Milton Keynes-based Hydrafeed Ltd (hydrafeed.co.uk) has seen its business grow significantly over the last few years, with the expansion of its sub-contract engineering services alongside its renowned bar feed systems.
It is also the new sole UK and Ireland agent for RoboJob’s automation solutions.
Underpinning this growth is production control software from PSL Datatrack (www.psldatatrack.com
), which is considered to be an integral part of the business.
Taking control of Hydrafeed in 2012, managing director Martyn Page embarked on a major overhaul of the company’s administration procedures, and this included investing in PSL Datatrack to replace DOS and paper-based systems.
Aiming to grow the sub-contract business quickly by serving customers in a variety of industrial sectors, he needed the admin to be as efficient as possible.
Mr Page said: “Initially, the challenge was to get the details of all our stock and material data as well as customer information loaded onto the new system.
“Once that had been done — with full support from PSL Datatrack — we were able to realise the benefits, and our staff quickly saw the advantages of the system.”
According to Hydrafeed’s production director, Daren Drew, PSL Datatrack has had a huge impact on the sub-contract side of the business.
“At any time on the shopfloor, we have 400-500 components in production.
“We need to trace and track all the materials involved, organise treatments and then arrange deliveries — and invoicing.
“This could have been a logistical nightmare, but PSL Datatrack has smoothed out that side of our business completely.
“We can see everything on PCs throughout the factory.”
Any opportunity for Hydrafeed to quote for new and repeat business starts by using PSL Datatrack to generate a quotation; this is the catalyst from which the subsequent production process and the supporting admin of an order evolve.
Quotation times alone have been reduced from around 15min to just one or two.
PSL Datatrack records and tracks all aspects of an order, from the initial quotation through to delivery and invoicing.
Once a works order has been raised, the system generates the material requirements, and the purchasing module is used to order the materials needed to fulfil the job.
This is then traced through the shopfloor, with the costs of the operations, materials, tooling and any sub-contract processes all recorded.
The time taken for manufacturing, the details of when parts are made — on which machine and by which operator — are also recorded, and this information can be recalled at any time in the future.
All jobs are prioritised, and materials are made available before set-up commences.
The Work in Progress module allows the company to respond quickly to any urgent customer requirements, as management can see what work is being undertaken in each department and what jobs are being queued at specific machines.
Mr Page says: “This allows us to make decisions about prioritising jobs and moving work around.”
Hydrafeed is currently considering investing in Status Board display screens for each department; these would allow all jobs going through the shopfloor to be seen in real time, so that management can make informed decisions on priorities.
The benefits that have resulted from the use of PSL Datatrack in terms of traceability and generating certificates are vital to Hydrafeed’s quality management system and to maintaining its ISO 9001:2015 accreditation.
Customers in the aerospace industry — in particular — require detailed information on traceability and conformity, which is easy to supply.
Thanks to PSL Datatrack, the company knows the source of all the materials that have been used for any order and which machines were used in the production process, as well as details of the operation and the operators involved.
Supplier certificates are saved on the system and can be printed off at the click of a button to accompany a delivery.
Next in line for Hydrafeed may be the gauge calibration module, which would give the company closer control over its inspection and quality control functions, by providing details of calibration requirements and timings for every gauge that Hydrafeed uses.
Previously, material stocks had presented a particular admin headache.
It was often difficult to ascertain exactly what stockholding levels of individual components and raw materials would be required to serve the company’s roster of customers, many of which had Kanban and ‘just-in-time’ call-off requirements.
There was also a need to hold stock to fulfil general customer orders.
Mr Page said: “The way PSL Datatrack calculates and records all this information means that we now stock much less material and just retain saleable stock.
“Orders are now flowing through the shopfloor and out of the door much more smoothly.
“We wouldn’t go back to our old time-consuming administration processes.
“We are in a position to win more engineering sub-contract work and continue to expand our robotic and bar feed operations, confident that PSL Datatrack will help us to succeed.”