Extreme Machine Shop Efficiency
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– Our next panel up here on the main stage, is a discussion about machine shop efficiency. Real stories from shops who have achieved amazing things. Our moderator for today’s panel is Paul Van Metre. He’s the president of ProShop USA. And Paul has an interesting story. I spoke to him a couple, a couple of nights ago. He talked about when he first got started in aerospace, he was working on the machine shop floor, experiencing a lot of the frustrations that we all experience every day. But Paul seems to be a little bit different in my book He says, what can we do about it? And how can we make things better? So Paul is going to lead a panel today about how to make things better. So Paul, could you come up and introduce us to your panel?

– All right, thank you, justice. Appreciate it. So think about any man-made product today and I guarantee you that at the root of that product there’s machining and complex manufacturing processes like you guys do. Because that’s the case, It’s really crucial to our economy and to our industry. Digital transformation is changing manufacturing today. Real-time and real-time connected information between your shop floor, your office your suppliers, uh, is revolutionizing how we do business. It brings unprecedented levels of efficiency uh and things like quality, delivery, and um We’ve had customers reduce their late orders by 90% by going digital transformation. We’ve had suppliers cut their lead time from their planning process by 10 X. We’ve seen customers reduce their rejections down to almost zero. And at the same time, increasing profitability by more than 20%. These are really meaningful improvements. And if you multiply that by hundreds of thousands of companies, it can have a really meaningful impact to our economy. And this is what our mission is. So in the old model of a manufacturing company, machinist did machining, estimators did estimating accountants did accounting and I.T. tried to keep all those systems running together. There was a little to no digital connection between those systems and those processes. That’s all changed. At this point, it’s not if your company will embrace digital transformation It’s how fast and will you be a leader in this area? And it’s not actually that hard. That’s one of the most exciting parts about it. When I look around this room, I see all sorts of people we know there’s customers, there’s collaborators and there’s even competitors. Like us, many of these companies are moving digital transformation forward. Companies like Ubisense, SAP, Plex Xemelgo, Mastercam, IB integration. They’re all fully invested in helping our companies move forward to a digital world. And these systems allow our employees to share real-time information with what they’re doing on the shop floor contributing to the intellectual property of your company and to our economy. Maybe a little bit of history of where we came from. My partners and I met up at Western where we designed and built race cars every year. We fell in love with manufacturing and we decided to start a machine shop right after school. So my, one of my partners took out a second mortgage on his house, and that was enough money to buy an Oz via Ford, pay for a few months of rent. And we started knocking on doors. We were lucky that some companies gave us a shot like Rich that you’ll meet it in a few minutes. So in 97, we opened our doors, in 2000 we had matured into a company that was doing more complicated work. and our needs for managing all that information, and that data became more sophisticated. And we started out growing the Excel based system that we had started. Kelsey over here made all sorts of fancy, cool macros and it still wasn’t going to be enough. So we started getting bibs and demos from ERP software companies. Um, possibly some of the systems that you guys are using today. And we were excited to have them show us how their systems would manage our cutting tools and our inspection plans and our work instructions and our cutting tools. All these different things that were so critical to us on a daily basis. And unfortunately they told us, no I’m sorry, we don’t do those things. We can help you quote and put your orders in and then print out a piece of paper to go out in the shop. And we just weren’t into that. So we hired a software developer back in the year, 2000 and we started developing this thing that ultimately we called pro shop. And over the next many years we grew kind of organically and ProShop grew with us. As we got ISO and then AS certified. We built all the QMS modules to manage all those things for us. And we have the collective voices of our machinists our estimators, our purchasing people, our inspectors all telling us exactly what they needed it to do to make their jobs efficient. And organically we built this thing that just is fundamentally different than anything else out there. We came to learn. Around 2008, this guy named Rich that we knew was moonlighting for us on the weekends. So he could earn enough money to build a sports park for his kids in the backyard of his house. And he used ProShop and he went back to the owners of their company and he said, you’ve got to see the system. So they approached us and asked us to sell ProShop to them. Which we said, no, it’s not for sale or not a software company, but they were pretty insistant And then we decided to give it a shot. So none of us expected the kind of improvements that they saw. It kind of blew us all away. They had some other suppliers that were also not performing as well. So they asked us if we could sell it to some other part competitors which we did and they all had great results. So we decided then to switch and kind of switch our business. And we sold our machine shop Pro CNC in 2014. And this is a snapshot of what we look like today. Or, at the time. So these companies that are gonna um come up and talk to us in a minute and then we’re gonna play a video, right now. But these, these guys are going to share a little bit of their experience through a digital transformation and what it’s meant for their companies. So if we can cue up that video.

– One of the benefits of ProShop for me, was peace of mind you know running a job shop. They say is, one of the hardest jobs in the world ProShop helped us with that. It’s streamlined all of our processes.

– The efficiency level of everyday operations is staggering in that we now have the ability to see everything. I can’t describe enough of what it is like to be able to literally see everything from one desktop. It’s a brilliant, brilliant software.

– It’s been impressive at how easy ProShop is for me to look up issues with jobs, to see if we were profitable on a current job, are we bidding it right? So it’s taken it to where anytime I have any questions or any concerns about a job, I can look the entire history up to how much material we purchased to where it went out for outside processing, any accessories, how much tooling do we have to buy for that job?

– The fact that ProShop was designed by people that had owned a job shop and knew what I was dealing with. I could tell immediately that what they were giving us was the perfect ingredients and directions on how to bake a cake. And so all I had to do was just follow those directions, use those ingredients, and that would be successful. And that’s exactly what we did

– Our largest changes was the fact that we realized we had a lot of waste. ProShop instantly showed us that.

– We had a lot of difficulties in maintaining a good schedule that would accurate. So we could forecast on our workload, be positive on when we’re going to get our items to our customers. And we just constantly were fighting with that. And ProShop really gives me a better comfort level in knowing where my schedule’s at, how I’m performing for my customers and what they’re going to get.

– We get audited quite often being in the aerospace industry, whether it’s AS 9100 or Boeing themselves, the FAA, Gulf streams.

– The one thing they always all say is they’ve never seen a more complete robust software in any of the shops that they go in.

– I mean, we’ve had companies like space X come in here and literally tell us that this is the best setup they’ve ever seen. And when we open up pro shop their eyes get wild and they ask us if they can tell their other shops about ProShop.

– ProShop really has nailed it when it comes to what a shop really needs to know, what customers are going to ask. And it’s just a amazing product to have.

– It’s a lot easier as an owner to be able to run a business model that works versus fighting a business model that doesn’t.

– I appreciate how they make my life easier. It’s uh it’s truly invaluable.

– So I’d like to bring up on stage, my customers. So we’ll start with Rich. Rich Wilson is the general manager of Self Help Marine. Self Help Marine cabinet watches can be found on the majority of commercial aircraft flying today. His professional expertise is unparalleled and we are honored and fortunate to call him a friend and a customer for more than 22 years. Next, we have Matt Mellick. President of 3D Industries in Chicago. His shop specializes in ultra high precision, multi-process aerospace parts. The tolerance is they can hold will make most machinists shake in their steel-toed boots. And that also brings an equally precise level of strategic thinking to running this company. And David Hannah, president of G zero CNC Machining, a highly successful shop near the Boise, Idaho area. So David has a great story. In 2007, David had the great idea to leave the stressful high pressure corporate life in LA and trade it for the peaceful and stress free existence of running a machine shop. So, he bought a machine shop in Boise with no machining experience to his name, but with a steep learning curve he’s clearly had success because they’re doing great. So he’s a natural, thank you guys. So, um, so I’ll start with you Rich. You mentioned in the video about being audited, right? Can you just describe a little bit of what maybe your audits used to be like and how it changed once you had everything in sort of a single digital system?

– Absolutely. So starting out, as the, we had to go to AS I don’t to this day, know how we even passed our audit. We had auditors, 3 or 4 auditors they were grabbing stacks of paper from back alleys. I mean it was remarkable. We had processes in place to failed to maintain. It just was not feasible or efficient for us. So it was always stressful, always led to major findings that we had to deal with to reestablish how we were going to correct these findings. And it was, it just was not working for us. Part of the reason ProShop has changed that is we now bring in our auditors, we sit in a conference room and we just navigate. We just navigate from there and basically, you know, if we find a finding it’s not due to the software, we jumped off course, but it’s uh these audits. What used to be so stressful, we welcome now we used to dread having to go through.

– Any of the others have any experience with any auditing as well?

– Yeah. We had our first audit last June, just to follow up on it. And our auditor actually wrote up ProShop in his system, he was so surprised at how easy it was to find everything out. We could show him the training for our people we could follow the history of any part consistently and so he’s coming back, this May for our full a three-year audit. So I’m sure we’ll fly through it with flying colors.

– Yeah we just had a audit with Harris Precision. It’s almost absurd as far as their taxing and delivering demands. Real tough audit and they shoved 3 people in And afterwards, I don’t know if I told you this but they said uh your system is sexy.

– Okay.

– And for someone to say that about but they were wildly impressed to the point where they actually asked us like a flagship model from their other suppliers if they can call us and introduce them and how we manage all of our, all of our work so easily.

– Well it’s okay with me if you do that

– David, you talked about uh the challenges you had with scheduling and how you’ve been able to now deliver more reliably and have better on-time performance. Can you share some of the things that went into that? What was challenging before versus today? Some of the systems, with having things be paperless that allow better delivery.

– Sure. I’ve always known to have a successful company. You have to have ERP system, something that’s gonna work that we can keep track of everything. Your customer will be comfortable in knowing that you’re following certain procedures. So we used a different company before I don’t know if I can say that, and we switched to ProShop just because I, I went to one of these conferences and so, Paul gave a demo and was like, it was amazing cause it was like too good to be true. It’s like, okay, he’s just showing me all cool stuff and everything, but it was really neat. And I think this is, this is something I want to look at. So we looked at it a little more and implemented it. And it is just night and day that how much I can schedule through my shop now and be comfortable with what I’m scheduling instead of just accepting orders throwing them into the system and hope they land on time, which they never would. Um our previous system, we had, we had to use Excel sheets to accentuate what their jobs were. Now we’re a hundred percent paperless. Everybody has a computer out there. So at the workstation, they can see prints they can see their inspection in-process checks they have to do so really to, to go from kind of not really having a schedule, just uh kind of a book of orders there to now we have a true schedule that we can see what’s coming up. If I need to notify customer that I’m going to be a day late. I can let them know, we can have a time or a few days ahead of time, depending on how long the process was to let them know and see if there’s room in the schedule they say sure, great, we’ve solved the problem. If they say no, and we see what we have to do to get it out on time with overtime and other operations who know the machine and it just makes it so simple for us to figure that out.

– So Matt you obviously do very high tolerance, parts and quality is really key to like to do. Can you describe a little bit of what it is like to combine all those quality processes, inspection reports everything into one system versus the paper-based thing. You know, it’s been a lifesaver for her really tough managing our accountants are so tight and there’s a lot of back and forth and quality and our customer and engineering. And so having that in one closed loop makes her job and the people that work for her it makes it enjoyable. Before ProShop. Again, we used another year a software actually made things worse than when we had just Xcel and people were not, they weren’t having fun. But now that everything is in a perfect place, right. And then it makes communication is so clear and people are now starting to enjoy their jobs more, everybody.

– What’s more important than that? Rich, you saw some reductions in overhead staff when you first got ProShop. I remember you told us, you had you employed two full-time expediters, right? And you would always be fighting to try to get the hottest jobs out the door. Can you maybe describe a little bit of how that changed after you went paperless?

– Sure. So yeah, we used to, our system, our previous system was it would manage our jobs and when we needed it. The problem is, it didn’t give us the ability to see to the end of the schedule it could only could only manage so much. And so we were fighting every day. If someone didn’t come in with an extra side job or something that had to be pushed to the front, it would just kind of blow up the schedule or our view of everything. And so I constantly had people that were expediters like you said, managing and trying to focus their attention solely When we havd full visibility from start to finish on every job, every order. It allowed us to cut some overhead where we needed and put resources into other areas that maybe needed some extra attention. And we just found out what we call in the industry, was waste. And we had a lot of waste of those people that were doing this role for us that we no longer needed. So that’s how, what ProShop was able to do for us.

– That’s awesome. Thank you. Dave. you’ve talked, when you first got ProShop you told me that you were gonna implement it pretty well but that our cutting tool module you’d probably weren’t gonna mess with it because it wasn’t really thinking that was necessary And then you had an epiphany a few months later. Can you describe what that was and how that affected your company?

– Sure. Yeah, so as we implemented ProShop the schedule was my my big thing that I wanted. Cause that drags everything well there’s a nice feature in ProShop. It’s as the machinist is doing their job. They can put in notes to the side, anything that happened when they were going along. And so we would read those notes and review what happened in the jobs. And I come to find out that it was, my setups were horrible. I mean, they were taking forever. We’d give her a half hour set up on a blond and you’d take an hour and a half. And so I look over at the comments and the comments would be, you know looking for a fixture, looking for a tool. And so I’m like, I have a guy walking around looking for a 10 30 T tap, which costs $8. And he’s spending hours looking for this thing. I’m like, you’ve got to be kidding me. So I said, okay, let’s look at the tool module. So we looked at the tool module and start implementing it and come to find out that now I have one gentleman who used to be full-time as he was setting it up to get everybody started. Cause it gets so detailed pictures of the tools everything could be in there. It’s done just amazing. So, but now he chews up the jobs ahead of time. We know where the tools are and what machines they’re in And if they’re going to be done in time and if we can use that tool, great. If not, we’ll go buy another one. Um, which cut down our expediting of you know, UPS reds your press right now, the system. So, but really just the improvement that we saw in our setup reduction is just phenomenal. I mean, I can’t even explain it how excited we were to see that we’ve cut something out by implementing a process in the system that tells us everything instead of just guessing it’s we know for sure. you know exactly how many tools we have, what machines they’re in and when they’re going to be used. If you scrap one out, just delete it from the system. And it tells you if you need to buy another one or not. So you’re not anticipating, you’re not using a cartridge system or a vending machine system.

– Thank you. So Matt I’ve always been impressed by your sort of strategic business thinking and the books you recommended to me. You mentioned that before you put crush up and you really went through the org chart and company positions and training modules to make sure you have the right people on the bus and the right seats. Can you just describe a little bit of that process and how that’s helped your company?

– Sure. Well, we had, we had spent a decade trying to implement an ERP successfully. And then when we met me from Microsoft mutual friend mentioned ProShop and we’re in the middle of the rehab and took our whole job shop down in Fort worth with a system called EOS, which is you guys I’m sure you’re familiar with it’s a great book. We took it very seriously. And we got out to all the people that weren’t 110% on onboard with ERP and then put everybody in the right seats which was absolutely critical when implementing ProShop because ProShop is you have to be 100%. And that’s why I urge everybody to actually visit with Paul and Kelsey and the guys over there to take a look at what they’re doing because I think this is going to be a standard in manufacturing very shortly. It’s getting a lot of publicity. It works. It’s amazing. It really is. And, but you have to have the right people you have to have the right mindset to implement it. You gotta be serious about it.

– Yeah. I would say to that. That was our biggest fear. Just people buying in. The culture change in a work environment is so tough, but once people saw how it was going to make their lives easier, to the day-to-day they instantly bought in and, you know, similar, if someone for whatever reason wasn’t following to buy in, well, you know, that’s life and we’re going in a certain direction, you either get up on the train or you don’t. That’s uh exactly what we did as well.

– Great. Just one last question. Um, you know companies are always looking to bring on new customers and diversify their, their work statement. I know for us in our shop and I’ve heard it from some of you and other customers that pro shop becomes, or your system and your bass pro shop that your system becomes a really critical part of your sales tool and your sales process to differentiate your company from everyone else that has the same machines and the same you know. If you can just kind of describe a little bit of your process of, of, of using your system as a sales tool.

– Oh, okay. So it’s my job as sales manager to get people in the door and give a company tour, right? When I, when I get people in as I do about two weeks and after we’re done with the tour Matt Rudy my manufacturing manager slash engineering manager gives them a full long tour approach that we can’t get people out of unfolding. So they’re stuck, they love it. And it’s, it’s kind of taking the art out of my sails. All I have to do is give people an ordinance. Cause I mean, that’s what everybody wants right? Everybody wants their job to be safe. When they walk into a shop and somebody is dedicated to pro shop like us, they see, and they open up that system and they look in and they say, wow, like you can run jobs from start to finish. And they’re sold because that’s what they’ve been looking for. And they see that we’re actually doing it Because with ProShop you can’t cheat, right? It’s a, it’s a system. So it’s that like the other systems where you, like I said it’s the perfect cake. Here’s the directions, here’s the ingredients. So they love that. It’s crazy.

– I think that’s all the questions we have. I wanted to open it up to the room to see if you guys have any questions at all. For these two gentlemen. It’s always hard to go first. Alright, well if you would like to talk to any of them about their businesses or, or sending work to them I’m sure they’d be happy to talk Our booth is just right, right outside. Pretty prominent. And I wanted to thank you all very much for flying from Chicago and Idaho I’m driving 10 minutes away. And we could move to the slides as one more slide. Just a thank you. So digital transformation is really important to our industry. As I talked about at the beginning, you know manufacturing is the core of our economy. We feel it’s our mission to help lift up manufacturing companies so they can be more efficient and hire more people and help their local economies thrive. And our economy thrive in general. It’s really important that everyone get on board. So if you’re using old processes and paper-based and there’s a lot of waste like Rich was talking about whether it’s us, whether it’s SAP whether it’s Xemelgo talk to these companies see what’s a good fit for you and welcome to the 21st century. And you can definitely do it and our industry needs you to do it. So thank you everybody.

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