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Epicor ERP, MES bring precision to IMCO's operational data

Epicor ERP helped one manufacturer take its operational data from the Stone Age to real time.

Nothing can slow down a growing business like a relic of an ERP system. When IMCO Carbide Tool, a Perrysburg, Ohio-based manufacturer of precision cutting tools, needed new business applications that could provide real-time operational data, it let its old ERP system go the way of the dinosaurs and adopted Epicor ERP and Epicor MES (manufacturing execution system) software.

IMCO first made the switch to Epicor back in 2007, installing both ERP and MES at the same time, according to Perry Osburn, president of IMCO. At the time, IMCO's old Caelus ERP system lacked a relational database, Osburn explained, which was becoming a must-have for the company's IT operations.

During the selection process for a new ERP system, IMCO looked at many vendors besides Epicor, including Intuitive Manufacturing Systems, Sage and IFS. According to Osburn, Epicor stood out for its ease of use in every aspect, from daily use to dashboard personalization and upgrades.

"We chose Epicor because it offered a lot of different functionality, ran on a standard SQL database and was very customizable," he said.

Prepping for Epicor ERP implementation

Prior to implementing Epicor, IMCO's management looked at the company's business practices and compared them to the capabilities of Epicor's software.

"Some things can be structured differently within Epicor, while other modules are more fixed," Osburn explained. "So, we had to review all our business processes and see what worked the best."

Another pre-implementation step involved prepping data from the old ERP system to ensure it would transfer smoothly into the new system, Osburn said. This included historical and operational data, inventory lists and customer information.

When it was finally time to implement the project, IMCO used an in-house IT team to install the ERP and MES systems, with some assistance from Epicor. The entire process took roughly six months, according to Osburn.

Once both systems were in place, every employee received general training in both the ERP and MES systems, as well as specialized training for their parts of the business. The concept of MES was a new one for IMCO's employees, Osburn said, so it took some getting used to. Fortunately, he added, the Epicor MES interface was simple enough that users were able to quickly adjust.

Adding Mattec to the mix

In 2011, the company further expanded its Epicor collection by installing the Epicor Mattec MES production-control system. While IMCO is still relying on its original Epicor MES system for user entry, the Mattec implementation has allowed IMCO to better interface with its machines and collect real-time data. Today, IMCO's Epicor ERP and MES systems are entirely integrated, Osburn explained, while Mattec is only partially integrated.

Epicor ERP and MES touch almost every aspect of IMCO's daily operations, from order processing and purchase and sales management to production scheduling, accounts receivable and accounts payable, and general ledger.

"It's hard to think of an area of our business that doesn't interact [with Epicor]," Osburn said. "We couldn't operate without Epicor. Fundamentally, every transaction we do gets recorded in it."

Epicor's scheduling tools and Mattec's shop-floor integration are particularly helpful, Osburn added, because they allow users to get clear data about machine performance and the manufacturing cycle in real time. Since implementation, IMCO's delivery times have been reduced and its order fulfillment percentages have improved.

"Unlike in our old ERP system, with Epicor, we have access to a very detailed transaction history. It's just made everything easier," Osburn said.

The company plans to upgrade to the latest edition of Epicor ERP, Epicor 10, this winter, Osburn said, once IMCO's computer hardware has been upgraded in preparation. He hopes the upgrade will improve ERP system performance and achieve full integration with Mattec.

Osburn hopes future versions of Epicor will further improve interactions with shop-floor data. He would also like to see product data management functionality, which isn't currently included in Epicor ERP, and a "less clunky" e-commerce site.

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