Trulife Testimonial
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– I’m Brian Anderson, I work with True Life Engineered Solutions, the resources development manager. I’ve been in manufacturing since I was in high school. I got involved in a tech school program and it was a really great way for me to find what I love to do and what I was really good at and through high school and the years after I worked at a variety of companies and landed with a company called Pro C and C as they were still what I’d call startup. We had a lot of really good customers and a lot of really good manufacturing work, machining work that made me interested to go and work for them, and the fact that I could get in a small company and help grow, it was really enticing to me. So we grew from about eight people to about 60 or so in the course of say 15 years and it was really challenging and fun experience to go from a, what we call a job shop to more modern multi-million dollar machining facility. Well we learned a lot. We learned how to approach work in a lot of different ways to be able to take what customers’ needs were and put them in to the machine shop and make them a reality. As we grew, we realized that every customer had different needs and we needed to meet all the needs of those customers, in doing so we had to develop systems and standards and protocols and as we did that, we realized that we had ways to bring new staff in and train people and develop our people as well as develop our products and offerings to our customers. A lot of the challenges that we had before we use ProShop had to do with traceability and figuring out where different things were within the manufacturing system and by manufacturing system I mean from the point where we get an order from a customer to the point where we deliver, there’s a lot of different things that happen on paperwork side and the planning side all the way through the machine shop floor and to shipping. Being able to link those things in a single system is what ProShop is really, really good at and allowed us to tailor what we do for each and every specific customer need. Some of the challenges we ran into had to do with finding out what kinds of the materials that we would need and developing a manufacturing plan and carrying that manufacturing plan through the process to the point where we could get clear and concise data to operators, so they knew what they needed to make without having to come into the office four or five times during a setup or during a cycle to understand what it was that they were supposed to do. With ProShop we’re able to build all those into the plan into essentially a database that we can transfer through the system and everybody knows how to read it, and they can get the information they need and know how to find it and move forward and get their job done. So ProShop helped us to develop a system that we could relay information and gather all the planning in one spot and have people trained on it consistently, so everybody knows how to find the information they need to do their job, but they were also able to add the point of views, meaning for an operator at the machine, input their own data and their own experience into how something was manufactured, so that information was no longer tribal knowledge. It was actually able to be shared among anyone that needed to run the job. ProShop is a system that we use to develop all of our manufacturing plans and bring everything to a common level for all of our operators and all every employee in the company. It allows us to work on the same plan to understand what operations need to be done, to standardize all the different aspects of the manufacturing facility, into a language that everybody speaks. It’s based on a web browser system so everybody that can browse the web can use the system. So the amount of training that we have when we bring people in is fairly low. I actually had the benefit of helping to create ProShop before ProShop we used Excel and a few other database systems that we use them as much as they could be used. We quickly found that we were stretching them beyond their capabilities, so through that experience, as well as you know a collaborative process of understanding what it was we needed to do in the machine shop, we were able to develop ProShop and build a system that was able to work and tailored to what we needed to do without the limitations of another software company telling us what we had to do. Well, let me answer it this way, we started using ProShop because there wasn’t a solution that existed that we were happy with. There was no other software that could do what we actually wanted it to do, and be able to be tailored along the years to you know how we were gonna grow and how we’re gonna standardize and meeting the different requirements for ISO or AAS or any other QA quality organization that guides manufacturing in this country. My first impression was this rocks. Still is actually, there is not another system that I’ve seen that can do what ProShop does. It’s really an elegant way to take all the things and all the aspects of what we do and consolidate them and makes us be able to perform at a level that you have to perform at, if you wanna be competitive in the industry. Planning and programming ordering tools and all that, that’s all something that happens at the beginning, and what we found is that if you don’t have a good plan, it’s really hard to execute anything along the way in the process. So when we develop a plan at the beginning, you’re able to put in all the little key pieces that everybody along the manufacturing chain is going to need to be productive at their role and when you do that, all the other pieces fall in line much, much easier. It’s similar to putting a link at the beginning of a chain, need that first link to be able to connect each subsequent link afterward and ProShop really allows us to develop that first link and then develop each link after that in a very standardized way that is really easy to read and easy to transfer information from point to point. ProShop helps by removing the gassing, we were able to get in and transfer information and transfer it and make it easy for anyone to see it instead of having somebody interpret, loose data or handwritten notes or maybe even trying to remember what they did last time, and by having a clear idea of what it is they’re supposed to do right from the beginning, it really reduces and eliminates a lot of mistakes that we see. They also have feedback loops built into the system where if you as at any point, whether you’re an operator or you’re an inspector or what have you, if you find a problem, there’s multiple ways to get that problem back to the people that need to address it if it’s a planner or a programmer, and those tools are incredibly useful at removing and eliminating future errors or human mistakes. Well mistakes happen usually because people are trying to do their best, and they’re trying to take on more than what they should be doing. They’re thinking outside of the things that are right in front of them, so when we get people geared toward focusing on the things that are right in front of them, they can put their entire effort into the job and do what they need to do really well and not experience the distraction and the other issues that cause mistakes. I would say that as we implemented ProShop and became more and more fluent in it, we realized that we all developed a standard way of working. We were still able to utilize our own skills and personalities and leverage our talents in different ways, but we all started to sort of speak the same language, if you will we were able to have protocols that were documented, if you needed to know how to do something it was there. You knew how to do it. You could train people on how to do those exact things, and you would train them the same way. And standardizing in the manufacturing industry is a huge, huge boon to be able to reduce waste and continue to manufacture effectively. Well I can tell you from what I see in our new facility, where we’re still implementing and replacing an old software system with ProShop, our numbers, I’ve seen an improvement of say probably on the order of 10% in throughput, I expect to get a full 30% process improvement, and ProShop is really one of the tools that we’re using to do that big, like as I mentioned before, a big boon is to be able to train people in a very standardized way and having the information for them to use to perform their jobs and to perform their roles is just paramount in getting us moving forward in that right direction to get the 30%, maybe more in throughput gains. The biggest benefit is by far communications. It’s ProShop allows us to transfer information, get the thorough communication that we need between different departments out there, get it open, make sure everybody knows what to work on and it makes it really easy to do that as well. Communication in a company is really incredibly valuable. If you can’t communicate then you don’t know what to do and when to do it. If you have an easy way to communicate across all lines, where you’re talking about planning or programming or machine shop floor or quality assurance, then you have an easy way to transfer your information. Once you’ve transfer your information, then the likelihood that you’re gonna succeed with what you’re doing is very high. Communication for us has been drastically improved with ProShop and the tools that it provides with direct messaging system, time tracking notes, tie in notes, work construction, you name it, anything that we need to do to get that information across, ProShop has a tool to do it. I would say that in general, the way that we’ve adapted with ProShop is to actually lean out how we handle our quality and we do more point quality where we identify product in the workflow, what’s good, what’s bad and how to inspect it. So what ProShop has done is it’s allowed us to take our quality from the end of the process and put it within the process, so as we’re making product, as we’re doing certain procedures, we can identify when something goes wrong and fix it right away before the rest of the process is complete. ProShop incorporates all aspects of ERP and QMS systems in the sense that it all package it into one, you can track quality through ProShop, you can track all of your purchasing needs, all of your material needs, your production, throughput numbers, all that in one place. You have a multitude of different things that you can query for different information. If you need throughput numbers of what any buddy on a shift is doing, you can query that information. If you need to know how much money you’ve spent buying material, you can query that information. All those things are all rolled into one, we’re also able to produce, rapidly produce inspection reports for our customers and to meet various QA needs, and we can tailor that to different QMS systems, whether it’s ISO or AAS. So ProShop is an ERP, MES and QMS system all rolled into one. It allows us to know what needs to be done. It allows us to see what items need to be purchased, what items we have on hand. It allows us to send work instruction directly to manufacturing. It also allows us to answer to the different QMS systems, whether you’re talking about ISO or AAS or any of the others that any customer needs, it brings it all into one solid package that you can navigate and push through the system in one shot and get it done right the first time. Well I would say that ProShop has helped our clients see us as a solid real, you know 21st century manufacturing company. We’re not the kind of company that just puts out sheets of paper and hopes that at the end we get what they need, and the customer is satisfied. We ensure right from the beginning that we’re gonna get them what they need and they can see it. They’ll come in, they’ll see us using the system, we’ll give them a quick tour of it and they’re fully impressed. They see the, we pass our ISO audits, flying colors every time and it’s because we have a system that can handle everything that they need us to handle for them. 21St century manufacturing company is a company that can adapt and change depending upon the needs of the customer. We’re also relatively paperless very much anymore, you don’t want to have to control paper documents. It’s too much hassle, customers are afraid that you’re gonna lose what documents they have and that you are holding for them. So if we have everything digital then it makes it easier for a customer to trust that we’re gonna get done what we need to get done and have control of the data and the inspection and all the quality requirements right up to the very end. Well for example, ProShop has been able to adapt to the changing needs of the environment, we’ve been traditionally a blueprint type manufacturing world for many, many decades and as we’ve moved through this process, we’ve understood that we have to do three-dimensional models that are done in CAD softwares, so ProShop has very easy ways to manage that, manage the data and get the customer what they need. Most recently, we’ve switched to a model based definition, which even eliminates the blueprint side of things, and we have to inspect Pro models now so we have been able to work with Adyen systems and get that system set up to where ProShop will actually help collect all that data for us and give us the right kind of information to inspect, to manufacture to, and to report to the customer. ProShop was developed by people that were in machining and not just people that were in manufacturing but people that actually stood in front of machines, program machines, ordered materials, shipped parts to customers, handled outside processing such as anodizing and plating and so on. So it’s developed by a core group of people that actually understand from a shop floor perspective, what manufacturing needs and also how to do it effectively and efficiently. Having that link and that connection to how manufacturing works seems to be really important because it allows them to tailor what we do or what sorry, it’s really important because they can tailor their software to meet the real needs of the entire organization, whether you’re talking about a machinist or you’re talking about a purchaser, they understand firsthand what it is that’s needed, not just through a forum or email requests or what have you. They’ve been there themselves and they develop solutions that actually work. It’s important that the makers of ProShop understand how manufacturing works because it allows them to give us a real world solution and give us something that actually works. Other softwares don’t actually have the experience that can be give you the tools that will work, they don’t have the response to understand the needs of the manufacturing facilities. We also have the ability to ask for things that we need, that maybe another customer doesn’t need and they’ll sit and they’ll listen, and they’ll come and they’ll get involved to see our actual challenges and work with us directly to provide the solutions that we need, even though other manufacturing softwares may say that they they’re based and developed from a manufacturing perspective, the tools that they have don’t always accomplish what you need to have happen and that’s a big differentiation between ProShop and other softwares out there is that you get something that works. It’s what you need, it’s when you need it, it’s tailored to what your needs are, and it just works. We’re currently installing ProShop in a second location of our company, and it’s helped us to eliminate four other softwares that we’re all kind of doing different parts but not really well of the whole management of the company where we’re installing it in places where we’re doing composites and doing assemblies. We’re even using it to manage all of our routine maintenance issues within the entire organization. We’re using ProShop to help with our maintenance tracking and annual and periodic maintenance is handled completely within ProShop and it generates what we need to know to get that done in a timely manner so we don’t suffer downtime. Downtime is huge, huge problem for us and ProShop helps us avoid downtime that would otherwise just kill a company. Downtime is a big problem because if you’re not running your machines or if you have an unplanned event where a machine goes down then you’re not making product. If you’re not making product, your customer is not getting what they need and it’s costing you money the entire time. ProShop helps us to understand what maintenance needs to be done, when it needs to be done ahead of time. It helps us schedule what’s there, it helps us track all the different maintenance issues we have. We can even make decisions on how long we’re going to keep a machine, if we’re having a series of problems with it we can see that, we can extract all the data and we can evaluate it and determine if it’s time to do a major repair or replacement of a piece of equipment before it becomes a catastrophic event. Adding on systems is incredibly diverse and dynamic and they are very attentive to our needs. I’ve had multiple instances where I’ve picked up the phone or send an email and got an immediate response. They will work on the solutions that we need right away, get the solution implemented and then follow up to make sure that it actually works and not just leave us hanging. ProShop has different ways to handle different value streams. It’s very nice in the way that you navigate through ProShop because it’s all standard and it’s all the same way, but you can handle assemblies or you can handle complex machining all through different features within ProShop. ProShop has all sorts of ways to deal with different value streams. In our Bellingham facility, we actually run with a prototype department, we have a production department, we incorporate milling and turning. We do complex assembly. We have simple assembly. Quality assurance is part of all of those processes and yet each value stream is handled sort of on its own, in terms of being able to be managed by a separate group of people. In our Paulsville facility, we have composites and we have a machine shop, prosthetics manufacturing, we have quality assurance that needs to cover both of them, again, they’re dealt with different departments, different people manage and run them. They’ll have a stake in how ProShop can get us what we need when we need it. ProShop scheduling is quite unique, it’s not like any other system I’ve used before. We can actually see live what’s happening on the shop floor from a Gantt chart that allows us to look at each individual resource and have links to be able to see exactly what job that is, we can access all the data immediately from one’s computer, any computer within your organization and then at the same time, the operators are using a time tracking feature that allows us to see the real-time production so we can understand just by looking at it where an operator is, what they’re working on, whether or not they’re on time and efficient and the scheduling software itself, auto adjusts to the real time throughput that we get, and if we see a problem, we can address it right away. We can reschedule if we are missing any staff, sorry we can reschedule if we’re missing any staff, we can take steps to move equipment around and have jobs run on different equipment, and it allows us a very dynamic way to handle all the different ups and downs that you get with production. I like working in manufacturing because at the end of the day, you have something there that you didn’t have when you started. There’s a lot of really talented people that I get to work with and they all have this pride about making something that helps somebody else and that’s a really big part of it is to be able to work with the people and have something at the end of the day. We take a lot of pride in what we do, if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well, this is basically how we feel about it and quality, and the way that you track quality is really huge to being able to have a reputation in manufacturing. You know we have customers that come to us because they know they’re gonna get their product, they’re gonna get it right and it’s gonna be on time, and that’s really what’s most important when you’re in the manufacturing industry, is to be able to serve your clients in that way. ProShop can work with different value streams by allowing us to have a standard way that we process work, how we plan work, and how we find out where things are, whether you’re talking about scheduling or purchasing or whatever, it can handle all the different needs that you have for getting the customer what they need and when they need it and how they need it. ProShop has a great scheduling feature where it is interactive and live to what is actually happening on the shop floor. We get information directly from a module card called Time Tracking where the operators log what they’re doing and when they’re doing it and the schedule automatically adjusts to the throughput that they get, and based off of that, the scheduler can make decisions in the moment about needing any more resource time, needing to call in any overtime or even move work from one piece of equipment to another, and that is very, very easy and very quick to do. That’s really important to be able to be quick and agile in terms of what you’re going to make and when you’re gonna make it. Your customers, aren’t going to sit and wait for their product if you have a problem, you need to be able to react and get things dealt with appropriately very quickly to make sure that their needs are met and their expectations are met. We’ve been able to use ProShop with manufacturing in composites as well as different assembly processes, so when we’re talking about composites, they have a different set of requirements that they have to meet than what the machining does. ProShop allows us to manage different manufacturing processes such as our composites, in our composites it’s quite a lot different than our machining. We have the ability to track all of our materials and expiration dates as well as our autoclave data in ProShop and provide our user or our end users, the customer with the data that they need to ensure that our process is actually controlled, and that’s something that other softwares I haven’t seen be able to do is to monitor and control the process, as well as we’ve grown our composites sorry, we’ve grown our composites, we’ve been added staff and we’ve been able to train staff on this in a standard way so everybody is working the same way and it really helps us with our efficiencies to get what we need done, done in a day. We originally decided to use ProShop in these areas because we were trying to get into more aerospace related work and doing that means that you have to have a quality system that controls your process. The system that we had didn’t meet the needs and ProShop did. When we implemented it, we found that not only did it meet the needs of the quality system but it also met the needs of our production line and actually enabled us to work more efficiently because we’re able to get people to do the right thing in the right way and in a standardized way.

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