Maximizing margins

Tailored to specific needs, manufacturers can quote, process and ship with ease while planning for the future

Above: Dalsin Industries performs sheet metal fabrication, welding, stamping, laser cutting, punching, machining and mechanical assembly.

Tailored to specific needs, manufacturers can quote, process and ship with ease while planning for the future

April 2018 - Overhauling internal infrastructure to switch to new software was daunting for Dalsin Industries Inc., a full service contract metals manufacturer. “We needed a way to quote multiple quantities at one time, easily create and change sales jobs and orders, and be able to tailor certain software features to best fit our needs,” says Jeff Dalsin, IT business analyst. “We had tried another software option but found it so [restrictive] that we decided it was worth the hassle of setting up a new software system from the ground up.”

Consultants from Epicor helped Bloomington, Minnesota-based Dalsin set up and implement the software. “They came in for about two weeks straight and then after that on a weekly basis in order to answer any questions and make sure everything was moving in the right direction and help tailor the software to our needs,” Dalsin says.

The company, which performs sheet metal fabrication, welding, stamping, laser cutting, punching, machining and mechanical assembly, needs to easily tailor the software it uses because each department requires targeted information to ensure orders are produced and out the door on time and without error.

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An easy-to-navigate home page allows users to quickly access information including categories such as manufacturing, inventory, and shipping and returns.

“Epicor’s consultants worked with us so that we could alter the same report by creating separate dashboards, menu links, or add sections specific to departments like one for purchasing and a different version for shipping,” Dalsin says. “For example, we created a specific dashboard for shipping that alerts them when shipments are ready to go and what’s still waiting.”

Customers can personalize software using Epicor’s flexible framework to create code while not touching the system core. “Customers can create personalized scripts specific to their industry [and do so] at their own pace,” says Terri Hiskey, vice president of global product marketing—manufacturing, at Austin-based Epicor. “We’ve opened our coding framework up to make it easier for partners or customers to write industry-specific applications that leverage REST API documentation and samples, CSS/HTML/ Javascript code samples and packaged UI components. These apps then sit on top our ERP solution without having a consultant come in and charge [the customer fees] to write specialized code that would cost as much as the software itself.”

Critical quoting

Using Epicor, customers will be able to cost products in multiple ways. “In metals, the margin for profit is often so slim that you need to have visibility and control over where your inventory is,” Hiskey says. “Our ERP offers multiple layers of [for managing] costing options.”

Layers are defined at the company, supplier and part levels. The software breaks down how much it costs to create a part, from the raw material expense to the cost of assembly.

“If you’re not costing properly or not getting the best deal from your supplier, you won’t be able to compete,” Hiskey says. “You may not make as much margin as a result.”

Dalsin Industries also uses the software to create job reports to plan ahead. “We have a late job report so our managers can pay special attention [and] get jobs back on schedule,” Dalsin says. “They need to be constantly aware of what stage a job is in and whether it’s still on the floor, completed, or if a customer needed something changed. The dashboard makes that easy to see.”

The precision metal manufacturer provides customers with schedules; the goal is always to try and get a job out on time or sooner. “The software helps us identify where we can shuffle things around to get an order out on Tuesday instead of Thursday. And no matter what, we can tell them exactly when we expect to have a job upfront.”

Epicor’s software links every one of Dalsin’s processes on the shop floor. “We use advanced material management on the floor,” Dalsin says. “We had to coordinate material handling and shipping just right and before Epicor, we had internal commotion at times trying to locate where parts were stored.”

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Epicor consultants worked with Dalsin Industries to create separate dashboards and menu links, or add sections specific to different departments like purchasing or shipping.

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Best impressions

Customer-centric service is also a premier consideration. Manufacturers are adjusting their own selling methods to achieve the quick turnaround and instant gratification of an Amazon-like experience.

“Customers are demanding and want their order how they want it and quickly,” Hiskey says. “Manufacturers as a result are shifting from a one-size fits all inventory to servicing each customer’s specific demands. A made-to-order model is difficult for some of the other ERPs out there that don’t support these models. We offer the ability to mix different modes of manufacturing.”

Software users like Dalsin have more freedom and flexibility to respond to a stronger customer voice. “Businesses need to be able to give their customers the option to configure what they want and order specific parts and the manufacturer needs to be able to process these orders quickly,” Hiskey says. “We can help make the back and forth between customer and distributor easier to manage.”

Previously, Dalsin used a process with a lengthy paper trail. “Before using an ERP, we had to send a physical sheet of paper to the floor and if you needed to check on something you’d have to go down the floor and find it,” he recalls. “Now everything is linked to a job number. You can find out the last time you made a part for the customer, how you made it, and when it shipped out. If things aren’t going the way you want, you can go into the system and change it quickly without backtracking—looking for that sheet of paper. It takes minutes instead of hours and that time saved is critical.”

On the purchasing side, Epicor software helps Dalsin calculate when to order parts in order to receive them on time. “It makes it easier for our purchasing department to review that day’s jobs,” he says. “Instead of getting a bunch of jobs going today, it sums it up how many pounds of steel you need and when you can deliver it.”

Often, Dalsin Industries’ customers are working to satisfy their own downstream supply chain so reliability is essential. “They have to get their purchase orders out to fulfill their promises to subcontractors to keep the supply chain moving.”

Epicor’s ERP software allows quicker turnaround as well as analysis to help provide customers with the lowest price.

“If we’re able to get it out faster, our ERP system will let us know and will alert us to any price breaks we can offer our customers,” Dalsin says. “This is important because we’re in it for the long term and do what we can to help our customers.” MM


Dalsin Industries Inc.
Bloomington, Minnesota
Austin, Texas
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