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Manufacturing in Their Genes: An ERP Technology Evolution

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Joshua Hopp, President of HK Metalcraft, confesses that he’s a technology nerd, and that he picked up this trait from his father, Raymond Hopp. Joshua is the fourth-generation owner of a manufacturing business that specializes in precision metal stampings. He remembers when his father installed an ERP system back in the 80s when no one else in the industry even considered it.

Nearly three decades later and that once cutting-edge ERP now required customization after customization to keep pace with customer demands. Joshua and Raymond began searching for an ERP system that their sole IT employee could more easily manage instead of spending most of his time programming endless customizations. But there was some level of hesitation in moving to the cloud. Like many stalwart manufacturing business owners, Raymond felt it was critical to have ERP data on-premise, so he was averse to considering cloud ERP solutions.

Then Hurricane Sandy hit. The company’s servers went down, but that didn’t fully convince Raymond to move his ERP data to the cloud. Joshua continued to persuade his father with spreadsheets filled with data points, and Hopp senior came around. But then the unthinkable happened—Raymond passed away.

After dealing with the grief of his loss, Joshua stepped into his father’s shoes to carry on the Hopp legacy. And one of his first technology decisions was considering a more modern, cloud approach for their ERP upgrade. ERP cloud systems for manufacturing appeared to be all the same to Joshua however, the tipping point came from a trusted source: the Precision Metalforming Association (PMA).

Today Joshua runs a modern manufacturing company with the Plex Manufacturing Cloud as its backbone, complete with mobile devices and mobile workcenters. Each operator has a portable cart with computer, digital inspection devices, console, and printer. When operators go from workcenter to workcenter they can unplug their cart and plug it back in at the next location. The company’s forklift driver even has a tablet and logs all transactions on it.

Joshua says his company plans to continue leveraging cloud ERP to build out an Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) strategy which includes connected press counters, digital scales, optical inspection systems and shop floor dashboards to display performance in real time. His team is also eager to dig into ERP data to leverage even more of the shop floor data for making better business decisions.

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