Plex Systems: Future-Proof Manufacturing

Don Clarke, CFO & Interim CEO Today’s manufacturing processes are unlike the past, requiring more speed and efficiency than ever before. Despite the advances, manufacturers are still struggling with data silos, manual paper-based processes, and inaccurate inventory tracking that consumes both time and financial resources. So how do you get the visibility, transparency, and the alignment you need—from the plant floor to top floor—to stay competitive? Manufacturers need a modern manufacturing operations approach that connects their machines, people, and processes, and provides a single view of the entire organization so that they can make better business decisions. Enter Plex Systems.

"Plex’s intense focus on driving continuous innovation makes it easy for their customers to continually innovate operations, change processes, and business models"

The company pioneers in connecting manufacturing enterprise, and revolutionizing the way of doing business. With insights that start with customer orders and continue well beyond delivery, Plex Systems automates processes and allows organizations to see and understand every aspect of their operation, helping them improve efficiency and productivity, reduce IT costs, and thrive in an ever-changing market. The company does this by eliminating data silos through collection and display of real-time data from the plant floor within a single source, assisting users to access accurate data anytime and anywhere. Owing to the total production visibility, Plex helps clients in improving compliance capability with closed-loop quality processes and built-in error proofing. Furthermore, the company delivers continuous innovation, eliminates software upgrade costs through version-less cloud software, and aligns customer and suppliers with the clients’ business objectives, resulting in a collaborative supply chain ecosystem.

The Awakening

The story of Plex Systems traces back to the time when its founders—who had a keen interest in manufacturing and took joy in the making of things—started out as entrepreneurs, destined to redefine industrial production. Harnessing their vast knowledge in manufacturing operations and software development, the entrepreneurs set out to create native cloud manufacturing Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) built from the plant floor up instead of the accounting department down. More than 350 companies run their manufacturing operations on the Plex Manufacturing Cloud. All the way from high-performance diesel engines to aircraft parts, camshafts to craft beers, the Plex Manufacturing Cloud helps companies in automating the shop floor and informing the top floor regarding the overall operations. The company’s primary focus while designing its ERP solutions has been around connecting suppliers, managing materials, controlling machines, and delivering the accounting and business intelligence.

Plex Systems automates processes, and lets organizations see and understand every aspect of their operation

The Plex Manufacturing Cloud leads in a new era of cloud ERP with a comprehensive and complete system created to power today’s contemporary manufacturer. Additionally, it enables forward-thinking business organizations to increase throughput within their existing facilities, understand where they are most exposed to risk, generate more profits from every order, respond to customer demand promptly, and match up to the speed and volume of data on today’s plant floor requirements. The solution is built to effectively manage an organization’s financial, operational, and IT strategies within one unified system—beyond ERP and MES.

With the Plex Manufacturing Cloud, system implementations are reduced from months to weeks and customers only pay for what they need. Furthermore, the focus is more on configuration, and less on customizations. Being powered by industrial-grade security and data centers, the Plex Manufacturing Cloud dramatically lowers the overall cost structure of IT investment. Moreover, Plex’s solution enables clients to have complete visibility into their manufacturing operations and plant data, and leverage those details to drive bottom lines. Even on the toughest of schedules, the Plex Manufacturing Cloud solution has consistently proven to not only manage their clients’ shipment but also enable continued performance improvements on a daily basis.

Unlike the ‘off the shelf’ ERP implementations that usually result in disastrous one-week shutdowns, Plex Systems guarantees not to disrupt the existing operations with the promise of minimal production issues. Additionally, the company also provides software mainly categorized into business intelligence, ERP, manufacturing executions program, quality management system, supply chain management, and Customer Relationship Management (CRM). Also, it provides services including customer care, technology services, education services, and a number of professional services.

The SaaS Advantage

With the passage of time, manufacturers and providers of traditional software solutions across the globe are increasingly adopting the SaaS model to achieve a competitive edge with agility and real-time information, without requiring them to make a large up-front financial outlay for the cause. Several industry leaders are also slowly realizing the significance and impact of successful implementations pioneered by the SaaS providers. While few software vendors are witnessing the potential benefits of SaaS solutions that exist for clients, Plex Systems has been toiling in this tough manufacturing landscape, helping companies achieve lean methodology in order to survive the global race. This is exactly the reason why the last couple of years have seen enormous growth for Plex as it builds its SaaS components and continues to prove itself under real-life conditions.
Additionally, providing a system with a simple-to-use interface on the front end—with no software or servers required in-house—that is backed by an infrastructure that incorporates the most sophisticated and secures systems available in a manufacturing environment. As Plex Online is proving daily, SaaS is not only the logical lean alternative, but there are also added benefits and protections in entrusting the data to their experts.

Ushering in Improved Efficiencies

FT Precision Inc. is an Ohio-based, Japanese-parented automotive chassis and engine component supplier, whose operations include machining of raw steel forgings and cast aluminum combustion engine rocker arms, along with forgings of constant velocity joint bearings and outboard retainer forgings. When FT Precision began life it operated a small workforce and, like most manufacturers, used paper-based processes. The primary business challenge for the company was around its paper-based processes that could not keep pace with the real-time, lean production environment the company set up for long-term success. In addition, they could not gain immediate and accurate access to operational data from every department, and data collection from spreadsheets meant information was often out of date by the time it was available. The client required prompt and reliable access to operational data from each business unit to be able to respond swiftly, and with quality, inline to their customer’s requirements. On a closer review based on the problem statement, the real issue was one of ownership of the business data—every department had owned a piece of the information that was needed to properly build a true picture of the client’s inventory levels. Prior to Plex System’s intervention, spreadsheets had to be circulated through each department, who would then manually input the data, which was a very time-consuming process and resulted in the collection of outdated data. It was clear that if the client was to realize its lean manufacturing and growth potential, transitioning to software-driven, integrated processes was a must.

Thanks to the real-time nature of the Plex Manufacturing Cloud, the decision makers as well as the employees of the company can get access to cross-company visibility within the organization, right from the outset. The company enabled the client to integrate all the modules so that whenever a process occurs on the shop floor, and if it had a commercial impact, the client’s finance system would get updated accordingly. Since the client was also a publicly listed company in Japan, Plex also provided support in adhering to comply with their data security and strict regulations by generating the required reporting for the client in a simple and quick manner.

A Step into the Future

Plex’s intense focus on driving continuous innovation makes it easy for their customers to innovate operations, change processes, and business models continually. The company has displayed an unstoppable trajectory in terms of consistent service delivery and growth of the company. They have recently acquired DATTUS, a leader in Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) connectivity technologies. Furthermore, this acquisition is expected to accelerate Plex’s IIoT strategy, extending the Plex Manufacturing Cloud to new streams of machine data and the underlying intelligence.

Plex Systems

Troy, MI

Don Clarke, CFO & Interim CEO

Ushering in a new era of ERP with a complete system designed to power today’s modern manufacturer