PFM Helps Manufacturer of Aerospace Components Achieve Greater Visibility into Operations.
Manes Machine, located in Fort Collins, Colorado specializes in the machining of complex aerospace components and has advanced capabilities working with titanium and other exotic metals. In addition, the company provides assembly, kitting and welding to complement their machining. Manes has been a LillyWorks customer with Protected Flow Manufacturing™ (PFM) integrated into the existing ERP since October of 2020.
The company runs JobBoss ERP, which has been in place since 1997. In 2018, after implementing that product’s Sales Order Module, leaders at the company decided to roll out its scheduling features as well. According to General Manager, Kyle Isker, Manes worked with JobBoss scheduling for over a year, but during that period they were unable to achieve the results they were looking for. Manes Machine had been struggling with increasingly complex scheduling challenges for some time. “We were tired of living in chaos, where everything is urgent, and things always seemed to be trending late,” Kyle commented. “It’s this perpetual cycle in which you’re working on the urgent-late stuff while the jobs that could have been on-time must be made to wait. That means those jobs will become urgent and late by the time you get to them.”
"With PFM, LillyWorks takes scheduling philosophy to a whole new level for us."
-- Kyle Isker, General Manager, Manes Machine
“For a while, we were getting by using spreadsheets, but our customer deliveries were still happening later than we wanted them to,” noted Kyle. “That led to some lost opportunities as well. When we were late with deliveries, that could make it challenging to get additional orders from a customer. As a manufacturer, we always want to be on-time, and of course profitable as well.”
Protected Flow Manufacturing: A Source of Trustworthy Data
Leaders at Manes felt that there had to be a better way. They began to look for potential solutions, and that led them to discover Protected Flow Manufacturing. “We didn’t expect PFM to fix everything for us,” Kyle explained, “but we knew we needed greater visibility into our operations and a better understanding of what we could reasonably promise to a customer. It was critical for us to have trustworthy data to make those kinds of decisions.”
We needed greater visibility into our operations and a better understanding of what we could reasonably promise to a customer. It was critical for us to have trustworthy data to make those kinds of decisions
Manes wanted to know what was in the pipeline and which resources were available to fill work orders. They wanted to be able to answer questions like “How late are we running on this job?” or “How overbooked are these resources?”. They also needed visibility out further into the future so they could plan more effectively in advance, rather than constantly juggling the tasks that were directly in front of them. PFM addresses those needs because of its unique approach to work order scheduling. The team at Manes understood that variability was inevitable. When customers ask for orders to be expedited, when incoming materials are delayed, or when machinery is unexpectedly out of service; everything needs to be shifted.
Everybody is able to see the priorities in PFM, and they all understand what the top priority is in their area at all times
Manes wanted to account for that kind of variability, so they were excited to discover a scheduling system that was built to address those kinds of challenges. Kyle expressed it this way: “With PFM, LillyWorks takes scheduling to a whole new level for us.” Now that PFM has been successfully implemented, Manes is already seeing the benefits of this improved scheduling philosophy. They expect things to improve even further as they continue to gain experience with PFM.
The staff has been quick to embrace PFM. “It’s really night and day if we compare it to our old spreadsheet-based system”, Kyle said. “We had different spreadsheets for different areas of the business. Something that was a high priority in one area was not necessarily a high priority for the next stage in the process. It was very disjointed. Now, instead of maintaining multiple spreadsheets, everybody is able to see the priorities in PFM, and they all understand what the top priority is in their area at all times.”
I want our employees to be focused on getting the right work done at the right time, rather than just getting as much done as they can.
PFM also helped Manes to expand scheduling to include the shipping and receiving department. “In the past, they just tried to get through as much as they could in a day,” Kyle explained. “They relied on managers to let them know what was most important, but there was no formal process.” Today, the shipping department can work in harmony with the rest of the organization, operating from a clear set of priorities that flow from PFM. They’re getting more done than ever before.” Since they implemented Protected Flow Manufacturing, every department at Manes is operating from the same set of priorities. They are no longer managing a disjointed collection of spreadsheets, and everyone in the company is working in unison.
Continuous Improvement: Improved Visibility is the Key
Leaders at Manes Machine are striving to improve their visibility of progress on work orders, to set clear goals and priorities, and to motivate their staff. PFM has enabled them to do that, due in large part to its powerful reports and dashboard analytics. Kyle explains the company’s new approach: “One key area of focus for our team centers on the operations that are available to be worked on in each area. We look at how many have been completed and how many are at ‘max threat-level’ according to PFM. We’re tracking those at-risk jobs with the goal of reducing those numbers over time.”
Managers at Manes are also using PFM to determine how far behind each resource areas is, and how many operations they need to perform to get caught up. According to Kyle, PFM’s Predictor is helping them identify operations where the current run-time values in the ERP system do not reflect reality. As they work through those inconsistencies the Predictor will ultimately allow them to have better visibility of when a resource is over/under loaded with operations. They’re also tracking the total number of operations completed and the number of operations that are at ‘max-threat level’. Managers at Manes produce graphs of the results and share those with the team. Kyle notes that data serves as a powerful motivating factor. Leaders at Manes are finding PFM’s analytics to be enormously valuable. Kyle provides an example: “We’re still tracking hours, but I want our employees to be focused on getting the right work done at the right time, rather than just getting as much done as they can. Without clear prioritization, workers may be tempted to run longer jobs, whereas those short-run jobs might be the ones that really need to get done.”
I like where we are going with PFM. We are really headed in the right direction.
Throughout this process, Manes Machine has been focused on improving a few key metrics. Specifically, they were aiming to reduce the number of ‘max threat-level’ jobs and increase on-me deliveries. “PFM has given us the ability to see our most critical work, those identified as max-threat-level by PFM, and react to it,” Kyle said. “Having that visibility into our production process gives us the utmost confidence that we are focusing on the correct work and that we are progressing our way out of the endless cycle of hot jobs.”