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Live Data at Any Point in Time

John Ackah, Quality Inspector, inspects laser cut blanks and enters the results into a Plex checksheet utilizing a tablet. Previously, this information was captured on a paper job traveler and stored in file boxes. It is now stored in the system and available at any time.

(lead): Precision metalforming and fabrication software from Plex is designed to improve quality and productivity while allowing shops to maintain tight control over inventory, equipment, schedules and costs.

Rudy Watson, Laser Operator, operates a Mazak fiber laser-cutting machine. G&W utilizes the information from the laser nesting software to make its Plex run rates and bill of materials accurate, to control costs and to lower raw material inventory.

Anthony Wheeler, Inventory Control Specialist, utilizes Plex to locate inventory. In the past, this was done by a visual search or by locating it from a spreadsheet.

John Hannahs Jr., Quality Engineer, inspects a part utilizing a Romer Arm while inputting data into Plex. This information is utilized for the Plex automated real-time SPC charting. This type of charting was manually performed in the past and took a substantial amount of time and resources.

G&W Products, a contract metal component manufacturer, recently updated its long-term strategic goals for the company's growth. G&W's objectives included meeting customer requirements, increasing inventory visibility, improving data collection and minimizing the overall costs of doing business.

At the time, G&W was using an antiquated software platform that was ill-equipped to run the business and help grow operations. The enterprise resource planning (ERP) system was created by a local company and used software developed for a medical environment. "We were using a lot of spreadsheets and outdated modules," said Jeff Karan, Director of IT, G&W Products. "We had too much paperwork flying around everywhere and too many unutilized modules. We would go through reams and reams of paper. We needed to improve our operations. When the economy took a hit in 2006, we decided to take a breather from this system."

Karan and his team worked with a small group of consultants and G&W department heads to find and evaluate the industry's best ERP systems. This group visited factories and witnessed demonstrations first-hand. "The top three companies then presented to us, and Plex was the winner by a wide margin," said Karan.

"We believe Plex offers the best package of fully integrated modules accessible, in real time, from anywhere in the world," continued Karan. "The traceability within Plex is incredible. If we have issues with materials, we can now isolate the parts involved. Prior to Plex, that process would have taken weeks of effort. It now takes a couple of hours. Plex's quality control is essential, since we do military work with stringent quality requirements."

Precision metalforming and fabrication software from Plex is designed to improve quality and productivity while allowing shops to maintain tight control over inventory, equipment, schedules and costs. Real-time data is captured by integral manufacturing execution system (MES) functionality and integrated into the complete suite of ERP applications, business intelligence and collaboration tools. Enhanced visibility and traceability support efficient operations, increased throughput, compliance and cost control.

Plex features and benefits include:

 Full traceability: Gain full traceability of materials used in each step of the metalforming and fabrication manufacturing process through integral barcoding. Connect all the way to the shop floor with optional direct connections to plant equipment. Keep a full history of inventory, heats, production activities, test results and more.

  • Predictive maintenance: Keep equipment operating efficiently with operating equipment effectiveness. Avoid schedule interruptions with predictive and preventive maintenance. Keep equipment uptime high and unexpected failures low by scheduling maintenance at optimal times.
  • Financial controls: Fully integrated accounting functions with automatic journal entries can be supplemented with multi-entity functionality for consolidation of cross-company activities. Keep close tabs on all entities within the enterprise and provide senior management with detailed and consolidated information they need to make informed management decisions.

The Plex Manufacturing Cloud makes it possible to view all parts of a business for better management decision-making. Metalforming-specific functions include production scheduling, serialized inventory and tooling management.

Using Plex, G&W now has virtually live data at any point in time. "As an example, if we need to work through the weekend, we can access our entire operations through the SmartPlex cell phone app and make live decisions," said Karan. "In the past, we had to drive to our facilities to accomplish this."

Utilizing Plex as a key tool, G&W has reduced its raw sheet inventory by 65% and reduced overall inventory to 38 days on hand. The company achieved a 98% on time delivery for 2015. It has significantly increased throughput without increasing labor. Information that had previously been recorded on paper and filed in cabinets or boxes is now available immediately. Inspection data is collected and available for SPC analysis at the moment the inspection takes place. The team has insight into trends on tooling and fixtures, improving risk analysis.

"In the past, we relied on gut feel or tribal knowledge within the company," said Karan. "That has changed with our data. We have been able to expand capacity planning, and use our equipment to maximize our manufacturing hours."

The majority of G&W's workforce had no computer training before Plex was introduced. Now a conference room with an internet café is available for employees to access the internet and continue their training.

"Other than personnel, choosing Plex was our single best business decision in 30 years," said Gary Johns, CEO of G&W Products. "With G&W's level of inventory and man-hours, none of our work would be possible without Plex."

Founded in 1968, G&W works with both ferrous and non-ferrous metals and manufactures heavy equipment components, power distribution components, military ground vehicle components and construction components. Capabilities include metal stamping, laser cutting, robotic and manual welding, sheet metal fabrication, CNC punching, forming, tube fabricating, assembly and powder coating.

"We are dedicated to supplying custom metal components and assemblies that meet established customer requirements," said Karan. "Our goals are to achieve and maintain world class standards for manufacturing, while growing the business at least 15% annually."

For more information contact:

Jeff Karan, Director of IT

G&W Products

8675 Seward Road

Fairfield, OH 45011


Plex Systems

900 Tower Dr, Suite 1400

Troy, MI 48098

888-454-7539 / 248-391-8001

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