Leading engineering subcontractor Automatic Industrial Machines Ltd (AIM) started utilising PSL Datatrack production control software back in 1999. The company could not have envisaged then that the system would still be playing a crucial role within the business some 21 years later.
The ongoing enhancements to the system keep it up-to-date, maintaining the customer’s investment and providing stable business management. It continues to provide all necessary controls for AIM's complex production needs, especially for customers in the aerospace industry. AIM’s aerospace capabilities include one-off jobs, small to medium batch work, long-term customer contracts and the manufacture of complex sub-assemblies.
“PSL Datatrack has grown with us,” says Managing Director Rob Kendall. “Over the years the requirements to manage our business as efficiently as possible have changed. Our customers have given us new manufacturing challenges and the PSL Datatrack team has always risen to them by customising our system and recommending new modules to meet our needs. The support has been first class.”
With its ability to manage the entire production process, from the generation of quotations right through to final invoices, PSL Datatrack has given AIM greater control over all aspects of its business. Live status updates, the provision of management information including full breakdown of machining costs and reporting on individual customer turnover means the company can continuously assess the strengths and potential weaknesses of its business model.
Working in the aerospace sector (the company has ISO 9001 and AS 9100 accreditation alongside various customer approvals) means traceability is paramount. The production control software that deals with customer orders and production processes must therefore be watertight. PSL Datatrack stores all historic transactions relating to the production of any component for any customer. This includes full traceability of all materials and subcontract services, in-depth route cards, inspection reports and the generation of Certificates of Conformity (COCs).
Information is readily available for any client or external audit and AIM has received praise from a number of customers for the system it has in place. “We've been told we set the traceability standard for some of our customers' other suppliers. That is great news not only for us, but also for PSL Datatrack in the way that they have helped us achieve this recognition," continues Rob.
AIM's ability to quickly quote and process a large number of orders has been central to the company's success which has seen steady growth since establishment in 1972. PSL Datatrack enabled them to achieve this alongside handling calculation of all costs from suppliers, including materials and external processes such as anodising.
Material costs are automatically tracked and updated, if necessary, for future quotation and purchasing purposes. AIM has seen the number of live part numbers it deals with rise from around 120 to 900 and has evolved towards producing smaller batches. With more part numbers and the requirement to produce components in aluminium, carbon fibre, steels and titanium, the need for well-maintained production control software with ongoing development to provide new features is critical.
Since 2011, AIM has become even more involved with the production of complex assemblies for the aerospace industry. PSL Datatrack manages the demand of parts for these jobs, which are made both in-house and by external suppliers, through its scheduling module. AIM also has a number of long-term repeat customers and the management of stock to ensure delivery requirements are met is also managed by PSL Datatrack.
Rob comments that without the system AIM would probably have had to employ an extra three office administrators. “The beauty of PSL Datatrack is that over the years it has shown us what business we can manage and gives us the flexibility to adjust our production routines accordingly. We can manage lead and delivery times closely and this ensures our customers are fully informed.”
Over the years, PSL Datatrack has customised elements of the system for AIM so that it provides the exact functionality and management information required. For example, when approached by a couple of our customers to switch over to EDI invoicing AIM contacted PSL Datatrack and a solution was developed to suit exactly what their customers had asked for. “With other systems we have looked at, this level of customisation is not readily available,” concludes Rob. “From that viewpoint alone, I would have no hesitation in recommending PSL Datatrack to other subcontract engineering companies.”