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Pacific Steel Adopts a Single ERP

July 19, 2013
Advantages and complications Five-step conversion Planned and unplanned challenges

Pacific Steel Casting in Berkeley, CA, is one of the largest steel foundries in the U.S. Now, it’s also one of the most well informed. In April, Pacific Steel went live with B&L Information Systems’ Odyssey enterprise resource planning system.  During several months of pre-planning the installation, Pacific Steel’s staff and the B&L team worked to bring online more than 130 users, so that each would have full access to nearly every module offered in the Odyssey package. Even by the increasingly complicated standards of ERP software deployment in the metalcasting sector, this implementation was a large undertaking due to the number of users and the scale of Pacific Steel’s organization.

Since 1934 Pacific Steel began by melting and pouring castings for products and equipment supplied by defense contractors to U.S. military. It remains the fourth-largest steel foundry in the country — not only with a large workforce but also with a demanding customer base. 

While diversity may be an advantage in a workforce, it is a complicating factor in business systems where integration and compatibility drive the metrics for success. B&L’s Odyssey software was selected for the extent of its business system coverage, according to the developer, which includes every foundry process from scrap control to managing accounts receivable. All of these are integrated to the Odyssey software framework.

To kick-off the project, B&L project manager Frank Roorda and his colleagues met with the staff at Pacific Steel to map the planned project phases, with a goal of minimizing the disruption to work at the plant. The project mapping plan proceed from B&L’s “5 Steps to Successful ERP Conversion”:

1.  File Conversion.  Data is moved from the old system to the new Odyssey platform via importation and mapping;

2.  Business Review. A comparison is made of actual business conditions versus the planned module implementation objectives;

3.  Training. Internet or on-site training is carried out as the prior two phrases are consolidated.

4.  User Testing. This is a “proving” step for the training efforts, and allows any surprises to be resolved prior to …

5.  Go Live. In the final step, B&L staff worked on-site to help address questions or resolve any complicating issues as the ERP system becomes the operating standard.

For the Pacific Steel project, B&L tapped several business partners with specific expertise. Danly Consulting supplied on-site project management and expert installation, and guided Pacific Steel personnel through a review of business processes. Danly also simplified some procedures as the Pacific Steel team transferred from the AS-400 and prior ERP system.

Other details of the changeover: Intelli-Chief was integrated for document control, an EDI interface with Radley was adopted, and a payroll interface to ADP was established, incorporating the latest in California labor law compliance standards..

During a post-installation visit, B&L president Philip Laney watched how Odyssey helped corral the complexities of California’s labor laws. There, improperly timed breaks can have significant labor-cost impacts, but the on-premises clocking deployed with Odyssey via 50 hardened touchscreens throughout the plant offers supervisors a way to gain oversight of employee break times.

“This was a complex implementation, with both planned and unplanned challenges,” according to Laney. “The team at Pacific Steel, along with the B&L team and Mark Danly of Danly Consulting worked together, sometimes for 15-hour days, to ensure this installation went live on-time and on-budget,” stated Laney after his visit to Pacific Steel. 

“The executive sponsorship at Pacific Steel was also key to this project.  Without strong top-management commitment, an ERP project tends to struggle when the bumps in the road are hit,” Laney continued. “Not so with this project. We are very pleased with how this project concluded.”