The WorkPLAN ERP solution from Vero Software
ensures staff at a precision machining, tooling and mold company are fully aware of workshop costs, by monitoring around 2,000 separate projects annually.
Metra uses WorkPLAN at its two French and one Tunisian plants. Technical Director Daniel Lalaure says: “Many of our projects feature several orders, with up to six order lines, and WorkPLAN brings several areas of different expertise together in one ERP application.”
Founded over 90 years ago, Metra originally specialised in tooling and glass molds before expanding into aeronautics, arms and railways, and now operates with a workforce of around 100.
In order to remain competitive and ensure maximum quality, the company were introduced to WorkPLAN in 1998. “We use it for numerous reasons…starting with its capacity to rapidly produce an operations performance report for any particular project. Just a couple of mouse clicks allow us to evaluate workshop costs and rapidly monitor each of the 2,000 projects we handle in a year. It also raises staff awareness of costs.”
He says the company’s strength lies in adhering to strict tooling lead times, to avoid interrupting their customers’ supply chains. And WorkPLAN keeps them in full control, ensuring they meet those demands.
“The ERP system manages sales activities and produces a quote for every request we get. And we’ve developed an Excel interface to help off-site technical sales staff prepare quotes quickly. The file is sent to head office where WorkPLAN transforms it into a quote, significantly reducing response times.
“With WorkPLAN we can immediately determine whether we’re within budget or not. This essential for mold-makers like us, and is the over-riding principle of our project management. Our sales force must be able to rapidly summarise a project, in order to propose a quote before our competitors do.”
The WorkPLAN system is also used by the engineering department to establish bills of material for purchasing, whether it concerns raw material, diverse equipment or operations involving departments other than production. Supply management tasks are sent to the Purchasing Department, which either places orders or issues stock removal from the store.
And Daniel Lelaure says the Production Planning Department uses WorkPLAN to establish manufacturing processes which are fed into the process library and standard bills of materials. “The objective is to capitalise on the large amount of data available, in order not to have to reassess or redesign a similar mold – we recover the manufacturing process which corresponds to a mold, and simply update it. We then generate manufacturing orders and create a monitoring file that represents the workflow circuit the part needs to follow in the workshop, from the raw materials to the finished part, along with the flow of all associated parts.”
This is especially important, considering that Metra operates a total of 70 4-axis and 5-axis machining centres – around 40 of which are at their Blangy-sur-Bresle site), as well as CNC lathes with integrated milling functions and bi-spindle lathes for producing glassware molds.
Quality Control use WorkPLAN for managing rejected parts, as it integrates fully into the company’s Lean Manufacturing process. “We can edit worksheets directly on the shop floor. “When a problem occurs we analyse the cause and work with the operators to find solutions. WorkPLAN then displays the results, making them available for everyone. It’s also helped us reduce the costs caused by defects, from Euro-200,000 in 2010, to Euro-60,000 in 2015. The Quick Response, Quality Control generated from WorkPLAN’s database has reduced non-quality problems, notably through an A1 display, a customised print template, and a half-day training session on the WinDev tool.”
Metra also use a number of other WorkPLAN features – for example, raw material and accessory part stock management as well as all tooling equipment. “There’s no production downtime caused by cutting tools not being available, which is due to the management module and real-time data inputting.”
Component management also includes accessory parts, especially for the aeronautics sector, which demands full traceability of every component. And he says WorkPLAN’s MyTouchScreen functionality allows operators to input the start and end of different tasks with the help of around 20 touch screens. “This allows WorkPLAN to calculate time spent on machines, and batch times. Vero Software also added a button to determine time spent on programming, adjusting, setting up, program modifications and machining.”
Metra are now planning to integrate maintenance and metrology functions such as machine logs and calibration review dates into the system. “I’m strongly in favour of total integration, because an SME’s overall performance depends greatly on the ability of its teams to work together using common tools.
“ERP isn’t an end in itself; it’s more of an antidote against everyone’s human tendency to define and defend their own territory.”