ERP Software Paves Road to Victory
A shop management system is helping this race team manage the constant change and demands for high performance at the track.
Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) is one of the most successful professional stock car racing teams in the country. Owned and operated by former Washington Redskins coach, Joe Gibbs, the team first joined NASCAR in 1991. Today, JGR boasts 13 different teams and four cars across NASCAR’s Sprint Cup series, as well as three cars in the Xfinity series. While NASCAR fans sit in the bleachers to enjoy the race, JGR has an entire team of engineers, strategists and managers who make victory possible on the ground. Keeping all of the details in line is no small task, and a key component is the ERP system put into place in 2005.
Embracing Rapid Growth
JGR builds everything in-house to keep its designs proprietary and to continue winning races. While maintaining this level of expertise was practical in 1991, when the team had only one engineer, one car and 15 total employees, demand has spiked in recent years. Today, the team has 560 employees who reside in a 400,000-square-foot race shop. Much planning and organization was required to manage this growth and to keep the processes running smoothly on a daily basis.
The shop has 30 CNC machines operating two shifts a day. “It’s non-stop action here, 24/7, just building these parts and pieces,” says Mark Bringle, technical sponsorship and marketing director at JGR. To guide the shop through inventory and scheduling as engineering personnel increased, the team implemented Exact JobBoss shop management software.
JobBoss is designed as a complete business management system for make-to-order job shops and custom manufacturers of all types and sizes. From front office to shopfloor operations, the integrated solution includes estimating, job processing, scheduling, material management, inventory management, time tracking, and cost accounting. It also includes add-on solutions such as quality, customer relationship management and electronic data interchange (EDI). Small to mid-sized custom manufacturers have seen great results with this job-based ERP system, and JGR is no different.
Creating Operational Efficiencies
By tapping into the capabilities of JobBoss, JGR was able to facilitate its rapid growth and continue to manufacture and race cars at an increasing level of excellence. Today, JGR uses the software’s inventory management and scheduling features to predict, in real-time, when parts and supplies are running low based on production and demand.
“With 30 machines running two shifts each day, it’s hard to look at our overall activity for that entire room, what our capacities are, and whether we have the availability and supplies for an emergency job,” Mr. Bringle says. JobBoss provides the necessary visual of how scheduling works with the activity on the shop floor. Once JGR started using the software, it was able to more easily accommodate emergency jobs, it stopped running out of parts, and it could generate orders automatically based on the production schedule.
Cost Savings Meets Innovation
The JobBoss system has helped JGR increase its innovations in manufacturing while still cutting costs. The software allows the team to track how much it costs to manufacture any specific part and then compare that price to alternatives in the future. JGR personnel are also able to move the schedule around as needed to make room for new ideas.
“With so many engineers, you’re always coming up with something new, something different,” Mr. Bringle says. While the team used to track production on spreadsheets and manually shuffle folders to manage the schedule and inventory, it now can innovate more quickly, saving money by manufacturing parts on the fly.
Because racing is a time- and deadline-specific sport, the CNC group has short lead time requirements. Tools within the software enable the team to quickly determine how long a new part should take to manufacture and then determine how to meet those strict delivery dates. The job template system provides a quick understanding of the cycle time for new, but similar parts.
From Shop Floor to Finish Line
JGR feels that JobBoss software has played an integral role in helping the team continue to win races. The group had an outstanding year in 2015, winning 16 out of 39 race weekends, including a championship. So far in 2016, it has won 11 of 29 races and all four of the race teams are in “the chase” (the sport’s playoff system). The team attributes its success to the efficiency it is able to achieve in the massive undertaking of participating in a race. Not many people realize what a huge effort it is to produce the parts for a car, transport the vehicles to the track and participate, and successfully compete in the race. The ERP system lies at the core of the team’s efforts, allowing day-to-day operations to take place quickly and without interruption.
“It’s a huge undertaking, and for us to be able to throw in that many races and win a championship is a testament to JobBoss and how easy it is to do everything in house,” Mr. Bringle says. “We’re looking forward to continued success, building faster cars and an even deeper partnership with Exact. The business activity monitoring solution we are currently implementing provides alerts and custom reports that ensure the right people are doing the right things at the right time. On the race track and on the shop floor, there’s always room for improvement. We feel we have the right partner to make JGR a winner.”
Knowledge Sync Event Manager
Through the years of their partnership, both JGR and JobBOSS have changed and evolved. Recently, JGR implemented KnowledgeSync Event Manager as an add-on module that acts as an invisible assistant. This feature is a business activity monitoring solution that integrates with the ERP software to give real time visibility into key activities, information and milestones.
Data is added to the system continuously as operations are (or are not) taking place. The system can then proactively report this data automatically, via email, text or other means, to designated users at specified intervals without the need for the user to go after the data. For example, someone in the quality department may receive a notification email that a certain machine just scrapped three parts. Every department within an organization can take advantage of the data tracking. Notifications can be sent externally as well, such as to customers for product shipment or past-due payments. There is no limit to the number of events that can be programmed or the number of people being notified.
“KnowledgeSync removes a lot of the burden of handling everyday tasks,” says Lisa O’Flaherty, senior solutions engineer with JobBoss. “Having the information delivered to people automatically without anyone having to track it down provides enormous time savings.” Some companies use the software to look for trends, such as quantities of orders coming from specific customers. They often discover information they weren’t necessarily expecting.
Ms. O’Flaherty says people sometimes have the perception that implementing such a system takes too much time to set up. To alleviate these concerns, JobBoss provides 20 standard canned events for what the company has found to be the most common applications. These events can be easily modified as needed to suit the user’s requirements, but provide a quick jumpstart for implementation. “Once a shop begins using these, they become more comfortable with setting up their own,” she says.
Alerting the Race Team
Within two weeks of implementing KnowledgeSync, George Skelton, JGR materials manager, was able to implement more than 15 business critical alerts for the entire team to track data accurately, ensure POs are received, and send material reminders in real time. The team is able to use the event manager to proactively notify personnel of critical business updates and stay ahead of the issues that could arise.
JGR has between 300 and 500 over-the-counter transactions every day and cuts about 1,000 POs a month. Volume such as this requires keeping track of many small details, and it’s common for data points to get lost in the noise. With KnowledgeSync alerts, JGR employees are able to easily assess their task list and sift through the important items that require attention. In an industry where time is of the essence, the ability to increase productivity and efficiencies is imperative.
The racing industry is data driven, and the event manager allows Mr. Skelton to drill down to the data within the software and signal when certain events that are important to the operations have and have not happened. In one example, he created a previous day’s receiving event to allow the accounting department to verify that it received all of the paperwork needed to match from the receiving department. Accounting always has the checklist handy to match up to the packing slips received every morning and determine if any paperwork is missing.
When Mr. Skelton first put the event manager to work, he began realizing the ROI in only a couple of hours. His current active list of daily events emailed to users such as the accounting and purchasing groups is 11, plus one event is run at the end of each week. Each event provides answers to important questions that JGR personnel use to make effective decisions in managing the business.
Mr. Skelton and his team have been able to increase productivity considerably. He believes that time savings from the use of the event manager is in the neighborhood of 20 to 30 man-hours a week. “The increased visibility allows us to have more and better information readily available upfront, rather than needing to desperately chase it down later,” he says. “It allows us to make better decisions in our problem solving processes.”
Racing is an industry that runs on tight deadlines with no room for error. If a PO from a vendor is missing, it can push back production, forcing JGR to go to plan B, which leads to rushed delivery and weakened communication. These concerns can become disasters when constructing a production race car. What needs to get done in a given week drives what happens at the race track the following weekend. With automatic alerts from KnowledgeSync, Mr. Skelton is able to catch any problems before they get out of hand or cause a delay with production. The system can transform any business from reactive to proactive to predictive.
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