Some 13 years after its initial investment in PSL Datatrack production control software, St Helens-based www.wealdpark.co.uk
Wealdpark Ltd continues to benefit from the versatility of a system that transformed the company's production control.
It was the looming 2008 financial crisis that was the catalyst for the decision to invest in a package that could control the day-to-day running of the business in a way that no amount of manual administration could ever achieve.
Wealdpark is a leading sub-contract manufacturer of precision turned and machined components. At the time, the company’s procedure for the generation of quotations, works orders and purchase orders required data to be input manually and repeatedly into Excel spreadsheets.
This information then had to be entered into an accounts program for invoicing and financial recording. The whole process was long-winded, prone to error and was not giving the level of control that was needed to get through the recession.
The prudent and timely decision was made to look at different production control software systems as an alternative approach. The demonstration by Berkshire-based PSL Datatrack
Wealdpark director Phil Smith said: “Their demo mirrored our existing manual administration processes. It showed that the information that we had been laboriously putting into spreadsheets could be accomplished much more quickly and accurately with the software package.
“This included generating quotations as well as works and purchase orders, which would then lead automatically into the customer invoicing process and the critical management of our quality assurance procedures.”
He continued: “The initial quotation is the key to everything. There are many variables that need to be considered for a quote including machining and cycle times, material types, quantities, costs and additional processes that may be required from different suppliers, such as heat treatment and plating, as well as swarf reclamation prices.”
The software automatically estimates the selling price based on all the cost variables and can then raise a professional quotation letter within seconds, ready to be emailed to the customer. Purchase orders for sub-contractors and material suppliers are also handled accurately and based upon the requirements set out in the quotation.
After confirmation of a customer order, the paperwork required for the shop floor to manufacture a part is a printed works order in the form of a process layout, an engineering drawing and inspection report sheets. A process layout sets out the machining requirements of any batch of components to be produced as well as the material type, quantity needed and stock availability.
The difference that PSL Datatrack has made to Wealdpark’s multi-faceted production process has been proven year upon year. The company has a complex business and getting the administration right first time is absolutely essential. With customers from many industries including aerospace, automotive, electrical, medical, oil and gas, power generation, security and white goods sectors, different batches may be manufactured at any given time to exacting standards on the company’s complement of CNC sliding and fixed head lathes and vertical machining centres. Steel, brass, stainless steel, aluminium, copper, plastics and super alloys are commonly used.
Subsequent investment in the ‘Status Board’ system has brought further control to production as real time order status information is displayed and available to everyone. The display clearly shows which works orders are scheduled and due at any given time, allowing adjustments to production processes to be made as necessary.
The company also invested in the ‘Gauge Calibration’ module which has replaced the spreadsheets that were being used to monitor gauges and instruments. This module was seamlessly integrated alongside existing PSL Datatrack modules and has allowed the company to set recalibration requirements for any gauge based on its specific number of uses or a set time period.
Reporting shows the calibration status of every gauge in the system and any upcoming calibration requirements are easily identified. The module is particularly useful when BSI audits are due.
As a BS EN ISO 9001:2015 registered company, a major strength is providing a high-quality service that includes a commitment to supplying defect-free products, manufactured with full traceability. Traceability information can be accessed by auditors at the click of a button rather than having to wade through reams of hard copy records. Audits are no longer a full day visit.
While Wealdpark has not considered the specific financial return on investment in PSL Datatrack, Mr Smith has no doubts about its value. “PSL Datatrack has made our lives so much easier and streamlined the management of the company. A lot of our business comes from recommendation and PSL Datatrack makes sure everything is right.
“Any of our three directors can log in and see exactly how we are performing. From a personal viewpoint, as a past president of the BTMA, PSL Datatrack’s impact on the day-to-day running of the business freed up the time for me to focus on that important role too.”