Make-to-order Job Shops face unique automation challenges

  • May 04, 2011
  • Case Study
May 2011
By Thomas R. Cutler
Located in St. Marys, Pennsylvania, Accu-Chek Machining Inc is a low to high volume production machine shop that uses the most up-to-date machinery. Before Accu-Chek implemented the E2 technology solution by Shoptech, everything, including managing tooling for jobs, scheduling jobs, and configuring production and daily rates, was done by hand. “Those tasks, along with a package for accounting, payroll, and quoting, made everything very time consuming to pull together and soon became an overwhelming task,” according to David Fox, Sales Manager at Accu-Chek. “We looked over a lot of packages but a lot of them never had a complete package…and it was compatible with our payroll package, we felt that for that kind of price we couldn’t go wrong,” Fox added.
Magdic Precision Tooling (MPT) is a nineteen-person tool and die shop in East McKeesport, PA. The company makes compaction dies for carbide cutting tools. Die forms look like drills, end mills, and cutting inserts.
Like Accu-Chek, even this small shop recognized they had to go paperless. According to Paul Ventura, vice-president of Shoptech, “Much of the information for the jobs at Magdic was on hard copy. Different employees were machining different components for a given job simultaneously and employees were constantly searching the shop for prints. Job changes were tough to communicate to the shop floor and more than 30 minutes a day (per employee) was lost tracking information…this waste cost the company more than $300K a year.”
Making the Transition to Paperless:
  • PC’s were strategically placed throughout the shop.
  • Hard-copy prints coming into the shop are scanned and attached to jobs.
  • All employees had access to drawings, pictures and routings.
  • Changes were communicated instantaneously.
  • Employees able to log on/off jobs real time.
  • Work Queue shows employees which jobs to work on.
  • All attachments can be printed at any time.
  • Ease of use – Employees “bought into” the system.
“The impact of going paperless Increased productivity on the shop floor. Employees are all working on the same page. No time is wasted searching for documents,” according to Ventura. The company has better job tracking, job status and progress of components. The E2 solution implemented by Shoptech helped scheduling as well as improved quoting, since the actual times are more accurate. Estimators are better informed. 
Ultimately, beyond the lean process improvements, MPT has happier customers because of on-time deliveries and promise dates are more realistic. The average dollar per hour has increased with more profits dropping to the bottom line.
Make to order industries include:
  • Machine Shops
  • Fabricators
  • Plastics
  • Welding
  • Stamping
  • Tool & Die
  • Screw Machine
  • EDM Shops
  • Sign Makers
  • Powder Coaters
  • Assembly
  • Structural Steel
The make to order (MTO) strategy only manufactures the end-product once the customer places the order. This can create additional wait time for the customer to receive the product, but allows for more flexible customization compared to purchasing from inventory. The make to order (MTO) strategy relieves the problems of excessive inventory that is common with the traditional make to stock (MTS) strategy. The make-to-order business needs to have effective and accurate estimating and quoting as well as BOM’s (bill of materials), Order Entry, Scheduling, Job Costing and Tracking, Purchasing, Quality, Inventory Control, and Full Accounting. 
Author Profile:
Thomas R. Cutler is the President & CEO of Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based, TR Cutler, Inc, ( Cutler is the founder of the Manufacturing Media Consortium of nearly four thousand journalists and editors writing about trends in manufacturing. Cutler is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists, Online News Association, American Society of Business Publication Editors, Committee of Concerned Journalists, as well as author of more than 500 feature articles annually regarding the manufacturing sector. Cutler can be contacted at or 888-902-0300.

Did you enjoy this great article?

Check out our free e-newsletters to read more great articles..