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Maximizing Administrative and Shop-Floor Efficiencies

April 5, 2023
An ERP update overcomes the ferrous foundry’s ongoing problems of manual data entry and ensures real-time data capture.

Foundries are multi-department operations that rely on synergistic activity, from sales to shipping to invoicing. Torrance Casting is a family-owned sand-molding operation in La Crosse, WI, that employs 100 individuals and produces a wide range of gray, ductile, Ni-hard iron castings in various sizes – including low-volume orders and difficult-to-cast parts. Before implementing Guardian Software Systems’ Foundry ERP with MES solution in 2005, Torrance Casting’s production processes were outdated and inefficient. Without an option for real-time data capture, Torrance staff members were required to capture data manually, leading to inefficient use of staff resources. This, combined with siloed departments, resulted in a lack of visibility, unavailable resources, and missing data that inhibited growth.

Many foundries have become relaxed about using a legacy enterprise software to manage workflow but that now allows opportunities to be missed on the shop floor and the front office. A common mistake by foundries is neglecting the shop-floor data processes while misallocating resources for administrative activities. Foundries around the world are making manual entries of labor tickets, struggling to compile required certificates, and executing manual Accounts Receivable/Accounts Payable tasks with a spreadsheet that lacks security and precision.

“Our old system wasn’t working,” recalled Lisa Smith, IT Administrator for Torrance Casting. “There was too much manual work and data entry, and on top of that there was no real-time data capture.”

Torrance understood that manual administrative tasks were causing them to lose data, time, efficiencies, and visibility. Guardian Software Systems partnered with the foundry to consolidate administrative operations and bridge the information gap between the front office and the shop floor, allowing Torrance Casting greater flexibility and higher visibility in all areas. With integration across all departments and boosted efficiency, Guardian helped the Torrance organization to move from “disconnected” to “cohesive.”

Torrance’s move to "cohesive" began with connecting shop-floor MES touchpoints that created a direct link into back-office tasks, such as entering labor tickets, managing resources for scheduling efficiency, and acquiring certifications. Linking the shop floor to the back office was crucial for Torrance to eliminate departmental siloes of information and create more cohesion throughout the product lifecycles through the lens of different departments across the organization.

Any transition a business goes through is difficult, but the foundry industry's uniqueness amplifies that challenge. Torrance Casting understood that their pre-Guardian, non-foundry solutions were not working and that a solution designed for the foundry was critical to attain their long-term goals. When Torrance entrusted Guardian as its foundry-specific ERP provider, the developer led Torrance through an implementation plan to integrate the system while still carrying out their production responsibilities.

“While we knew we had to make a change, we also knew it would be a massive feat,” according to Smith. “We stayed determined and worked closely with Guardian throughout the implementation process. It was a huge initiative, but it was definitely worth it in the end.”

Since then Torrance Casting and Guardian Software Systems have worked together to curate the software to the foundry’s current needs. The partnership, comparable to all those Guardian establishes, allows the developer to gain a view into what foundries require from software providers to become more efficient, lower operating costs, and remain more competitive in the metalcasting market.

“Guardian gave us a resource to remove the manual aspect of our administrative tasks, allowing us to reallocate assets into other departments which, in turn, maximized our resources and helped lower overall operating costs,” Smith said.

Guardian’s integration across all of Torrance's departments has increased production scalability due to increased visibility. Live visibility into casting production showed operational bottlenecks that were detrimental to meeting demanding lead times and order requirements. This information, gained from live data collection via Guardian MES, was critical in altering operations to avoid bottlenecks on the shop floor and automate administrative tasks.

“Guardian has been a very responsive partner,” according to Smith. “There is a true relationship between our two companies. Guardian responds to our requests for enhancements, training, or just a simple question because they are constantly improving the system to better assist clients. We couldn’t ask for a better company.”