Case Study: Brand Hydraulics
Brand Hydraulics implements WiSys WMS and WiSys Production Order Work Center Reporting to help keep pace with its commitment to “Gold Medal” customer service and outstanding quality
Since 1956 Brand Hydraulics has designed, manufactured and sold hydraulic valves with a strong commitment to providing value and innovation for their customers. That commitment was present when Glen Brand and his wife Mary Lou founded the business and that commitment is present today. And the Brand’s knew something about commitment. Glen won the Free‐Style Wrestling Gold Medal at the 1948 Olympics in London, England, quite an impressive task. A few short years later, he entered the business world with a promise to “conduct business with integrity and strive to exceed customer expectations while providing value and innovation in our products and services” – a promise that is prominently displayed on the company’s website today. Brand’s business has grown tremendously over the years and today their hydraulic valves end up in wood‐splitters, garbage trucks, wheel‐chair lifts, agricultural equipment and thousands of other industrial uses and have become known for their quality and reliability, in addition to Brand’s high level of customer service. Glen recently passed away, but his son Greg, proudly carries on the company’s tradition today as CEO.
That tradition includes delivering strong engineering and technical skills to every customer, regardless of how big or small they are. In fact, Brand has carved out a niche for itself by delivering exceptional technical support and outstanding customer service, even for low volume customers. Despite 90% of their sales being indirect, Brand never loses touch with those that use their product in the field. Brand offers telephone access to Brand’s engineering staff, whether the product was purchased directly from Brand or through one of its many agents, distributors or OEM partners.
Ensuring this type of commitment to customer service and satisfaction every time, is no easy goal. One way that Brand has been able to maintain this level of success is that they know how to leverage technology. A few years ago, Brand was losing efficiency in their warehouse. They had developed internal applications, including Access databases to track where inventory items were located. These systems weren’t integrated to their Macola ERP system. Managing multiple systems that weren’t integrated meant the accuracy of these systems was low, and employee confidence in these systems was even lower. With a raw materials warehouse, a machine shop, an assembly area and a finished goods warehouse, tracking down inventory got to be an expensive task.
When Brand approached their ERP service partner, Leahy Consulting, Inc., with this challenge, Leahy listened closely. “Leahy Consulting is always quick to respond to us and they know our business well,” explains Ms. Charlie Klahn, VP and Controller of Brand Hydraulics. “We had too many systems tracking the same information and none of them was doing it well, so I asked them to propose some solutions to get all of our systems to work together.” Mike Leahy, President of Leahy Consulting, adds “we introduced WiSys Pocket ES WMS and POP+ applications to Brand as a way of automating their inventory and production processes.” Together Brand, Leahy and WiSys designed an excellent solution that addressed Brand’s needs and delivered results.
Brand first implemented WiSys Pocket ES WMS in their receiving and put‐away operations. Now Brand tracks inventory to the bin level, quickly locating items wherever they may be in the facility. Next Brand implemented WiSys POP+ suite of desktop and handheld applications in their machine shop and assembly production areas. Building on Macola’s POP module, WiSys POP+ gives Brand real‐time control of their inventory through the entire production process. As the production schedule is released, Brand staff stage the raw materials and components in the W.I.P. bins located at each production work center. At every step of the process, Brand’s warehouse personnel use WiSys handheld barcode scanners to find, track and move inventory. As production is completed and reported, WiSys POP+ back‐flushes the raw materials and components from appropriate W.I.P. bin and updates Macola’s inventory data accordingly.
“Our production reporting is so much simpler than it used to be,” explains Ms. Klahn. “Our folks on the floor would never go back to the old, manual system we used to use, they love WiSys. We now have confidence in our inventory accuracy and we quickly locate needed items wherever they are in our plant.”
Brand recently updated to Pocket ES Server and has taken advantage of some of the new enhancements. “We have built some custom reports to indicate inventory shortages and the production orders that could be affected,” describes Michael Hollinger of WiSys who works closely with Brand. “We also used Visual Forms Studio to build a custom POP staging application on the handheld device, which allows the production and inventory staff to feel confident in their W.I.P. bin levels.”
So what does Brand think about WiSys’ products and customer service? “We have brought several challenges to their attention and WiSys always responds with a way to address our unique requirements,” explains Ms. Klahn. “Their products are great and they always respond with answers when we call.” And this is coming from someone that knows a thing or two about quality and customer services.