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Switching gears

By Gretchen Salois

Above: From sales department to shop floor, real-time order updates are easily accessible.

Software adapts to business, not the other way around

April 2017 - There’s a stark difference in the feel of riding a bike made from heavy alloy steel compared to lightweight carbon fiber. But whether your bike is off the rack from a big box store or custom made from a specialty bike shop, the basic design is the same. Beneath the shaped tubing, handlebars, stems and headsets lies an interwoven collection of chains and springs.

In Brooklyn, New York, spring and wire form manufacturer Lee Spring stamps and cold rolls a wide range of wires that complete mechanisms in everything from bikes to surgical tools, clamps, medical devices, nuclear and steam release valves, to electrical fuse boxes. Recently, the engineers completed a job for a New York City bicycle-sharing program that rents out bikes to the public from sites throughout the metropolis. “We manufactured the springs for linking them onto their locking devices as well as the springs necessary to maintain and stabilize the bike while you’re riding it,” explains Michael Gisonda, director of quality and IT at Lee Spring.

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Syspro’s software allows Brooklyn-based Lee Spring to provide customers with quick quotes that can secure a contract.

Easy adjustments

Spring designs change from application to application and use wire diameters ranging from 0.005 in. to 0.67 in. Keeping track of wide-ranging requirements from multiple industries required an ERP system that would adjust and evolve along with Lee Spring. After shopping around, Gisonda says Syspro stood out as an open architecture software suite. 

“We do applications that are spring specific and we can directly tie jobs within the software,” he says. “We’ve been able to create applications [tailored] to our [shipment practices] and our guys on the production line can post job statuses, allowing anyone to check in and know exactly where an order is.”

Lee Spring integrated existing capabilities and applications to meet customer-specific needs. “We’re able to push routing and design work through the software—the functionality gives us a lot of flexibility,” Gisonda says. 

Gisonda credits Syspro’s software with allowing Lee Spring to provide customers with quick quotes that can secure a contract. 

“I may get a last-minute job from a customer needing a high volume order of multiple sizes and multiple part designs and I’m able to use the software to engineer each part and input specifications to help us put together a quote quickly,” Gisonda says. “After figuring out the cost and timing of the job, we can churn that [quote] out to the customer immediately.”

Other shop functions, including inventory controls, allow Gisonda’s team to maintain spring stock at levels that gives the shop both flexibility and range so it can handle those last minute orders without leaving too much surplus inventory on the shelves. 

Lee Springs has customers around the world and the ERP system helps manage the financials and complex tax systems of each country easily. “We’re running in India, China, Mexico, Germany and the U.K.—so each country presents its own taxation issues, order issues, and our software helps us manage it all.”

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Easy evolution

“We have another customer that used to make bike springs and exercise equipment but found there was a need and a market for customized wheelchairs—so they switched their entire business model and started making wheelchairs,” says Syspro USA President Joey Benadretti. 

“Visibility with an integrated Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is the critical piece that brings the software and production line together,” CEO Brian Stein says. “Our customers span a range of fabricators, from job shops to project management, and each has its own set of requirements that we work to satisfy.”

Business-to-business (B2B) interactions are not limited to customer service technicians, as Stein and Benadretti also take calls. “We’re not excluded from customer interaction at all—customers can call anyone on our senior management team directly,” says Stein. “We want to be aware of any issue customers may be experiencing and we like to be involved in rapidly solving them.” 

Process improvement is a driving theme, too, and Syspro will leverage certain capabilities to facilitate that, according to Benadretti. “We provide excellent functionality through capabilities that customers find best meets their needs. This ensures our customers get the right applications based on their industry requirements.”

Software is personalized and, once implemented, updates occur regularly. Software and deployment capabilities are available through cloud, on-premise and mobile devices. 

“We work with data showing the order/work history of the last couple of years to determine where and how a buyer should be approaching raw material purchasing,” Stein says. “We’re able to make sure customers don’t run short and top line sellers can maintain a fast turnaround.”

Yield improvement

Stein cites another helpful element of the programming. The Material Yield System (MYS) lets operators manage stamping out parts from sheets of metal. The software highlights “which pieces they need to take out of inventory, allowing customers to save on scrap as well as reduce production time,” Stein says, because someone doesn’t have to manually work out calculations—the MYS system does it for them. 

The company’s software developers use their collective experience with metals forming and fabricating to think ahead. As technologies, like additive manufacturing, replace other processes, Syspro is ready to produce the right software tools to back up that changeover.

“We’re looking at everything that is going on, whether in the private sector or for government projects such as the growth in construction as federal infrastructure repair/restoration projects increase,” Benadretti says. “Our focus remains on how to help customers be as efficient as possible and help bottom-line productivity, whether that is monitoring raw material coming in, sales cycles or total solutions.” FFJ

Sources

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