Stein-Heurtey’s Bar-Le-Duc plant a factory ‘linked up’ by WorkPLAN
“The core of our business is in complex single order parts, the ‘rare bird’ has become our speciality, particularly for large size stainless steel parts.” Christian Barnier, Stein-Heurty’s Bar-Le-Duc site manager tells us. “We were looking for an ERP custom manufacturing solution to help us run our business more efficiently. WorkPLAN was the only application that exactly matched our specifications, allowing us to capitalise on our know-how by optimising information management.”
"We have improved internal communications as well as the quality and reliability of the information in circulation. This was essential for the effective implementation of our quality policy >>Christian Barnier, Site Manager
Stein-Heurtey : its history and its business
The Stein-Heurtey factory in Bar-Le-Duc, France, employs 75 people and is the only production plant of an international group with a staff of 700 worldwide. Benefiting from almost 100 years’ experience, the factory designs and manufactures industrial ovens and thermal equipment for the steel, aluminium and glass industries. The company has always kept up with the very latest technology and the increasingly demanding needs of its customers, as its 90,000 annual production hours testify. The company’s command of its production processes and material, whether for machining or computing, has enabled it to produce mechanical equipment and special machines of increasing complexity. It also acts as a partner to its customers and the rest of the Stein Heurtey group, providing technical advice and expertise.
Christian Barnier joined the company 23 years ago, becoming the site manager in 1994. “We have to counter some very stiff overseas competition”, he explains, “We need something to ensure we stand out from the crowd and to confirm our leadership position.
Our know-how makes us well placed for projects with high added value in the field of complex single order parts and this is currently a fast growing market . Our hi-tech equipment should help us successfully obtain and deliver orders, but there’s no room for error.” We selected our custom manufacturing ERP solution after an extensive search of what was on offer. A key criteria for us was to ensure cohesion and continuity across all departments within the factory, avoiding risky revolutionary changes.
A factory ‘linked up’ by WorkPLAN
In 1998 the Company faced a challenge: how was it to improve communications between the different departments within the company and above all, how was it going to make information secure and reliable, saving time for everyone?
Up until that time, in fact, a few departments at the Bar-le-Duc plant had been using bespoke software but it only provided limited coverage within the production unit. Specifications were therefore drawn up and consultation began.
Christian Barnier had the final say in the choice of the solution, and he explains his approach : “We tested 12 products on the market. The ‘traditional’ ERP products were too expensive and too complicated to implement. WorkPLAN was the only solution which ticked all the boxes. We took a gamble on the future. Today I’m happy to say that we made the right choice. We have 22 licences and 25 people use WorkPLAN every day across all departments, from workshop preparation through to planning, stock control, sales and accounts.”
WorkPLAN implementation at Stein-Heurtey
The full implementation of WorkPLAN was staged over a three year period because for it to succeed it was not only necessary to change technology but also to ensure all staff took ownership. “I led this project to its successful conclusion with a group of 10 people who not only assisted me during the requirements definition and application selection phases, but who also played a role in informing the rest of the staff about the advantages and inconveniences of such a solution.”
Christian Barnier goes on: “Once the principle had been accepted, we implemented WorkPLAN module by module.”
The sales order processing department was the first to use WorkPLAN. The component library was coded and stock management was simplified in order to optimise traceability. “For us, the stock management module was one of the most important and one of the most sensitive. It required some specific development which was carried out by Sescoi’s R&D team. They understand our business and a true sense of mutual respect was established between the two companies.”
Then followed the time monitoring module, implemented on the shop floor and providing Management with an updated job summary report within 24 hours instead of the 15 days it took previously. With working hours on a yearly basis, around the clock shift work, holidays, etc., establishing realtime (or almost real-time) time management was no mean task. Finally, the sales and accounts departments were equipped with WorkPLAN.
Christian Barnier’s appraisal 3 years on : “We have improved internal communications along with the reliability and quality of information flow, which was fundamental to our quality policy (certified ISO 9000 since 1994). 3 years ago we were making 300 quotes a year, this year we have made between 400 and 500.
300 of these have been converted into firm orders due to our excellent response times. I have access to accurate job summary reports which allow me to analyse variations between forecast and actual times, to manage work time and to therefore make the right decisions fast should there be any capacity problems, for example by subcontracting work out to one of our suppliers. Each month I send an accurate status report for each job to Stein Heurtey HQ along with a financial report. We work as a profit centre and we have to meet performance targets . Finally, we have total control of the application because it is so easy to configure. Again, my gamble proved good and has paid off.”
WorkPLAN going forward at Stein-Heurtey?
The planning module has not yet been implemented because it did not previously fully meet the company’s requirements. The improvements made by Sescoi in version 11 of WorkPLAN have remedied this. Bar code label editing for easier stock control is another line of development for us and touch screens are also being looked at. “I’m all for it if there are some real benefits for us,” says Christian Barnier. This shows the pragmatism at Stein-Heurtey; nothing is left to chance, any investment must be justified fast with hard numbers.