Founded in 1980, Kinematic Automation is a global supplier of automated manufacturing systems for the medical industry. The company develops small- to large-scale custom manufacturing systems built to the exacting standards and strict compliance requirements of the medical and diagnostic industry, and utilizing the tenets of lean manufacturing. Kinematic’s capabilities include all aspects of machine design and development, fabrication, assembly, and testing, as well as machine installation, operator training and maintenance.
To support its make/engineer-to-order production environment, the company recently upgraded its enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution to Epicor ERP to gain greater speed and performance, and seamless integration with its SolidWorks computer-aided design/manufacturing (CAD/CAM) software. Moreover, Kinematic was looking to tap new ERP functionality and capabilities to further streamline its operations, and help the company be responsive to customer needs.
In particular, Kinematic wanted to get a better handle on scheduling, as all departments did their own scheduling through Microsoft Project Scheduler.
“We wanted one master schedule for the entire company,” said Skip Butler, director of operations for Kinematic. “Additionally, there was a lot of tribal knowledge that was being captured outside of any system—such as serial number lists—and we wanted to have everything captured and maintained in one location.”
New Functionality, Better Outcomes
Nearly everyone at Kinematic uses the ERP system—from customer service for order entry to sales and marketing to information technology (IT), finance, purchasing, production floor personnel and engineering; even senior executives find value in the systems’ dashboard reporting capabilities.
The estimating/quoting and order management functionality of the ERP system is helping Kinematic to reduce the complexity of sales orders and process them faster, while being more responsive to customers.
“In the past, launching a sales order required multiple touches from various departments and it was days before we were buying the necessary parts. Today, that cycle time has decreased by more than 90 percent—from an average of three days’ time to two hours,” said Butler.
With the new ERP platform, Kinematic harnessed functionality to manage all aspects of its supply chain—from the data collection/manufacturing execution system (MES) model to inventory management and landed cost/container tracking, purchasing management, supplier relationship management, and shipping and receiving.
The platform’s manufacturing resource planning (MRP) and scheduling capabilities enable Kinematic to have one master schedule for the entire company, and the huge workflow spikes that used to occur in each department are now reduced to a more even, more manageable flow. This allows Kinematic to process a greater volume of orders using the same amount of resources.
Following implementation, Kinematic’s purchasing department streamlined its processing of purchase orders and requests for quotations (RFQs), and leveraging the solution’s seamless costing functionality is now able to provide timely cost information for the sales team.
Improved Information Access
Kinematic also saw improvements in its ability to access information with Epicor ERP.
“The quality of the information architecture in the ERP platform is a great leap forward,” said Thad Jacobs, database administrator, Kinematic. He also found the platform’s search and query language (SQL) server back-end delivers exceptional performance and ease of administration.
“The ability to right-click to drill down to find information is incredibly powerful. The export tool to Microsoft Excel and the multiple list views give you lots of options to view and find the exact information you need,” said Jacobs.
Epicor Business Activity Queries (BAQ) and moving to the SQL server platform eliminated the need for the company’s previous custom reporting system. Kinematic leverages SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) to quickly and easily generate reports from its Microsoft SQL server database.
“The SSRS and BAQs, and the ability to add new fields on the fly definitely made the job of presenting data a lot easier,” said Jacobs.
Operational visibility and accuracy also improved.
“Everything is right there on one monitor—any order, any part in the process—where it is and who’s working on it,” said Butler. “Before, everything was manually entered; now everything is pre-populated in the system—we just click and it’s a done deal. There are fewer errors because we’re working off of solid data, as opposed to making assumptions. Before it was easy to lose track of things, but those days are long gone.”
“With all the information needed in one spot, there’s no second-guessing and the processing time is so much faster. Orders are just blowing through here—our on-time delivery improved by more than 66 percent,” he said.
Partnering for Success
For its ERP deployment, Kinematic partnered with Cre8tive Technology and Design. Cre8tive Technology and Design’s services organization functions as an extension of the Epicor Professional Services team, helping customers with Epicor ERP implementations and customizations to meet specific business needs.
“Cre8tive really listened to what we needed as a company—the ability to support our build/engineer-to-order and even ship-spare-parts-from-inventory models,” said Rashell Bustamante, project manager, Kinematic. “It was a very successful and smooth implementation. I really believe we wouldn’t be successful without Cre8tive, given our deployment timeline was very short,” she said.
“Cre8tive Technology seeks to over-achieve on customer expectations while always performing in a very professional but personable manner,” said Aaron Continelli, president, Cre8tive Technology and Design. “Additionally, it is imperative that Cre8tive has a thorough knowledge of the business and the particular unique challenges our customer faces. In the end, long-term relationships are very important with all of Cre8tive’s customers.”
Rashell Bustamante is a project manager at Kinematic Automation.