Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Announcing: Cloud Back-Up Solutions, The REALTRAC GARAGE

Without Your Data, You Have No Business!

Everyone has a local backup. But not everyone has remote backups. A local backup is great, until your facility has a catastrophic incident that destroys all of your hardware, backups included. What happens then? Without a backup from a remote location, you're stuck starting at square one. What jobs were on the floor? What jobs have you billed for? Having a remote backup that is up to date is priceless in a situation like this. Your road to recovery will be hard, but it will be nearly impossible without the data you need to put the pieces back together. For about a $1.00 a day your company can be protected! Can you even think of a better investment??

The “Realtrac Garage” enables our customers to store their data and computer files using our data encrypted connection storage service provider. Files and data will be automatically saved to the cloud backup service on a regular, scheduled basis, or the information can be automatically backed up anytime.

The “Realtrac Garage” offers essential features such as archiving and disaster recovery. Archiving features help to satisfy your legal requirements for data retention, and as part of your company's disaster recovery plan, the remote, off-site storage provided by REALTRAC ensures your data remains safe in the event your local data is jeopardized by a disaster such as a fire, flood, hacker attack or employee theft.

WHY purchase the “Realtrac Garage” Cloud Backup Solutions?

As your company copes with the growing amount of proprietary information being generated every day, you face a daunting truth: without your data, you have no business. That’s why it’s so critical to now have a modern and dependable system in place to safeguard valuable business information. REALTRAC’S cloud backup, recovery and restore is a secure, cost-effective and reliable solution.

Lower total cost of ownership
REALTRAC’S Cloud Backup software integrates with your REALTRAC ERP software to locate and prioritize files for backup, and then securely transmits encrypted copies of those files to offsite data centers. This results in a lower total cost of ownership compared to the purchase and maintenance of complex tape backup systems.

Improved reliability and speed of recovery
Having a backup solution is meaningless without a rapid and reliable method of recovering and restoring data. REALTRAC’S cloud backup and recovery system instantly restores data regardless of your location. You will establish Recovery Time Objectives and Recovery Point Objectives that match your business requirements.
During the cloud backup process, Realtrac tests the validity of the data being transmitted. This ensures that the data arrives safe and sound in our private, encrypted cloud.  In addition, Realtrac provides a one click solution to retrieve the backup, double check that it's valid, then restore your data exactly how it was.

Reduced operating and administrative costs
Once you select a backup schedule, your company data is saved automatically, providing an unobtrusive and transparent solution. This “set it and forget it” model results in less operational and administrative management for data backup. The built-in scalability of cloud backup makes it easy to evolve as your business data environment grows and changes.

REALTRAC GARAGE Cloud Backup Solutions:
Monthly          $39.00             Yearly             $400.00
Contact Your REALTRAC Sales Representative Today for complete Safety and Assurety!

Monday, July 14, 2014

An Introduction to "5 Best Practices For Machine Shops"

Over the course of my experience in operating companies and consulting I have visited many (very many) manufacturing operations. My service has been in three particular areas: a consulting resource to improve business operations, as a funding resource to bring new equipment to the floor, and as a coach for company owners.  I am also a partner in a machine tool shop in southeast Michigan.  To be the best resource possible, I have studied hundreds more manufacturing operations.  This series on best practices is distilled from those studies and experiences.

A ‘Best Practice’ is a proven methodology which generates results at a level of maximum output, while demanding minimum inputs, in a manner consistent with customer requirements.  Typically the practices are consistently performed, managed well and part of a continuous improvement regimen.
Best practices are not easy to implement, largely because implementing them requires change, change in existing process, changes in the way people do things, changes in arrangements, protocols and attention.  They require process design effort, communications and active management.  They require replacing poor or unsatisfactory habits with good ones.  None of that is easy.

So why should you care to put energy into implementing best practices if they are so difficult to get in place?  Because the shops that implement, follow and improve them WIN!  They win the more talented employees. They win the better contracts.  They earn more profit.  They have the opportunity to invest more in tooling and better equipment.  They are often the stronger competitors in the marketplace.  If that is not enough, they also happen to be admired businesses.

Before we start into the five practices, let me describe the successful manufacturing shops which guide themselves into best practices . . . .

First, the owner and executive team have a pretty clear vision for where they want to go as a business, what their product is, how it is sold, who it is sold to and their full intention and focus is on providing a quality product in a safe and profitable manner.  Further they manage in a way that engages a talented and complete employee team with the right tools in an environment, which invites participation around how to get better at the business of serving the customer every day.

More often than not, successful shops have an annual business plan, and possibly a five year plan.  They possess a learning attitude and constantly look for ways to improve the business and every process in it.  Technology is a key component in their success and best practices.  For example, according to various studies, 94% of manufacturing organizations over $50M in sales use enterprise resource planning software in their operations.  We often find that Realtrac, for smaller manufacturing operations, enables and prepares them for growth as it smooths out operations allows for greater visibility of manufacturing processes and creates organization in the way work flows and is measured.  In fact, in a recent conversation with an editor of one of the leading manufacturing publications, Bob Sakuta asked the editor if he was aware of any high performing shops that did not have an ERP system in place.  The editor thought for a moment and replied that in fact he could not recall any shops that he had met with, who were considered high performing, that were not using an ERP system.

And to expand on this point, a barrier to growth for businesses under $10M in revenues, is often the establishment of consistent business processes and the reinforcement of their use and improvement.  When the right processes and systems are established, staffed with the right people and then followed consistently, a major obstacle to growth is removed and the organization can grow to the next level.

As we proceed into this discussion of best practices, contemplate your own shop and what you do well and not so well.  Every business has bright spots and some dark spots.  I hope you will find the discussion offers you some ideas for improvement, which will create greater success in your business.

In the next entry, I will describe practice number one, the practice of establishing a complete production planning effort.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Realtrac ERP Software Development Team - General Release

Greetings all,

Realtrac ERP Software Development Team
REALTRAC Development Team
It's been a busy time here at Realtrac Headquarters. Since the last blog we've officially released the Realtrac 10 product. As I'm sure many of our customers themselves experience, when you work on a product or a job for a long time, and then send it out the door, it's a lot like sending your kid out the door for their very first day of school. Lots of emotions, but it's also the first step of a long journey.

As you can imagine, work has not let up for the team. We're now converting existing customers from 9 to 10, along with doing new installations. It's great talking with both new and existing customers to learn about their businesses and learn how they use Realtrac. Without sounding too self-serving, allow me a momentary anecdote. Our development team has worked together for a long time and we've developed many products to convey important business critical information to users in a simple and meaningful way. When tasked with writing a successor to the very successful Realtrac 9 product, we wanted to not only match it's features, but improve upon them.

The Realtrac 9 product provided a workstation centric real time view in to your shop floor. In real time, a user could scan the list and see which work stations were being run, along with the jobs and employees running the stations.

In 10, we've replicated this interface, but also provide another view of the same data - a view that is employee based rather than focusing on Work Stations. Now, you can not only answer the question "What is happening on my Inspection work station?" but you can also ask "What job is my employee Rob Liefeld on right now?". In our new Employee Status window, we provide a pile of information with some simple color codes. In the sample screen capture below, the color of the employee's name tells us if they are currently logged in, on break, or not currently logged in to a job. The color of the cell with the Job and Operation information tells you how the operation is doing compared to the estimate. If the lower cell is green, we're still within our estimated time for the operation. Yellow indicates we're within +/- 10% of our estimate, and a red cell indicates that we've gone over 110% of our estimated time for that operation.

Realtrac ERP System Status Window
Employee Status Window
We've already had one customer tell us that by bringing this information to the front, in real time, they have already begun digging in to jobs before they've shipped to try to correct issues with the job. Operations running late means your company is losing money, and it risks you may ship the product late. Instead of trying to correct these problems in a job review after the job has shipped and is closed, our user is now catching these in real time and has already seen an increase in productivity! Real exciting news to hear for a group of developers who, months ago, were just hoping that these ideas would catch on!

In addition to installs, conversions, answering questions, documenting, building FAQs and the like, we continue to work on exciting new products and features. As I've mentioned previously, we've got our new mobile apps that are currently going through the testing phase with Apple in preparation for our official listing in the App Store. We've got both a Shop Floor style app, "Remote Start" (used by shop floor employees for logging in and out of work sessions, logging piece and scrap counts and the like) and our training app, "Power Train" to help users learn about our product.

Our Remote Start users that have been testing the product (on live manufacturing floors) love it and have already made it part of their regular workflows. They have asked us to allow them to continue using the product even after our testing period. They have changed their workflow and been more productive and don't want to stop.

We're working hard to bulk up our online training and self service resources. We've already prepared a series of videos designed for users converting from our 9 product to the 10. This set of 7 videos, all very short but focused, have been instrumental in helping our customers convert from 9 to 10, often in a single day. Additionally, we have many other videos (and a good number of new ones in the hopper) designed to orient both new and existing customers to some of the cool new features in Realtrac, and to act as introductions to the underlying business system that's the bedrock of the Realtrac ERP system.

All existing videos, and future videos are available in the Power Train application. The app keeps track of your progress, letting you know which videos you've watched, and the training videos look great on an iPad next to your computer. Watching the videos on the iPad while following along on your screen allows you not just to see someone demonstrate a concept, but actually try it yourself.

We're also debating internally about what features to add to the product next. We've taken a pulse of our customers, both directly via discussion panels and through our experienced sales team. We currently have a set of features we're prioritizing and scoping out. While we have a pretty good idea what we're going to do (or, at least we have a known basket of possibilities we're going to pick and choose from) make sure to keep in touch with your Realtrac sales rep and give them details about your business and what features you need to succeed. Our sales team is the development team's direct pipeline to our customers and one we rely on heavily. We want to add features that are going to help our customers grow and prosper.

Well, thanks for checking in here with the Realtrac development team. I'm off to work on some cool new features!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Machine Shop Grows While Maintaining Control - Realtrac ERP Software

East Side Machine relies on Realtrac and QuickBooks for shop and job management.

Customer Profile:

East Side Machine, located in Webster, NY, has been providing CNC turning, milling and other precision machining services since 1984, serving primarily the mass transit, medical, aerospace and motion control industries. Working from customer supplied engineered drawings, the job shop produces each part according to specifications. Today, with over 30 shop employees, East Side has built a reputation for high quality and on-time delivery, resulting in numerous repeat orders and highly satisfied customers.

"Realtrac has been a significant part of the reason we have been able to grow. I would recommend the system for small and medium size job shops to help get better control and for Real-Time management of jobs."
-Paul Derleth, President

Business Challenge:

In 1993, East Side had grown to an 18 employee ship and realized that is manual methods of managing the shop were no longer adequate if growth were to continue without sacrificing quality and customer service. ERP software was needed to assist in: tracking jobs, managing deliveries and providing accurate job costing. It was also beginning to become apparent that manual bookkeeping and accounting procedures could no longer provide the accurate and timely financial control that was necessary for a growing company.

"Realtrac and QuickBooks have helped our company become more efficient and profitable. The customer support that we have received over the years for both products has been excellent"
-Paul Derleth, President

Solution Overview:

East Side Machine evaluated several ERP software products before selecting a system. Realtrac was chosen because of its versatility in offering various options, its ability to track jobs in Real-Time and its purchasing and inventory features, especially designed for job shops. Realtrac's ease of use and quick implementation was also a major factor.

QuickBooks Pro accounting software was installed in 1995 upon recommendation of East Side's accountant because it integrated smoothly with Realtrac, was extremely user friendly and offered great customer support.

Business Benefits:

Realtrac helped East Side get the job shop software up and running very quickly and the benefits were realized almost immediately. Processing of customer orders were expedited and the status of current jobs became available in Real-Time. Machine bottlenecks could be predicted ahead of time allowing the company to better manage delivery schedules. Realtrac's Real-Time job costing feature became an important aid in predicting profitability and managing the purchasing of material and outside services became more efficient.

Implementation of Realtrac also aided greatly in East Side obtaining its ISO 9000 certification. The process plans, inspection results, employee job transactions, material purchases and all the activity from time of order to the actual delivery is accurately tracked.

According to Pat Latona, East Side's Office Manager, "the integration of Realtrac with QuickBooks has saved me a ton of time." Customer invoices are now generated and emailed or printed in Realtrac and automatically posted to QuickBooks, eliminating any duplicated entries. The control for the company's accounts receivables has greatly improved and with QuickBooks, the preparation of general ledger trial balances and other reports has been simplified.

Realtrac and QuickBooks financial software work together to help simplify your business management. QuickBooks financial software helps you get it done faster, with a new home page, simplified customer and vendor centers and sophisticated business planning tools.

For more information visit: www.realtrac.com

Intuit QuickBooks / Realtrac Success Story

Monday, April 7, 2014

REALTRAC ERP Software: New Owner, New Direction.

Embracing Change Creates Real Results in Real Time, Real Quick.

What’s the best business decision you ever made? Sometimes as a small business owner, we can get too set in our ways and become very blurred in the way we view expansion. Despite my kicking and screaming on many occasions, I knew that we had to make some enormous strides in the way we operated our business in the growing world of technology. So, 24 years ago, the best decision I made was that I spent 6-percent of that year’s sales and 100-percent of its profits and drove my company into the 21st century.
Fast forward to 2014.  Because of that decision: I now have an 8-thousand-percent increase in profits and four more companies in my portfolio. So, instead of having to spend all of my hours managing my companies, I spend the majority of my time determining what I want to do next. By embracing change, this is how I did it…

In 1989, I made the decision to purchase a ERP system to help guide my business. At the time, my company was a 10-person manufacturing supplier for the automotive industry. After much research, I chose the Realtrac Performance ERP System. I reached out to Realtrac and learned the power of the job shop software from sales representative, Don Colley. (Don is still with Realtrac today). The return on this investment was realized in just 90 days.
To stay in business, a business must make profits. The Realtrac ERP System helped guide us to increased revenue with higher profits. Realtrac improved our operational efficiency, reduced costs and increased productivity.  It showed us where our opportunities for growth existed. Efficiency comes from doing more of what’s most profitable in your business and less of what’s least profitable. This analysis of our company was enlightening and gave us greater clarity in our direction.

Every customer is demanding. They all want a “Quality product, On time, Every time”. I run my companies with this being the premise.   We are built upon truth, integrity and honesty.  We take great pride in our quality. Realtrac is a fast, real time system that developed our true employee and machine costing which in turn allowed us to estimate and quote more effectively and efficiently.
With the machine loading software, we were able to track and manage jobs flowing through our shop, which made us more operationally sound. It also gave us the confidence to win more sales, buy more equipment and hire more staff. Our company continued on this path and over the past 24 years the only thing that has not changed in our company was our software system, Realtrac. This is a testament to its performance.   It stood the test of time.  But companies need to stay fresh and move forward as new technologies, equipment and opportunities emerge.

The manufacturing ERP software was built in the early 1980s by a machine shop owner.  It then went to the open market.  I wanted the software back in the hands of a machine shop owner, so it could adapt to the changes of the industry by using current business trends. I reached out to the owner to buy the company.  Finally in 2012, I got the opportunity to make it mine.

I believe Realtrac is the main reason for our success. The decision to buy the company was not to expand a business unit.  It was to share what it has done for us.  Realtrac was bought out of passion, desire and knowing it was good - but that it could be great. I have set out to make that happen.
Moving the company to Michigan and hiring the best programmers was the first step. Secondly, we formed a steering committee comprised of key personnel, who were current users from within our manufacturing group and many of Realtrac’s current customers. This group established our short term goal: To make the software even faster, even more powerful and built upon excellent business practices. “Easy is quick, quick is profitable”!

With an underlying message of, “creating a platform that allows you to run your software instead of allowing it to run you”, our team has created a completely integrated, state-of-the-art manufacturing ERP system.  It will allow companies a quick and easy transition while reducing the stress related to your daily business
Realtrac 10 is “Real Quick, in Real Time, with Real Profits”. It will assist your entire operation, from management to inventories to implementation.  It will also play a significant role in improving your business efficiencies by reducing your costs and optimizing your business’s performance.

This sophisticated ERP system has greater functionality and flexibility while maintaining its speed and ease of use. As one of our Beta Site customers so eloquently stated, “This is awesome, we are very excited to fully implement this next generation of Realtrac software.” I am so proud to launch our new and improved machine shop ERP software and firmly believe that with REALTRAC at the helm, your company will soar to new heights.
Take your business to the checkered flag and WIN the business race, like I did. To learn more about Realtrac, call us today at (734) 793-3811. We will assist you in identifying your key requirements and challenges and then align Realtrac ERP solutions to give you the horsepower needed to WIN your business race!

View Our Promo video here.

Bob Sakuta
Owner of Realtrac and the Delta family of companies.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

With Realtrac ERP Software, Controlling Profitability Happens Right On Cue!

Manufacturers of all types can benefit from great Manufacturing ERP software, no matter what they produce. At Jacoby Custom Cues they leverage both art and science to produce some of the finest, and certainly the most beautiful pool cues in the world. REALTRAC software allowed Dave Jacoby and his son Brandon to immediately improve profitability by helping them to better track the costs associated with each step in the production of these custom pool cues. 

Finding the Balance Point…

Realtrac ERP Software and Jacoby Cues
Initial lathe work on a new cue.
When thinking of small and medium manufacturers, most of us envision a family owned machine shop turning out gears, pinions and custom machined metals parts for huge machines. What does not often spring to mind are high end, custom pool cues. At Jacoby Custom Cues they produce some of the finest cues available anywhere in the world. Since their founding  in 1982 they have won dozens of national and international awards for their craftsmanship and design. These custom cues are often designed for a specific individual. They are created for both top performance and beauty. The fine wood working and inlays are what you see on the outside, however, the core and workings on the inside of these amazing cues are every bit as elaborate and functional. Dave Jacoby has always enjoyed pool and as a hobby bought and sold pool cues. The cue manufacturer offered him a lathe to begin to do pool cue repair locally and from there Mr. Jacoby went on to design and build custom pool cues. The business, like so many started in his basement with one machine. Today Jacoby Custom Cues has three locations, 15 full time employees and over 40 machines all focused on producing the finest, custom pool cues available. They are one of the largest and finest producers of custom pool cues in the world.

No Sneaky Petes here…

Every Jacoby Cue is literally a work of art and science. The detail and workmanship that goes into these award-winning cues is immediately obvious. It is the attention to detail, design, focus on process and the right tools that make these cues so unique. In addition to the machines that are used to create these one-of-a-kind pool cues, Jacoby Custom Cues uses ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software from REALTRAC to ensure that their processes and costing are carefully monitored and controlled. These pool cues are every bit as beautiful mechanically as they are aesthetically, and that takes extraordinary attention to detail. These fine cues will never be mistaken for pool hall cues. The exotic woods, semi-precious stones and fine metals that go into creating these cues are all carefully selected and create cues whose exterior beauty is matched by the engineering that goes into creating the insides of these works of art. Inside, the finely machined core, weights and ferrule tenons create a pool cue that out performs almost anything in the market, providing a superior playing experience. Jacoby’s customers range from some of the best known professional pool players in the world to those who only play at home but appreciate a truly fine pool cue. The Jacoby family can also claim some well-known celebrity customers, but discretion prevails and the family would just say that they are names everyone would instantly recognize. One customer wrote the company and told them he was so excited about the cues when they arrived that he took a whole week off work just to play pool all day. Now that is a satisfied customer!

Jacoby Cues and Realtrac ERP Software

Rack ‘em for for success….

Jacoby Cues and Realtrac ERP System
Fine tuning an Irish Linen wrap.
Dave Jacoby started the cue business in the basement of the family home. It quickly grew and they moved into a dedicated manufacturing space.  The business is still growing at a fast pace and they moved yet again into a larger manufacturing space. Jacoby Custom Cues produced about 2,000 cues last year and has generally has about 100 jobs cued up, as they say, at any given time, with over 40 new orders coming in each month. This extraordinary success and fast growth has presented challenges. Not only did the company need to move to a bigger location twice, but the complexities of managing the details of thousands of custom orders a year meant that they needed an easy, and fool-proof way to better manage their operations. Mr. Jacoby found that as his business grew, his sales grew, but his profitability was not keeping pace.  He had to find a reliable way to better cost and price his cues. In 2013 Dave Jacoby and his team started using REALTRAC, an industry leading ERP Software. REALTRAC provides the Jacoby Custom Cues team with the tools to properly quote new business and to manage their costs.  Some high-end Jacoby  pool cues than can easily cost well over $10,000, so manufacturing cost matters. Even a few percentage points of improvement in cost drives hundreds of dollars to the bottom line. REALTRAC also allows the Jacoby team to follow any individual cue through the entire manufacturing process to ensure on time deliveries and perfect quality.  

This attention to detail and profitability is what has allowed Jacoby Custom Cues to grow successfully. They use the right tools, whether it is to set a beautiful piece of malachite into burled maple or to manage the processes on the shop floor, The Jacobys manage every detail almost effortlessly. Jacoby Custom Cues services elite pool players from around the world.  Every detail of the manufacturing process must be flawless to ensure that the completed cue not only looks beautiful, but performs perfectly. Jacoby Custom Cues has been using REALTRAC software for just a few months, but it has already made a different. “I feel like I am still learning about how REALTRAC can improve our operations, but the easy set up and the easy to use interface allowed use to start using the software right away.” Said Dave Jacoby. He went on to add “We immediately saw an improvement in our costing process and in tracking our production, and with as fast as we are growing, REALTRAC made a big contribution to our processes and our profits right away.”

Realtrac ERP Software with Jacoby

You May Not Be a Pool Shark But you Can Work Like One

Firms of any size can benefit from good ERP software, no matter what their product is. Even the smallest firms will realize a return on their investment within a few months. Every company needs an angle, that trick shot that will make them more productive so that they save time and money. Become a ‘shark’ within your own organization and adopt an easy to use REALTRAC ERP system today.

Contact REALTRAC today to learn more! 734-793-3811

Monday, February 10, 2014

Realtrac ERP Software Development Team - Tablet & Mobile Compatibility

Greetings from the Realtrac ERP Software Development Headquarters,

As detailed in our last blog entry, we are now finishing up the Beta testing stage of our new Realtrac 10 ERP system. Feedback is great and we're continuing to add polish to what we believe will be a great product to our existing and future customers. We took a very aggressive plan in rewriting Realtrac; Starting from scratch (we literally had a white board, some markers and chairs on our first day of work) to Alpha testing in just about a years’ time. We're really proud of the speed we were able to produce the product while maintaining quality.

But the world doesn't stand still in a vacuum over the course of that year. We continued our dialog with our customers over that year, and the feedback was nearly unanimous. In 2014, our customers and the market expect integration with mobile devices. What started out as a "To Do After Product Launch" became a mandatory feature we needed to have complete for our introduction of Realtrac 10. We're a nimble team that is ready to pivot on a dime, so we launched right in to figuring out what we wanted to build and how we were going to build it.

Everyone internally and externally agreed with that premise, but we still needed to approach the problem with caution. What problems did we need the mobile application to solve? Many of our interfaces were already developed and had been tested; we didn't want to throw out existing work to support this new ERP software.

Luckily, inspiration for what we wanted to achieve with the mobile app wasn't difficult. Early in the process of talking with customers, we saw a near universal problem: Data Quality. The quality of data within an Enterprise Resource Planning (or, as we like to say, within an Easy Resource Planning) software is critical. One specific pain point to manufacturing shops is getting employees to log in and out of jobs, to log completed pieces and scrap quantities. Realtrac can only provide data as good as the inputs, so when users forget to log in to jobs, forget to log out or neglect to input piece counts, the quality of data suffers. As soon as the data suffers management and administration's trust in the data falls.

As we launch the Realtrac 10 ERP System, we will also be releasing our Realtrac mobile client to the Apple App Store. The Realtrac mobile client is designed to allow shop floor employees to log in and out of jobs directly from their phone or mobile device. At launch we will support the Apple ecosystem. The app requires iOS 7 and the software will function great on iPhone, iPod and iPads alike. The Realtrac server PC must be connected to the internet for the software to function. Your shop floor employees will be able to log in and out of jobs, log in to multiple jobs at the same time and register both completed and scrapped pieces. Employees can receive notifications so if they do manage to leave work without logging out of a job, they can be reminded. Have no fear Android fans, we've got plans in place for an Android version as well.
Customers can choose how they want to implement this ERP System. We've talked with customers that have deployment plans that run across the spectrum. Some plan to buy and install devices around the shop to act like in place terminals. This plan mirrors the Realtrac 9 Microterminal product (hardware devices with a small form factor that communicated with the Realtrac 9 server via a serial connection). Some are considering letting their employees use the ERP software on their own personal devices, and some are even considering buying devices for each of their employees to use for this purpose.

We expect our customers will immediately see an improvement in the quality of their data. This should lead to much better costing and quality data in the Realtrac ERP system, which is a true benefit for everyone involved. Getting a handle on the true costs of jobs means management can tell which jobs truly are profitable, and help the business get more of those jobs.
Realtrac ERP Software and ERP System
This is just our first foray in mobile development. We are already working on an application to aid in the training of our Realtrac users, and expect to follow up with a mobile dashboard style application in the future as well. We'd love to hear from current customers and manufacturing shops in general on what you'd like to see in a mobile application. 

Think we're on the right track? Let us know.

(This post discusses ERP software that is currently in development and testing. Not all functionality is guaranteed.)

Friday, January 31, 2014

Success Story: Talsco and Realtrac ERP Software

Realtrac ERP Software Logo Banner

Learn how REALTRAC customers across the country and across all types of industries use the key features of this easy to use Enterprise Resource Planning to make a real difference in their operations. Companies use different modules to meet their needs, but they all agree: the software is very effective; it is so easy to use that you do not need a company administrator or expert and the return on investment is seen in a matter of weeks.

Read about how Talsco Aerospace Manufacturing uses REALTRAC to save money, maximize efficiency and easily track and meet very high quality standards.
If you aren’t using REALTRAC you are sacrificing profit margin every day. Companies of any size need REALTRAC to remain competitive and profitable.

Realtrac ERP software and Talsco
Jeff Piaskowski, Jose Castaneda Sr. and John Van Note of Talsco
Sometimes, even companies that operate in the demanding aerospace field need someone within their operations who can push every boundary and perhaps, even leap over tall buildings to implement new processes and new software. Talsco Aerospace Manufacturing is such a company and Jeff Piaskowski, the Production Manager, is that kind of company superhero. A medium-sized aerospace manufacturing company, Talsco is a family owned business that was founded in 1968. They serve an elite list of aerospace companies and the US Military by providing highly customized sheet metal components. They have consistently had strong leadership and a highly skilled workforce, but, until a few years ago, did not have the kind of operational focus that would allow them to maintain profitability with the strong growth they were experiencing. Jeff Piaskowski joined the firm and was given the mandate to improve operational efficiency and the vital management support to do what needed to be done.

Stepping into an established family operation and being charged with making big changes is not what most people would consider an easy task, but Piaskowski was just the man for the job; maybe even the company superhero for the job. Talsco had been using one module of REALTRAC’s ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software to help manage their operations. Jeff learned to use the ERP software and quickly realized he could do more, a lot more, with REALTRAC. Over the next few months, Mr. Piaskowski worked to build his case for each new module he added. Like any crusader, caped or not, he did his homework, learned what each module could do specifically for Talsco Aerospace manufacturing and took his plan to management. He then worked with his team to implement these modules. As a result, the new software modules rapidly improved the efficiency of Talsco’s operations.
Realtrac Manufacturing ERP Software and Talsco
Talsco's Management Team

Job Scheduling: Talsco utilizes the flexibility of the job scheduling feature in two different ways.
Everyone can see what jobs are top priorities at all times, ensuring that the entire team is focused on the right projects.
Like many firms, Talsco inputs a project and a start date and immediately know what date they will finish a customer order. On time delivery in the aerospace industry is essential and Talsco is able to provide better than 99% on time delivery. Talsco also leverages the backwards scheduling feature built into REALTRAC. By inputting the delivery date, the system provides the day the job must start in order to be ready on time. “If we start it late or early it will tell us how many days we are behind or ahead. REALTRAC also uses this information to tell us what our highest priority jobs are so that we have full visibility and knowledge of what is ‘HOT’ ” said Jeff Piaskowski. “Everyone can see what jobs are top priorities at all times, ensuring that the entire team is focused on the right projects”, he added.

REALTRAC enables us to schedule all the components in the order they must be manufactured in to produce a complete assembly by a a certain date.
Multi-component Jobs: REALTRAC’s “Tree Module” is used to schedule assembly or multi-level jobs. This is critical for parts that take multiple components and provides a view into the critical path for the entire project. Jeff commented that “REALTRAC enables us to schedule all the components in the order they must be manufactured in to produce a complete assembly by a certain date.” This kind of scheduling ‘super power’ makes complex jobs dramatically easier to manage.

Efficient and Successful Audits: Audits are important at many machine shop operations and when you work in the aerospace industry, preparing for them is an absolute necessity.
We Used to take as much as four weeks to prepare for an audit, now we can prepare in a couple of days. So we save an incredible amount of time and got a perfect audit.
This is critically important. “Not only has the company saved time – lots of time, but our last audit for AS9100 was perfect; not one thing was written up by the auditor and that is huge, in fact nearly unheard of”, Piaskowski said. He went on to attribute the audit’s success to the REALTRAC ERP software that tracks every aspect of the audit. “Even better” Jeff added, “We used to take as much as four weeks to prepare for an audit, now we can prepare in a couple of days. So we save an incredible amount of time and got a perfect audit.”

When we are quoting a new project and setting it up my team has everything they need at their fingertips.
No Time Wasted on Paperwork: Paper work can be a time waster, necessary, but it can delay the start of important jobs; but not at Talsco. Jeff Piaskowski explained why this is so important: “When we are quoting a new project and setting it up, my team has everything they need at their fingertips. They do not need to leave their desks to track down information or materials, and once the job is set up, it can be started immediately, if need be.”

Firms of any size can benefit from good ERP software. Even the smallest firms will realize a return on their investment within a few months. Every company needs a superhero that can fight waste, save time and save the company a lot of money. As Talsco’s own production superhero said: “It would be absolutely impossible to manage the kind of growth and the quality improvements we have seen without REALTRAC”. Become a crusader (cape optional) within your own organization and adopt an easy to use ERP system today.
Contact us today to learn more!

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Monday, January 20, 2014

Success Story: Alliance Broach & Tool with Realtrac ERP Software

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Learn how REALTRAC customers across the country and across all types of industries use the key features of this easy to use Enterprise Resource Planning to make a real difference in their operations. Companies use different modules to meet their needs, but they all agree: the software is very effective; it is so easy to use that you do not need a company administrator or expert and the return on investment is seen in a matter of weeks.

Alliance Broach & Tool has utilized REALTRAC software for many years. It has streamlined their operations, increased their profit margins and allowed them to support strong growth in their business.

If you aren’t using REALTRAC you are sacrificing profit margin every day. Companies of any size need REALTRAC to remain competitive and profitable.

Running a small to medium sized machine shop business presents many challenges. Alliance Broach & Tool (part of J& L Turning) in East China, Michigan (Alliance Broach Tool website) has been in the business of building their operations and client base for over 35 years; they know about some of these challenges. In spite of a tough economic climate, however, Alliance continues to grow – a lot, in fact. After thirty six years, that is an impressive accomplishment. “My father always said that if we were not growing the business we were on our way to being out of business” said company president, Mike Johnson. The company is still run by one of the founders, Helen Johnson, together with her son Mike Johnson.
Realtrac ERP Software
Alliance Broach and Tool’s 28,000 square foot facility in East China, Michigan

Alliance Broach and Tool do highly customized broach manufacturing and re- working for a full range of industries from agriculture to aerospace, from automotive to medical and from marine to heavy equipment. They have continuously expanded their operations and offerings to include highly specialized broaches of all types and specifications including custom spirex broaches and splines up to 84 inches.
Managing hundreds of customers while running a tight, just –in-time operation requires the kinds of management tools REALTRAC provides.
“We are like custom cabinet makers”, said Mike Johnson, everything we do is completely custom and done to the exact specifications of our customers.

Working with hundreds of customers both domestically and internationally Alliance Broach & Tool runs a tight, just-in-time operation. They have also been able to build an international customer base; an important achievement for a smaller firm.

Realtrac ERP System for Job Shops
Mike Johnson and Helen Johnson, owners Alliance Broach & Tool
New customers and new markets are always top of mind at Alliance Broach & Tool. One of the tools that they have leveraged to both manage this growth and their costs is ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software from REALTRAC. This one tool often saves companies, even very small firms more money than any tool on their shop floor. ERP software allows even small firms to effectively manage their operations by providing up-to-date information at all times for quoting, costing, and managing projects as the move through an operation. Many small shops believe that using a program like REALTRAC should be delayed until they are larger. By doing so, they can miss a significant cost savings. Alliance's experience validates this, founder Helen Johnson commented “We had a pretty quick return, the improvement in our job planning, cost analysis and floor operations meant that within a matter of months the software paid for itself."
"We had a pretty quick return, the improvement in our job planning, cost analysis and floor operations meant that within a matter of months the software paid for itself."
Small firms can get a large return on their investment. Alliance Broach & Tool’s President Mike Johnson will tell you, that the time and money saved by effectively using ERP software has made a huge difference in their profitability. “The saved history in our system helps us develop quotes more quickly and more accurately, and if I want to know the status of any item on the shop floor, that information is just a few clicks away”, said Mr. Johnson. He estimates that over the years they would have had to add several additional administrative people to do the same sorts of tracking and management that their REALTRAC ERP software provides.
In an increasingly global marketplace, efficiency matters in any size operation. Systems and software that increase your productivity help you remain competitive.
“I know about a project, especially if there is a problem, before anyone from the shop floor comes to my office to talk to me about it.” said Mike Johnson. “Even better,” he added “Once we make an adjustment or resolve a problem it is documented and we don’t have to revisit it later.” This type of efficiency is what shops of any size need to stay competitive and keep their business growing. In an increasingly global marketplace, efficiency matters in any size operation. ERP Systems and ERP software that increase your productivity help you remain competitive.

It is all about the ROI (return on investment). As any small business owner, and especially the owners of a busy machine shop know, running a smooth operation with tight scheduling and minimum inventory levels is absolutely vital to staying profitable and in some cases, staying in business. Often time shops rely on two or three individuals just to manage the operations. Good ERP software means that businesses can operate with less administrative headcount allowing them to hire more productive floor headcount. A strong ERP system tracks the entire job and coordinates the work flow for all current projects and provides instant visibility to the entire team on the floor and in the front offices. It is both the reduction in head count and the ability to optimize work flows that allow ERP systems to pay for themselves within a few months. REALTRAC can be run and leveraged by the entire team. No one individual has to be specially trained to run the system; generating smoother operations and additional cost savings.

ERP systems also help firms prepare for audits and certifications. With a few simple key strokes the documentation needed for nearly any type of audit or certification process can be completed. This regularly saves dozens of hours that can be focused on your business, rather than searching for and compiling documentation.

“We’ve been using REALTRAC software since 1994 and I know it has saved us a ton of money” said Mike Johnson. Building efficiencies into every process means that even small and medium sized firms like Alliance Broaching & Tool get a very fast return on the investment they make into an easy to use ERP system. No matter how small your firm is or how complicated, or streamlined, your operations are, you need to evaluate ERP software. It is no longer something that is just for big business or very sophisticated operations, it is for businesses that want to grow and stay in business. 

Take a tip from the Johnson Family at Alliance Broaching & Tool and use ERP software to streamline your operations so that you can focus on what matters, building your business and your profitability. New generation ERP software will help ensure that your business is passed along to your next generation.

Contact us today to learn more!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Realtrac ERP Software Development Team - Beta Phase Blog

Greetings again from Realtrac Headquarters,

Since the last Realtrac ERP Software development blog, we've transitioned from Alpha testing to Beta testing.  Testing a new product at a customer’s site is always a fun, hectic time. 

We've had some great feedback from all of our testing sites. We haven't had any issues that we'd call showstoppers (big issues where we all drop what we're doing to focus on an issue, and update all customers). That's not to say we haven't gotten great feedback; we have, and we've made changes based upon it. But, we're happy to say the majority of our feedback has been in the form of "We love it, and we want it to do X, Y and Z too!". This is great feedback to get, and we've got a great list of future features and modules. We've got years of new features and modules to work on and bring out to market.

Transitioning from active development to testing doesn't mean the development team has been sitting on our laurels. We've been tackling a whole bunch of new tasks, and even managed to add some new features to the product based on the feedback from our amazing alpha and beta testers.

On the task front, we've been busy doing writing and editing our manual and quick start guides.  Our approach to both documents is guided by the main principles of our ERP software. We say Realtrac is “The Easy Resource Planning” (ERP) software, and that needs to be reflected in our documentation as well as the product itself. I doubt we'll be able to make something that someone curls up next to a warm fire and reads by the flicker of candlelight. But if our documentation can actually help users solve their business problems, feel empowered to use our ERP software and learn all its features, we're going to be pretty happy campers.

We're also working on a series of videos to help our users get started, and eventually, feel comfortable to use all the powerful features of the product. Having videos available at a user’s finger tips is required today. One of the most common things we've heard in the past 18 months of working with Realtrac users is "I didn't know it could do that!". For any complex ERP software product (and, as easy as Realtrac 10 is, it's still a product designed to run your business, and it is an in depth product) this is natural. It's impossible for someone to know everything about a product; Learning is a function of practice and exploration. But still, we want to close that window as quickly as possible. Instead of having a customer take 6 months to master the product, we're hoping our video series takes a Realtrac user from neophyte to expert much, much quicker. If that fails, we're working on our backup plan of cloning all of the development team and shrink wrapping them in boxes to send to customers. So far we've had minimal success, but we'll keep working on it.

I did tease that we have added some new features, so I would like to take a moment and highlight some of the great new features that are going to be present in Realtrac 10 at launch.

The process of ordering material for upcoming jobs can be incredibly difficult and time consuming. We've been working with customers to try to develop some tools to help Realtrac users solve this problem. We're launching Realtrac 10 with a Material Resource Planning (MRP) feature that will make material ordering much easier. Using the powerful search and browse capabilities built in to Realtrac 10, users are able to easily see a list of the materials required for all upcoming, or a specific set of upcoming jobs. Want to see the materials required for jobs of 'Customer XYZ' set to start in April? No problem. Wonder how much 4140 3" Round you need for jobs in the next 3 months? No problem.

Once we had the foundation of the Realtrac ERP system in place, we decided to address some additional needs for our existing and future customer base. All manufacturing shops need a quality process; it’s just a matter of when they implement it and how vast the ERP system needs to be. Even if a customer doesn't need a strict quality program in place today, as part of the growth of their business, eventually they will need one. We wanted to ship Realtrac 10 with tools in place to let a business grow in to using our simple yet powerful tools.

Realtrac 10 will allow a user to create and save both non-conformance (NC) and corrective action (CA) reports. These reports are easy to produce, meaning they are easy to understand and integrate with existing workflows. A difficult tool is one less likely to be used, understood and adopted. And an unused quality system is worthless.

Using our built in messaging system, we can automatically warn users when they are building a part that has had non-conformance of corrective actions filed against them. Our quality tools, built in to the base product, can help satisfy many demands on your business:

  • Satisfy the needs of specific customers and/or specific industries that require a quality system in place.
  • Combined with policies, the Realtrac quality system can be an important part of the quality systems and certification.
  • The built in messaging system allows Realtrac users to actually use the NC and CA reports to ensure they are profitably building parts.

Well, back to work. We'll write another entry here shortly about the Realtrac 10 Mobile App.  Coming soon to an iOS device near you!

The Realtrac ERP Software Development Team