A leading Irish-based supplier to the electronics industry is so impressed with the Jobshop advanced production planning and control system, that they set it up at their American sister company as well.
The nature of Elite Electronic Systems’s specialist assembly work means its production process is a combination of automated, semi-automated and manual. But Planit Software’s Jobshop database system used by the management team to run the business gives them full control over every aspect of the company, and has streamlined their production and assembly processes.
“Jobshop is used by every department and almost all our 150 employees in Ireland,” says engineering manager Jackie Beresford. “It’s an absolutely major part of running the business smoothly and successfully. If we need to carry out maintenance on our server we have to do it outside normal working times to ensure everyone has access to vital Jobshop information regarding sales order processing, purchase orders, works orders, shop floor data capture, materials control, costings and reports when they need it.”
Based in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, Elite is a long-established Contract Electronics Manufacturer (CEM), providing a broad range of full turnkey contract electronics manufacturing services. Assembly capabilities include both conventional and surface mounted printed circuit boards, and wiring harnesses. And because Jobshop is such an essential part of their operation, it was also implemented at their plant in Winnsboro, South Carolina, when it opened in 2006. “Jobshop is used by all 45 staff there. When we generate something here, we simply email the information to them and it goes straight into Jobshop there, too. So we both have the same information in the same format. It makes running the business so much easier.”
Her next phase of using Jobshop is to utilise the functions they don’t currently use. “Our quotations and estimates need to contain a lot of different specific information for different customers, so we handle most of those outside Jobshop, but are intending to look at how we can bring these individual requirements into the system.”
At the moment, Jobshop starts with Sales Order Processing, and they have two methods of inputting – for some customers the order is manually typed into the system, while Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) is used where customers send orders on a spreadsheet. “When these are imported, Jobshop automatically creates an ‘orders in’ field, which saves a lot of keying in.”
This information, based on the orders generated, then forms their Materials Requirements Planning (MRP) run. “At the moment we run MRP once a week, which places orders, sorts the dates and ensures all our materials come in correctly.”
Elite find a big advantage of Jobshop’s Purchase Order function is that they don’t have to print and fax them to customers. “We simply email them, and it also means we have a record of them being sent, which is a major plus.” They use Jobshop’s core element, Works Orders, extensively, to control the progress of work through the manufacturing facility, where a full set of monitoring and tracking routines ensures their complete visibility, showing part numbers, manufacturing instructions, planned times, material requirements, delivery date and customer details.
A number of computer terminals are installed at various locations across the factory for Shop Floor Data Capture, providing users with instant access to accurate work-in-progress and costing information, while simultaneously minimising administrative input and clerical errors. The system provides full visibility of shop floor activity, including records of employee attendance and up-to-date production scheduling.
However, Jackie Beresford says they need to simplify their routings procedure before they can take full advantage of Jobshop’s powerful Scheduling tool. Based on the user’s definition of their own manufacturing facilities, the system provides the key to minimising work-in-progress, cutting lead times, improving quality and delivery performance, as well as reducing costs. “Our current shop floor processes mean we’re continuously amending the complete path each component takes from entering at Goods Inward to leaving the factory. We’re now looking to simplify these routings so we can make the best use of Scheduling.”
But one aspect that Elite makes maximum use of is Materials Control. Jobshop created a bespoke function in Materials Control specifically for Elite, which revolutionised how their stores work. “It created a ‘second store’ for us, because the system was previously bulk issuing up to 5,000 parts from our main store, ‘store one.’ Some of the kits we were putting together might only require 100 pieces, so the remainder had to be stripped off the machine afterwards and put back in the stores. Now, when parts arrive at the factory we reapply a number of them into store two, and Materials Control provides the assembly workers with parts from store two. It then runs a shortage sheet so we know to bulk issue any additional parts from store one, and we know what stocks store two has when we are reordering.”
Another area where Elite have capitalised on Jobshop’s bespoking service is with Crystal Reports. “This is a big, big, thing for us. With our previous system we were tied to reports that couldn’t provide the information we wanted, in the way we wanted it, but Crystal Reports give us what we want, how we want it. It’s a major part of how we use Jobshop -- everyone’s always looking for a Crystal Report for something.” Jackie Beresford says each department has a number of templates. “For example, in engineering we have templates for specific reports about materials, routings, costings, and, very importantly, because we need to comply with RoHS regulations -- Restriction of Hazardous Substances in electrical and electronic equipment – we have reports which keep a tally on which components are compliant.”
Jackie Beresford says as well as Jobshop being the core of their business, she also regards its support service as being the best she’s used. “On the few occasions I’ve needed to ring them they’ve been extremely knowledgeable and helpful, and have resolved the issue very quickly.”