Founded in 1984, Supreme Steel is one of the foremost investment casters in Australasia. Investment casting or lost wax casting is a near net shape manufacturing process.
This means that the as-cast components can have a high degree of detail, precision and accuracy, dramatically reducing the need for costly operations such as machining, welding and fabrication.
The process consists of the production of detailed expendable patterns (usually in wax), the building of a refractory mould around the pattern using a ceramic slurry, removal of the pattern (usually by the application of heat), firing of the mould to develop a maximum ceramic bond, casting of molten metal into the mould, removal of the refractory and finishing of the cast product.
It is a multibillion-dollar industry with around 500 investment casters in the United States alone. Producing approximately 30 tonnes of precision castings per month Supreme Steel are based in a 2300sqm factory in Auckland, New Zealand.
With international competition, Supreme Steel's CEO, Robert Peter, wanted to improve their competitive advantage not only through people and products, but also through processes.
Knowing from past experience that ERP is a strategic tool in improving the competitiveness of a company, Supreme Steel decided to go to market looking at mid tier ERP software to meet their needs.
As part of their search, they looked at many dedicated production planning and information management software packages for the cast metal manufacturing industry that incorporate aspects of ERP and MRP.
A key consideration in the final choice of ERP system was the relationship with the software vendor.
Brian Winthrop, Commercial Manager for Supreme Steel said, "Supreme Steel felt that COGITA would be there to support us for the long haul and had the ability to do so. This was an important consideration in our final decision. Supreme Steel has been very happy they chose COGITA and Epicor ERP manufacturing software."
One of the key drivers for the ERP implementation and an important KPI of its success was that there should be full visibility of job costs and Supreme should be able to instigate and maintain standard costing.
This has not only been achieved but is now a process of continuing improvement.
"The challenge with implementing an ERP system is to get all the disparate systems incorporated in Epicor ERR We wanted Epicor ERP with COGITA for its one stop shop, making sure that we have continuity of systems and information. We want to use Epicor ERP to its full capability and maintain this going forward with regular training and upgrading the system as the company grows."
When asked about the process of taking a customer order and producing the required product, Brian Winthrop, added:
"It is very important to get order details 100% correct. The flow of information between the customer and Supreme Steel from quotation to order must be managed very quickly, smoothly and efficiently. This is what our customers want."
Customer specifications are evaluated very carefully at Supreme Steel.
A lot of technical information with dimensions, tolerances and specification and certifications of metals form part of a future order.
All of this information is captured within the system and needs to be available at any time during production and when the product goes out into the field.
During the quotation process Supreme Steel often suggest changes to the overall design that can improve quality, manufacture and performance. This not only adds value to the customer's product but also makes it easy for the customer to deal with Supreme. "We aim to exceed our customer's expectations and we have the experienced staff and systems to provide us that competitive edge," said Brian.
Supreme Steel experienced a number of changes following their implementation of Epicor ERP.
Brian commented, "With the introduction of Epicor ERP there has been a positive impact on the top and bottom lines".
Quoting is more accurate and completed with more confidence. There is better analysis of the customer base, order performance, and profitability. If you have better costing, you have better quoting.
The three key areas to improving performance at Supreme Steel are
- costing and
- shop floor job management.
With Epicor ERP, there is the seamless integration with Finance - for Supreme, an added benefit that is not fully realised with some other systems they considered. All these areas have been improved considerably and Supreme now has much better visibility.
"When we quote a price we know it is based on good information. We have the knowledge that all the absolute required costs are in the quote. When in a competitive situation we have the confidence that when we accept an order we will realise the expected profitability from this work whether it is for prototype design or a large volume production run. You have to be confident in your system to be able to do that.
Our processes, our people and Epicor ERP enable us to do that," said Brian.
Supreme Steel is committed to achieving excellence in all areas of business. Not ones to sit on their laurels, they are always looking for ways to provide their customers )) with better service and products.
"We are currently stepping up our use of CRM in Epicor ERP, and we are looking to provide customers with better service as a result. We are considering an upgrade to Epicor 9 to provide additional benefits so we can continue to provide superior service and products," added Brian
When asked for a closing remark that would sum up the impact of Epicor ERP, Brian Winthrop had this to say.
"It is being able to quote confidently, knowing that Epicor ERP has got it right".
SUPREME STEEL AT A GLANCE:
Industry Investment Casters
Head Office Auckland, New Zealand
COGITA with Epicor ERP Manufacturing Software
- Business Benefits
- Lasting business partnership
- Zero under-quoting with full visibility of job costs
- Positive impact on top and bottom lines
- Accurate quoting
- Better analysis of order performance and profitability
- Integrated system allowing better decisions and no lost profit
- Competitive confidence
"With the introduction of Epicor ERP there has been a positive impact on the top and bottom lines."
Brian Winthrop, Supreme Steel's Commercial Manager