Independent Can Company

A world leader in the manufacture of specialty metal packaging and metal lithography.

The Challenge

Because the company manufactures specialty products rather than commodities, it was looking for an ERP system built around the efficient processing and costing of a specialty product.

ICC operated on an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system that was 15 to 20 years in age; at the time the company operated out of two locations.

The system was primarily selected for its financial reporting functionality and had shortcomings in serving the needs of the manufacturing side of the business.

Over time, the company added bolt-on products, in-house workarounds and several Excel-based tools, which complicated the solution. The legacy system would not scale for the company’s planned growth and it relied overly on spreadsheets and manual processes, with inefficient redundancies and re-keying of data.

Executives were looking for a single source of the truth for the entire supply chain.

ICC knew it needed a better solution and a better process to effectively drive business decision making in support of company growth.

The newly acquired Steeltin plant location was likewise working with a legacy ERP system. As part of the acquisition, Steeltin needed to divest from the legacy system rapidly or incur corresponding costs. Still sold on the benefits of an integrated ERP solution to support growth, ICC decided to work with Ultra Consultants to help identify desired process improvements.

“We felt comfortable with the culture and values of Ultra Consultants. If you’re going to be working with another company for 12 to 18 months, you want to make sure it’s a good fit..” – Toby Sheehan, Business Analyst Director, Independent Can Company

The Solution

Ultra worked with ICC for 8 months on the business process improvement (BPI) phase of the project. The BPI work, in turn, prepared ICC to efficiently evaluate potential software vendors and systems, and quickly make their selection on the ERP solution.

“At every level, the Ultra consultant project team we dealt with understood what we needed for our industry. They brought a great deal of experience.

The effort and input from the Ultra team made me realize that if we had to go it alone, we wouldn’t have been able to meet the 12-week implementation time frame requirement.” – Toby Sheehan, Business Analyst Director, Independent Can

Working with Ultra for Business Process Transformation

As Ultra began the process of assessing the business process transformation objectives, ICC identified several overarching goals for a new ERP system:

Data Transparency and Real-Time Analytics:  Robust and consistent data in real-time had been lacking throughout ICC operations. ICC hoped to gain data transparency and real-time analytics for decision-making instead of depending on “gut feel” and  ”tribal knowledge” of veteran employees.

As these employees retire, they take their corporate history with them. The goal was to rely on real-time intelligence and accurate data for confident business forecasts and project decision-making across all business functions.

For example, managers identified the need for real-time information about BOMs, routing, scrap, crew sizes, can production forecasting by month, pieces per hour production, packaging, freight data, changeover time, downtime, machine hours to payroll hours, and more.

Elimination of Spreadsheets: A second major goal was to move away from siloed data managed on Excel spreadsheets toward a cohesive system that communicates with all departments in the company.

For example, the scheduling components in the legacy system proved to be cumbersome, so employees developed manual workarounds on paper-based spreadsheets, which can be error-prone and difficult to maintain.

Independent Can Company

About The Company

The Independent Can Company (ICC), founded in 1929, is a privately held family-owned and operated company headquartered in Belcamp, Maryland, near the U.S. Army’s Aberdeen Proving Grounds and about 30 miles from Baltimore. Since its inception, ICC has grown to become a world leader in the manufacture of specialty metal packaging and metal lithography.

ICC operates five manufacturing plants in Maryland, Iowa and Ohio; three lithography/printing locations with 100 percent in-house prepress operations in Maryland and Ohio; and a warehouse/distribution center in Arizona.

The company produces products via three modes:

  1. Custom products uniquely configured by the customer
  2. Products made to stock for any customer
  3. Products made to order as requested by their customers

Results from Ultra Consultants

Just 12 Weeks to Achieve an ERP Implementation – Following an extensive process evaluation and analysis, ICC was ready for the implementation.

The company selected the newly acquired Steeltin plant for the first phase of the implementation.

The new cloud-based ERP solution was like the old solution and employees found parts of it intuitive to start using.

According to Toby Sheehan, the project leader for ICC, the process of implementing the ERP system at the Steeltin plant in Baltimore in just 12 weeks will enable ICC to make business decisions and forecast based on real-time data rather than a combination of partial data and gut feelings.

The company has found significant value in having one source of information.

Additionally, ICC went live with the system without any disruption to their business.

Following the ERP implementation, ICC and Ultra continue to work together on implementing the system at additional ICC sites.

Software selection and implementation processes often present challenges of their own. To steer you around trouble and help you drive success, Ultra’s experts compiled a list of pain points and solutions to be aware of as you embark on this journey.

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