Implementation Podcast: Free Force Machining Technology - Episode 1
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ProShop ERP Implementation Podcast

- Heather, it's wonderful to connect with you here. Thank you very much for joining me. How are you doing today?

- Doing great, thank you. How are you?

- I'm good, I'm very well. So it is January, 2022 as we're talking here, and you're a relatively new ProShop customer. Thank you very much for signing up with us, really appreciate it. And I'd love for you to just share a little bit about your company, your background with those listening.

- Sure. So my name is Heather Charlton. I'm a part owner of a Free Force Machining Technology. We're located in St. Catherine's Ontario, Canada. We started our business in 2007, and we started with one CNC Swiss machine and now we're up to 13. We focus on aerospace and defense, high technology industries, and we're primarily North American-based company for our customers, Canada and the United States, and business is doing very well. We're very busy after COVID, kind of getting back on track and we're excited to be moving towards ProShop.

- That's awesome. And I didn't realize you had 13 machines, that's a lot. That's a good number of machines.

- Yes, yes. So we occupied 10,000 square feet, so we kind of keep our squares small but we kind of get everything in there. We have 16 employees right now and like most companies out there we're trying to hire skilled machinists as well, but the shortage of skilled machinists out there is crazy.

- It's a real challenge for sure. So tell me a little bit about why we're talking here in the first place. What made you decide to look for a new system? What were you using? What wasn't working well about it?

- So we've been with E2 since 2008. I bought that software pretty quick into the start of the company. And it did really well for us up until probably the last year and a half. And I just found some limitations as far as I had to always use multiple systems. So we're kind of one of those companies that have Excel sheets and we have E2, so it's multiple entries. So we have an inventory for materials in Excel and we have an Excel for tooling and it was just, I got to the point where I said there has to be something more where it's just one system. So if I train an employee then I have to write up the training, then I have to upload it to E2 and say, I train them and do this and then I'm like... It was just too many systems to try and do it. So as we grow, it's hard to keep track of everything. So one day I was just searching through Google, looking for new ERP systems, came across ProShop, and I spent the entire weekend watching all the online videos. And by the end of the weekend, I think I had been in contact with sales pretty much wanting to go ahead and purchase it and then I think two weeks later I was like training.

- Wow. You're pretty decisive. Not every customer is so, some wait for a year or more before they pull the trigger. Well, that's awesome. And how has your experience been since you've called us up and decided to sign up?

- So the problem I have is time. I want to be live with ProShop 100% and I don't have the time to get there yet, but it's training was phenomenal. My trainer Lacey was so fun and we met twice a week, twice a week for an hour and a half each session. And very easy to talk to, lots of questions, very easy to go with. Then the way the training was set up, when I forgot something, I had the recording to go back to, which I think is fantastic cause I've already done that a few times and just the material is right there. I have found it to be so easy and I'm just so excited. So I'm trying to share my enthusiasm with my management staff and get them on board but it's kind of just one of those things where I'm trying to find the time to say, okay, we're going to do this. Oh, but before we do that, I got to get the inventory up there. And so I'm very excited but I want it to happen tomorrow. We've been training since the end of September. So we just finished just before Christmas, I think all the different modules. And then I think there was just a few things we were going to catch up on when we returned in 2022 and then I'm flying solo, not solo, but getting my part done on this side. So, but very excited. I've been talking it up and I've changed some things how we're doing it. Again, the nice thing I found during training was the knowledge everyone had about the industry and the way that the system is designed for the industry, best practices. So we've been doing something one way for a long time and then you're like, oh yeah, that actually is better. So it's kind of nice to have that, throw that out there and say, Hey, so it was really good.

- Awesome. So you said before we started recording that, that you're kind of doing a dual system right now. So you have ProShop work orders running but you're still doing your old system for traceability or for audit purposes?

- Yes. So we are up for re certification for AS 100 in May. So I need to ensure that we have documentation a hundred percent in all purchase orders and work orders throughout. So right now I've got both systems going. I'm working through a shop E2 and we're working through ProShops. So it's a bit of a cumbersome thing as far as everything twice for me, but I think for us, it's the best thing right now where I can get my management team a hundred percent and get them going. But at the same time, have the shop floor document what they're doing on a daily basis. So I can at least show the auditor that now we haven't abandoned our practices, but we're just transitioning so.

- Yeah, I know a lot of clients need to do that dual entry for a little while. The story brings up a memory of a client that also came off of E2 down in Louisiana and they were doing dual for, I think maybe like two or two weeks, and then they realized just how much time they would save by taking all their existing recorders and putting it in ProShops. So they just had like a big weekend party and converted all their existing work orders over and just did a big switch the next Monday and just said, we're done.

- I'm, I'm very close to that point, Paul, where I'm just like, this is so stupid. I'm kind of at that point too where I'm going to be saying, I probably will last another week, maybe two with this dual system, but I honestly hate it. I just want to be in ProShop and move forward because we've started doing all purchase orders for tooling and materials outside processing has to be through ProShops. So then I still got the receiving process because one of the functions I do love is the integration with QuickBooks. And now there's time saved between billing which I want to implement for customers invoicing. It would save if, it's going to save me 45 minutes to an hour of every day of my life and I need to get there. So yeah, I'm kind of at that same point where it's going to be a weekend or a week where I'm going to be like, okay, don't talk to me for a week and this is what we're doing and then Monday, we're all going live, happy. So it's painful, it's painful. So we got to get away from it.

- Sure. Yeah, no one ever said an ERP implementation is easy. We try to make it as easy as it can be but there's just inevitable things that are going to be sticky.

- It's just, I think getting the data up. So once we were now going through all our tooling lists and getting it cleaned up so that when we upload into ProShop, we only have active data and the proper data. So once we get that then issuing purchase orders for tooling is gonna be better but then also when we allocate the tooling to the parts, it's proper, so they're all linked up together and it flows the whole way. My next challenge, I think, is the material upload where I have to do a purchase order for all of my raw material stock. So that's my next challenge because I want to have the materials certificates linked as opposed to having to link them cause I don't. I've been doing that for so long, I don't like it so I'm excited to have it that way, but I'm like, that's going to be a very big purchase order.

- Yes. So you said something interesting that you're uploading your tooling. You're talking about your cutting tools and search and drills and mills, things like that?

- That's true, yeah.

- So that is actually something that many clients don't do that part until maybe a few months into their into their going live. I'm curious that you're doing that right up front. I think it's super wise because you get so many benefits from it, but maybe if you could just for a minute explain why you decided that it was an important part of your very initial onboarding to start with, to the tooling module right away.

- So we started tooling and materials are our top two to get up into the system right away because I find that when we do inventory, it's going to be the tools that we have and it's going to be in the system and we're just going to upload an inventory of all our tooling, but it affects so many modules in my opinion, because when we issue a new tooling purchase order, if it's not in the system, then we have to add it to the system each time as opposed to just it's already there for us and it's done properly. So what I found in E2 was that when tooling purchase orders were issued, the part number was slightly different on everyone. So I'd have the same tool like 15 times because there was a space or there wasn't a space. So it's very difficult to keep track of what you had. So I wanted to make sure it was in ProShop the first time so that whoever's ordering the tooling, they're looking at the tooling list and specifically picking the right one. So I only have a 3.4 millimeter drill with a certain EDP once and it's always in the same spot.

- So did you have multiple variants because people were actually typing in the description every time as opposed to just clicking a link?

- Yes. Oh, interesting. I didn't realize that was how that worked. Well, the other big benefit of the tooling module is that when you have a job coming out onto the shop floor and you are being predictive about how many of those you're going to need based on the material and the quantity and how much tool usage you have, ProShop will tell you, well, you're going to need 18 of these drills for this big order, and you can make sure you get those in advance and then it also helps set ups go a lot faster 'cause people know exactly which tool, exactly how far it's supposed to stick out of which type of holder and they're not trying to reinvent the wheel every time.

- And that's one thing as well because our production staff is 50 50. We have highly experienced and new ones, but it's consistency. So if the setup is done right and it's done well, it runs well. So if we have the system nailed down and we know that this specific drill runs this job well then it shouldn't be a question of, oh, what did we use last time? Do we have it? And like you said, especially now with COVID, lead times are unpredictable, So if we know that we need to have these drills on site and we need to have a buffer then we can have that and it's no stress. So it's eliminating stress as we go 'cause it'd be like, yes, I have that or it's coming in or we can talk to the customer and say, we ordered it, it supposed to be here, it's not here in the communication chain. That's all you can do. So yeah, that's part of it. And the other one was, we are one of those shops right now where you opened the tooling Jordan, it's like the kitchen drawer where they're of random. So having it in the system and assigning it to a specific spot will keep the shop more organized and less waste.

- We made a funny little 32nd video about that exact topic, someone running around the shop looking for tools.

- Well, I saw that on my Saturday, my first weekend and my husband was in the kitchen with me and then like, that's us. That is us. We gotta stop doing that. I felt that. I said, that's why we need ProShop. It was definitely a selling feature.

- That's funny. And the star of that little video was actually my son that we were talking about. That was fun to shoot. Well, Heather, I know you have a ton on your plate today. I'm going to go ahead and let you go but thank you very much for this. I look forward to talking to you again another couple of weeks and another check-in on how things are going. Thank you again for being a customer of ours, appreciate it.

- Thanks so much Paul, you take care.

- All right. Talk to you soon. Bye-bye

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