Growing 70% With Less Admin Staff: Using Software Automation To Keep Up With Increasing Client Demand
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Growing 70% With Less Admin Staff Case Study

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Speaker 1:
All right. Here we are. Good morning people. Welcome. All right. We always like to start these off by, of
course, first welcoming people by asking you to put into the chat where you are joining from. So I see
we have Bryce and Casey and Chris and David and David and Ian and Kira and Ryan and Terry and Mark,
and all sorts of folks. So where are you? Vancouver, BC, right on. And Martin, good morning. People are
streaming in here. So Woodstock, Illinois. All right, Kara, very good. Love it. Toronto, very good.
Madison, Indiana, Oklahoma City, Ripley, New York, fantastic. Thank you all. There are people from all
over the place. So I am super pumped about this webinar. This is James and his company are really an
amazing case study and I’m sure that you all will get some inspiration from it and see just what is really
possible when you lean into using software and best practices and just going all in on soft automation
and trying to do more with less. So start by introducing my good friend Jamie here. So Jamie, can you
say hello? Introduce yourself to folks.
Jamie Marzilli:
Hello. I’m Jamie Marzilli, president of Marzilli Machine, avid ProShop user.
Speaker 1:
So tell how long have you had your shop and how did you decide start a shop?
Jamie Marzilli:
We’ve been in business [inaudible 00:01:53] we’re going on 11 years now and we’ve been a ProShop
user for just over two.
Speaker 1:
And why did you decide to start your own shop, Jamie?
Jamie Marzilli:
My wife dared me to.
Speaker 1:
You wife dared you to. That’s a fantastic reason.
Jamie Marzilli:
10 years ago I was no different than any other machinist and coming home complaining about my boss
and she dared me to do it. And here I am.
Speaker 1:
I love that story. That’s fantastic. I hadn’t heard that before. And she works with you in the business, soJamie Marzilli:
Yes, she does.
Speaker 1:
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… you brought her along. Awesome. I’m sure you’re an awesome team. All right, well, let’s keep moving
here. So I guess a bit of Q and A, sorry, a bit of housekeeping first. Certain questions will come up, please
put questions in the Q and A, little option on the bottom bar of your Zoom panel, as opposed to the
chat. It’s just easier to keep track of those and we will get to those at the end, more than likely or
possibly in the mix, depending on if it seems particularly pertinent at the time. And let’s move along
here. So why are we doing this webinar? So here at ProShop, this is our mission statement. We really
deeply care and believe in the importance of improving the manufacturing economy, the manufacturing
industry. And we do that one client at a time. And then as we help lift up these shops, they can hire
more people, improve their local economies.
Speaker 1:
And of course the manufacturing sector is so crucial to our industry and to our country, our countries,
for those joining from Canada as well. We do believe we’re doing really important stuff. So we’re here to
help share the success that Jamie has had, and hopefully you all can can learn from that and help do the
same thing in your own shops, in your own communities. So there’s been incredible consolidation over
the last decade or so. There’s more and more companies buying up other shops, there’s private equity
firms that own a dozen or 20 or 30 shops, and it’s hard to compete. And Jamie, I know that you had
talked about some of the investments that it takes to buy automated equipment. It’s just out of reach
for a lot of shops. And I’m hoping you can share just a few thoughts on that, the importance of trying to
keep up with the big guys.
Jamie Marzilli:
Sure. When you start thinking about how you’re going to grow your shop and you listen to all the
experts out there, they’re all pitching automation, it’s the way of the future, it’s tomorrow. So probably
just like a lot of other shop owners out there, you start digging into it and crunching the numbers and
finding out that you probably need a quarter of a million dollar investment to bring in some of the
automation in the traditional sense, which is to swap humans with robot tending. And that you got to
put a lot of capital investment up front. You need to make sure that you can inspect the parts, even
though they’re being run automatically. And then you need somebody who knows how to run the
robots, how to set them up and program them. And space, you need to have a lot of space.
Jamie Marzilli:
And in my facility, space is [inaudible 00:05:41]. So there wasn’t a lot of room to put robots anywhere to
handle it in that way. It’s something else that, how do you train your younger people? You don’t just
throw them right into setups. You need to give them time to get acclimate, the inspection processes,
with operating the machine, with debugging it. When things break, how do you get it back up and
running? So replacing humans with robots had as many downfalls as it did improvements. And that
upfront chunk to put a quarter of a million bucks into something that wasn’t going to be a spindle,
wasn’t going to produce chips, that was a hard pill to swallow. So we looked for another way. So we
decided to go about automating the administration of our company, which was really where the pain
Speaker 1:
So you previously used a different system and you were in about seven years, is that right?
Jamie Marzilli:
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Speaker 1:
And you mentioned to me that on one hand, you weren’t loving it, but on the other hand, you were
reluctant to throw away your seven years of investment. With them, can you just share a little bit about
that process of change and just what that was like for you?
Jamie Marzilli:
Sure. It was a scary point. We knew what we were doing wasn’t working. We knew that there was
something better out there, and we knew the incredible amount of work it was going to take to make
the swap from one to the other. And really we needed to… We just had to measure it out and say what
do we think the return is going to be on this if we make the switch? And all of the different things that
we saw, being able to switch the paper list, being able to have all these things managed. We had people
basically doing all of this paperwork and moving things around. And we said, what if we could just get rid
of all of that? The straw that broke the camel’s back was one time we spent two days looking for a
traveler. And I said that’s just got to go away. So that [inaudible 00:07:53] the trigger
Speaker 1:
Two days looking for a traveler. Did you eventually find it?
Jamie Marzilli:
No, we just printed another one, which now that’s an ISO fail, now we have split documentation. So it’s
a whole mess of bad stuff. We really don’t even know how bad it is until you take it all apart and you
start doing it better and you look back and you say, “Man, I don’t even know how we were able to
function back then.”
Speaker 1:
No, it’s surprising to us that pretty much every system out there still largely relies on printing paper
travelers. I think this is 2022 and you’re not feeding tapes into running your CNCs anymore. So there’s
just grasping onto that old technology because of fear of change. I think the experience you had is just
so universal that it’s a big, scary thing.
Jamie Marzilli:
Well, it’s a mindset. So if you’re stuck in that mindset, then… And that can be either saying, “Well, this is
the way we’ve always done it and it’s always worked or it worked for my dad and so it should work for
me.” We had a different mindset. I’m a younger than average shop owner and I’m worried about the
next 20 years, not the last 20 years. And we had some success with another software in automating our
quality control department. And that changed our mindset. And we said, well… It almost eliminated the
bottlenecking going on in that department. And we said, “What if we could duplicate these results
everywhere?” We reached out to that existing shall not be named ERP. And they were like, “No, we’re
not really doing anything like that.” The hyperlinking and the Chrome and being able to basically get
anywhere and find any piece of data that you are looking for is priceless. It really is.
Speaker 1:
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So what a lot of shops often do, and when we talk to folks and we say, “All right, well, how many
employees do you have? How many machines? What’s your revenue? How many people do you have in
various departments?” It sometimes it’s mind boggling how many people they say they have doing
certain roles. It’s like a shop of 50 people has three people in purchasing and they’re just throwing
bodies at the problem. And I think you mentioned to me, what was it? Throwing money or willpower or
people at the problem?
Jamie Marzilli:
[inaudible 00:10:40] willpower or money, those are your three resources that you could throw at a
problem. And so when I first got started, we didn’t have a lot of money so we threw incredible amounts
of people and willpower at problems to solve them. And you come up with some pretty ingenious
solutions when you’re doing it that way. But after a while, that starts to wear thin and you need money
to throw at some of these things. And so you got to be able to generate money and generate cash flow.
And that really came… We didn’t really see that come steady until we made the switch. Once we made
the switch, we could actually really predict, we got rid of a lot of pain points in the company, and it really
just started to flow. We started to get out of the feast famine cycle that I’m sure a lot of shops still suffer
Speaker 1:
Absolutely. And so the conversation that we have with a lot of companies is… Because one of our
challenges as a software provider is just educating people on, we’re not actually just a different looking
type of system. It is really a re-imagining of how a shop runs, how the data flows within a company. And
to a lot of… It’s largely a leap of faith. And unfortunately our industry has, I think been somewhat ruined
by so many really terrible experiences of software that has been sold. And then once a company buys it,
they find out that what they bought just really isn’t what they were sold. And so there’s healthy
skepticism, as there rightfully should be given the history. So when you went through our onboarding
process, you worked closely with one of our implementation specialists, one of our most experienced, I
wonder if you could share a little bit about that process?
Jamie Marzilli:
Absolutely. So the onboarding process with Luke was amazing. It was a very humbling experience. I’ve
been the machinist since I was 15 years old, I went to trade school for this. I did it my entire life. I did a
tool and die makers apprenticeship. I’ve been in the CNCs before I started my own business for about 10
years. And then I had been in business for eight years and employed probably 18 people when we first
started. And as we were moving through these things, I remember… And if you go back and you watch a
lot of the videos, there’s a lot of me going, “Oh man, I’ve just been doing this wrong the entire time.”
Jamie Marzilli:
And in some videos you see me run from the desk. I run downstairs and I’m like, stop, stop, stop, we’re
not doing this right. Hold on, do this like this, like this. And then I would come back into the session and
Luke would laugh. But we built a tool crib from scratch because we saw how we could move so much of
that time from in the cut process to out of the cut process, if we did the planning. So we moved a lot of
online time, time where I say, “Here you go, take this and start cutting.” We would consider that now
you’re online. We moved a lot of that stuff into the offline time of that. And the onboarding portion of
this before we had actually done anything was extremely eyeopening to what was possible, what we
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were doing wrong, how we could do it better, how we could use ProShop as a tool to fix a lot of
different things. It’s not as rigid as our previous ERP system is.
Jamie Marzilli:
We can use a lot of these different things to solve a lot of different problems. And even to this day, and
it’s been two years later, we still feel like ProShop works here in a way. If we run into a problem, we
submit a ticket in, it gets answered right away. We at least get… We get a response right away. I have an
answer to what’s going on 10 minutes later, sometimes half an hour at worst. If it’s an emergency, it
gets handled immediately. Let me see. We didn’t really realize just how bad things were until we’d
started digging into the onboarding process.
Jamie Marzilli:
So on your computer, somebody is showing you a better map, a better way. And as you’re watching it,
you somewhat say, well, this is how we do it. And this is how it could be done. And sometimes the
answer would be in the middle. It wasn’t actually like, “Well, I’m going to throw this away and we’re
going to jump onto what they thought.” But sometimes it was sometimes it was like, oh my God, this is
horrible. And just toss that in the can and let’s just start from scratch on this particular process. I’ll bring
up inventory control as one of those things. The way we were managing inventory previously was a
complete nightmare. And now it just happens on its own now, it just does what it’s supposed to do.
Speaker 1:
Well, we have a perfect slide for that whole concept. What do you know? And I think this is often the
case. One of the books that we read at our shop early in our history was called The E-Myth. And The EMyth, the premise of the book is that if you are a technician in your craft, if you are an expert machinist,
an expert baker, an expert whatever, that you think you’ll be good at running that same type of
business. And it’s just generally not true because it’s a very different skillset and…
Jamie Marzilli:
Guilty as charged. Especially at the beginning, I kept running my business like a machinist and not like a
businessman. I was taking in jobs because I wanted to prove I could make that job not because I needed
to make money on it. Definitely from a machinist point of view. Well, I can make anything.
Speaker 1:
Sure. No, we learned this the hard way ourselves. We made so many mistakes over so many years and
eventually just through reading and talking to other people. And that’s the other part about… I think a
lot of shop owners are isolated in their own little bubbles. They don’t generally have other shop owners
that they can just go talk to really openly about, “Hey, how do you do this? Or how do you solve this
problem?” Because very likely the shops in your area are possibly competitors and you don’t want to…
People just don’t want to share like that. So it can be kind of isolating, I think, and not realizing some of
the waste that you have created in your shop. So obviously getting rid of paper is one of the key
elements in any shop, being able to do a lot more with a lot less folks, working in the right things. So this
is not actually your desk, but you said this has almost looked like your desk when…
Jamie Marzilli:
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Absolutely. Our shop folders were blue. But other than that, very similar. A lot of papers everywhere as
you’re trying to sort through stuff and work your way through. So we’re a completely paperless facility
now. And it’s not that paper is illegal, it’s not that you can’t print a piece of paper if you need it, which
I’ve seen some places go that extreme but I don’t think that’s necessary, what we do is we just say the
digital copies of the master copies and any information that you would’ve written down needs to find its
way into ProShop, either on the part level. They can’t approve their own prints. That has to go through a
process through the office. But if they need to mark up a print, there is a process to do that. So if you
wanted to print out a print or so you got something to doddle on, we don’t have any problems with that.
Just when you’re done, that print gets destroyed. And so anything that you wanted on it has to go into
the system where it belongs, where it would be there for the next day.
Speaker 1:
And I sometimes make the comment that that printer in the background is actually the most expensive
piece of equipment in the company. And most people don’t realize just how much waste is generated
from paper based processes. So this is not one of your job travelers. This is from one of our clients that I
was visiting, and this was how they were managing their jobs. There is so much tribal knowledge all over
these pieces of paper. What if this is that job traveler that got lost in your shop and you just cannot find
it? Someone has to reproduce all of this intellectual property, which is just immensely wasteful,
immensely expensive. When I showed you this picture, you were like, “Ours looked pretty much like
Jamie Marzilli:
Yes. Especially on the blueprints, the blueprints had novels written on them. Which they still do, it’s just
now it’s where it belongs, where you would think to look for it. So stuff like this on the left hand side,
that would all be under the run description that tells the operator what he needs to know to run the job.
And we would attach pictures to it. And that’s where we do our markups now. When we take the
picture, we mark up the picture, then we save the digital picture right on the side of the… So this first
one says straight and blank. So if we had a fixture or a way of straightening that blank, we would take a
picture of it. We would put the specifications of how straight is straight and we would make it so that
way there was no uncertainty as to what it would take to get this part out the door. And all of that stuff
would be saved digitally instead of being saved analog and just written down where maybe you found
this note next time, maybe you didn’t.
Speaker 1:
Sure. And you had shared with me something, I think it was your shift lead at the time, said after you’d
been in ProShop for a while, and it was kind of, I don’t know, maybe some kind of inflection point of how
it used to be. But do you remember what you had said about that or what that shift lead had said?
Jamie Marzilli:
And it stands true today as well. When we think back to how things were two years ago, we have no
idea how we used to do this. It makes you sick to your stomach to think about what it was like when we
used to run like this. It becomes a domino. You start to do it digitally and all of a sudden new avenues
open up to you. And you start to do this better, you start to do that better. The next time the job comes
around, you see how much faster the setup goes, how much more consistent the parts come out. All of
it is better. I wouldn’t go back to this if you paid me.
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Speaker 1:
Well, fortunately we don’t need to do that. So when we were planning this out, you actually are the one
that coined this idea of soft automation. And I love it. And if you can elaborate kind of on your thinking
about this, I’d love to hear your thoughts on that.
Jamie Marzilli:
So soft automation is the process of automating the administration of your company. So anywhere that
instead of humans loading in the machines, which is what they say hard automation, this is software
instead. So for example, we have a software that automatically balloons our prints and generates all of
our inspection data. We have a software that monitors our machines and makes us aware of situational
things like if a machine is in an alarm state, or if somebody has to get caught up on their in-process
inspections. ProShop does so many things for us at one time, from helping us to manage quality control,
to storing all of our data, storing all of our fixtures. So all of these different things, they allow you to
make more money. That’s what this really is about.
Jamie Marzilli:
Soft automation will help you make more money. It doesn’t matter what size you are. Then what you
can do is now you can take that money and you can reinvest. You can take that money and put it into
hard automation if that’s the route that your company wants to go into, or you can buy more spindles.
When we showed our bank the difference between 2021 and 2020 or 2019, our growth number was
almost 70%, we rounded it to 70%, and they were blown away. They definitely asked for a lot more
documentation because that kind of growth is not usual. And we had to explain to them what we had
done in that… Although we started it in 2020, we didn’t really have everything dialed and everybody on
trained up and all of the different things in place like all the computers and stuff until about 2021. And
then things really just opened up. We broke our internal gross shop record six months in a row.
Speaker 1:
Jamie Marzilli:
A gross production.
Speaker 1:
That’s amazing. Very cool. So here is that tech stack you talked about. So maybe you could just elaborate
a little bit on how you’re using High QA, how you’re using Excellerant and how it relates to your use of
Jamie Marzilli:
Sure. So one of the first things I’d like to mention is that all of three of these companies have been very
good about working with one another to solve my problems personally, and to make the whole process
easier. If we’re talking about automating and I have to get involved every time we want to send data
from one to the other, well, that’s the opposite of automated. And so all three companies have been
excellent at helping us to solve those types of problems. We use High QA, the suite that they use is
called Inspection Manager, and we basically just pop a PDF into it. It automatically reads the blueprint,
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balloons it, and then extracts the data from the blueprint and generates a data set that we can do
whatever we want with.
Jamie Marzilli:
We take that data set and we make inspection reports with them. We can make all different kinds of
reports. We can make PPAP reports, we can make FAI reports, we can make in-process inspection
reports. And it also can manage some of our certifications, other things like that. But we prefer to use
ProShop as the catchall for all of that stuff. Right now that’s where all of our quality control data goes
into, all of our certifications, all of our OSP certifications. We really like that because then we click just a
couple of buttons in ProShop and we’re making a pack and slip and all of the certifications that we need
for our level of customer all comes out at the same time. And we can even compress it into one PDF and
just email it to the… A lot of our customers have special email boxes for certifications so we just shoot
the certs right over and just swipe our hands of it.
Jamie Marzilli:
Excellerant is great. That’s my machine monitoring software. They’ve been really good about working
together with ProShop as well. We’ve got them to they’re counting how many parts come out of the
machine. So we got it so our… And on board, which shows us basically what’s the state of every
machine, whether it’s running or idle, to warn us and say, “Hey, we counted 10 parts, you were due for
an inspection by now.” And two little rulers pop up so that way my production manager is aware or
quality control is aware that, “Hey, this guy’s falling behind and we need to get caught up with our end
process inspections.”
Speaker 1:
Nice. I love that little feature that got built. That’s that’s a really sweet one.
Jamie Marzilli:
Well, think about what it would take to do that manually. So you got a work order and you’re making a
thousand parts. So you got to go check your AQL level. What’s your table? How many parts do you need
to check? Let’s say 120. So now the guy has to open the work order, find out how many parts we’ve
made. Go find out what the inspection frequency is. Count how many inspections we have, and then
compare in order to be able to go out and say, “Hey, you’re two or three inspections behind and you
need to get caught up.” Excellerant just looks up, it shows him the ruler. He knows that we’re behind.
And he just goes out and lets the guy know that he needs to get caught up.
Speaker 1:
And contrast that to doing those inspections just on paper forms. You have no idea of what people are
doing. And we’ve heard on numerous occasions that someone might be a well intentioned machinist is
inspecting their parts, writing down the results of their in-process QC, but what they’re writing down is
actually out of tolerance because they misinterpreted the tolerance. Maybe it’s bilateral or unilateral
and they’re writing something down. They’re like, “I’m fine.” But it’s actually, they’re making bad parts
as they go.
Jamie Marzilli:
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The visualization that comes from ProShop is unique and it’s very good. Right from the work order level,
you can tell so much about a job. Is it on time? Is the material here? Are there bomb items on order?
Who’s it for, when’s it due? What’s it worth? All of these different things that you can look up that you
could never do on paper, not with any reasonable amount of time.
Speaker 1:
Sure. And that’s kind of what we’ll get into with talking about people. So software is not a cure all, for
sure. It’s not going to solve every problem. There are things that it can be really good at. There’s things
that still you need humans to do. And so there’s a balance, I think, of the right mix of people that you
have in producing value added, generating revenue roles, what a customer would be willing to pay for.
They’re willing to pay for the people making the parts, they might be willing to pay a little bit for people
inspecting the parts. They’re certainly not interested in you having a big staff of people that are doing
lots of overhead types of functions. So maybe if you can talk a little bit about the different roles you had,
the people you had in different roles and how that evolved.
Jamie Marzilli:
Sure. Well, let me just say that as business owners, you shouldn’t want that either. You should want the
least amount of people that you need to get the job done and to do it right. And as you’re growing your
company, only producing employees make you more revenue. So you want to keep your ratio as close
as you possibly can to 100% producing employees, which we’ve all know that’s not possible, but how
close is it? How close can you get? And I know in the next slide, I’ll show you how close I was able to get.
Jamie Marzilli:
So you have to find that ratio that I like to call the ass to seat ratio. How many machines do you have?
How many people do you need to run all those machines? And then after that, how many people do you
need to actually administer the company? And so if you needed 10 people to run a 30-man shop, that
ratio is not going to leave a lot for you for your cashflow. That is going to… Especially if you have a week
or a month where you don’t produce for any reason, especially in this economy. Material doesn’t show
up vendors are strap down, they’re doing the best that they can, causes delays. Now jobs that you
thought you were going to get out this month, get pushed to next month. And that just keeps
happening. Where in the scenario you see right here on the green side of the screen, that’s pretty close.
Jamie Marzilli:
Right now we added one more, somebody who’s in between. He’s a production manager. So he kind of
works on the floor, he kind of works in the office, but he’s not a producing employee. He doesn’t
actually cut or inspect. My wife and I and our office manager basically run this company, just the three
of us. And that’s what all of the soft automation has allowed us to do. And it also allows me to get my
tribal knowledge out to everyone. I have all my years of experience running the machine shop, making
parts. When I do programming and planning up here for my office, any thought that goes into my head, I
put it into the ProShop. Where would this go? Watch out for burns here. Tell them that so that way they
know. And all of that stuff kind of put together can allow you to get to a ratio that looks like this. This is
a money making ratio.
Speaker 1:
And it’s so important that point about having extra room in your, I call it our breakeven costs, because I
can remember months in our own shop where maybe sales were down or just deliveries or something,
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for whatever reason we had a low revenue month and those are just killers on profitability. You can
wipe out two or three or four good months of profit with one bad month. And so the more room you
have between your ultimate throughput and capacity and where your overhead cost is just is a safety
margin for those months that aren’t going to be as good as the ones that can float you through those
Jamie Marzilli:
Another thing on this slide that I’m not sure if it’s on one of the other slides or not, but it is an important
thing to realize is that in order to maintain a ratio like this, you have to do a lot of cross training. People
have to be able to serve more than one need. You can’t have everybody just be specialized to only do
one thing in your shop. And we used ProShop to set up our… We got the Flying Start package. We went
in through it, started going through the low hanging fruit modules and updated them so that way we
could say, so the shipping guy is cross trained to deburr parts. And one of the deburring guys is cross
trained to do shipping.
Jamie Marzilli:
So if somebody calls out sick, I’m not downstairs putting parts in boxes. We also have people who… The
tool crib guy is also a setup guy. He runs the tool crib one day a week. That’s all he does. And other than
that, it just kind of works on its own. He kits up all the tools for the week. He just does it on Monday and
they just sit on the shelf and when people need them, because we are running by the schedule. So
there’s data now. So now we can feed it. We know what’s going to go into the machines for the next
two or three jobs. So we just put it all together and we stick it up on the shelf. So cross training is
another thing that really allows you to take a ratio that looks like this and make it successful.
Speaker 1:
And so this also gets into the topic of speed. I’m sure you’ve seen, and I hear from pretty much everyone
we talk to, clients want things faster. They want their quotes back faster. They want their parts faster,
they want answers when they call you for status faster. Everything is getting so frenzied. So how has
that changed in your shop when you’re no longer relying on going and talk to someone on the shop
floor, looking for a traveler to find out where something is at.
Jamie Marzilli:
It gives you the ability to sell. Every contact with your customer should be an opportunity to sell, even
when they’re calling you. So they’re calling you because something’s going wrong. If you have that
information at your fingertips, you can control that conversation. They’re calling you, they’ve got you on
your heels. You got to go search through a thousand travelers to find out exactly what’s going on with
this job, or where did it get jammed? I take a breath. I say, “Hey man, what PO are we talking about?”
And right from there, I can go from the PO to the job, to the part, to the link and just figure out the
entire story while I’m talking to him, make a pivot, bring myself to an opportunity to grab control of that
conversation because I can do it in seconds.
Jamie Marzilli:
I have 20 CNC machines on the floor and there’s a lot of different jobs running at any given moment
over two shifts. And I have that information right in front of me. I don’t have to leave my desk. I don’t
have to go and ask anybody what’s going on with it. Every second that you leave somebody on hold feels
like a minute to them. So for your ability to just say, give me one second, let me find exactly what you’re
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talking about. Get that information in front of you and then take control of that conversation, it’s a real
difference than the way that phone calls used to go. That’s for sure.
Speaker 1:
And to your point of selling, I absolutely just love this story and I tell it to people all the time. Tell us
about this example where you were visiting your customer in their conference room and what
Jamie Marzilli:
So I got called into a large OEM that we make a lot of spare parts for. We do a lot of their overflow stuff
and I wanted to talk to them about moving over to an LTA, to get a longer agreement out of them on a
lot of these parts that we make over and over. So I actually finally got myself to sit down at a meeting
with some of the people in charge. And luckily for me, that planner was there as well. And I started
going over how cutting edge our systems are and our ability to track jobs and to schedule and how we
capture our tribal data and the planner’s ears just perked up. And he says, “You do all of this stuff
digitally? There’s no paper in your company.” And I said, no. He says, “I’d like to see it.”
Jamie Marzilli:
So I took my phone out of my pocket and I started showing him on my phone, but the rest of the people
in the meeting couldn’t see what we were doing. So I asked them for their wifi login and they gave it to
me and the TV that was in the conference room, that looked a lot like this, was also on that wifi. So I
screen casted right from my phone onto the TV in this room and gave them a presentation on one of
their jobs that we were currently running for them. I just walked them through the whole thing, I
showed them all the pictures and how we were making it and showed them that this process is what we
do for every single job that comes into our shop. And that’s why they should feel confident.
Jamie Marzilli:
So from there, after I showed them everything, I switched right into the pitch. This is why you should
feel confident to put your parts at Marzilli machine. We know what we’re doing. We know what’s going
on. We have our finger on the pulse and we can be here to help you. The meeting went very well. We
are making quite a few parts for them.
Speaker 1:
That is so brilliant. I just love it. And like you said, controlling that conversation, positioning yourself as
really the expert in this conversation with clearly objective evidence of why you can back up your claims.
One of the things that… We actually had another customer that was featured in a Modern Machine
Shop article a few years ago about how buying a fancy CNC machine really is no longer much of a
differentiator. It’s the processes, it’s the systems, it’s the way that the company is run that really can set
a shop apart from the rest. Because you could have the fanciest multi pool, five access horizontal
machine and still have terrible systems.
Speaker 1:
And I was talking to a friend that’s in strategic procurement for years and years. And his comment was,
“I’ve been in thousands of shops. When I walk into a shop in less than five minutes, I can just smell if
there’s chaos. It’s just clear to me if a company has their act together or if they don’t.” Sorry, there’s a
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train going by, but let’s… And I did want to share. So I was just out, for those that follow me on LinkedIn,
I was just out yesterday and I visited six customers in one day. It was awesome. Just shop, to shop, to
Speaker 1:
And one of them who was just getting on the approved supplier list for Boeing shared with me that the
Boeing quality auditor came to visit and they were talking about their system, just kind of like you were,
and that the auditor said, “Well, what system are you using?” And he said ProShop. And he said, the
auditor said, “Oh, so you’re going to make my job really easy, aren’t you?” Because he clearly had seen
ProShop at one or more other shop and approved of it, so realized how easy that quality audit was going
to be. So that was just from yesterday that I thought I would share that. But just is that kind of… Having
our customers be so positively perceived by their clients is such an important aspect of things.
Jamie Marzilli:
We’ve got a similar response from our ISO auditor when he came in not that long ago. We’ve got our
QMS migrated over now. We wanted to get it done in time for him to come in. And so when he came in
and he started looking around, that was the easiest audit I’ve ever done. He had everything right at his
fingertips. He was good to go. They basically just sat in the office. He made a quick walk on the floor, but
they sat in the office and he clicked through with it, I’ve never seen such a happy ISO auditor.
Speaker 1:
We often hear that feedback. It’s really fun. All right. I’d love for you to share and talk about dashboards
and how you’re using them. I think you’re actually pushing the edge and we’ve actually built a new
feature based on your feedback recently. So show us a little bit about that.
Jamie Marzilli:
Sure. So this is an actual picture of the TV that I hung in quality control that we run tiles on of ProShop.
And we have the four different inspection dashboards that we thought were critical to operations in that
room. And this is how we’ve moved the inside of our shop to work from a push system to a pull system.
So instead of people piling up their parts and then pushing them into another department, as the
department empties out, they go and they look at their dashboard and they know what’s next for them
to work on, what’s been queued forward, and they’ll go and they’ll grab it and they’ll bring it in and work
on it. When they mark it complete, the next department will know that it’s ready and they’ll come and
get it and work on it until it’s complete. And this has been amazing for quality control. They really like
having this.
Speaker 1:
And I think we have another picture here of your shipping department. So you’re using this in multiple
different departments with different dashboards.
Jamie Marzilli:
Truthfully, we use the either dashboards or a version of a dashboard, some of them we’ve custom made
for ourselves, almost everywhere. Even individual people who have critical roles here in the company
have some kind of a dashboard system for themselves. So this one is right above the shipping
department and this tells him what to go and grab off the rack and put together for shipping. And it just
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keeps moving. It just keeps cycling. It works really nice. It’s a system to help to monitor that workload is
moving through the shop properly and that people are always working on what you wanted them to
work on. So people don’t have to come and ask me all the time, “What do you want me to do next?” It’s
on the board. They just go to the board and they just grab the next thing and they just keep going.
Jamie Marzilli:
And this is a game of minutes. So if you spend five or 10 minutes every time you have to change from
one task to the other, that means that for every hour, you’re only putting 50 minutes of work into it
because you’re walking around trying to figure out what you need to work on. That just goes away. So
the guy just looks up or the girl, he just looks up, he looks at his dashboard, he goes, “Oh, this is what I’m
working on next.” There’s a picture of it. Tells him what the status is of it. He goes and he gets it and he
knows what he’s supposed to be doing because that’s the dashboard that he’s on. This is the inspection
Jamie Marzilli:
This one that you’re looking at right here is actually the inventory controlled dashboard. So the quality
manager watches this and the little clipboards as they turn green, she watches it and compares it to the
must leave by date. When those clipboards turn green, that means that the product has been made and
has been moved into inventory. And so she’ll go grab them, she probably monitors this couple of times a
week, she’ll go grab them and all she does is puts them onto the shelf and they just follow along the
process just like they were supposed to. No different than anything else that would come through the
Speaker 1:
I love that. People are visual creatures. And so having pictures can really be helpful, especially when you
have lots of similar types of parts.
Jamie Marzilli:
Well, again, it becomes the mentality. A lot of our machine tools are now coming along to this as well.
So something we did recently that I hadn’t had a chance to share with you. We have a job that requires
a lot of clips to get moved, tow clips. It’s a big plate. We can’t vacuum form it down. It’s too many holes
in it. It doesn’t go well when we vacuum plate it. So we have to move a lot of clamps and a lot of screws
and you have to put them where they belong at each MOO. This is a common story. I’m sure a lot of
people feel my pain right now. So the first time we ran the job, we took a lot of great pictures and we
put them into ProShop and the job for the most part ran okay. Well, this time around, when the job
came, we took the pictures that we saved in ProShop and we exported them out using Excellerant,
saved them in the next generation controller on our host and called them up in the program. So when it
was time to change the clamps, it just popped up right on the controller and the guy knew exactly what
to do.
Speaker 1:
Nice. Perfect example. So one of the next topics, and we’re going to have to talk quickly about this is
reducing setup times, because setup times are almost universally an issue in shops and there’s so much
waste and there’s so much low hanging fruit. So maybe you just quickly, you can share just some of the
things that you have done to cut your setup times in half.
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Jamie Marzilli:
Sure. So you got to move as much of the time from online to offline as possible. Online is the minute you
assign somebody to start working on a job, regardless of what they’re doing. If they are a machinist or
an operator or a setup guide, those guys are online, everybody else or anything else that you can do
offline, those are dollars that you don’t have to worry about as much because you’re going to be making
chips. So number one, all of our programming now gets done, our programming and planning gets done
weeks before we’re about to cut the job. I know it sounds like common sense, but that’s just not the way
it used to be. People used to get their traveler and they would go start programming, start kitting up
their tools, start cutting in material, which then I’m going to go to material handling.
Jamie Marzilli:
How many times would you have a guy put a job together and then come over to you with the part and
go, “Hey, this part’s basically done, but this side didn’t clean up.” And then you start going and
measuring all the stock and it was all cut wrong. When did he find that out? After I’ve spent four hours
putting the machine together, kitting it, doing all of this stuff, that’s all wasted time. It’s burn. You’re
never going to get it back. So one of the things in ProShop is a first article process for the material
handling now. So that hasn’t happened since we’ve made the change. That’s a problem that just
disappeared. The tool kitting happens offline because we did the programming and the planning.
Jamie Marzilli:
So on Mondays, the young man that works in that area, he just goes and he kits up all the jobs. It only
takes him probably two or three hours to kit up 20 machines worth of tooling for the entire week. So he
just pops them all together. A lot of them are RTAs and we don’t break them down anymore, so there’s
another savings. A half inch three flute end mill, we use that all the time. Don’t take it apart, just move it
from one job to the other. Inspection planning, you’d be amazed at to how many mistakes you’ll find
and eliminate during the inspection planning. Do we have the pins for this? Do we have the thread
gauges for this? Is this going to go into the CMM? If so, do the CMM program now. We purchased PCDMIS offline. So our programming and planning, we just make the CMM program at the same time now.
So when we’re actually online and we’re cutting, we shrunk that amount of time, way, way down.
Jamie Marzilli:
And again, it’s about removing uncertainty. If there’s certainty in the process, the job is going to run
through the shop much, much faster, much, much smoother. And you’re going to increase the
percentage of first articles approvals. That’s really what you need it to do. And then that project
assignment there at the bottom, that’s what I was talking about. So we treat people in my company the
same way you would schedule a machine. So inspection planning has its own line. It’s assigned to a
person, they have queued work that we treat like a dashboard. So we take these big problems and we
break them down into little segments and then assign it to a person and we can see how they’re going
and how their process goes. And all of those pieces get done before we even start cutting a single chip.
Speaker 1:
And what you’re talking about is really just going back actually to just pure lean principles. Taking those
online setups, taking them offline, basically so your spindles can keep cutting more often. The setup
time of a job starts when the last good part is made on the previous job. As soon as that job’s done, that
spindle shuts down on that last M30, that’s when setup starts on your next one. So that elapsed time
between that job finishing and you having your first good part off your next job, that’s all wasted time.
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Your customer’s not willing to pay for that. No one’s interested in that, but that’s a remarkably huge
amount of time in most shops. So this is the pre-processing checklist you mentioned. This is obviously
not from your shop because there’s my name on it. But this is just an example of the checklist and it’s a
very configurable type of checklist that helps structure the workflow in every department that is
required to prep and kit and make sure that spindle time is going to be maximized.
Jamie Marzilli:
Another point to bring up on this too, is that on the right hand side of this screen where it says check,
that leads to where the thing needs to get done. So the most important part, which I don’t see it on
yours, but on ours the most important part of this is to check the process development. In our shop, the
process development feature is how the guys on the floor get their voices heard in my company. So they
think that we should make a part a different way. We should fixture it a different way. They don’t like
how we… They want a different drill, it doesn’t matter. They go into process development, they make
notes. And then the very first orange one on my PP checklist is to check the process development. And
there’s a hyperlink there when you click check, it takes you right there to see if anybody had something,
a recommendation.
Speaker 1:
No, that’s a very important feature and I’m not sure why it’s on, this is just out of one of our demo
systems, but for sure. Brought this one up to just show an example of everything that a machinist would
need or want when they’re going to set up a job is just one click away. So whether they’re getting their
setup notes, whether they’re getting their tool lists, whether what fixtures need to be pulled. And part
of this is done in that pre-processing checklist as you talked about. So you’re pre kitting the tools, you’re
pre getting fixtures out of fixture storage, putting them on a cart or wherever you’re queuing things up.
You’ve probably already inspected your material like you said, you know how much time you have for
your targets. We can see how things are going to plan as we execute and run those jobs.
Speaker 1:
And then the next couple here, just examples of set up notes with pictures and text and nice big in your
face. And this is the whole idea of eliminating tribal knowledge and institutional knowledge so that if
Mary or Joe is out sick for a couple of days, other people can continue to set up that job and keep things
pushing forward. Or if someone leaves your company, they’re not leaving with a bunch of knowledge
that is now lost.
Jamie Marzilli:
[inaudible 00:51:23] changes go very smoothly on post shop too. If you’re not sure about how many
prints or do anything like that, once it gets stuff even from the office, everyone is working from the new
web now.
Speaker 1:
That’s obviously when you’re in a paper based system, you got to go chase down the travelers, replace
them or mark them up or do something, find the old drawings. So there was a question from Kira about
elaborating on how you set up your tool crib. So actually there is a picture on the next page. This is just a
page of showing what we call a sequence detail for a particular operation. What tools are going to be
used, pulling in the descriptions of those, even what kind of tool life and even what dimensions you’re
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checking to tie it into your inspection plan. And then, of course, that feeds into the inventory and
procurement so we can make sure that you have tools when you need them.
Jamie Marzilli:
We have a job that requires 40 tools that we just put back together. And when we broke it down, we
went through our breakdown checklist. We copied all of our length control dimensions out of the
controller, saved the actual G codes from the machine. We used our Excellerant as a DNC, punched
them out, saved them into ProShop. The first time we put that, it’s a very complicated job on multiple
tombstones, the first time that we put that job together, it took about seven business days. This time
when we put that job together, we were out of first article within four. So we had it up and running by
the end of the second day, we had it tweaked in by the third day. And then it just… It’s eight very
complicated parts that come off the tombstones, just running it off the CMM and getting it approved.
That’s like almost a 50% reduction in the setup time. And all we did was just took the numbers out of
here and just punched them right back into the controller, job ran. It was amazing. I’m amazed.
Speaker 1:
So here’s actually a picture of one of your guys. So that is how you are now organizing your tools. So the
ProShop tool number is right on the front of each of these bins and they’re randomly assigned, not
randomly assigned, but you’re not organizing them by tool type anymore, which is one of the key
aspects of… Because as I know you experienced and we did as well and so many other shops, when you
organize tools by type, every year or two you have to tear the whole thing apart and add more capacity
because your shelf or your drawer for half inch end mills is now full, because you’ve added a bunch of
new types of half inch end mills. And then on the right is just a picture of a caddy with tool. And are you
doing offline tool presetting or presetting in your machine?
Jamie Marzilli:
We are not. Every machine I have has a table probe on it. So we just [inaudible 00:54:14]
Speaker 1:
But getting them with their approximate holder, approximate out of holder length, the right hyper
holder kitted, ready to throw in those machines, that’s one of those key aspects here.
Jamie Marzilli:
And so this is an older picture. So that cabinet that we have up there, that’s where we stick odds and
ends like hand files and deburring tools and batteries and all kinds of different things. Things that are
consumable items that we want keep track of in order regularly and know where they are the minute
we need to find them. To answer her question, we have list of cabinets with dividers in them. And each
divider has a number very similar to this. There’s no rhyme or reason to how they go into the draws.
Because there’s rifling through the draws. That’s a big no-no. And the real thing there is the system is
scalable. So no matter how big we grow, if I put 10,000 tools in there, you’d still be able to find that tool
in 10 seconds or less, which is a scalable system.
Speaker 1:
I was just at a… Yesterday, one of the shops I visited, they have something like, I think 4,000 different
tool ID numbers that they catalog and it’s totally scalable because if they outgrow their current shelf,
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they just add another shelf and tool number 4,001 goes in the top corner of that and then they just
continue on. They never have to go back and redo the actual physical storage. All right. You mentioned
some other checklists. You already referred to a little bit sort of a breakdown checklist.
Jamie Marzilli:
So we used to do… So we’re not a… I don’t want anybody to think that we’re a perfect shop. We’re not
even close. Every day we’re just trying to get there. And so when we’re doing our programming and
planning, you’re talking about me, maybe two other guys that help me out, sometimes it can be
overwhelming. The beginning of the year, you get all your blanket POs that come in and you’re trying to
process a hundred jobs when normally you do 10. So we had to come up with a way of making sure that
we are still getting all of our good data. So we started with a breakdown checklist where instead of just
doing your vices and your tools like everybody else, we would make sure that as part of the breakdown,
the machinists would say, “Are the pictures in the system? Did I put the G codes away?”
Jamie Marzilli:
They would go through a lot of the stuff from the PP checklist and just make sure it hadn’t gotten
skipped. And what we found was that there were quite a few times, especially with older legacy jobs
that basically just had to get jammed through when we got off of the old ERP and into the new one. And
so we did this at the end of the job, but what we found was that now the shop was moving so quickly.
Sometimes we would miss it. And by the time we would go back to go get it, the new job was already set
up and up and running and it was too late. So now we do it at the first article. Once you, as the operator
has determined that part is good and that you have other than minor comps, you take the G codes out,
you make sure the pictures are updated. You make sure you run descriptions and your written
descriptions are accurate. And then the machinists and the operators, well, they’re helping. So the
whole team can help pitch in to make sure that the job is going to run great the next time that it comes
Speaker 1:
That’s why that is such an important aspect that is often just glossed over. And that’s really a key
inflection point where you can just set yourself up for success next time, but it takes a little bit of
forethought for sure. So we’re wrapping up here. We’re going to need to bust through these slides to
keep on time here. So you grew, like you said, about 70% and you did a lot of cross training. The whole
concept of moving from push to pull is again, back to some of those lean principles and it’s just so, so
important and the visibility of using dashboards and having people understand what’s coming down,
what’s due, what needs to move is just a key portion of that.
Jamie Marzilli:
Speaker 1:
And then just very quickly, this little anecdote, you mentioned something about some screws that were
missing. Can you just share that real quick?
Jamie Marzilli:
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Sure. So a couple of years ago with the way that the shop used to run, you get used to the chaos. You
get used to the smell of your shop, you just get used to these things. And so now two years later, all
these different problems have all kind of been ironed out and things are going so much smoothly, we do
this complicated assembly and we ran out of screws. Now we’re talking about we buy thousands of
screws to put this thing together. We make thousands of these assemblies and we ran out of screws and
people were losing their minds that we had ran out of screws. And I had to remind them, it wasn’t that
long ago we never had the screws. We wouldn’t even buy the screws until we were ready to start doing
the assembly. But it had just been so long since they had seen an issue like that it was kind of comical to
see this tiny little bump in the road all of a sudden to them looked like a mountain again, because they
just never see stuff like that anymore.
Speaker 1:
Such a fantastic story. So we’ve all heard this quote before, but I hope this was useful today. Again, as
Jamie said, and as we see with clients we talk with all the time or companies we talk with all the time,
the fear of change is real. It’s good to be skeptical. There’s a lot of products out there that aren’t what
they claim. We try to be as transparent as we can, but the reality is delaying and just saying I’ll do that in
the future, I’ll get to that later is one of the things that just leads to perpetually not making
improvements in your company. And I think one of the superpowers of Jamie that I’ve get to know him
by the last few years is he’s decisive. He moves into action quickly. Your story of you’re in the middle of
a session with Luke and you leave and you go run downstairs and tell someone to do something
different, just a prime example of just get to it right now.
Jamie Marzilli:
My advice to some of the other owners that are thinking about making this plunge or have just taken
this plunge, in our experience, one of the things we ended up doing was just telling everybody this was
happening and I didn’t want to hear anything about. And that once it was over and it was all set up, then
I would be interested in hearing their feedback because they don’t have that kind of vision that you guys
will have as an owner to understand how all of these different pieces are going to play together. And it’s
human nature to try to tear things down, especially things that you don’t understand. So the anecdote
that I told Paul was one guy complaining about having to walk to the tool crib because he didn’t
understand all the tools were going to get kitted and dropped off at his machine. So you don’t want to
fight that kind of stuff at the beginning. So just tell them, “Hey, if you trust me, you’ve been with me all
this time, this is where we’re going. And then we’ll all get together after it’s implemented and talk about
Speaker 1:
That’s super great advice. Well, awesome. We are at the end here. So a couple of questions. We’re not
going to be able get to all of them, but is ProShop primarily designed for machining type businesses.
That is our super bullseye, middle of the bullseye sweet spot, but we definitely have a number of
fabrication companies that use ProShop. We’re not quite as good at some things related to sheet metal,
we certainly don’t do nesting and a few other things like that, but we have helped many fab companies
and sheet metal companies get off of their systems, which were even worse. So if you’re interested, Ian,
certainly we’ll love to chat with you more.
Speaker 1:
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And then there’s an anonymous attendee that’s asking about multilevel bombs and requiring manual
intervention at each level of the bomb to plan. So we’d love to talk more with you offline about that.
That is somewhat true, but there’s some really good reasons why that’s the case. When it comes to
combining part numbers and planning different routing options, that’s one of the big things in ProShop.
You’re getting multiple routing options. So I don’t have time to get into all the details, we’re over time a
little bit, but I’d love to talk with you more. Jamie, thank you so much for this time. You’re just incredibly
generous. I know how busy you are right now. So thank you so much. So he just put his info into the chat
and on the screen there. Sounds like you’re willing to talk to people if they want to talk to you.
Jamie Marzilli:
ProShop didn’t just change my company, it changed my life. I enjoy running my company now in a way
that… I know a lot of people out there right now are saying, “Sometimes I don’t enjoy running this.” And
there’s hope out there, man. There’s a better way to do it. And you can make money and you can love
what you do again. That’s why a lot of us got into this and that was my personal experience. And so if I
can help other shops and bring them into the ProShop family, then I would love to do that.
Speaker 1:
All right. Before I cry, we’re going to wrap up. So thank you again, Jamie. Thank you everyone who
joined us today. Hopefully this was interesting and inspiring and I encourage you to go out and whether
it’s with ProShop or anything else, embrace that concept of soft automation, doing more with less,
becoming more lean and helping grow your company and our economy. So thank you all so much for
your time today and we’ll see you on the next one.
Jamie Marzilli:
Thank you.
Speaker 1:
Thank you, Jamie.

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