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“[We needed more] flexibility,” said Christopher Cofer,


director of IT services. “Our business model is based on quality and customer service. We needed software that didn’t tie us down to specific models or solutions.” Te company knew that any system it chose would need


to handle the depth of the information in its current system, which included 10,000 active patterns. It also would have to be flexible enough to deliver cost and pricing data used in sales. “We created a full request for proposal and sent it to all the major players,” Cofer said. “We even spoke with the industry specific software companies.” Te complex paper system led Oil City to one conclusion: to


truly implement a digital version of the existing system, it would need to create its own ERP system, capable of handling the information already in use. A big benefit in this choice is that Oil City would own the coding and the rights to further develop it, giving the company room to grow it on its own. “Te decision was made due to several factors, but the most important one was due to its open design,” Cofer said. “We have the source code, leaving us with the ability to customize the solution to fit our every need.” Tough the cost worked out to be more than purchased


software, Oil City could further develop the program, giving the company room to grow it on its own. “With any custom package, you tend to spend more


[money],” Cofer said. “Te difference is that you only have to pay for it once, not each year with fees and licensing.”


Oil City did not have to change its current data manage-


ment processes and maintained the same access to its current system’s information. Many of the process and raw material information already was documented in the paper-based sys- tem, so the work ahead mostly involved securing the neces- sary data to complete the paper-to-digital transition. Te computerized system allows Oil City to generate a


new quote for each order and predict the melting and pour- ing process, allowing for waste, cost of materials, alloy and molding line used, as well as the type and amount of sand used. It integrates fluctuating costs of materials on a daily basis quickly, which is a major update from the paper system. “As we see increases in copper and nickel in our basic


scrap prices, the [software] recognizes this on a daily basis,” said Eric Meyers, Oil City Iron Works president. Te system also allows Oil City to better explain to


customers any surcharges and issues in the casting process. By creating its own software, Oil City can maintain a high level of detail and information in the quoting process. Te new software allows the company to accurately predict what a casting job will cost now versus down the road, based on operating costs and material price fluctuations. “The system is built off of models, and you can have


multiple cost models put into place,” said Mark Shelton, Oil City Iron Works vice president. “So, you can analyze and see where you are in real-time today, but also fore- cast six months from now.”


ENTERPRISE RESOURCE PLANNING: WHAT IS IT?


An enterprise resource planning (ERP) software system is a computer-based system that integrates management information throughout a company. It encompasses all areas of a company, including finance/accounting, sales, customer service, manufacturing and engineering. In this respect, it allows the company to integrate all aspects of its business into one system for improved efficiency and overall workflow. ERP systems can be specific to manufacturing, as well as metalcasting. While manufacturing software may work for some facilities, metalcasting-specific software employs terminology from the metalcasting industry, including casting processes, alloys and other details that differentiate metalcasting from other manufacturing industries.


The main job of an ERP system is to allow metalcasters to plan out their cast- ing jobs, in detail, from beginning to end. Planning done well can eliminate long lead times, late delivery and a vast array of other issues from popping up. With the proper “human guidance,” an ERP system can: • Properly schedule jobs. The system can calculate the length of time each job should take, from pouring to machining, allowing for logical


production scheduling. This also allows a more accurate delivery estimate for your customer.


• Track and trace multiple jobs. With an ERP system, you can follow a casting from beginning to end, from your desk. This saves time on a management level, ensures the casting is running on schedule, allows employers to keep track of employees and identifies issues immediately so they can be addressed promptly.


• Accurately estimate job costs. An ERP system can calculate every facet of the casting job, before it starts, so your facility knows whether its price is on target. • Manage your inventory. Rather than a clipboard and tally-marking approach, utilizing ERP software allows you to accurately trace your inventory to properly judge what supplies are lacking in stock. Having the stock your facility needs helps avoid unnec- essary delays.


• Improve your facility’s work flow. Through an ERP system, your facil- ity may identify and eliminate any constraints or issues slowing things down. The software can show you how close your actual capacity is to your capacity ability.


September 2012 MODERN CASTING | 31


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