- Rockford, Illinois
“We’ve been through a bad decision in the past-the wrong system and poor implementation-and I can tell you from experience that’s much more costly than investing the additional time and money to bring in a resource like IMEC. Using IMEC’s expertise and network, we feel like we did everything possible to make the best decision for our company.”
Successes in Operations and Technology
Caldwell Group purchased a manufacturing information system in the late 1990s, but stopped implementation only partially through the conversion from a previous model because it wasn’t the right fit. The company had been running multiple systems concurrently with some success, but recognized that business growth required more effective tools, particularly as customers continued to demand products and information faster and faster. Choosing the right replacement system from the dozens of options on the market, though, seemed a daunting task.
To avoid laying a new system on top of ineffective work processes, IMEC recommended combining the selection with internal process improvement work and led Caldwell Group through a review of the existing system, a “wants and needs” assessment and current state process mapping. After narrowing down the list of potential systems, IMEC brought in several vendors for high-level walkthroughs to help the company envision what a new system could do. With this background, Caldwell Group developed future state process maps incorporating key system capabilities and used them to communicate final functionality requirements to vendors. The company made a selection following more detailed demos, and implementation of the new system was underway.
- Increased ability to serve customers physically & electronically
- Improved scheduling, management of inventory & work in progress
- Integration of e-commerce & configuration tools
- Enhanced shop floor efficiency & more on-time deliveries
System Selection Process Lifts Rockford Manufacturer's Confidence & Efficiency
With its customers demanding products and information faster and faster, and its business growth dependent on better tools, Rockford-based Caldwell Group faced a challenge: The company’s manufacturing information system hadn’t been updated in more than a decade - and choosing the right replacement from the dozens of options on the market presented a daunting task for the 95-employee manufacturer of lifting equipment. Enter IMEC.
According to Caldwell Group President Doug Stitt, the company had purchased a system in the late 1990s, but stopped implementation only partially through the conversion from a previous model. “It probably wasn’t the best fit for us,” he said. “Since then, we’ve been running multiple systems concurrently, and we’ve managed to be successful in spite of that. Still, we recognized that we needed to put a more effective system in place to help us grow.”
Caldwell Group had worked with IMEC on several projects in the past, including 5S training and process mapping, so Stitt reached out to his IMEC contacts for help. To avoid laying a new information system on top of potentially ineffective work processes, IMEC recommended the company combine the system selection project with some internal process improvement work.
The two organizations began with a thorough review of Caldwell Group’s existing manufacturing information system and its capabilities and weaknesses, as well as a “wants and needs” assessment of each functional area within the company. Then, the various departments collaborated to create a current state map, documenting each step in Caldwell Group’s work process. What happened next, according to Stitt, made a huge difference in the project.
“IMEC suggested we conduct the system demos before we embarked on future state mapping,” he said. “That enabled us to understand exactly what was out there in terms of functionality and tools, so we could plan where we wanted to go based on that knowledge.”
IMEC narrowed down the list of potential systems to a manageable number and brought in several vendors for high-level walkthroughs to help the company envision what a new system could do. With this background, the Caldwell Group team developed future state process maps incorporating some of the key capabilities they observed - things like e-commerce and configuration tools, scheduling capabilities and inventory management - and used them to communicate final functionality requirements. Then, the vendors returned to perform more detailed, function-specific demonstrations, and Caldwell Group made a final selection.
Although it’s too soon to document results, Stitt reports that his team is very happy with the selected vendor and the support they’re receiving during the implementation process - and he anticipates major benefits in the years ahead.
“The return is going to be huge in terms of how we manage information. We’ll have a better ability to service our customers from both a physical as well as an electronic standpoint,” Stitt said. “It will make us much more efficient, and that efficiency will translate into more on-time deliveries for our customers.”
While he knows only time will tell if Caldwell Group selected the right manufacturing information system, Stitt says the company couldn’t be more confident in its choice.
“We’ve been through a bad decision in the past - the wrong system and poor implementation - and I can tell you from experience that it’s much more costly than investing the additional time and money to bring in a resource like IMEC,” he said. “Using IMEC’s expertise and network, we feel like we did everything possible to make the best decision for our company.”