For companies to maintain a competitive edge, it’s critical that they have an efficient operations strategy. This Acceleration Case Study explores the challenges Sign-Zone encountered with visibility, inventory management, and processing time. By partnering with Insight Works, the company was able to implement an enhanced business strategy with Business Central Apps.
Business Challenge – Finding a Way to Streamline Operations
Based in the United States, Sign-Zone started as a small business before growing into a multi-million dollar manufacturer of event display merchandise. After evaluating its business, the company recognized a need for a solution to streamline production, reduce waste, enhance quality, and improve efficiency.
- Sign-Zone’s areas for improvement included:
- Outdated technology made inventory visibility challenging. Tracking specific items in bins within each warehouse wasn’t possible.
- The tracking system allowed inventory to reach negative levels.
- Sales orders didn’t include a list of materials for production, and the scheduling process for items lacked structure. So, there was a greater margin of error for order production and preparation.
- Supervisors didn’t have insights on order processing length at each workstation.
- Some large orders consumed production resources for days, making it difficult to complete smaller orders with earlier due dates without falling behind schedule.
- With many orders shipped daily, it was challenging to track the production status of orders. The lack of visibility resulted in missed cut-off times for shipping.
Despite delivery dates, each sales order had the same level of priority. As a result, some items didn’t get manufactured on time, making it impossible to meet shipping dates. Sign-Zone’s in-house team – the Business Analyst, ERP Analyst, Project Manager, and Production Manager – created a plan for making improvements.
- The team focused on three main objectives
- Quickly identify production orders and communicate them to each worker.
- Have workers understand their specific task and its completion date.
- Identify the priority for every production order.
Once they developed objectives, the team at Sign-Zone created a requirements document. Afterward, Sign-Zone contacted its Microsoft partner to further discuss these objectives and requirements to improve business operations.
Software Solution – Business Central Apps
Sign-Zone selected Insight Works as their Microsoft partner to help navigate these challenges. After consulting with its partner, Sign-Zone chose to implement features from Business Central.
Enable Advanced Warehousing While Using Business Central
Configuring and enabling all of the advanced warehouse features within Business Central enabled Sign-Zone to easily manage and track inventory for each production order. It’s also possible to identify the specific location and quantity for each item.
Use Barcode Scanning
Warehouse Insight is a Business Central app that helps implement mobile device integration for warehouses. Using this app and handheld computers that offered scanning capabilities allowed Sign-Zone to process receipts quickly, track movements, manage put-aways, and maintain efficient inventory management. This technology significantly improved accuracy and made it much easier to manage the entire inventory system.
Integrate Shop Floor Data
Shop Floor Insight is a comprehensive app that tracks employee and production time. This program made it possible for Sign-Zone to provide support for different components throughout its production phase, such as:
- Easily assign different tasks to workers.
- Identify the date a task is finished to move it to the next stage.
- Quickly measure defects to help schedule a time for rework.
- Display order-specific instructions for each order while including all raw materials and viewable prints.
Every workstation includes a touchscreen computer, which makes it easy for employees to interact with this data at any time.
Advanced Planning and Scheduling Integration
Sign-Zone manufactures a wide range of products that each client can easily customize. These different customizations result in thousands of varying production orders that require advanced planning and scheduling. Insight Works used Business Central as well as Shop Floor Insight to develop a highly responsive and accurate production schedule.
MxAPS makes it possible to create efficient production schedules while quickly responding to any unplanned events in the workplace. Combining MxAPS with Shop Floor Insight enables communication with workers who are handling specific tasks or meeting certain deadlines. MxAPS automatically creates a new schedule for managing new orders while also reworking the remaining time on any existing orders. Each schedule includes a status report, which simplifies the process for managers to quickly identify any orders that are at risk of missing a shipping deadline.
MxAPS also makes it possible to group similar production materials, decreasing the change over time for each machine. MxAPS divides more oversized orders into numerous smaller orders while including them in the daily schedule. If production begins to fall behind in processing large orders, MxAPS will automatically extend the daily amount needed for making any shortfalls while staying on track to meet the deadline.
Execute Specific Processes With Business Central
The integration process for add-on products is pretty straightforward from Insight Works. Sign-Zone can easily identify specific processes to follow during production. Their Microsoft partner enabled their team to configure Business Central to quickly meet their unique needs.
Implementing new software tools and processes by production workers was relatively seamless. Employees welcomed these changes because they provided additional insight into which items needed to be manufactured to meet specific deadlines. Every computer terminal included a print set of instructions that detailed how to follow each process. It only took staff members a couple of days to learn how to use the new system.
Choosing to use the Business Central add-ons and customizations resulted in positive changes for Sign-Zone. These positive results include:
- The clearly defined tasks reduced scrap and rework.
- More items are produced on time due to the precise priority schedules.
- New employees are more productive.
- Materials are more readily available due to it being easier to keep an accurate inventory.
- Increased visibility on the shop floor improved the decision-making process for management.
- Less manual effort is needed because of the use of automated scheduling.
Implementing this successful project was a combination of Sign-Zone and its Microsoft partner, Insight Works. Ultimately, staying in communication throughout the entire project created a strong foundation for Sign-Zone that resulted in successful integration.