A Case Study: Integra Optimizes Production Scheduling with Epicor ERP

Integra manufactures custom sterile IV manifolds and assemblies. With the extensive use of Epicor’s lot and serial number tracability, along with product configurator for proper design of assemblies, Integra has been able to simplify the order processing and tracking functions.

“EpiCenter supported us throughout the design, conversion and implementation stages of the project,” says DeGrazia. “We relied on their strong expertise of the Epicor ERP solution to help us implement and utilize the system in a way that best suited our business.”

Heidi D. | CFO, Integra

Company Facts

  • Location: Devens, Massachusetts
  • Industry: Manufacturer of high-purity fluid handling solutions
  • Website: integracompanies.com    

Challenges

  • Integra searched for a new enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution that could help them meet the demands of multiple product lines and address the complexities of varying lines of business, from manufacturing, distribution and sales agent servicing.
  • The two key areas the new system would have to address was production planning and software validation for their FDA regulated customers – a gap their current solution could not fulfill.

Benefits from Epicor

  • Gained a sophisticated ERP solution to help manage and execute 7,000 job orders, 11,000 shipments and 30,000 SKUs per year for its 2,000+ customer base.
  • Production scheduling tool significantly impacts manufacturing performance.
  • Implementation of a robust metrics system resulted in marked improvements across all areas of the business, including shipping, customer service, operations and quality.
  • Automatic smart part numbering system eliminates manual entry and streamlines product development

The Business Overview

Integra Companies is the leading provider of fluid handling solutions for high-purity applications, from hose and gaskets, to single-use process systems, tanks, mixers and more. From its headquarters in Devens, Massachusetts, Integra provide a comprehensive circle of engineering, product, manufacturing and fabrication solutions – plus complete distribution.

The company began in 1974 as the vision of founder Don Long, who was committed to building the area’s premier high-purity hose company. Starting in a rented office behind an old wallpaper store with a handful of employees, Don was determined to grow his business on the foundations of superior customer service and exceptional product quality – commitments that still ring true today.

The Business Situation

Currently, Integra has more than 2,000 customers and is running 7,000 jobs, shipping 11,000 product packs, and managing large inventories upwards of 30,000 SKUs per year.

Integra searched for a new ERP solution that could help them meet the demands of multiple product lines and address the complexities of varying lines of business, from manufacturing, distribution and sales agent servicing. The two key areas the new system would have to address was production planning and software validation for their FDA regulated customers – a gap their current solution could not fulfill.

Integra chose the next-generation Epicor ERP solution and EpiCenter, a member of the Epicor Inspired Partner Network, as their services provider. All areas of the business utilize the functional depth and breadth of the end-to-end solution, from modules for sales, production, quality, materials and inventory management, to purchasing and financials that have been designed for the unique needs of manufacturers.

“With Epicor we have been able to manage all business areas in one system to have complete visibility. The immediate benefit was having real-time insights into production scheduling and material requirements planning (MRP). It was a missing piece in the highest growth area of our business. Before Epicor, production jobs were scheduled manually on an Excel spreadsheet.”

Other ERP requirements included a 50-character smart part numbering system. Epicor helps Integra build a smart part string during entry of a configuration to allow easy identification of the options selected. Integra can create actual part numbers in the inventory master file using the configured smart part number. Creating the part automatically eliminates manual entry when a new part is configured and ordered.

“Smart part numbering that allowed for 50 characters was a gateway requirement when we were evaluating different vendors and through our search we found that not a lot of systems have this,” says DeGrazia. “We couldn’t have a 30-character maximum which is what most systems offer – it would cause too much destruction to our customers.”

“After a thorough search and several demos, we decided that the Epicor ERP solution and the company behind the software were best suited for our short-term and long-term needs,” adds DeGrazia.

One of the requirements at Integra was knowledge of medical device system validation, and EpiCenter’s extensive experience in the quality area assisted Integra with self validation, and compliance with their regulatory requirements.  Ongoing, we are planning to work with their new quality manager on continuous improvement initiatives utilizing Epicor.

Partnering for Success

After purchasing the Epicor ERP solution, Integra partnered with local experts EpiCenter to support their implementation project for continuous improvement. EpiCenter, an Epicor Services partner that specializes in ERP implementations for manufacturing industries, underwent an extensive Strategic Process Review (SPR) of Integra’s business to account for their key business practices and operations before “going live” with their Epicor ERP system.

“EpiCenter supported us throughout the design, conversion and implementation stages of the project,” says DeGrazia. “We relied on their strong expertise of the Epicor ERP solution to help us implement and utilize the system correctly.”

Integra leveraged the Epicor tools to extend the solution to meet their unique manufacturing needs with the help of EpiCenter: “EpiCenter was very instrumental in helping us to create customizations to adapt the solution to our specific business requirements. Some of the known things that can go wrong during an ERP implementation are around creating unnecessary customizations due to a lack of understanding the software solution versus developing customizations to address a long-term business need. EpiCenter helped us to avoid those pitfalls.”

“Integra is a medical device manufacturer that has both standard and custom products, all of which require traceability. Their market edge is their ability to manufacture items and sterilize them, so their inventory is already sterilized and can ship immediately to their customers,” says Jeff Glaze, president of EpiCenter. “For Integra, Epicor offered a very complete ‘out-of-the-box’ solution and Integra was able to get up to speed very quickly because they didn’t have to do very much to setup the system.  We were able to utilize the standard traceability features in Epicor to meet their medical device requirements, along with rich functionality and an experienced staff of consultants. There were a few requirements we met utilizing Epicor’s extensive tool set, allowing us to alter the logic of the system without touching source code.  These customizations closed the gap of critical issues needed to make their system complete.”

On working collaboratively with Integra, Glaze commented: “They have a very small IT staff, and we had an experienced staff member with background in biomedical engineering that could assist them with a minimum amount of training in their industry.”

Metrics Program Improves Business Performance

Integra has experienced a strong correlation between business success and measuring, analyzing and improving manufacturing performance through the implementation of a robust metrics system.

“We use a metrics system to monitor process inputs and performance results enabling each department to make substantial improvements relative to their specific impact to the business,” says DeGrazia. 

Integra leverages advanced analytic capabilities from Epicor and Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS). In addition, televisions are utilized in three different departments for reporting and to show real-time information from Epicor in relation to metrics to keep track of rush orders, critical areas of need, risk areas for the business and other metrics critical to the department.

As a result, Integra has seen marked improvements across all areas of the business. Some examples include:

  • Shipping reviews orders due that day to gain visibility into rush orders.
  • Customer service identifies on-time delivery results, orders booked yesterday, shipments that went out yesterday, orders that are coming due or that are already late, and orders with manufactured parts without a job because that’s a risk of not fulfilling the order.
  • Operations displays inventory turns and the top 20 purchased parts that will arrive late.
  • And quality displays work queue items that are coming due, as well as turn-around time for quality operations – both of which help highlight the efficiency of the department.

“Our metrics system helps us to identify areas of weakness and make marked improvements,” says DeGrazia. “We utilize a stop light metric reporting scenario: red means we’re behind target, yellow means we’re close but not there yet, and green shows that the is matter exceeded. Specifically, we’ve seen on-time reporting go from reds and yellows to solid greens. We’re constantly raising the bar on our targets and raising the bar for ourselves.”

Return on Investment

Enjoying a strong competitive positioning in their market and marked business performance improvements significantly correlate with Integra’s investment in a new ERP solution.

“Most companies of our size and in our industry don’t have the same level of sophisticated technology and advanced analytics that we now have thanks to Epicor,” says DeGrazia. “We’re significantly ahead of the curve as a result of our new technology and improved services.”