Surrey-based Seaborne Plastics has implemented K3 Business Technology Groups JobBOSS make-to-order manufacturing system. Benefits have included increased productivity and visibility of sales orders and company activities, improved information trading around the company and various quality control benefits.
Seaborne Plastics is a trade moulding company that specialises in the manufacture of high quality vacuum and pressure formed components to an accuracy normally associated with injection moulding. Applications cover all types of industry and include headlight covers for Virgin trains, windscreens for powerboats and a range of complex machinery covers moulded in all types of plastics materials. In short, Seaborne can do anything that can be produced from a flat sheet via a thermoforming process. The company employs 50 people at its factory in Cranleigh, Surrey.
For a number of years the company had been using a computerised production control system designed by a small software company specifically for the plastics manufacturing industry, but future support and development for the DOS-based system was becoming less certain. In addition, the company wanted to invest in the latest technology in line with its automation strategy.
Seaborne's Managing Director Martin Bollands, commented: We looked at many packages on the market and shortlisted those from K3 Business Technology Group, Swan and a number of other suppliers before selecting K3s JobBOSS package. We chose JobBOSS because it is comprehensive, well thought out, logical and easy to use. It is also fully integrated and easy to find historical data for quotation purposes, and information can be displayed on the screen quickly without having to go through menu after menu. We also wanted a system that is known throughout the industry and would be supported for years ahead."
Other factors on the companys requirements list included:
Ease of use of visual scheduler
Ability to handle complex scheduling - multi-route and multi-impression mouldings
Ability to handle quotes, estimates and orders with different routes and different materials depending upon batch sizes
Ability to store material and process details against specific batches to enable duplication of repeat orders from historic data
General close match to business
Supplier & software pedigree and proximity
JobBOSS for Windows is designed for the jobbing make-to-order marketplace and features advanced ERP functionality, combined with open system technologies, and is a fully integrated shop management system which helps control every aspect of the manufacturing operation. Core modules include quote and order processing, shop floor and material control, labour reporting, cost analysis, system administration and data collection.
When Seaborne first installed the system in 2001 it reaped many benefits just by changing over from DOS to Windows technology. Windows is user-friendly and easy to navigate with the mouse, and there are many familiar Windows features that users find very helpful. These include an intuitive user interface, the ability to multi-task and to have more than one window open at a time. There is also a variety of data search, printing, cut and paste and email functions that weren't available with DOS.
In the last year the company has implemented the AlertBOSS module of the system and is achieving further benefits. AlertBOSS automates the process of running reports and proactively informs users and customers by email of the latest status of all areas, based on user-defined criteria. AlertBOSS can run any industry standard Crystal Report and email task/action lists on a regular basis in formats such as PDF, Word and Excel. It is very specific and focused on the people who really need the information. Sales Director Shaun Hamill comments: AlertBOSS makes everyone in the company aware of what is happening and alerts and prompts them on a need-to-know basis to make their jobs easier.
"JobBOSS is extremely comprehensive," he adds. "It covers everything from quote processing, costing, materials availability, job cards and office administration, and parts tracking all the way through to invoicing and despatch. The system has given us much greater visibility of orders and activities throughout the business. Routings, materials and operation set-up information are readily available on the job cards as they travel through the work centres, generally eliminating guesswork and making the operators lives easier, adds Shaun Hamill.
Information trading around the company has greatly improved and when we talk to a customer on the phone all the history and information is immediately to hand. This enables us to give an instant response in terms of prices and deliveries, particularly plastics material prices which can be very volatile.
Quality Manager Keith Smyth is a member of the JobBOSS User Group and his observations and comments have helped in the development of the latest release of the system. He says: From a quality point of view the system helps us in a number of ways. Crystal Reports is extremely flexible and enables us to pull out just about any information we need. Previously, our key process measures were collected manually and it took a long time to get all the information together, but now it is readily available. We also use the Lot Traceability feature, which is based on our GRN number, for tracing material suppliers, and a reporting/feedback facility enables us to maintain product repeatability for parts such as those for Virgin trains which we have been producing for many years.
Being a small company, and not having a high level of in-house IT expertise, we have been impressed with K3s commitment to service and support. When we have a query they seem to remember a persons degree of knowledge and talk to them at the right technical level.
JobBOSS is integrated with the Sage financial accounting system, and Seaborne has recently upgraded from a six to eight-users licence for JobBOSS. The software is continuing to complement the companys heavy investment in toolroom and shop floor automation in the form of Geiss plastics forming machinery, CNC machines and CAD computer systems in the drawing office.