Our customer ibml manufactures and distributes high-speed document scanners and sorting machines. “We make the world’s fastest scanners,” explains Matthew Jones, ibml’s Director of Production Planning.
We had the pleasure of sitting down with Matthew to explore the innovative ways in which ibml is harnessing the power of WiSys. Discover firsthand how ibml is leveraging WiSys to revolutionize its operations in our conversation below.
What were your business challenges before using WiSys?
Before WiSys, we struggled with inventory control and production planning. We have a lot of on-hand finished products, sub-assemblies, and components. We wanted to be able to automate our inventory tracking, stop using manual processes, and get real-time visibility for production.
How do you use WiSys?
We tailored WiSys to fit our current processes. In phase one, we rolled out WiSys to inventory control and the sub-assembly floor. Then in phase two, we extended the RMA process and final assembly floor. We are in the middle of phase two now. We are tailoring the solution, testing it, and getting it just right.
We are changing old processes and reducing our paper consumption. Instead of clicking in and out of Macola, we can use WiSys grids to run queries and then distribute the workload digitally. That has been where part of my team has seen the most success. There are fewer clicks now, we are printing less than half the paper we were printing before. That is a big savings.
Serialization of inventory
We are able to do investigative research into our serialized items. The WiSys grids allow us to dig into history and then export that data into Excel to do further analysis.
We have also been using MRP+ for about two months. We have used the mass part setup and vendor setup feature. With the supply chain disruptions the past few years, our lead times had doubled or tripled from certain vendors and we were having to go into each item and make a thousand different Macola transactions or adjustments. Now we can go into MRP+ and grab one supplier that may have 200 parts and we can reduce the lead time for that vendor. That has been a huge help and worth it 100%.
How did you handle concerns among your staff about learning new software?
With any change, there are going to be skeptics and pushback. The way we were able to overcome some of that is to highlight the advantages of what WiSys is doing for people individually. I try to find a key advantage for every person who may have to change how they do their process with WiSys to make sure everybody’s on board. Before we did anything I always made sure that I had a deliverable that was clearly an advantage for each person and focused on that first.
An example would be our labels. Labels were a big hit with our team. Before WiSys, we used an old typewriter to manually key in the label when the sub-assembly was finished. The advantage they have now is when they scan their operation, that label prints automatically and they don’t have to touch a typewriter. That was the big ticket for them to see that advantage. The labels also have QR codes on them so that you can take any old cell phone to see what shop order it was built on and you can use that to see who built it. That’s the advantage that the production workers saw. They take pride in what they do and with WiSys labels they know who built each item.
Including them in the process as much as possible is key as well. Some of the changes stem from the production workers’ ideas. If they see a problem or have an idea, we have the ability to investigate that and make a change pretty quickly with WiSys. This helps everybody feel like they are involved in the process and it is a group effort.
What have been the biggest benefits of using WiSys?
We are a pretty young, small company. We’ve been around for about 30 years and have had Macola for most of that time. The manual transactions that we had to do in Macola required more and more data entry folks. With WiSys, the person who is doing the work on the floor, receiving a product, or stocking a product is taking an extra 10 seconds to scan a barcode and then we can see it right away.
With WiSys, we have been able to grow the production side of things while still remaining relatively small.
Enhanced Inventory Control
WiSys has given us the comfort of knowing we can trust our data because of the processes we put in place. We now trust our inventory numbers, can do transactions in real-time, quickly look up inventory, and make adjustments if necessary. We can trust our inventory numbers because of the tools and processes we have in place.
We use barcoding for real-time scanning so we can track shop orders and production progress in real-time.
We have a lot of processes that we are working on automating using WiSys. Instead of manually typing in customer information in a field, we can use WiSys on a handheld device to pull in all that information. This has reduced a lot of errors. We have also tailored the product so WiSys won’t let warehouse workers make a mistake. So that’s a major win from the warehouse floor workers’ perspective.
Easy to Train New Employees
WiSys is so user-friendly that a new hire can start stocking and picking orders on day one. They are adding value to the company immediately.
What is your favorite thing about WiSys?
The ability to extract data, manipulate it, and filter has been my favorite thing about WiSys. The grid-like tool allows me to drill into our actual database and investigate a lot easier than using legacy Macola screens. I have the ability to go look in the order entry side to find all the information I need. I can easily get a sense of our inventory, see what we need based on our priorities, and do supply chain planning. This helps bring the processes full circle from a business perspective.
One example of the data we can easily find is with serialization. We can look up usage for a particular item, find serial numbers, sort, use filters, and extract that data into Excel.
Ability to Tailor the Solution
We love working with WiSys Consultants Nick and Todd to create tailored processes and reports. We are able to tailor WiSys to how we want to use it and what we need it for. Nick and Todd are very knowledgeable and their experience has helped shape our processes. We can grow and expand our processes as we take WiSys into new departments and company-wide.
Do you have any advice for other companies?
I would say to be open to change and open to exploring. Click around and see what you have available to you. Think about processes that are being done manually now and think about how that could be done in real-time. Who is physically doing an operation and then who is doing the transaction and if those are different start there. That’s what I’ve done and it’s been successful.
What is next for ibml?
We recently acquired a competitor and are expanding into another site so we will be expanding our product line. Because of this expansion, we will need multi-site inventory control. WiSys will help us achieve that. We also hope to expand inventory control with WiSys overseas.
We want to use Agility Shipping more in the future so we can streamline processes and keep shipping and tracking in one platform.
I also see us bringing WiSys into our fabrication shop where we stamp and press the metal for our machines. We want to use WiSys to track labor and machine time. That will be phase three or four down the road after we get Agility Shipping and our different inventory sites set up and running.
WiSys will be pivotal in our future plans.
We look forward to talking to Matthew again in the future to hear how the next WiSys project is going at ibml!
Customer Success Videos
Creating a Tailored Solution
In this clip, Matthew talks about working with WiSys consultants to create a tailored solution to fit his business needs.
In this clip, Matthew talks about his favorite ways to use WiSys for finding, sorting, filtering, and analyzing information.
How User Friendly Tools Help With Training New Employees
In this clip, Matthew talks about how a new hire can quickly start picking, stocking, and scanning with WiSys because of how user-friendly the platform is.