The COVID-19 pandemic has globally challenged most businesses in one way or another. The standard method of taking an order, obtaining materials, scheduling production, and delivering on time has been turned upside down. However, in the midst of this challenge, a new opportunity has emerged. “Now is the time to adapt to this environment with nimble, flexible tools and resources,” says Jim Convis, VP of User Solutions, as he reflects on the new wave of change. “The pandemic has accelerated this new paradigm. Manufacturers must deal with demand and manage available resources. However, it can be extremely difficult to reconfigure existing ERP systems on the fly to accommodate the new normal.”
User Solutions was born in the early ‘90s to address the need for a simple, affordable approach to solve many manufacturing challenges, especially for smaller manufacturers that could not justify needing a formal ERP system. The company started out with a simple Spreadsheet MRP system that evolved to purpose-built software tools, including EDGE (Enhanced Drag and drop Graphical Environment), a visual, intelligent “white board” approach to interacting with production schedules. Today, their solutions are available as add-ons to existing ERP offerings or running standalone that allows affordable planning, scheduling, and tracking for flexibility and rapid implementation.
With over 20 years of innovation in the ERP enhancement industry, User Solutions’ success is attributable to the vision to bring an authentic passion for manufacturing that flows through their organization and customers, coupled with great patience and empathy. To this day, the company stands true to its philosophy of welcoming trends that challenge the status quo of ERP in manufacturing. “The ERP industry has witnessed the influx of technologies such as SaaS, mobility, and AI. There is great risk in implementing technology for technology’s sake. User Solutions strives to balance the skill set and needs of our customers with the best available technology,” Convis explains. “An example of this is providing a production report on a tablet, leveraging Excel in the Cloud, or using touch screens to update production schedules.”
User Solutions’ ERP enhancement products elevate users’ ERP systems with detailed production planning, scheduling, and tracking solutions. Further, these solutions can be adapted to customers’ specific processes to achieve production efficiencies, minimize learning curves, and make the optimal use of resources. By implementing its Resource Manager-DB (RMDB) integrated with ERP, users can model a more realistic and optimum production schedule to manage any combination of materials, labor, workcenters, and machines.
For example, Viking Forge, LLC, is an Ohio-based state-of-the-art, high volume, custom forging company known for producing high precision carbon, alloys, micro-alloy, and stainless steel forging. They approached User Solutions to achieve visibility on orders and accuracy in predicting promise dates. Viking’s business is primarily associated with make-to-order parts that are forecasted months into the future and are subject to varying demands and changes by their customers. The company needed more accurate promise dates, a boost in production efficiency, reduced inventory overhead, and higher visibility to speed up orders upon request. To address this challenge, they needed a system that could factor in plant floor realities such as finite capacity constraints, alternate work centers, and maintenance/downtime. Additionally, the ERP system “front loads” the buying of material based solely on standard, pre-forecasted demand, resulting in carrying expensive inventory, like rolled steel bars, much longer than needed. Finally, there was no easy method to translate the MRP Schedule into an easy-to-understand, accurate, graphical view for the production floor.
User Solutions was able to adapt their Resource Manager-DB, a core scheduling offering, to leverage the customers’ existing MRP data. “They took our operational standards [setup and cycle times for presses, process lead times, inventory, and MRP considerations] and then applied finite capacity constraints plus priorities for customer promise dates in order to create a viable schedule,” says Roger Koeberle, President of Viking Forge.“With the correct schedule, RMDB then seamlessly updates our ERP to run MRP, achieving Just in Time materials management. This results in significantly decreased inventory carrying costs.”
Furthermore, User Solutions’ EDGE helped the customer to display the final schedule in a simple, intuitive, graphical interface and facilitate last minute tweaking that typically reflects real time adjustments via mouse clicks or touch screen moves, just like a visual, intelligent white board. “With RMDB and EDGE, for the first time we can accurately quote viable promise dates and meet them. It is totally refreshing to work with an organization that is willing to adapt their offerings to fit our needs, rather than the other way around,” says Roger.
At User Solutions, the objective has always been to empower customers in manufacturing with better production planning, scheduling, and tracking tools as they yield major benefits and return on investment. “RMDB and EDGE can greatly reduce burden costs while improving accurate quoting lead times leading to vastly improved deliveries. Further, it can foster effective communication on what to do and when within each work area.” According to Convis, “With User Solutions, users do not have to learn a new process or system; our products integrate with their current structure, adapt to how they already work, and produce an organized and effective mode of managing their operations.”