APICS Magazine Features Aerospace Manufacturer and Their Lasting Software ‘Solution’

This is an excerpt taken from the 2012 March/April Edition of APICS Magazine
‘Designed For The Long Haul: Aerospace Manufacturer Finds A Lasting Solution’
Written by: Monty Peterson, Aerospace Dynamics International
Edited by: Karl M Kapp, APICS Magazine

Aerospace Dynamics international (ADI) based in the Santa Clarita Valley of Southern California, supplies complex components and mechanical assemblies to the global aeronautics and aerospace industries.  Our corporate goal is to be an industry benchmark and offer our customers the latest engineering and manufacturing technologies.  At ADI, we are confident that our focus on continuous improvement and advanced technologies will enable the success of all of our customers’ programs.

For more than 20 years, we have been using a software program called Rapid Response Manufacturing (RRM) to serve our enterprise resource planning (ERP) needs.  Developed by ProfitKey international, the RRM software is used throughout our manufacturing processes.  We begin with a production plan that details each operation required to make and deliver to our customers.  We use the software’s capacity management feature for resource planning and its variance analysis functions to evaluate our performance between planned and actual hours and report the costs incurred.  As ADI is in the aerospace field, we are held to the highest standards in quality management; thus, we record and process all of our inspection demands using RRM.

ADI employs a large sub-tier base to support our manufacturing processes, and this group generates its orders and tracks all costs through the ProfitKey system.  Additionally, our supplier base is managed through requirements generated by the software.  We perform all of our accounts receivable within our ERP system, with the exception of payroll.  (While payroll originally was performed through RRM, it now is handled through ABRA, a partner of ProfitKey.)

For over 30 years, ProfitKey International has been a leader in providing manufacturing Enterprise Resource Planning (“ERP”) software for small to mid-sized companies who are looking to increase efficiency; specifically, in the areas of shop floor scheduling, communications, inventory management, labor reporting, cost tracking, and more.  ProfitKey’s Rapid Response Manufacturing ® (“RRM”) solution is the industry’s only fully integrated product suite that provides real time all the time capability from the front office to the shop floor. 

By listening to our customers, like Aerospace Dynamics, Inc. (“ADI”) we have enhanced RRM with features and functions that users really need.  Its scheduler is seamlessly integrated to our user friendly Manufacturing Execution System (MES), providing two-way, real-time communication of dispatching and labor data.  This gives the confidence to know they are working on the right job at the right time. 

ProfitKey’s Quality Management System was designed with the input of several customers over several months of intense discussion.  ADI was heavily involved in this process and, as a result, was able to meet customer-first article documentation requirements with our solution out of the box.  The solution is an easy-to-use module that works from the first article through final inspection with complete vendor performance ratings.  With the cause and corrective action component, users can set their own defect listings and track where a problem occurred and what was done to keep it from happening again.  Using RRM’s quality module, ADI reduced first-article audit for a large aerospace customer from five days to one.

ProfitKey continues to expand and enhance its product, and the company is creating additional partnerships in other areas of manufacturing.  We are currently reviewing third-party software through ProfitKey partners for functions including preventative maintenance, better estimation capacity, and enhanced reporting through dashboard delivery.

Program Installation

RRM is loaded on a Microsfot Windows server and individual clients, and all communications occur through ADI’s internal network.  Although we have at times struggled with the reliability of our network infrastructure, the ProfitKey server has remained a reliable system throughout the organizations 20-plus-year history.

The original installation occurred prior to my time with ADI, but all subsequent upgrades and implementations were done by in-house personnel, with the assistance of ProfitKey technicians when needed. During our last major upgrade, we purchased on-site assistance ProfitKey, but ended up using less than half the time projected.  We experienced few interruptions or incidents.

Usability

RRM uses a Windows-based interface and provides users with immediate access to information and simple reporting (See figures 1 & 2.)  An online help and tutorial system is available, which facilitates users becoming familiar with the program’s functions.  For issues that cannot be resolved through the help system, an incident can be created and resolved with a ProfitKey technician (provided that a current maintenance plan is in place).  In non-emergency situations, these incidents are responded to within 24 hours – but if we have note the system is down, an immediate response has always been received.  Additionally, there are online groups and forums where users can further enhance their knowledge of the system and view other users’ thoughts on how the software can better serve its clientele.

Figures 1-2: Setup Screen, Inspection Report Form (click on image to enlarge)

Customization

The system employs user-defined fields throughout.  This means ADI has been able to customize standards, off-the-shelf software without paying for the customization.  ProfitKey’s user-defined fields are searchable and reportable, and they are tied to the proper records.  They even have enabled us to migrate some functions previously kept outside the ERP system into the system, which has been valuable to us.

Best Features

One of the strongest points of RRM is the ease of viewing and exporting data.  (See Figure 3.)  Users can export data to any other program through a CSV (comma-separated values) file, which otherwise might require a special report generated by the database administrator.  This assists in getting our employees timely access to information.

The security functions of the system also are easy to manage and use.  A user’s access restrictions may be as simple or as complicated as the database administrator wishes.  Not only can a user be limited by application, but access also can be limited by form or even by fields on forms on a read-only or a hidden basis.  Through this system, ADI can remove unnecessary information from certain users to facilitate more focused interactions with data.  It also lets us hide sensitive information from some users but allow other critical data in the same location.

Figure 3: Customer Management Screen (click on image to enlarge)
 

Overall, the solution in RRM delivers the information we need in a clear and concise package.  It is a cost-effective product that addresses complex processes, and it is continually improving and engaging its users to be part of the evolutionary process.  Our relationship with ProfitKey has been more than 20 years in the making.  It has benefited both organizations and hopefully will remain strong as we continue to grow within our respective industries.

Monty Peterson is the contracts manager at Aerospace Dynamics International.  He has worked in aerospace manufacturing in the Santa Clarita Valley for more than 14 years.  He may be contacted at montyp [at] adi-aero [dot] com.

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