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Production Control Software Supports Jig And Tool Manufacture

production control software supports

Finding readily adaptable ‘off-the-shelf’ production management software for special machine building and jig and tool manufacture is not easy. Brown and Holmes (Tamworth), however, became the first jig and tool company to use the PSL Datatrack system, which provided well-supported production control modules for the complex operation.

Brown & Holmes (B & H) produces customised work holding fixtures, builds special production machinery and is the UK agent for Forkardt precision chucking systems. Founded originally in 1939 by the Brown and Holmes families, the company was acquired by today’s owners in 2003, with Carl Baker and Kevin Ward as joint Managing Directors.  Today, B & H employs around 48 personnel, including 32 on the shop floor. Annual turnover is around £3.5 million.

Introducing production control software came in early when a local IT consultant developed in-house computer software to replace, as Carl Baker said, “A very good paper-based system.”  Problems arose when the ‘IT man’ changed career. “The system had run very well for four years,” said Carl Baker. “But without the guy who had written the system we suddenly had no IT support.  Production control is the key to our successful operation, and we therefore had to look for a replacement, specifically an off-the-shelf system if possible”

In 2002, Carl Baker’s team had narrowed production control software suppliers down to three.  One provider was PSL Datatrack of Bracknell, Berkshire. “PSL Datatrack showed us some existing users, mostly producing higher volume batches than we were used to.  But we could see a promise of flexibility and tailoring,” said Carl Baker. “We knew that as the system stood it was not ideal, but it could be easily and readily tailored to our needs. We also noted that the software undergoes constant improvements and was competitive in price.”

Carl Baker explained: “We wanted a ‘user-friendly and easy-to-learn production control software system that would not stop day-to-day business during the learning period. Our operation was too big for an excel based system and we felt it would take ‘an age’ to bed in a larger MRP/ERP type system in an operation like ours.  This, and the flexibility of design of the software, is why our ultimate decision to purchase PSL Datatrack was made.”

As Carl Baker also explained, the jig and tool and special machine building business varies constantly.  Very few manufacturing jobs are similar and rarely repeat.  Some workholding fixtures may need a lot of special machining and assembly.  They may be made up partly from machined parts, standard components and ‘bought out’ items. So over a period of time, it is very difficult to achieve any kind of proper balance on the shop floor between the different machining processes.

An example is a three-face, hydraulic clamping, workholding fixture ‘cube’ for three separate workpiece holding positions.  At the quotation stage, the engineering team, including jig and tool designers would agree the best solution.  They would discuss details like workpiece locations, orientation, clamping systems and perhaps whether the workpiece needed slight modification to simplify location and clamping.

From this, the quotation would be entered into the PSL Datatrack system and a proposal sent to the customer. Following an order, a detailed CAD drawing would be produced and process layouts for every manufactured part input into PSL Datatrack.  This PSL Datatrack information would then produce work orders for use on the shop floor to book manufacturing time, allowing comparison between actual costs and calculated costs.  At B & H the system also controls the purchasing function as well as producing delivery notes and invoices.

In addition to their many manufacturing customers companies, B & H also produces fixtures and work holding systems for major machine tool companies providing ‘turnkey’ systems (machine tools plus fixtures, handling systems), such as NCMT and Mori-Seiki.

Most of the CNC machine tools used by B & H are integrated into the PSL Datatrack system. ” In addition, all our toolmakers are skilled in at least two disciplines,” explained Carl Baker. “We have a core of toolmakers and machinists who can move around the shop floor. Some men can switch from prismatic machining to grinding, and then to turning, which minimises bottlenecks in production.  Our investment in training three graduate design staff and two current apprentices is further evidence of our commitment to customer support through relevant skills.”

Over half of the machine tools used are CNC, including multi-axis turning and milling, jig-boring and large bed surface grinding.  Also linked into PSL DataTrack is the co-ordinate measuring machine where the company's quality engineers also book inspection time into PSL Datatrack. This, together with on-going investment in new machine tools, keeps B&H at the forefront of technology and competitiveness.

Production data is entered into PSL Datatrack daily to provide accurate end-of-job costing which, together with purchased items such as material, subcontract and finishing operations, ensures we constantly monitor our production effectiveness and estimating procedures.

At present, B & H operates 10 seats with PSL Datatrack running in Microsoft Windows XP and Windows7. “We occasionally throw challenges at PSL Datatrack,” said Carl Baker. For example, B & H recently acquired the UK agency for Forkardt precision chucks, collets and mandrels. “We wanted to separate the Forkardt operation from the jig and tool operation, using different customer codes,” said Carl Baker. Work measurement, margins and sales levels had to be separated too. “PSL Datatrack very quickly tailored the system enabling us to run virtually two businesses with a single system.”

In addition to the jig and tool and Forkardt operations, PSL Datatrack has helped B&H through the recent recession by keeping the operation lean, controlling purchasing costs and giving instant feedback on operating costs. It also enhanced the company’s ability to support new markets such as Aerospace and Power Generation, resulting in membership of the Midlands Aerospace Alliance, a vastly increased customer base and a rapid recovery from the recession. All of this was achieved without any redundancy and without the need for additional management personnel.

In conclusion, Carl Baker commented: “For me, the system we chose is right, and PSL Datatrack has developed their systems in line with our development of our business. The software is flexible enough to be tailored to suit our changing needs, communication between our companies is excellent and they have proved themselves to have a good understanding of our business.”

Datatrack_Production_Control_Software_Supports_Brown_Holmes.pdf

  • Highly Efficient System

    Accurate generation of quotations in single or multiple batch sizes"First and foremost, we are a product manufacturer and PSL Datatrack was already proven as a highly efficient system, being used extensively in a number of complex engineering businesses and batch assembly operations similar to our own."

    Nick Wilson, ANR Manufacturing Ltd

     
  • Absolute peace of mind

    Production control for manufacturers maintaining or seeking ISO accreditation"Our PSL Datatrack system ensures our deliveries match our promises and the traceability of materials and documentation gives our customers absolute peace of mind."

    Ken Turner, Turner Precision Engineering (Aus) Pty Ltd

     
  • One of the Best Investments

    Datatrack provides effective, efficient control of all planning and production functions"We chose Datatrack as the software system to manage and bring together our production and administration systems. It's one of the best investments we have ever made."

    John Clark, Chartway

     
  • Entire Business at our Fingertips

    Datatrack is designed for managing both small and medium manufacturing businesses"When we bought PSL Datatrack, we got a system that we could use quickly, does everything we ask of it and more and now we have our entire business at our fingertips."

    Jason Nicholson, Unicut Precision Ltd

     
  • Our auditor was impressed

    PSL Datatrack is used by many ISO registered companies"We bought PSL Datatrack in anticipation of starting the process of becoming ISO 9001 registered to help us get better organised. Within six months of having Datatrack installed we had approval with zero non compliances. Our auditor was impressed with how quickly and easily everything flowed from one module to another."

    Russell Thackray, Bernard Holmes Precision Ltd

  • Impossible without PSL Datatrack

    PSL Datatrack provides the ability to create quotations faster than the competition"The administration behind the manufacturing of a wide variety of engineered plastics parts in many different batch sizes for many different customers would have been impossible without PSL Datatrack."

    Jonathan Newis, Plastic Turned Parts 

     
  • Communication is Excellent

    The latest version of PSL Datatrack has benefited from nearly 30 years of experience in the manufacturing industry"For me, the system we chose is right, and PSL have developed their systems in line with our development of our business. The software is flexible enough to be tailored to suit our changing needs. Communication between our companies is excellent and they have proved themselves to have a good understanding of our business."

    Carl Baker, Brown & Holmes (Tamworth) Ltd

     
  • Readily adapted

    PSL Datatrack reduces the administrative time and paperwork burden"PSL Datatrack has left me free to run the business rather than be involved in it. It can be readily adapted to meet customers’ differing requirements."

    David McIlwain, Technoturn Ltd

     
  • Smooth and rapid progress of orders

    PSL maintains close contact with its customers, who can request system enhancements through an active wish list"I see us working with PSL Datatrack for many years to come. We have worked together for a long time and the way PSL Datatrack is set up ensures smooth and rapid progress of orders going through both our businesses. PSL Datatrack always supplies excellent service and back-up."

    Sarah Pennock, Daro Products Limited

     
  • Will grow with me

    A flexible, modular production control system"I have seen PSL Datatrack work highly effectively for a multi million pound turnover company with 60 employees and a far larger customer base than mine at present. I therefore know that the system will grow with me right into the future, taking care of the administration whilst I focus on the engineering and providing the best service to customers."

    Howard Sheldon, Sheldon Precision Engineering Ltd

     
  • Operating More Effectively

    Status Boards give dynamic information and instruction to management and the shop floor"'Status boards' improved employee awareness enormously and resulted in an improved overall performance. Now everyone is operating more effectively."

    Nick Groom, MD, Qualiturn Products Ltd

     
  • Essential to us

    Datatrack has a flexible, modular design and the ability to grow with a business"Datatrack has been essential to us and we'll continue to use it as an important element of improving our operations still further in the future."

    Phil Merison, Machining Technology (Mach-Tech) Ltd

     
  • Day to day support is excellent

    Running PSL Datatrack results in improved utilisation of machine tools"The combination of system flexibility and the day to day support we receive from PSL is excellent, helping us to maximise our investments – not just in PSL Datatrack, but also in the performance of our machine tools and production systems."

    Delan Loughney, Killala Precision Components Ltd

     
  • Price breaks easily managed

    The quotations module is flexible and time saving"We often get price break requests on the same part and before PSL Datatrack, these used to sit idle awaiting the effort required to work them out. The module has saved us a lot of time, and I’m confident we are winning more work because we are simply quoting more."

    Yian Stavrou, Sub-CNC Precision Ltd 

     
  • Our Pace

    PSL Datatrack comprises a series of core modules which can be extended to include a range of optional modules"We didn't need to buy all the modules from day one, since the system could progress at a pace to suit the business."

    David Proctor, DP Engineering

  • Accurate planning

    Datatrack provides fast and accurate reporting for informed decision making"Accurate planning on a day-to-day basis and in particular for the longer term, is helped because decisions can be made against factual information."

    Jason Nicholson, Unicut Precision Ltd

     
  • More efficient, competitive and professional

    Speed of order placing, raising enquiries, material allocations, traceability and generating certificates all improve with Datatrack"PSL Datatrack is making Hydrafeed more efficient, competitive and professional. We are in a position to win more engineering sub-contract work and continue to expand our barfeed operation, confident in the knowledge that PSL Datatrack will allow us to cope as it can be adapted easily to new requirements."

    Martyn Page, Hydrafeed Limited

     
  • Integral part of our operations

    Traceability of products throughout the production process is guaranteed"Datatrack is an integral part of our operations at Technoset Ltd. It supports our business in many facets and is particularly strong with traceability which is very important to Technoset and their customers."

    Kevan Kane, Technoset Ltd

     
  • Benefits are immeasurable

    PSL Datatrack aids high quality precision engineering"We have put our faith in the professionalism of PSL Datatrack and it is really paying off. I don't have to run or write the software anymore and can focus my time on the important management of our processes. Now we have the PSL Datatrack system, the benefits are immeasurable."

    Martin Presley, Williams & Oakey Engineering Co Ltd

     
  • On-time Deliveries

    PSL Datatrack helps businesses meet customer deadlines and compete profitably"Customer service with on-time deliveries, no rejects and repeat business remain the key factors. PSL Datatrack helps us to achieve these goals."

    Stephen Weiss, Managing Director, Maylan Limited

     
  • Control & Traceability is Second to None

    Traceability from quotation to invoice"We liked the way PSL Datatrack could be tailored to our specific needs from the beginning and also gave us the option to expand into different modules as and when we wished.  The way the system flows and the control and traceability we have over our work is now second to none."

    Lewis Lockwood, RDL Technologies Ltd 

     
  • Stream Lined Delivery

    Complete component stocks controlled together with material traceability"The facility to have accurate data, a complete component stock list, and a stream-lined delivery process was very appealing."

    George Dingley, Sub-CNC Precision Ltd 

     
  • Would recommend it to other SMEs

    Efficient Production Control adds value by minimising the burden of administration and therefore reducing overheads"We are happy with PSL Datatrack and would recommend it to other SMEs. The initial hard work has paid off and we are now a tighter more efficient unit. PSL Datatrack have been absolute rocks in terms of the support they have given us."

    Paul McCann, Bluebell Opticom Ltd

     
  • Efficient multi-currency invoicing

    Multi-currency provides automatic calculations to/from foreign currencies"PSL Datatrack enabled us to implement changes to our invoicing methods efficiently - as when we introduced multi-currency invoicing including the US$ and the €uro."

    Barry Kirkpatrick, Demand Technology International Ltd

     
  • Foundation for our success

    PSL Datatrack is fast, flexible, precise and simple to use"PSL Datatrack helps to bring the whole operation together in an accessible, easy to use system that has provided the foundation for our continued success."

    Julie Fairclough, Fylde CNC Specialists Ltd

     
  • Status Boards are Key

    Dynamic status boards can be customised by PSL Datatrack to suit exact requirements"Key to success within the sub-contract industry is making components to the correct quality at the right time and a competitive price. PSL Datatrack has been, and continues to be, key in helping Qualiturn successfully manage these challenges."

    Nick Groom, Qualiturn Products Ltd

     
  • Excellent training and flexibility

    PSL Datatrack allows consistently on-time deliveries and greater customer satisfaction"PSL Datatrack has provided excellent training and the flexibility to address ND Precision Products’ specific requirements. Great reaction times to queries and ongoing support have resulted in a well nurtured relationship forming between our two companies."

    Nick Squire, N D Precision Products 

     
  • In a few clicks

    Fast, flexible search screens for rapid response to customer queries"PSL Datatrack delivers accurate information quickly. I can have a customer on the phone and in a few clicks, can solve his problem or mine."

    Roger Innes, INRO LLP

     
  • Slashed our Admin Times

    PSL Datatrack reduces administration time by generating shop floor paperwork such as process layouts"We have slashed our admin times - orders are now processed in minutes rather than hours, even for complex aerospace contracts"

    Rob Kendall, AIM Limited, Clevedon

     
  • Control vital admin functions

    Datatrack ensures that all this work is profitable and that businesses can easily recall details when repeat orders are received"Maintaining control of non-productive but vital admin functions is paramount. We could not maintain control without Datatrack."

    Pete Wells, Applied Drilling Systems Ltd

     
  • Very Happy with the System

    Additional PSL Datatrack modules can be purchased as required"PSL Datatrack continually develops new functionality for the software and good on-site support has been provided during the planning and implementation of training & new modules. I am very happy with the system and the huge amount of change we have implemented in the company over the past year which has been highly successful without any issues."

    Roger Williams, Seychell Engineering & Fabrication Ltd

     
  • How did we manage before?

    Ease of invoicing and transfer of data to accounts software"We can now retrieve any information at the push of a button. To be honest, it is difficult to see how we managed before we had Datatrack."

    Phil Smith, Wealdpark Ltd

     
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