ManuDyn Cloud 9 News

Fabricator grows with precision throughout MRP revolution

After 25 years of market penetration, MRP software and its medium term impact on fabrication and engineering are only now being measured.

Early in the uptake of MRP was Australian engineering and fabrication specialist Interfab. During its evolution under the technology, Interfab made a name for itself as a profitable niche quantities facilitator rather than one for mass and repetition.

Interfab is always under pressure to manufacture to the most exacting quality standards – among its client base are the specialised Defence, aerospace and biomedics sectors, along with general industry.

Its first MRP system, ManuSoft, was developed by Manufacturing Software and installed in 1992. Today, its comprehensive setup integrates a powerful SQL version and financials component, thoroughly linking the production plant with the management’s office.

Accuracy and waste-limitation is key to the operation. Only through the flexibility of its MRP system is a high level of efficiency achieved. ManuSoft is a real time dynamic control program that supports the design control and management of every stage of the manufacturing and materials process.

For production staff, the one critical element ManuSoft provides is to allow employees to focus on the job at hand without stress. It is an easy to use intuitive tool that does all the thinking, sequencing and inventory control to take worry and wastage out of the equation.

This is why Interfab has overseen a very sensible and professional growth on the strength of this touchscreen software developed by Manufacturing Software, which is now releasing an online MRP product, ManuDyn, for instant rollout on an international level.

General Manager of Interfab, Mr Mike Obrien, says MRP has provided many improvements in business processes and professionalised management of these.

It has made transparent just about every stage of the production process, linking the shop floor with office processes simply through the power of data flow.

One critical advantage that helps Mr O’Brien in particular is the ability to accurately analyse and cost a project for Interfab’s prospective clients.

“MRP helps around the estimating processes and setting up the jobs which is crucial to our success,” said Mr O’Brien.

“We have a reputation for not simply guessing ballpark figures, we actually estimate on what we believe is the true cost of a job.

“We build up the MRP system at the estimating stage, whereas others would often take an approximate guess that includes a risk factor – but they may well be overpricing or underpricing.

“With the MRP we know we are very accurate so we can maintain efficiency in quotation when putting purchase orders through as production orders.”

Interfab has recognised strength serving a variety of industries including the mining sector, defence, general manufacturing, banking, government, telecommunications, automotive, electrical and electronics, transport and railway sector.

Many ATMs, electrical housings and telecommunications boxes people pass on the street on a daily basis are likely to have been fabricated by Interfab.

“We are not the high-volume sector of the market; we are more at the finesse end of the market and we take on specific jobs that most others can’t,” said Mr O’Brien.

“We perform intricate cuts, bends, punching and shearing in-house and manage a list of hand-picked subcontractors for design engineering, plating, powder coating etc, and the MRP system also assists us in managing that supply chain.

“Putting MRP in the business from an early stage has been positive because it gives control and better management of our processes in the business.

“Over the years we have upgraded to later versions to integrate financials and are moving completely into true job costing that provides us with the ability to have continuous improvement in our business.

“It gives good, solid control of job processes, it is creating job cards, and ensures all the materials and components are coming in to set up a bill of materials and labour content.

“MRP is all about controlling inputs and outputs. We are now in the first phase of seeing how we’re going to leverage the reporting, so the office and management will be even more closely linked to the shop floor.”

Mr O’Brien believes a business such as Interfab should be in a ready position at all times to absorb work that may eventuate suddenly or due to unexpected circumstances.

The proposed National Broadband Network, for instance, is one new industry from which he expects substantial metalworking requirements for companies further up the supply chain which would undoubtedly require chassis for electronics to be put into it.

Unpredictable climate can initiate urgent needs for fabricated product. For instance, in areas of Queensland which need fairly rapid infrastructure renewal to repair damage caused by the very damaging floods in recent times.

The mining sector also continues to provide ongoing expansion prospects for Interfab, so the company is always trying to re-engineer and redevelop its own operations, sales and marketing capabilities so that it is better positioned to absorb opportunities in the marketplace that are needs-driven rather than price-driven.

“A good solution in our industry is not always price related,” said Mr O’Brien. “Some go to China and are successful in finding a very cheap solution for their needs, but there are always just as many – if not more – that meet with a total and very costly failure.”

“For Interfab, the future is clear. We have MRP to help manage our costs at every step of the way, so we can always be confident of all our practices without the need to look offshore.