The needs of the changing business, economic, and technology landscapes have given organizations that manufacture precision and complex products an added incentive to see how they can manage to contain rising costs, and stay competitive against global competition and market volatility. The findings were quite unlike those experienced by tradiditional discrete manufacturers, since discrete manufacturers do not deal with the same intricacies of mass customization as ETO manufacturers. It was with this as a backdrop that I and fellow TEC analyst Leslie Satenstein engaged in conversation with Global Shop Solutions ERP engineer Marc Atnipp in order to review their product One-System as part of a recent TEC Certification exercise.
A Word About the Vendor
Over three decades ago, from deep in the heart of Texas, Global Shop Solutions founder Dick Alexander was a proponent of such core manufacturing principles as continuous improvement and just-in-time manufacturing. In these approaches the goal is always to reduce and eliminate non-value-added activities which contribute to delays in production and ultimately drive costs upwards through excessive machine set-up costs and improperly managed inventory among other things. Through the core principles which underlay the development of this software, the product struck an eager and responsive chord among its initial customers in the small to medium sized manufacturing space within the “custom job-shop” and engineer-to-order segments of the market. The initial market acceptance of these principles and a vendor that could deliver on the promise propelled the organization though its growth and development. Now, three decades later, Global Shop Solutions is truly a global enterprise solution, with customers not only in the US and Canada but also in South America and down-under in Australia.
What We Liked About the Software
Global Shop Solutions has developed a fully integrated manufacturing and accounting ERP package for custom ETO shops spanning a range of industries, including aerospace and electronic and precision machine and fastener manufacturing. Among the neat features was the GUI icon display menu configuration, the product’s embedded BI application to capture KPI scorecard information at a glance. It also had a rich and comprehensive tool featuring web-enabled scheduling and graphic scheduling tools which can at a glance look at current capacity or constraints across the shop floor, or drill down to specific work center or machinery. The ETO offering supports a “Product Configurator” tool which is mission-critical for any company whose business model is dependent upon the ability to integrate design and engineering changes, estimates, and quotes in short order on a daily basis. The ETO ERP application offers standard CRM functionality, which means it can be a one-stop single solution for those firms looking for a value proposition between functionality, budget, and feature. The system had its own built-in report generator, permitting the user to easily create reports on the fly. This can be useful for organizations that have inventory at multiple locations and need to either reconcile physical inventory counts or transfer semi-finished materials between plants and company warehouse locations.
A final word
As the company has been in the ETO industry space for the past 30 years as a family owned business, the product is stable, extraordinarily reliable, and up-to-date with current technological advancements. The user-friendly system has grown with the needs of its client base and has built an global infrastructure to support the diverse and worldwide needs of its global clients. The company has been well served by the knowledge and guidance of its founder. However, I do have a concern over whether the next generation of company leadership will be guided by the same principles that championed its growth, since some of its competitors’ solutions (IFS and Consona, among others) are versions or modules by industry players who can invest significant money into product development. The question going forward is whether the niche players in this space can remain viable given this likely disadvantage. Nonetheless the product is stable, and has a good track record and a strong customer base.