Industryweek 2105 11205moldmasters

Customer Order Management: Fine Tuning The Flow

Dec. 28, 2005
Mold-Masters Ltd.'s automated order-entry process reduces lead-time and administrative costs.

For Jonathon Fischer, president of Georgetown, Ontario, Canada-based Mold-Masters Ltd., vision is the No. 1 ingredient for a successful, competitive company.

The privately held company, which designs and manufactures hot runner systems, temperature controllers, hot halves, filter nozzles and gating technologies for the automotive, medical, electronic components and housewares industries, needed to reduce costs in the face of competition from overseas manufacturers.

Upon examination, the company, which employs about 1,000 people worldwide, found that as it was growing, it was proportionately growing its employee base -- especially in lower-level areas such as order entry. The company wanted to become more productive in this area, and Fischer started his vision quest via what he calls a common-sense approach. The objective was not purely financially driven, he says. It was competitively driven. Mold-Masters needed to process information faster and ensure faster throughput.

Jonathon Fischer (center), president of Mold-Masters Ltd., visits the Mazak manifold cell at the company's Georgetown, Ontario, facility."Dealing with complex engineered products, one of the major issues was information flow," Fischer says. "We found ourselves going back and forth with customers, not just once or twice but, on complex projects, many times. We wanted to know how we could put the information flow into the hands of our customers, and really get them to select what they required, and let them drive the process."

The company decided to automate this process. According to Fischer, customers now can use the Internet to initiate the design process and configure a system, which is then sent directly into a 3-D CAD system. From there, complete models for the engineering system are generated.

"Furthermore, the CAD is interfaced to a CAM system that generates the machine code automatically," Fischer says. "We are able to get all the information from the customer all the way to the machine without anybody touching it, including the materials."

The results of the patented system: 50% less administrative effort, automation on 55% of all designs, and 50% reduction in lead-time.

According to Jason Mausberg, president of IDS Scheer Canada, a global process-management provider that integrated Mold-Masters' existing application with SAP, Mold-Masters has done remarkably well getting 50% of its orders coming through the system.

"One of the things that Mold-Masters did was bring in three or four key customers to the very first initial meetings around design business objective timetables," Mausberg says. "Those same customer focus groups were brought back continuously during the course of implementation. The groundwork was done right during implementation, and that was the vision that Jonathon had of staying very close to all stakeholders -- not just within the company, but also within the outside groups."

For customers, the benefits are plenty.

"The customers gain instantaneous access to information," Fischer says. "That is a great strategic advantage. And when you talk about working closely with your customers, that's one of the primary objectives of any business relationship -- no down time and no waiting."

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