In the next of a series of Q&A sessions with PSL Datatrack’s Managing Director, Geoff Gartland, here we consider the benefits of investment in and implementation of a production control software system.
As defined in the first article, production control software is exactly that – software for controlling your production. Companies considering investing in a system may have in mind some of the benefits they’d like to glean from it but as outlined below there are a huge number of additional benefits to consider and prioritise…
Is it designed specifically for their business? Many production control systems cover general manufacturing in a huge variety of industries. It is crucial that the system selected is actually designed with the needs of the user in mind, to enable them to gain the desired benefits and increase efficiency/productivity.
PSL Datatrack’s specific focus is on subcontract precision engineering businesses, typically seeking to achieve or maintain ISO accreditation. The system is suited to component manufacturers and subcontractors, manufacturers of make-to-order assemblies and companies assembling products from bills of materials (BOMs).
Is there a plan for implementing the software, in order to get the customer up and running as quickly and practically as possible? Implementations follow a typical sequence; however, they may vary as no two businesses are truly the same.
PSL Datatrack offers a concise Implementation Plan, designed for use in conjunction with a dedicated user training plan. The experience and background that users already have, coupled with the areas in the business the system is being implemented to control, are major factors in putting together a plan. It is essential that this takes these factors into account, whether the business has 1 or 100 employees.
Will they have to give up lots of time for training? Some production control software providers host full training days at their headquarters, which can actually impact on the day-to-day running of a business.
PSL Datatrack takes a different approach, with the knowledge of a typical day in the life of a subcontract precision engineer. We offer web-based training sessions, scheduled for a time that suits the customer and typically lasting no longer than one to two hours each. This means the customer does not have to give up the majority of their day for training, can make logical notes and, crucially, practice the elements learned in the time between the current and next session.
Will the system react and respond to ever changing industry requirements? The style of production and the manner in which business is conducted can vary between countries. Some factors may be legislative, others purely commercial, but it is important that such business-critical systems are able to handle these changes.
PSL Datatrack is based in Bracknell, Berkshire and all sales, support and development take place here. We take Wishlist requests from our customers and carry out bespoke development where necessary to ensure that the software is doing what it needs to for each and every customer. Although the majority of our customers are based in Britain, we have a number in Europe and so the system must be tailored accordingly.
Upgrades are made available to all users with a valid support contract, including lots of new features, reporting mechanisms and additional functionality.
Can they pick and choose which features they need? Some production control software systems are categorised as ‘one size fits all.’
In PSL Datatrack’s experience, however, very rarely does a company need each and every feature the software encompasses. We therefore offer a modular solution, comprising of a series of core modules which can be extended to include a range of optional modules, providing customers with a system scaled to suit their business and requirements without the distraction of unnecessary functions.
Customers can start with a compact package that grows as their business or requirements change. All new modules will interlink with those already in place, meaning you can take on more business without increasing administration.
Do they have to start from scratch, with a blank system? Some may need or wish to start with a clean slate, whilst others will have years of valuable business data to hand.
PSL Datatrack has vast experience and skill in importing useful data to help customers get their system up and running as quickly as is practical in these instances, meaning they continue to meet customer requirements as well as their own.
Will a system help to achieve or maintain industry accreditations? This is a clear benefit of taking on a system and one of the first things we ask when speaking to prospective customers.
After implementation of a PSL Datatrack system, many companies have realised multiple benefits including faster order placements, quicker fulfilment of enquiries, more efficient allocation of materials to jobs and a full traceability history, including the generation of certificates which are vital to so many industries including aerospace and defence.
ISO accreditation can also help companies to attract more work from larger organisations that they may not have previously dealt with. This is prevalent in the field of renewable energy where manufacturers and suppliers overwhelmingly insist that their suppliers have such accreditation.
Will the system be simple and easy for everyone to use? This is essential for any business taking on a new system and is why our bespoke training plan is so important, as it means training can be tailored for each user depending on their preferred method of learning.
Some PSL Datatrack users have gone live after as little as one day’s worth of training which is a testament to the logical, clear and well thought out approach our screens have, together with our thorough understanding of the requirements of a precision engineering business. Information needs to be at hand instantly in this industry and PSL Datatrack’s ease of lookup and centralised information points make that possible. No data should have to be owned by individuals, for example on a spreadsheet on their local PC.
What happens if requirements change? Can the functionality of the system be tailored to their needs? Customisation is key to any system to ensure it fits the business running it like a glove. Again, we know that no two subcontract precision engineering businesses are the same – each have their own nuances which make them and their methods unique.
PSL Datatrack can therefore be tweaked in many ways. At the most recent count, the system now totals in excess of 1500 configuration options. Rather than just straight yes/no settings, the majority of these options are able to be defined to work in a specific way, depending on the preference of the user. What is more, we can demonstrate the result before the customer makes the change to their live system, ensuring that the proposed modification categorically provides the end user with their desired outcome.
As mentioned earlier in this conversation, customers can request new functionality for these configuration options through PSL Datatrack’s active Wishlist system. The Wishlist system is also great for brand new customer ideas. Any ideas for future development can be submitted to a designated Wishlist email address as well as over the phone.
We can also commission new utilities if a customer has a ‘must have’ rather than a ‘nice to have’ requirement. In addition, standard reports can be customised to show data in a unique way for that user.
To conclude? Most businesses considering investment in production control software know that they want to save administration time, meet deadlines efficiently and achieve or maintain industry accreditations such as ISO 9001 or AS9100.
However, there are so many other benefits to consider, such as whether implementation and training will be provided and that the system will be truly suited to them. We are confident that we can meet your needs and turn some of the benefits discussed above into real, powerful and valuable data whilst managing your entire business and maintaining long-lasting working relationships.