A U.S. make-to-order specialty metal packaging and lithography company, Independent Can Company, faced challenges from a poorly functioning legacy ERP system tied together with software bolt-ons and Excel spreadsheets. Given a 12-week deadline from contract signing to production start-up at a newly acquired location, Ultra Consultants identified business process improvements and guided ICC through the ERP selection process.
Business Process Improvements for the Make-to-Order Manufacturer
Business transformation for make-to-order manufacturers is about more than just picking software. It involves an analysis of the current state, enterprise-wide education, and the design of the expected future state. Business process improvement goals must remain front and center for make-to-order and engineer-to-order companies looking to upgrade their ERP solutions.
About Independent Can Company
Located in Maryland, the Independent Can Company is a privately held manufacturer of specialty metal packaging and metal lithography. It operates five manufacturing plants, three lithography/printing locations with 100 percent in-house prepress operations, and a warehouse/distribution center. A make-to-order business, the company manufactures:
- Custom products uniquely configured by their customers
- Products made to stock for any customer
- Products made to order as requested by their customer
The company’s distribution side of the business purchases finished goods and stocks or direct ships them.
New Acquisition Drives Need for Make-to-Order ERP
Prior to the project, ICC acquired the Steeltin manufacturing plant in Baltimore from the Ball Corporation, best known for its Ball mason jars. Just like ICC, the Steeltin plant was working with a legacy ERP system that had outgrown its usefulness. The Steeltin plant proved an ideal location for implementing the new ERP system and executing the business process improvements identified by Ultra.
Goals for the New ERP
ICC identified two major goals to find the best match and move away from the limits of legacy ERP: data transparency with real-time analytics and the elimination of inefficient spreadsheets and siloed data.
The company lacked real-time data to foster efficient decision-making and often relied on the tribal knowledge of veteran employees. Specifically, it needed real-time intelligence about BOMs, routing, scrap, crew sizes, can production forecasting by month, pieces per hour production, packaging, freight data, changeover time, down time, machine hours to payroll hours, and more.
Error-prone spreadsheets and siloed data caused inefficiencies, errors and duplication of efforts. The company sought to move away from the legacy ERP environment to a system that would communicate with all departments throughout the enterprise, to include, for example, a comprehensive scheduling system, a streamlined quoting process and a document management system to monitor the quoting process.
Ultra ERP consultants conducted an extensive process evaluation and analysis for ICC prior to the first phase of the cloud ERP implementation at the Steeltin plant. Because it included an intuitive interface, the new ERP solution felt familiar to the employees in the Steeltin location, making it a reasonably easy process to implement. The ICC project leader indicated that the go-live of the ERP implementation at the Steeltin plant occurred without any business disruptions – order taking, product manufacturing, product shipping from two locations and revenue collection all functioned as planned throughout the first, post-live week. Business decision-making and forecasting based on real-time analytics gives the company significant value right from the start.
Ultra Consultants became a part of our company, and our values closely meshed
According to Toby Sheehan, Business Analyst Director for Independent Can Company:
“Ultra Consultants became a part of our company, and our values closely meshed. I see many similarities between our two companies. 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.”
Ultra and ICC are continuing to implement the system at additional ICC sites with similar success.
Additional Insight – What’s the Business Case for ERP?
The decision to launch an ERP selection project, upgrade or implement a new ERP system is likely one of the most complex and resource-intensive initiatives a company will face. As summarized here, ICC was able to move through the project as effectively as possible for optimum results.
For many organizations, the first step is to make the business case for ERP. The effort involves determining an expected return on investment, anticipating total costs and fully documenting the business case for investing in a new or upgraded system. It’s critical to document the business reasons for an investment in ERP, as well as the expected value to offset the cost. Identifying risk is part of the process, as is putting in plans to mitigate risk.
Few organizations can effectively manage this effort alone. ICC leveraged Ultra Consultants’ significant experience helping midmarket manufacturers and distributors drive an effective justification process.
Read additional insight on the topics covered here.
- An in-depth white paper highlights the key steps ICC followed for true business process transformation. Download Planning for ERP: A Collaborative White Paper from the Partners at Ultra Consultants
- Read the full story of Independence Can to learn all the details.