For some small precision engineering companies, improving the administration that lies behind their production processes and manufacturing capabilities is not always necessarily the top priority. The main focus is often to ensure that the performance of machine tools is optimised and that parts produced are of the highest quality. Andy Soos of Bedford CNC, however, has taken an approach that prioritises all of the above areas and is consequently now in a strong position to take the business to the next level. This is all thanks to a number of wise investments and business initiatives, including the use of PSL Datatrack production control software.
“Through video testimonials I became aware of the many positive comments made by other engineering companies about the benefits of investing in PSL Datatrack,” comments Andy. He decided to investigate further, specifically looking to speed up his method of generating customer quotations and make them look more professional.
“Preparing quotes was an area I knew needed addressing if we were to attract more customers to Bedford CNC. They were taking too long to produce manually because gathering all the information and calculating costs for each quote was time-consuming and prone to error. We were then manually typing up and sending the quotes to potential customers via email. They looked scruffy, had no visual identity of our brand nor did they reflect Bedford CNC's core values of quality and good service,” says Andy.
Bedford CNC has an impressive engineering production capacity including a Haas CNC lathe, Bridgeport CNC machining centres and a Citizen L20 sliding head lathe. This is complimented by a CMM, together enabling the company to produce high quality finished components as well as providing first offs and inspection reports for companies within many different industries. Today, the aerospace, automotive, defence, electronics, general manufacturing and materials handling sectors are all serviced as well as specialist work, such as producing parts for Spitfire restoration projects, further underlining the company's precision engineering capabilities.
“We called in PSL Datatrack as they specialise in production control software for the subcontract precision engineering sector and would, in broad terms, understand in advance our business administration requirements. PSL visited on a number of occasions, obtained a full picture of our issues and what we wanted to achieve with quotations. They took away company letterheads, logos and other relevant information before making us a customised proposal based on investment in the PSL Datatrack Quotations module,” comments Andy.
The system was installed in August 2019, leading to a dramatic improvement of the quoting process and quotes can now be raised much more efficiently and professionally. Initially, all necessary customer contact details were entered into PSL Datatrack and can now be easily recalled at any time in the future in the event of requoting a customer.
From there, it takes just a few clicks of the mouse to raise the quotation. A quote number is allocated and descriptions and drawing numbers defined, then information on machining times and associated hourly rates to produce the parts is entered. The cost to the customer is automatically calculated and information on expected delivery time is included, subject to any variables such as material or subcontract supplier lead times. The system also ensures the correct drawing is stored against the quotation, eliminating the risk of human error. Multiple drawings can be linked as required and quotes for multiple parts for the same customer can be amalgamated into one quotation letter.
“We can now prepare about nine quotations in 20 minutes or less in total, whereas previously it may have taken a couple of hours or so. What's more, when the quote is later converted into a firm order, we are ready to go as all the required production information is already in the system. I would never go back to manual quotes,” says Andy.
Getting up and running with PSL Datatrack was easy as Bedford CNC were trained on using the software remotely, using shared screens. After a couple of hours' tuition Andy was ready to go live and discover for himself some of the other benefits of using the software. Any queries were immediately resolved through PSL Datatrack's telephone lines as part of ongoing support.
Bedford CNC has now gained several months' experience using PSL Datatrack and when the time is right will look to invest in additional modules such as Works Orders, Deliveries and Invoicing. “That's the beauty of the modularity of PSL Datatrack – you can add more when you are ready and be confident they will integrate seamlessly with existing modules. I would recommend the system to any engineering company similar in size to us or indeed to those larger who are involved in the production of multiple products for many different customers and want to cut right back on manual administration,” concludes Andy.
Alongside other business initiatives such as appointing new accountants, improving social media presence, investing in high quality machine tools and taking on a business coach, investing in PSL Datatrack has undoubtedly played a major role in taking Bedford CNC to the next level. Quotations are easier to generate and look highly professional, resulting in more business opportunities and, ultimately, more customers.