Williams & Oakey have been delighted with the results since switching to PSL Datatrack production control software to manage shop floor manufacturing and assembly activities. Like a number of engineering sub-contractors, they had been using a DOS based management control system which was no longer supported and it had become increasingly difficult to rely upon its continued use.
“Moving away from the bespoke DOS system was not a decision taken lightly,” says Williams & Oakey's Materials & IT Manager Martin Presley. “We had become too comfortable with the old system and there were inherent risks in trying to continue. Starting in 2012, we spoke to a number of software companies but were attracted by an article we saw in the press about an engineering sub-contractor in a similar situation to us. They had gone down the PSL Datatrack route without any difficulty. We had a presentation from PSL and made a visit to an existing customer. That convinced us to go with PSL. Their software is flexible, modular and we felt it would be easily adaptable to our specific business model.”
Based in Midsomer Norton, ISO accredited Williams & Oakey supplies high quality machined parts and fabrications to a range of customers in many different industries. The emphasis has been on offering a one stop shop, engaged not only in precision CNC machining, but also pre-treatment and finishing using the latest powder coating technology. The company provides its sub-contract services to many companies where traceability is a prerequisite. The company also has a full range of facilities including pressure testing, quality control, secure storage and the despatch of finished fabrications directly to its customers' own clients. Latterly, there has been expansion into other new business areas including hydro-dipping and alloy wheel refurbishment.
Controlling all the processes through the factory had been managed using the bespoke DOS system. Although the situation had became more and more untenable, the final decision to switch to PSL Datatrack was not without its concerns. “Having worked with DOS for many years, there were worries about the transition to the Windows based PSL Datatrack system. We were concerned about potential loss of data and whether the theory of using PSL Datatrack might not be quite as easy in practice. Making the leap of faith has been the right decision.”
“One of the pleasant surprises of switching to PSL Datatrack was the low financial investment that it entailed for us. There was no need to invest in new servers as the software could be run from the company's existing PCs.” said Martin. Williams & Oakey took advantage of the modularity of PSL Datatrack and initially invested in a concise system with a single user licence.
Working closely with PSL, Martin learned the complete operation of the system and implemented it in stages. It now controls the progress of every aspect of every customer order, from quotation to invoice. It generates all the accompanying documentation right down to batch identification labels and deliveries, not just for direct customers but also on Williams & Oakey's customers’ headed paper to be sent directly to their clients.
Supported by PSL, Martin chose to train all shop floor and office based staff in-house. Today, there are two PSL Datatrack stations in the factory where operators clock in and out as well as logging all the required information about every order that passes through – essential for traceability. Management reports can be produced as required to check any aspect of the production process and on the shop floor, documentation such as inspection sheets can be generated.
Following the success of the initial implementation, Williams & Oakey invested in the Time & Attendance, Shop Floor Data Collection, Scheduler and Non-Conformance modules. In addition they added extra user licences to give more access to staff and even closer control of the engineering process. This has provided more in-depth reporting that allows the company to intervene as necessary and change manufacturing procedures in order to improve efficiency. “PSL Datatrack is very flexible and we have received excellent support when we have wanted to customise the software to suit our particular reporting requirements.” says Martin.
PSL Datatrack is helping Williams & Oakey to maintain its position as a highly reliable supplier of high quality precision engineering services at a time when the industry is becoming increasingly competitive and in a period of change. “We have put our faith in the professionalism of PSL Datatrack and it is really paying off. I don't have to run or write the software anymore and can focus my time on the important management of our processes. Now we have the PSL Datatrack system, the benefits are immeasurable.” concludes Martin.