Custom Coaches reveals MRP proof in the pudding


Custom Coaches proves competitive and performance gains from its Manufacturing Resource Planning (MRP) software

Custom Coaches reveals MRP proof in the pudding
Custom Coaches reveals MRP proof in the pudding

March 9, 2012

One of the very first companies in Australia to base its planning and manufacturing system on an Manufacturing Resource Planning (MRP) platform, Custom Coaches says the technology has met the challenge
of maintaining local employee levels against the pressures of global competition.

National Supplies Manager Bill May is adamant Custom Coaches is not just a huge success story of MRP implementation; he says the company’s unique requirements helped mature and shape the product by challenging the MRP system’s design engineers to meet the bus builder’s expanding demands.

Provider Manufacturing Software, which implemented ManuSoft, a touchscreen software it developed for Custom Coaches is now releasing an online MRP product, ManuDyn, for instant rollout on an international level.

"We are certainly a good testing and development scenario for MRP; each time we set a challenge the engineers at Manufacturing Software deliver major enhancements to our system that is now synchronised across three different sites," May says.

"Perpetually, we are looking to enhance and change the system to increase productivity, deliver better products, and make the life of staff easier.

"And it’s the hot topic of staff where we set the greatest challenges over the years and the system has delivered in a big way."

May who gets ‘people reporting’ out of its MRP product says the company derives accurate information that facilitates comparisons to all relative Asian job markets.

"Ninety nine percent of the time we see we are more than just competitive," May says. "This is purely because we are running the system.

"It maintains our confidence to keep jobs in-house rather than outsource to cheaper labour market.

"And it is all finite systems reporting: we recently did a little benchmarking while one of our laser cutters was down and were astounded how much we are able to produce rather than outsource."

Custom Coaches and Manufacturing Software first became associated in June 1998 when five separate MRP systems were installed to cover the operations of their various plants (divisions) across Australia.

The company is Manufacturing Software’s largest client in Australia with more than 500 employees operating over two shifts in three States of Australia. It builds bus bodies – mostly for the state government but also for private operators.

It delivered its first fleet of hybrid power buses to the State Government of NSW just this year.

Initially, the system engineers developed an elaborate procedure to import/export jobs and transfer goods between the various manufacturing and assembly divisions. This first system was a DOS version that was replaced in 2000 by the Windows version.

By 2005/2006 Custom Coaches’ operations had more than quadrupled, challenging the engineers once again; this time to developed a ‘Divisional’ version of the system which amalgamated the separate MRP systems in each division at a totally different location into a single set on a server located in Sydney.

This worked well but by 2009 the file sizes became so large that another challenge came and was met – this time developing the SQL version of the system which was installed in 2010.

Custom Coaches has been a partial driving force and catalyst leading to capability expansion and improvements in Manufacturing Software’s MRP systems over the years. Much of this development experience has ended up in the ManuDyn internet-based product.

Bill May has 30 years experience at Custom Coaches; most of the senior managers have at least a decade or two and a couple of its senior managers have been at the company for nearly forty years. He has been privy to every single change to processes and systems on the production line and in the backroom

"When I began here it was a completely manual system and I have watched our technology platform grow through major upgrades with ManuSoft," he recalls.

"But to gain most out of MRP, it is vital to resource the system and plan properly.

"We find the system is now fantastic. Three sites nationally, pushing 80 users. We would like to expand the number of touchscreens throughout our factories.

"Two of our key suppliers (of manufactures to our business) also use ManuSoft and we have been in a position to assist and advise where possible during their implementation/upgrades."

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