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Farnham, Surrey-based Tricorn Systems has extensive experience in dealing with UK-based manufacturing companies with more than 300 customers operating Tricorn Production Control software on a daily basis. A longstanding player in the industry Tricorn has no shortage of success stories across a wide range of clients as Solutions learns.
Tricorn’s product portfolio is designed with modularity in mind. In addition to the Job Processing system, the company provides an integrated Quality Assurance module (suitable for ISO9001 and AS9100) as well as a workshop scheduling (planning board) system.
Tricorn’s partnering program with Computime (UK) and Seiki Systems means the company can now provide a complete manufacturing solution including time and attendance and shopfloor management tools, all integrated with the main Tricorn Job processing system.
The sweet smell of success
Location: Bicester, Oxfordshire
Industry: diverse manufacturing
Focusing on six key industrial areas – motorsport, aerospace, oil and gas, the food industry, medical, and electronics, SRD Engineering is a family run subcontract engineering company that has been operating for over 25 years. The business is ISO9001:2008 registered and is currently working towards ASI9100. In total, SRD employs 22 people.
SRD Engineering has used Tricorn systems for over five years. Previous, somewhat ‘more basic’ methods of organising workload logistics included a fax machine, phone, pen and paper. Since then the company has doubled in size.
At the time of purchase, SRD Engineering looked at two other products before opting for Tricorn Systems’ solution. Reflecting on the installation, director Mark Bonham recalls: “It went very smoothly and the training provided was excellent. Moving from more traditional paper systems was a big step for us but we needn’t have worried.”
He continues: “Quite simply, SRD Engineering would not be able to function efficiently without the Tricorn system now. The software has significantly enhanced our professional image – even with things as fundamental as computer generated delivery notes and invoices and we’re a much more streamlined operation now. It has transformed our business so much that I’ve gladly recommended the product to four other companies.”
Customer: SJC Engineering
Location: Chelmsford, Essex
Industry: aerospace and motorsport components
SJC’s previous management system relied on the copious use of spreadsheets and, although it was used by five people, could only be accessed by one at a time, requiring repeated entry of the same data, making it an inefficient way of working.
The new Tricorn system was installed on the company’s existing intranet, making use of SJC Engineering’s investment in hardware. “Implementation of the system was straightforward and was completed in two days. Tricorn transferred the data from our old system and then returned to carry out the training. The system was easy to learn and the installation went smoothly,” reports managing director, Stewart Court.
The system starts by registering an enquiry. Quotations are then prepared making use of a template and historical information. Machining times, subcontracted operations and bought out items are all recorded to produce an accurate cost directly from the CAD data supplied by the customer.
“We can now create a new quotation in half the time,” Andrew James, assistant manager adds. “Once the quotation has been accepted, the complete and accurate information contained within it enables us to produce a works order with all the route cards for our shopfloor, as well as purchase orders for material and subcontracted items in about two minutes. Previously this would have taken around half an hour.”
For SJC Engineering, the reduction in administrative load has been significant. The six seats of the software are used in estimating, sales, purchasing, stock control, despatch and accounts, enabling each section within the company to share information and add data simultaneously, eliminating duplicate entries. Delivery notes and invoices are automatically created with all the details already filled in, eliminating repetitive work and the possibility of error. The software also includes a scheduling package which shows the loading on each resource.
A major improvement for the company is traceability which was limited before the installation of the Tricorn software. “We now have accurate knowledge of stock levels and also know the drawing release of stocked items and the material from which they have been made,” Mr Court enthuses.
“I would say that Tricorn is five times better than our previous system. We are anticipating a 20% year on year growth in our business and much of this can be attributed to the new software.”
Customer: Pope & Meads
Location: Ware, Hertfordshire
Industry: general precision engineers
Like many engineering companies, Pope and Meads relied on manual job cards prior to the introduction of Tricorn Systems. This paper intensive arrangement required the movement of handwritten cards through a series of pigeon holes as work progressed towards completion.
Managing director, Nick Ellis comments: “Coming from a modern manufacturing background I could only describe the system as horrendous. It was inefficient and chaotic, relying on job cards being in the correct pigeon holes at all times. A manual system such as this would require, for example, an order with all its constituent parts to be handwritten – and the number of parts can easily be in the 100s. Then if the order was placed again say in a month’s time a new card would be written out. It was so labour intensive. Accounts and purchasing would also have similar tasks as the system afforded little link in with the jobs in hand.”
He continues: “In terms of planning and scheduling, when we looked at our capability against current jobs to quote leadtimes for new clients, the lack of scheduling in the process would require three to four weeks clearance. We were reliant on remembering the chain of events for each of our current contracts. This would be fine if we were talking three to four jobs at a time but we were looking at 300-400!”
As a short term measure Pope & Meads moved to a spreadsheet solution but this was still far from ideal.
The decision to purchase a Tricorn Systems solution started as a process of elimination and eventually a shortlist of six companies was drawn up. Further consultation reduced this down to four providers and then, following extensive demonstrations and consultation with end users, Tricorn was selected – mainly due to its intuitive operation and ease of use.
In line with the other case studies, implementation was problem free and the training ticked all the boxes. Mr Ellis also reports that aftersales service has been exemplary, but perhaps the biggest benefit has been efficiency.
“Being more efficient automatically makes you more productive,” Mr Ellis summarises. “Effectively, the Tricorn system runs the business – leaving us to concentrate on what we do best – providing excellent products and service.”
Customer: Numac Engineering
Location: Stalybridge, Cheshire
Industry: hostile environment components
Initially, Numac used an Excel spreadsheet-based system and then a software package from another supplier but as the company began to attract new business and grow it became apparent that a new system was required that could manage the more complex work that was being received from clients. More flexibility and control was needed – particularly with stock control. Prior to the Tricorn system, stock was managed manually on the workshop floor and in accounts. Also it was not possible to integrate the Numac accounting system to the previous job processing package – a capability provided by Tricorn.
Numac’s managing director, Andrew McLaren comments: “For us, bringing in the new system has been about supporting our growth in the industry and having a work processing package that is able to cope with that growth, the increasing sophistication of our client base and make as many of our work processes as automated as possible.”
Again the selection process was rigorous but once selected, an area where Tricorn really excelled was training. “Training was carried out by a former Tricorn customer who is an engineer by trade, so not only did he understand the system, but was also able to tailor it to our specific requirements,” Mr McLaren affirms. “We’ve had one or two niggles with the software but that’s only to be expected and support is only a phone call away.”
Less than one year on from installation Numac is already reaping the rewards. “We used to run a manual system that would clock jobs in and out of specific stages of their completion,” Mr McLaren advises. “It was a very manual and time consuming process but now everything is automated. Via a barcode system we know exactly how close a job is to completion as it is scanned through the process. Being able to do this automatically makes a huge difference and also helps with repeat orders. Having complete traceability of orders and total over our stock levels has also been invaluable.”
Customer: KW Engineering
Location: Poole, Dorset
Industry: aerospace and medical components
Metalwork and mechanisms manufactured by Poole-based KW Engineering are used in a variety of aircraft cabin applications.
Formed in 1983 by Keith Ward, the company has built its reputation as a subcontractor on the consistent production of high quality precision parts. In addition to its aerospace business, it also produces components in high volume for medical applications. Earning and maintaining supplier approval is crucial to the success of the business, which has now reached a turnover of £2 million. Most recently the company has gained approval from Airbus to add to its approvals from Flight Refuelling and Eaton Aerospace.
Effective job and quality management is an essential element in the obtaining of approvals. Mr Ward takes up the story. “A decade ago we installed a bespoke job management system but as our requirements evolved, it became very labour intensive and had insufficient reporting capabilities. As a solution we installed Tricorn’s Job Processing software and ISO Quality software. We considered developing another bespoke solution, but found that the Tricorn system already had the features we were looking for.”
The first big improvement for KW Engineering was in stock control – particularly for aerospace parts which require full traceability and frequently use specialised materials. Mr Ward continues: “When we installed Tricorn we carried out a thorough inventory check giving us more visible and accurate information. Now, barcode recording of goods received notes and stock movements ensure that we use offcuts, and that stock levels are live and accurate. The system also gives us information about latest material pricing which helps us to be consistent over costs. The net result is that we are ordering significantly less material.”
Administrative workload has also eased with the introduction of the software. Once a quotation becomes an order, all the relevant data is automatically transferred into the production module and the necessary job cards are created. KW Engineering has over 400 active works orders at any one time so this saves a significant amount of effort.
The Tricorn ISO Quality software has played a valuable role in achieving aerospace approvals. The system generates reject notes and non-conformance reports as well as documentation detailing any preventative or corrective action.
Tricorn also includes a complete calibration database which enables KW Engineering to have a list of duties each day to ensure that procedures, audits and equipment are always compliant. Other tools allow the company to keep records of employee training and to monitor supplier performance.
Customer: Bridge Precision Engineering
Location: Wimborne, Dorset
Industry: diverse manufacturing
As managing director, Tony Goodwin explains, prior to implementing the Tricorn system, Bridge Precision managed its workload using basic Excel spreadsheets. “We had just begun to use job cards however a lot of the tracking was carried out verbally so a job would be booked in and go through the factory without a paper trail. Fundamental things like the pricing of materials was done by memory while the tracking of jobs involved asking those directly involved with the work.
“A client ‘phoning to track a job would mean leaving them on hold while I went to the factory floor to ask,” he recalls. “Each invoice that we sent out was manually created, and as many orders were multi-invoice, this workload took up three days of every working week. Inevitably as the company developed it began to get difficult to keep track of work and mistakes began to creep in.”
Bridge Precision considered four solution providers and requested demonstrations from three companies including Tricorn. At this time Bridge Precision also improved its administration capability through the upgrade of IT systems.
Mr Goodwin states: “The decision to purchase Tricorn was based on a number of factors. We liked the flexibility of the software – it’s a system that uses common screens from the creation of a job right through to invoicing. This means there was little instruction required which enabled us to get up and running quickly and efficiently. This was a deciding factor for us.”
He continues: “What impresses us about Tricorn is their professionalism. From quote through to installation, the Tricorn team were efficient and wholly supportive of our requirements. After training we were given the option to ‘go live’ with the software or to trial run. Confident in Tricorn, we chose to go live without any hitches.”
The professionalism experienced with Tricorn during the implementation phase continued to the service support received. During the two months after implementation, Tricorn called once a week to check on progress and assist with the inevitable teething problems that installation of a new software system often brings.
Mr Goodwin concludes: “Having instant access to information such as knowing where materials are sourced and costings is invaluable. Invoicing now only takes two to three hours, one day a week and as for those errors that were starting to creep in, invoice queries have fallen from 8 to 10 a month to zero.”