ERP Software a Growth Anchor for Fabrication-Assembly Shop
Diversification is just as important for company managers as it is for individual investors. Both parties know it helps ensure growth without being dragged down by any one declining market sector.
Anchor Fabrication implemented a diversification strategy not long after launching in 1990. Since then, the company has grown to serve nearly every major industry from its 375,000-square-foot headquarters in Fort Worth, TX, as well as five other manufacturing facilities that encompass another 700,000 or so square feet.
While specializing in contract metal fabrication, Anchor also performs project management, engineering, plasma and laser cutting, welding, machining, forming, painting and product assembly. The latter often includes products used line-side on flatbed trailers, forklifts, campers and locomotives.
Flexibility is also important to the company, especially when it comes to scheduling orders and making needed changes to orders in process. Because of this, management at Anchor installed enterprise resource planning (ERP) software in 2007 made by Epicor Software Corp.
“Epicor can tailor software solutions to fit the needs of the customer,” says Steven Pybus, vice president of engineering at Anchor. “Most [other] ERP providers force customers to adapt to their software capabilities.”
Since 2007, the software has provided many benefits to Anchor. One of the most important is uniform acquisition of data on the company’s Microsoft SQL Server. This server allows employees at all six facilities to see complete customer histories and order details, resulting in better customer service.
“Anchor likes to inform employees with the most concise data and the best information possible for every job that goes to the floor,” notes Jason Davis, vice president of sales at Anchor. “Epicor really helps to keep all that information together in one spot.”
By 2014, Anchor was using version 10 of the software, and completing about 180,000 manufacturing and financial transactions annually. Two years later, the total exceeded 300,000, which was about four times the number it had been in 2010. Nevertheless, the software enables company personnel to seamlessly handle the extra work without the need to hire extra staff.
According to Hector Robles, vice president of manufacturing at Anchor, the updated ERP software allows the company to combine all work order data into a single job without the need for manual human entry. This reduces order planning costs by more than $100,000 each year.
On the production floor, workers are able to view the priority order of jobs and their specifications on-screen instead of checking with supervisors. This eliminates wasted time and increases the daily output of each operator.
“We’ve built [our] reputation on efficiency and quickly executing a variety of services,” says Robles. “During site visits, customers often tell us they appreciate our ability to quickly look up almost any particular part’s manufacturing history, along with the number of times we’ve built those specific parts.”
Last fall, Epicor released ERP 10.2.500. This latest version includes Epicor Collaborate, a cloud-based feature that streamlines team collaboration. The feature allows employees to easily interact with one another in a social media-inspired dashboard and newsfeed. Users can even ask each other questions and post project-progress updates.
The software also has an updated Epicor Virtual Agent. This AI-powered chatbot helps users to track order processes and purchase order approvals and to handle back-end automation. For more information on ERP software, call 800-999-6995 or visit www.epicor.com.