Manufacturing plastics for the medical and automotive industries requires absolute precision and control in all steps of manufacturing. Ellay, Inc., City of Commerce, CA, handles custom orders for a variety of customers, tracking all supplies and final products throughout the manufacturing process. With precise lot tracking, they can achieve more accurate and timely costing that ensures orders are filled correctly and on schedule.
Ellay has been a pioneer in the manufacture of plastics from raw materials for over 40 years. They specialize in specialty film and sheeting, flexible and semi-rigid Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) compounds, extrusion of PVC, Ethylene Vinyl Acetate (EVA) and other specialty films, as well as lamination, silk screening and custom die cutting upon request. Pharmaceutical companies use their plastics to create hospital supplies such as bags and tubing.
Ellay has an unusual need for accuracy because of their customer's needs. In the medical industry, for instance, products need to be made to exacting specifications since lives depend on the accuracy of products. Specifications and lot control are strict and numerous, and keeping track of them can be a monumental task.
Sharing this information between departments became a problem for Ellay because they weren't tied together on a single database. One department would read updated information on their computers while in another department, the information would be unchanged. Ellay's Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) suite—computer software that tracks the movement and quantity of raw materials, labor, and accounting throughout an organization—was DOS-based, difficult to use and didn't fit all of their needs, especially when it came to lot tracking.
"Our system was very simplistic and unsophisticated," Ellay Vice President Allen Edmonds explains. "It wasn't very integrated and the departments weren't together. We wanted to control our process by tracking with lot numbers to gain an efficient and detailed accounting of cost and inventory. The old system simply didn't have these capabilities and sometimes caused more problems than solutions."
Manually entering and figuring costing information meant lost time, labor and money, not to mention added confusion. Delays in processing meant that the information was always late, and therefore, not helpful. They knew the solution was to find a newer, better ERP to make a well coordinated, unified system.
"We wanted to get everything into one system, with one database that all our departments could share," said Edmonds. "If something is put into the computer in manufacturing, we wanted someone in accounting to be able to look into the computer and see what happened. Our goal was to close the books in a timely manner at the end of each month."
Ellay searched industry magazines for the top recommended software suites, and received a recommendation from their Controller who had used an ERP by ONLINE Software Labs (OSLabs) at a former management position. Ellay subsequently narrowed the list and invited four companies to give presentations of their software.
When it came time for a final decision, according to Edmonds, it came down to the software's lot tracking capabilities. "We chose OSLabs' DMACS (Distribution, Manufacturing, Accounting, Costing and Simulation) software because it had superior lot tracking capabilities—there wasn't any other software that had anything close to it."
Since 1980, ONLINE Software Labs has provided customer driven solutions for use in a wide range of manufacturing and distribution industries. OSLabs' DMACS package is a fully-featured, completely integrated enterprise planning, execution and control suite for a wide range of manufacturing and wholesale distribution industries. DMACS provides leading-edge relational database technology based on a three-tier Client/Server design utilizing MS Windows or Web-based user interfaces. The suite includes modules for sales and marketing, financial accounting, warehouse management and manufacturing management.
DMACS' system foundation was originally developed for the multi-company, multi-division, multi-site environment operating diverse distribution and/or production facilities worldwide. Because the module design is flexible and easy to use, growth is virtually unlimited.
DMACS implementation at Ellay consisted of a slow transition to the new software coupled with training and support from OSLabs technicians. Ellay ran both systems concurrently for a month and throughout a three-month transition period, OSLabs technicians were there to answer questions. During the first two weeks of use, technicians were at Ellay every day to help with questions or problems.
"Implementation was very smooth. They had a class in the conference room to help us and supplied manuals," Edmonds says. "It's like anything, like a foreign language—you have to learn it. Once you do, it's easy."
Ellay now uses the DMACS software throughout the company in all departments, from manufacturing to accounting, even keeping their entire General Ledger on it. When something is entered into the computer in one area of the company, someone in another department has easy access to the information.
"We do actual costing, tracking all the raw material coming in by price and lot number. Before we had to do this separately on an Excel spreadsheet," Edmonds says. "With the DMACS software, it does all of our job costing for us. Now we put all the materials in the computer and we see how many pounds we made and it will cost it out for us. At the end of the line, we have a lot number on the final product that we can enter into the system and the software will display for us every single lot number from each raw material that went into it."
The DMACS software is unlike most ERP suites in that OSLabs can build customizations into the standard system and fully support them because OSLabs owns the code. They ended up making several changes for Ellay that became standard for the system in the future. "We were used as a test case for lot control. Whatever changes they made for us, they made standard," Edmonds noted.
The DMACS ERP software has helped streamline Ellay, Inc. by tying together departments in one, easy-to-use database that tracks supplies and final products throughout the manufacturing process. It has saved time and money by costing automatically and has given Ellay a tighter grasp on its manufacturing process.
"It has so much information about our vendors and customers—what they shipped, what they bought, when they shipped it, when it was promised," said Ellay Controller Raul Pavia. "It's a major information source and one of the most complete databases that I've seen."
"I don't know of any other system that has detailed lot controls like this," Edmonds says. "All the different modules talk to each other. We are closing our financial statements in a reasonable amount of time. I'd recommend it because it works—I don't have any horror stories, and with this type of software, there are usually a lot of horror stories."
OSLabs continues to provide stable, comprehensive ERP solutions with DMACS and its component modules. They make ERP a business asset instead of an added complication.