Invera Corp. software handles all of Calstrip Industries' activities

"This has allowed us to keep our administrative costs low as we have grown." Ed Camden, Calstrip

Above: Stratix's features include slitter and cut-to-length setup functions, toll processing and  shipment planning—all online.

January 2019 - To operate efficiently, service centers want software that tracks a wide range of material grades and sizes, shipments, orders and value-added processes. And while systems designed for general manufacturing sometimes seem adequate at the outset, they are often not up to the task.

In 2015, Calstrip Industries, which handles hot-rolled, cold-rolled and coated sheet and coil, implemented Stratix ERP software from Invera Corp. Before that, says COO Ed Camden, the company was using “older ERP software that was designed for a manufacturing facility, not a metals service center.”

Although that prior software package had several custom modules installed to handle service center processes like slitting, oscillate winding, cut-to-length and packaging, the customization caused the software to be “frozen in time,” Camden says. “We were unable to accept updates from the software provider because these custom modules were not compatible with newer versions of the software.”

Mira Loma, California-based Calstrip began looking to upgrade its system as part of an expansion plan. “There was no way to grow the company with the software we were using, so we had to make a change,” Camden recalls. “We evaluated four ERP options, including Invera’s Stratix software.”

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Online production planning enables Calstrip to consume less paper. From the production planning screen, multiple order items can be highlighted and combined to create one job.

Out-of-the-box functionality

Invera has been developing metal center software for over 30 years, and its Stratix and eStelplan products have been adopted by more than 13,000 users worldwide. “The modules in Stratix are customized to the service center business,” Camden says. “There is good functionality for all of our processes. There are also tight controls as well. Since we implemented Stratix, we have had nearly perfect annual physical inventories at all locations. This year, three warehouse locations and our off-site inventory were all perfect. The final location had one tag error, resulting in less than $20 in variance.”

Calstrip’s system includes a full complement of Stratix features, such as online production planning, online slitter and cut-to-length setup functions, shop-floor receipt of goods, shop-floor production recording and packaging with bar code scanning, toll processing and online shipment planning. Stratix is hosted in the cloud, so running and administering the software requires very little management time, notes Peter Doucet, vice president of sales for Invera.

“As far as system maintenance, we elected to have Invera host our servers,” Camden adds. “When new versions of the software are released, Invera sends an overview describing the changes. Once we greenlight them to update our software, they do it over a weekend, and on Monday morning, we have the newest version.”

Paperless planning

Because the majority of Calstrip’s business is contract sales, the company can streamline that process by using the contract management features in Stratix, including Stratix CPS, which controls customer specifications and tolerances; Stratix PPS, which ensures purchased materials meet Calstrip’s specifications and tolerances; and a blanket orders and releases module, which tracks customer commitments and contract position.

“About 90 percent of our shipments are made from pre-cut, just-in-time stock for large OEM customers,” Camden notes. “The Stratix inventory management tools help us keep the correct amount of JIT stock for our customers, allowing them to significantly reduce their on-hand inventory. The Order Status function allows our customer account managers to instantly give their customers an accurate status of any in-process orders. And, through the Stratix customer portal, our customers can also look at pre-cut stock, tag by tag, and see the exact status of any open release.”

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The Non-Conformance Reporting function helps manage com-plaints and claims, recording faults and reasons for later analysis.

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When products are ready to be shipped, employees can use a load verification mobile function, scanning the bar-coded tags as they are loaded on the truck to ensure only the right items are loaded and that no item is left behind, Doucet says.

There’s also a Non-Conformance Reporting function that manages complaints and claims by collecting faults and reasons and tracking the non-conformance life cycle from initial report to resolution. Reviewing this data allows users to pinpoint reasons for the breakdown and take steps to address issues so they don’t recur.

The tags also enable employees to record production. Multiple order items can be grouped together to create a single slitting job, and the operator can specify parameters, such as arbor layout, OD breaks and additional slitting-specific functions. 

Stratix is a big system, so there’s a lot to learn, Camden says. However, Invera’s library of manuals and video training tools has helped Calstrip ensure that its employees are getting the most out of the system. “The software is pretty intuitive. Once you get used to how the screens are arranged and the general functions in one module, it’s easy to pick up another module.”

Ready for growth

In addition to the California facility, Calstrip Industries has service centers in Santa Teresa, New Mexico, and Mission, Texas. “We have a new plant under construction in Hickman, Arkansas, that will come online in 2019,” Camden says.

Stratix is designed to support multi-branch operations, so it is easy to add new facilities and administer them on-site or remotely. “We are using the EDI functions available with Stratix to handle almost all of our receiving and some of our order entry and invoicing,” Camden says. “This has allowed us to keep our administrative costs low as we have grown.

“Stratix handles multiple branches very well,” he adds, “allowing us to start up new operations by doing many of the administrative functions remotely from existing plants.

As a result, Calstrip has been able to maintain “tight controls on processes and inventory” during its expansion, Camden says. “We have grown without adding administrative support functions proportionally. The software has been reliable, and the updates have been innovative. Invera’s support has been great. In short, it accomplished all of our goals, and we are extremely pleased with the product.” MM


Calstrip Industries
Mira Loma, California
Invera Corp.
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