Case Study: How Your Supplier Scales for Growth
Kylan Hastreiter – March 29, 2019
Most businesses like to write case studies that showcase their heroism or awesome successes their customers had by using them. This is not one of those case studies. Instead, this story is about the internals of the supplier, Hastreiter Industries. because the organs of the supplier ultimately determine how good they are for you. Understanding the inner workings of a supplier helps make a better determination of how good a match they are.
The words “Let’s get a new ERP,” can strike fear into even the most seasoned of managers, or at a minimum a groan, from knowing the implications thereof. Some of you readers might know exactly what I’m talking about. Enterprise Resource Planning systems often don’t have the best reputations and for good reason; for example a local machine shop spend $50,000 on a new system only to decide it was not a good fit and then could neither get their money back nor resell the software. However, part of your competitive advantage is ensuring your suppliers invest in innovative technology to stay current or ahead of the curve. Getting the right system and processes ensures efficiency and trace-ability of your product in production.
When Hastreiter was small, operations were naturally easy because everyone knew where everything was at, at any given moment. We even had (still do) a magical lead machinist that could rattle off the part number from a job completed six months; sure made tracking completed parts inventory easy. As Hastreiter started to rapidly grow, new organizational processes and data gathering techniques were required, particularly ones which would maintain and support the quality and service level which Hastrieter Industries prides itself on providing their customers.
While a smaller company can reduce the need for methods of communication across varied functions by having its employees wear multiple hats, a larger companies has specialized roles which case communication between roles must be streamlined. An ERP functions as such a communicator, tying each business function together. The more efficient the ERP, the more efficiently data and communications is managed, and less the time each employee must spend within the system is increased time for actual productivity.
Picking an ERP out amongst the endless options available is daunting, as the ramifications are significant; it touches nearly every corporate function. Hastreiter Industries evaluated and research 8 systems to such depth that one rep said, “I’ve never had someone be as thorough as you!”. Hastreiter eventually picked a system designed specifically for machine shops, called RealTrac.
The system was implemented so that it would handle a job from quote to invoice and everything in between. Material was automatically tracked, production times on each operation seamlessly recorded, exact costs were tracked for each job, and more. It formalized Hastreiter’s business operations and created the foundation and trace-ability required for being an ISO 9001 and AS9100 certified machine shop, which is a critical component of efficient, documented, and scale-able processes for a machine shop. (are the certifications the critical components, or the formalized operations?)
Since Hastreiter Industries got RealTrac in December 2016, to March 2019, they have quadrupled in personnel. When surveying their customers, customers had not felt any drop in service, thus marking success in Hastreiter’s principal goal of in ensuring the continuance of high quality service while setting themselves up for an ever more capable machine shop.
Hastreiter Industries focuses on long term plans to ensure operational improvement and sustainability, creating supply chain certainty for each customer; while the scale-ability of operations enables Hastreiter to grow with their customers.
The reason for adding the CMM comes from a wonderful problem Hastreiter Industries had. The machined parts that Hastreiter could manufacture, with 5 axis CNC mills, were so complex that they could not be measured by traditional measuring tools such as calipers or micrometers. Imagine we produced a double helix, like what a DNA strand has. How do you verify the geometry? The answer: the coordinate measuring machine (CMM) we purchased in December of 2017.
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