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Engineering company benefits from production control software

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Hydrafeed Limited of Milton Keynes has seen its business grow significantly over the last few years. There has been continued expansion of its subcontract engineering services and the company’s renowned bar feed systems manufacturing expertise, alongside its new sole UK and Ireland agency for RoboJob’s robotic solutions. PSL Datatrack production control software has continued to play a major role in the company’s growth, becoming an essential part of the business and helping to smoothly progress each aspect of the business.

Taking control of Hydrafeed in 2012, Managing Director Martyn Page embarked upon a major overhaul of the company’s business administration procedures, including investment in PSL Datatrack to replace DOS and paper-based systems. Aiming to grow the subcontract business quickly for customers in a variety of industrial sectors, the administration processes needed to be as efficient as possible.

Martyn says: “Initially, the challenge was to get the details of all our stock and material data as well as customer information loaded on to the PSL Datatrack system. Once that had been done – with full support from PSL Datatrack – we were soon able to realise the benefits and our staff quickly bought into the advantages of the system.”

According to Hydrafeed’s Production Director, Daren Drew, PSL Datatrack has had a huge impact on the subcontract side of the business. He says: “At any time on the shop floor we have in excess of 400–500 components going through. We need to trace and track all the materials involved, organise treatments and subsequent deliveries and invoicing. This could have been a logistical nightmare but PSL Datatrack has smoothed out that side of our business completely. We can see everything on PCs throughout the factory.”

Any opportunity for Hydrafeed to quote for new and repeat business starts with the generation of a quotation using PSL Datatrack. This is then the catalyst from which the subsequent production process and supporting administration of an order evolves. Quotation times alone have been reduced from around 15 to 1–2 minutes.

PSL Datatrack records and tracks all aspects of an order from that initial quotation through to delivery and invoicing. Once a works order has been raised the system generates the material requirements and the purchasing module is used to order materials needed to fulfil the job from suppliers. This is then traced through the shop floor with costs of the operations, materials, tooling and any subcontract processes all fully recorded. The actual time taken for manufacturing, details of when parts are made, on which machine and by which operator is also recorded and this historic information can be recalled at any future time.

Responding to urgent requests

All jobs are prioritised and materials are made available before set-up commences. The Work in Progress module allows the company to respond quickly to any urgent customer requirements as management can see what work is being undertaken in each department and what jobs are being queued at specific machines. Martyn Page says: “This allows us to make decisions about prioritising jobs and moving work around.”

Consideration is also being given to investment in Status Board display screens for each department as part of the company’s continuous commitment to remaining as efficient as possible. Status Boards will allow all jobs going through the shop floor to be seen in real time so that management can make instant informed decisions on priorities, thereby maintaining and improving customer service.

The benefits that have resulted from the use of PSL Datatrack in terms of traceability and the generation of certificates are vital to Hydrafeed’s quality management system and to maintaining ISO 9001:2015 accreditation. Customers from the aerospace industry, amongst other types of customer, require detailed information on traceability and conformity which can be easily supplied.

Thanks to PSL Datatrack, the company knows exactly the source of all the materials that have been used for any order, which machines were used in the production process as well as details of the operation and operators involved. Supplier certificates are saved on the system and can be printed off at the click of a button to accompany a delivery. Next in line may be a the gauge calibration module which will give the company closer control over its inspection and quality control functions by providing details of calibration requirements and timings for every gauge that Hydrafeed uses.

Previously, material stocks had presented a particular administration headache. It was often difficult to ascertain exactly what stockholding levels of individual components and raw materials would be required for the company’s customer base, many of whom had Kanban and Just-in-Time call-off requirements. There was also a requirement to hold stock to fulfil general customer orders. Martyn notes: “The way that PSL Datatrack calculates and records all this information means we now stock much less material and just retain saleable stock. Orders are now flowing through the shop floor and out of the door much more smoothly.”

Looking to the future, investment in further PSL Datatrack modules will continue to meet the requirements of the growing Hydrafeed subcontract business. Martyn concludes: “We wouldn’t go back now to our old time-consuming administration processes. We are in a position to win more engineering subcontract work and continue to expand our robotic and barfeed operations, confident that PSL Datatrack will allow us to succeed.”

For more information go to www.psldatatrack.com.

14 August 2019

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