Metal Fab Plant Finds Cloud Savings

The Marwood Metal Fabrication plant in Tillsonburg, Ontario, Canada, needed to upgrade its DOS-based enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.

While doing so, the automotive supplier also wanted to combine ERP with customer relationship management (CRM) and shop-floor integration. The company chose Plex Systems Inc., a cloud-based software-as-a-service ERP provider in Auburn Hills, Mich.

Plex replaced Marwood’s antiquated ERP, as well as 10 disparate databases that had never shared data. Kors Engineering, of Waterford, Mich., a Plex partner, installed programmable logic controllers (PLCs) on all of Marwood's shop-floor machines to enable real-time communication through Plex. "Our role is to tie the plant-floor equipment seamlessly to the ERP and manufacturing enterprise systems (MES) hosted by Plex," says Tony Kaczmarek, president of Kors. "Our platform works off a Web-based tool that allows us to create Web Services. We've created a bunch of tools."

Some of the tools are as basic as creating a trigger that is sent every time a carton is complete. "The PLC integration using Kors PleXML tool has enabled the system to manage large volumes of machine data and provide detailed shop-floor information," says Kaczmarek. "Marwood's operators have everything they need to meet their rigorous quality standards—right at their fingertips."

The result of switching from the old system to the Plex cloud was an improvement in inventory turns by 50 percent. The company has been able to reduce raw materials and work-in-process inventory costs. Overall productivity has increased and Marwood is now beating the Precision Metalforming Association index that tracks performance in all categories.

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