Robinson Fin Machines Drives Productivity Up, Lead Times Down with M1
From the International Space Station to fighter jets to Pizza Hut ovens, “fins” produced by Robinson Fin Machines, Inc. ensure effective heat transfer. A fin is folded metal, ranging in thickness from thinner than newspaper to thicker than a quarter, that handles heat transfer in countless applications, including aerospace, automotive, electronics and medical equipment.
The family owned and operated business employs 48 people and serves clients worldwide from its 40,000-square-foot facility in Kenton, Ohio. Since 1983, Robinson Fin has built a reputation for quality, ISO 9001-compliant fins, short lead times and competitive pricing.
As demand for Robinson Fin’s fins grew, the company needed to streamline its internal processes to maintain efficiency, lead times and the strong customer service for which it is known.
To that end, Robinson Fin has tried a few applications over the years for managing different business processes, but having separate systems detracted from the team’s productivity. The company’s basic, DOS-based accounting program only handled accounting-related issues. Then a more comprehensive ERP system lacked all the functionality and flexibility Robinson Fin needed.
“We couldn’t tie purchase orders to receiving, receiving to payables, payables to the general ledger, and the general ledger to payroll, making everything more time-consuming,” explained Shannon Barnes, IT manager at Robinson Fin. “We needed something more streamlined so we could do everything in one place.”
Flexible, End-to-End ERP
In 1999, Barnes found M1 by B&G™, ERP software designed specifically for small to medium-sized manufacturers. M1 represented the complete, one-stop solution Robinson Fin sought, with total integration and automation from quoting through invoicing. Plus, it’s customizable enough to adapt to the specific demands of Robinson Fin’s production environment.
With support from M1 consultants, Robinson Fin ramped up on M1 smoothly, first migrating all data from the company’s previous ERP solution. Employees across all departments quickly picked up the intuitive software.
Robinson Fin began with the main M1 production modules, such as Job Management, Contact Management, Order Management, Accounts Receivable, Accounts Payable, Shipping and Labor Management. Over the years, the firm has expanded its use of M1 to include nearly all available modules, such as Estimating & Quoting, Inventory Management, Quality/Warranty Management, Scheduling, Purchasing, Payroll, Timecard Management, RMA Management and General Ledger.
True to M1’s promise, Barnes has found the software exceptionally customizable. “You wouldn’t even recognize our job traveler,” she said. “It’s completely customized with the relevant fields, options, calculations and reports that we need. We couldn’t live without the job management module.”
Beyond Job Management, the firm added multiple customizations to nearly every module. Barnes created an inspection sheet using Crystal Report Writer with all the operator inspections and part checks specific to Robinson Fin.
The firm relies on a number of built-in and custom reports to pull and analyze information as needed. For example, Barnes added a box to check for all contacts that should receive a Robinson Fin holiday card, and then the staff can easily run a report with those names each year.
Robinson Fin also used the payroll module to create a report that tracks the amount of time employees work in such a manner that the firm easily meets State of Ohio reporting requirements.
Greater Accuracy, Shorter Lead Times
M1 also fulfills its role as the one system for managing nearly every aspect of the manufacturing firm. Beginning with a quote, job specifications and details carry all the way through from production to invoicing.
“Quotes look at orders, orders look at jobs, jobs look at shipments, shipments look at invoices, invoices look at payments – making it much easier to do our jobs,” Barnes said.
With M1 as its central source of information, Robinson Fin now enters order information one time – instead of multiple times – and that information appears across all the relevant departments and phases. That dramatically reduces the chance for errors.
When you’re working with organizations like NASA, there’s no room for product detail errors. As the firm has reduced job specification mistakes, that has resulted in fewer reworks – improving profitability and customer service.
Centralizing information in an automated system helps move jobs along faster. Instead of an item sitting in one department, M1 automatically alerts the responsible individuals to ensure they process each item in a timely manner. Faster administrative processes, in turn, reduce lead times. Barnes estimates that M1 helps Robinson Fin complete orders about a full workday faster.
Plus, having that information already in the system reduces the amount of time that accounting has to spend on tasks like invoicing. Staff can simply create invoices from the information already in M1.
Going electronic helps staff find information faster, as well as reduces the firm’s paper costs. When customers call about orders, Robinson Fin staff can search M1 by name, purchase order number or any other identifying features, allowing them to respond to customers more quickly.
As Robinson Fin grows its order volume, M1 grows with it, continuously expanding and adapting to the firm’s needs while keeping orders organized. All that helps the firm drive down lead times, improve service and stay competitive.
Next, Robinson Fin plans to use M1’s quality module more extensively. With that step, and any in the future, Barnes remains confident she can tailor M1 for the firm’s changing needs. “So far, I’ve been able to do anything I needed to do with M1,” she said. “We’ve been very happy with M1.”
Further information on Robinson Fin Machines can be accessed from the website www.robfin.com
About Bowen & Groves
Bowen & Groves is setting the standard in Enterprise Resource Planning software (ERP), for the small to medium manufacturer. Founded in 1992 Bowen & Groves is a privately owned software development company operating in the United States of America, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. M1 by B&G™ sets the standard in affordability and ease of use. Bowen & Groves can be reached at email@example.com or via their website.
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