Multi-location foundries are not a new development in the metalcasting industry – but that business model is becoming more effective for organizations that have adopted technologies that make it possible to operate faster, more efficiently, and with greater accuracy than their competitors. All those factors are contributing to success for Metal Technologies Inc., founded in 1997 and headquartered in Auburn, IN, Metal Technologies operates nine metalcasting and machining operations in Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, and Mexico, producing cast and finished parts for automotive, heavy truck, and numerous other markets. Each operation has distinct processes and capabilities to address specific product families and specifications.
For nearly a decade, Metal Technologies has relied on the cloud-based Odyssey ERP system to manage processes across its organization, including manufacturing, quality, sales, finance, inventory, and data analytics.
MTI senior vice president John Neiger explained that his organization selected Odyssey over other ERP platforms because it offers a foundry-focused approach to enterprise technology. “Odyssey was designed for the metalcasting space. It can do everything for us, from our production transactions right through to the general ledger. Plus, going with a general ERP solution would have required a lot of customization.”Examples of foundry-specific functions that Odyssey can manage include scheduling and coordinating core production, synching molding and melt deck capacity with customer requirements, pattern inspection prior to releasing to production, and tracking inventories of castings sent to outside suppliers for processing. There are a myriad of other metalcasting-focused business processes that Odyssey ERP addresses, too.
While Neiger said Odyssey optimizes operations across nearly all areas of the business, there are a few capabilities and benefits he is most enthusiastic about.
Since first implementing Odyssey, Metal Technologies has acquired four companies and opened a facility in Mexico. Given that Odyssey is a cloud- based solution, converting those organizations to the ERP was far quicker and less costly than migrating to an on-premises ERP.
“Across all of our companies, locations and acquisitions, we have a great, across-the-board experience with Odyssey,” says Neiger. “Adding two Mexico facilities introduced an entirely new dimension in terms of multicurrency and multilanguage. However, the Odyssey cloud solution is so flexible that it easily supported those differences. We don’t have to worry about sizing things, conversions, etc. The system does all that for us.
"Another major benefit to using a cloud-based solution," Neiger said, "is we aren’t in the hardware business anymore. We are freed from spending time, money, and resources on upgrades and maintenance.”
The power of integration
Odyssey integrates all the organization’s systems, from accounting to production, shipping, and inventory, and more. In particular, Neiger said Odyssey greatly simplifies the high-pressure, end-of-month financial reconciliation process. “Our accounting group has a huge job to do at the end of the month, and they are expected to do it within just a couple of days – expectations from our management are high.”
Using Odyssey, Metal Technologies can manage, digest, and report on financials across the nine companies – ensuring all invoicing, payments, etc. are reconciled. "In addition to making the process less stressful and more streamlined, the information is also likely more accurate because it requires little to no manual work or intervention.
“I love the auto-invoicing feature; it’s had a significant impact on the efficiency of our operations,” he continued Neiger. “For example, between March 1, 2021, and February 28, 2022, our Accounts Payable team processed approximately 41,000 invoices across four of our companies; 18,000 of those invoices were processed automatically by Odyssey. That’s about 45% of all of the invoices. And we plan to get that number higher.”
Metal Technologies also plans to extend the invoice automation capability to the other five companies over time, he noted.
Optimize scrap, uptime, costing
Odyssey serves as a single source of reliable data for Metal Technologies, centralizing all its information in one location. That means managers and decision-makers can quickly and easily access and analyze powerful, holistic data and draw actionable insights about various operations.
For example, managers can analyze machine uptime, efficiency levels, and performance versus expected standards and take quick action to make any improvements. This level of insight also helps to contribute to Metal Technologies’ scrap levels, which are impressive.
“Scrap KPIs are a big deal for us. One of our ductile foundries operates with scrap levels at less than 2%, which is unheard of in the industry,” Neiger explained. “Odyssey does play a factor in that success because it’s a great tool that gives us the data we need to help the right folks make the right decisions.”
Over the years, Neiger said, B&L Information Systems has remained committed to Metal Technologies’ ongoing success – not only by responding to any inquiries and needs, but by also providing guidance and suggestions. “Regardless of who we talk with about Odyssey, we always discover a new opportunity to further optimize our use of the solution. From a bigger perspective, we have confidence that as our business grows and evolves, B&L will enable us to continuously improve our operations.”