since the initial installation has now rolled out the system to a total of twelve concurrent users across the two companies. Implementation of any new system into a business of this size can be a daunting task. The skills and experience of PSL together with the configuration and customisation available within Datatrack helped enormously whilst minimising the time and effort involved.
As a purpose designed, simple to use modular software application, Datatrack has assisted First Components/Savigny Oddie to control all the key aspects of the manufacture of single and batch production items. Carl advised, “All of the Datatrack modules acquired to date have had a very positive effect on the business.”
Datatrack Status Boards and Charts will be implemented on the shop floor at a future date to provide instant real time updates and deliver production instructions to the shop floor. The charts will alert operatives to any targets not being met.
“Overall, PSL Datatrack has more than fulfilled our expectations, providing exactly the kind of administration control we were looking for. We also receive excellent back up and advice on how to maximise the potential of the system from PSL Datatrack”, concludes Carl.
17 January 2017
Maylan Engineering of Corby has seen its business develop significantly over the last few years. These developments, including a change of ownership and new premises, have been implemented seamlessly, resulting in an even better engineering sub-contract and assembly service. The use of the PSL Datatrack production control software system has played a major role in the on-going success of the company.
The most significant developments for Corby based Maylan have been the move to new modern premises and the acquisition of the business by Stephen Weiss from his father. Both these events had to be managed expertly to ensure that the service provided to Maylan's customers was not adversely affected.
PSL Datatrack software was already widely used by Maylan in its previous premises where Stephen had spent a long time examining the potential it offered and how to maximise its use. As a result, when the move came, PSL Datatrack was already being used to manage the company’s customer quotations, works orders, deliveries, purchase orders, goods received and delivery notes. Paper administration had long been consigned to the past. "In the new premises we installed new PCs and it was pretty much a “plug and play” scenario to get PSL Datatrack up and running with absolutely no disruption to the continuity of running the business or our service to customers”, says Stephen Weiss.
What Stephen has also done since, is to build upon the existing strengths of Maylan’s business. He has diversified from straightforward sub-contracting engineering of components into more added value assembly work. He has taken the company in to new markets that now include rail, medical, motorsport, shop fitting and many others. He has been able to do this because of his confidence in the engineering experience that exists in the company's 12 strong engineering and sales team. He has also called upon his own previous in-depth experience in the aerospace industry.
“PSL Datatrack’s software capabilities offer flexible management for different industries – it simply continues to provide the means for us to manage our growing business in different markets just as effectively. Whether engineering sub-contract batches of 50 or 10000, the administration and production requirements are essentially the same and we entrust complete responsibility to PSL Datatrack to manage this for us.” It is the same for assemblies such as injector systems for a major manufacturer: PSL Datatrack ensures that all components are readily available to fulfil all orders without delay.
Key to Maylan’s on-going success has been significant investment in the latest CNC machining technology. However, Stephen recognises that technology alone is not enough to really make a business successful. "Customer service with on-time deliveries, no rejects and repeat business remain the key factors,” says Stephen. “PSL Datatrack helps us to achieve these goals.”
There are three nominated users of the PSL Datatrack system at Maylan with Stephen being supported by colleagues dealing with works and purchase orders. As it is a modular, upgradable system the latest PSL Datatrack enhancements are examined carefully to see how they can assist Maylan’s business. For example, the latest upgrade includes document management, inspection records and instant emails to customer to alert them that their order has been despatched – “a great addition to our customer service” says Stephen.
The company’s BSI accreditation means that Maylan has to continually monitor its customer performance and PSL Datatrack is vital to this, providing auditors with all the key information that they require. Maylan is now looking to appoint an additional shop floor manager - this will open the door to new areas of reporting using PSL Datatrack and give Maylan the ability to see the complete picture about why, when and how they satisfy their customers.
17 January 2017
Bluebell Opticom is a highly successful company that designs manufactures and distributes customised fibre optic transmission assemblies for the broadcast, satellite and telecommunications industry. The company relies on PSL Datatrack production management software for its production administration procedures. This underlines the versatility of the Datatrack system, which is used largely in the engineering sub-contract sector, but is wholly transferable into the electronics and other industries.
Working in a niche market, Bluebell's product range consists of four platforms and a range of over fifty configurable PCB card based electrical to optical converters. The company's production model is based on making assemblies for stock and then customising them to meet specific orders. This ability to customise has meant that its business administration and production management procedures are complex.
For many years the company relied on a manual administration system that included the use of spreadsheets to check and track bills of materials, quotations, stock, work in progress, deliveries and invoicing – in fact the entire production management process. However, with business on the increase and working with distributors worldwide, this approach became increasingly unsustainable for the company's small team.
A number of administration software systems were identified, but PSL Datatrack was already being used successfully by one of Bluebell's major sub-contractors. Based on this, and the support that PSL could offer locally in the UK, Bluebell took the decision to invest in Datatrack.
Once set up and configured to work with Bluebell's manufacturing principles, all the company's production procedures, particularly the creation of bills of materials and assemblies, have become much slicker with Datatrack. Quotations, Purchase Ordering, Stock Management and Sales Order Processing modules are all now used by the company. One of the major benefits has been the positive impact on Bluebell's business image as they can now issue their customers with order acknowledgements with accurate delivery dates. “This gives us a professional sheen that we did not have before,” says Paul McCann of Opticom.
The fact that PSL Datatrack is a modular system that could be built up was also valuable to Bluebell. It meant a lower initial entry cost and the flexibility to add more sophisticated reporting later as required.
PSL Datatrack has not changed the type of business Bluebell undertakes, but it does allow the company to carry out our existing business much more efficiently. “All software should work with the user rather than dictate how the user should work. With PSL Datatrack we have a system that works very much to our advantage,” says Paul McCann. “Although it took us a while to grasp the process flow of the software, once it clicked Bluebell staff were able to use it with confidence.”
There are now plans to extend the use of PSL Datatrack with more modules and Bluebell will also request more modules and specific management information reports to be written by PSL Datatrack.
“We are happy with PSL Datatrack and would recommend it to other SME’s. The initial hard work has paid off and we are now a tighter more efficient unit. PSL Datatrack have been absolute rocks in terms of the support they have given us,” concludes Paul. --
21 December 2016
Jota Advanced Engineering Ltd, the recently formed sub-contract precision engineering division of the Jota Group, has invested in a PSL Datatrack production control system to manage their sub-contract engineering business. Having already invested in a skilled workforce to support the requirements of Jota Sport motor racing, the company was in the perfect position to expand its business by lending its engineering skills, quick turnaround and technical capabilities to the highly competitive general sub-contract market. Having made this move the company recognised the need to invest in dedicated production control software, with PSL Datatrack ticking all the boxes.
Ryan Goodger, Director, explains: “Our experience looking after the Jota race programme meant that we were used to fast turnaround, high precision engineering and as we are very good at this type of work we were confident we could offer a similar service to all kinds of engineering markets. That has proved to be the case and now some 75% of our work is in the general sub-contract area of a wide range of industries and covering everything from prototyping to production.”
Jota Advanced Engineering has a comprehensive plant list that includes a Haas UMC-750 5-axis vertical machining centre, Haas Mini Mill, Haas ST-10Y and 30Y CNC lathes, Bridgeport Mills, Colchester Student and Elliot lathes. To manage production, originally the company had started out using a combination of Word & Excel documents, along with an in house database. It was soon realised that a slicker, more capable and less time consuming method of production planning and control was required in order to match their aspirations for growth in the general sub-contracting sector.
“We needed a system to bring it all together and were introduced to PSL Datatrack by a fellow sub-contractor at the Mach 2016 exhibition,” says Ryan. “Following a full demonstration by PSL Datatrack, rather than just an online demo that was given by another company, we decided it was the system for us over and above other systems.”
Not only was Ryan impressed with the approach, time and help provided by PSL Datatrack during their evaluation of the system, he also recognised the advantageous features of PSL Datatrack software. “The focus of PSL Datatrack is on the precision engineering sector and the attention to detail is clear to see. The system is well designed, fast to navigate, logical and intuitive to use. We also liked its flexibility and the fact that it could be tailored specifically for us.”
The onsite installation and training provided by PSL was focused on fast implementation and enabled Jota Advanced Engineering to go live the following week. The system provides manufacturing process control of Quotations, Sales and Purchase Order processing, through to workshop scheduling, Shop Floor Data Collection, deliveries and invoicing.
Ryan sums up their experience by saying, “We are very pleased with the investment we have made. Our business now has a system in place to complement our technical abilities. We now have far more accurate information available about our business, our commitments and capacity. We can now quote with the confidence that we can keep the quality, precision and punctual delivery promises that we offer our customers”.
20 December 2016
The success and growth at RDL Technologies of Leicester, since its foundation in 2000, has been based on its policy of continual improvement and the ability to provide a consistent high level of service to customers. Over the last three years, the company has achieved ISO Quality Management accreditation, has continued to invest in new machine tool technology and has also successfully integrated another company into its business model. Production Control Manager Lewis Lockwood has been quick to stress the key role played by PSL Datatrack production control software in all these initiatives.
RDL Technologies supplies sub-contract parts for a wide range of industries and offers a wide range of services from design assistance and prototypes through to volume production including JIT and Kanban. The company is equipped to cope with a range of components and batch sizes whilst outside processes such as grinding, heat treatment and plating ensure a 'one-stop shop' service for all customers.
Prior to investment in PSL Datatrack production control software, RDL Technologies ran a completely manual system lacking in traceability with no control over manufacturing processes. Whilst that approach had worked for a number of years, the appointment in October 2013 of a new Quality Manager was the catalyst for change as he took responsibility for gaining ISO 9001 accreditation.
Having already recognised that efficient shop floor data collection and process control were virtually non-existent, before they embarked upon the path of ISO accreditation, a concerted effort was made to shop around and identify the best production control package that included manufacturing traceability for the company to replace its manual systems. After a number of demonstrations from different companies, RDL were left in no doubt that PSL Datatrack production control software was the most suitable solution.
“We liked the way PSL Datatrack could be tailored to our specific needs from the beginning and also gave us the option to expand into different modules as and when we wished. The way the system flows and the control and traceability we have over our work is now second to none,” says Lewis.
RDL Technologies achieved ISO 9001:2008 accreditation within just six weeks of the system being installed and Lewis believes this would never have been possible without PSL Datatrack in place. “The auditor even made a special note regarding the PSL Datatrack system. He was very impressed with how quick and easy it was to keep track of a job from the initial enquiry through to invoicing.” says Lewis.
In 2015, RDL Technologies acquired Acorn Precision Machining bringing a further five sliding head machines into the business and increased RDL's sliding head capacity to 14 machines. The integration of the two companies went extremely smoothly – helped in no end by the fact that Acorn was already an existing user of PSL Datatrack software.
“We liaised closely with Geoff Gartland, Managing Director at PSL Datatrack and explained that we wanted Acorn's software to be integrated into ours. This presented no problem and has benefited not only us, but more importantly our customers. It has allowed us to quickly build strong relationships with former Acorn customers as we have the ability to search the historical records of Acorn. We have therefore been able to provide an efficient seamless service to the migrating customers.” continues Lewis.
Today, RDL Technologies prides itself on not only its state-of-the-art machining capabilities and its quality management system but also on its customer service for which PSL Datatrack manufacturing production control software plays an essential role. “PSL Datatrack is not only helping us to stay ahead of the competition but also allowing us to work side by side with our customers to our mutual benefit.” concludes Lewis.
3 November 2016
PSL Datatrack is delighted to see Qualiturn Products Ltd celebrating 40 years in business, for 20 years of which they have been users of the PSL Datatrack production control system. Bernard Groom started Qualiturn in 1974 and first invested in a Datatrack DOS system in 1994. In 1998, Qualiturn migrated to the then new windows system, PSL Datatrack, which brought many benefits and opportunities for improving the management and efficiency of the business. Bernard subsequently passed the mantel to son Nick, who became Managing Director in 2009.
It is often noted that 'information is power' and this can be demonstrated in no better way than the support role provided by PSL Datatrack in the seamless handover of the business from Bernard to Nick.
Throughout this highly successful 20 year working partnership, PSL have seen ISO 9001 accredited Qualiturn grow from strength to strength with continual investment in the latest CNC machinery, associated equipment and a move to larger premises. Today, Qualiturn employees 28 people in their 18,000 sq. ft Hertford factory which houses 24 CNC machines offering an impressive 720 hours capacity per month. Qualiturn supply customers in many business sectors ranging from leisure products through to medical and aerospace and whilst focusing primarily on turning have recently expanded to offer milling services too.
Once works orders have been entered, PSL Datatrack is used to manage the entire lifecycle of production. Qualiturn's PSL Datatrack system starts with quotations, which are prepared using the benefit of historic quotes with current material and sub-contract prices. This enables Qualiturn to respond to enquiries quickly and accurately. Upon receipt of order, quoted information is reused to create works orders with the aim of being paperless wherever possible.
All material receipts are traced and allocated. Process layouts, which are refined each time a job is made, ensure that components are produced using the most efficient production process available.
Calibration of all instruments and gauges is also managed within PSL Datatrack as is the recording and rectification of any non-conformances. Shop floor progress of all jobs is recorded giving Qualiturn complete traceability of the material, machines, setters, operators and any sub-contract processes required giving their customers confidence in Qualiturn’s ability to deliver the right parts, to the right quality at the right time. In 2013, Qualiturn shipped more than 6,359,498 million components in average batch sizes of 1,175, ranging from order quantities anywhere between 2 and 200,000 components. Qualiturn typically supplies turned parts ranging from 1mm to 51mm diameter and since 2013 have offered milled components.
PSL Datatrack has benefitted tremendously, and continues to develop, from the on-going ideas for system improvements which are received from its customer base. Qualiturn are a key contributor within the PSL Datatrack 'community', submitting ideas for system enhancements generated through their drive for continuous improvement and efficiency savings.
The modular PSL Datatrack system at Qualiturn supports 15 users and utilises the innovative Status Board display system to give dynamic information and instruction to both management and the shop floor. Linking PSL Datatrack with Qualiturn’s material carousel and tooling cabinet provides physical control and security of these essential stock items whilst maintaining flexible reporting and quick reordering. PSL Datatrack has become more than a production management tool.
With integrated features such as Document Management, CRM & Task Management and automated generation of emails to customers to notify that parts have been despatched, PSL Datatrack is a powerful business tool, which is essential in today’s competitive market.
Both Qualiturn Products and PSL Datatrack are members of the BTMA (British Turned Parts and Manufacturers Association) demonstrating their commitment to collaborating on ideas that support the British precision engineering industry. "Key to success within the sub-contract industry is making components to the correct quality at the right time and a competitive price. PSL Datatrack has been, and continues to be, key in helping Qualiturn successfully manage these challenges,” says Nick Groom
"We have continually invested in machine tools to ensure our business has the latest machining technology and offer technically advanced solutions to our customers," says Nick Groom and continues "We have taken the same approach with our investment in PSL Datatrack to ensure that the system we run today is as relevant to our business needs as when we first invested 20 years ago. Development of PSL Datatrack has been continuous during the time we have had the system ensuring that our business continues to be a well organised and efficient operation. We look forward to this successful business relationship continuing for the next 20 years."