Business Processes for a 21st Century Coatings Company: Progress Paint Slashes Inefficiencies While Strengthening Data Integrity
Background: Progress Paint Manufacturing Company Inc. is a manufacturer of interior and exterior architectural paints, industrial maintenance coatings, and marine finishes. From three locations, the Louisville, Ky.-based business manufactures its name brands of Gray Seal®, Kurfees®, Fixall®, Duralux® Marine Coatings, and Lumi-Seal® Acrylic Concrete Sealers, which are sold through independent dealers. The company, which is nearly 100 years old, is privately held. In 1985, Progress Paint became an employee-owned business ESOP. It currently employs 65 workers.
Challenges: Progress Paint was using a mix of non-integrated software systems and manual processes to manage its business prior to selecting the DEACOM Integrated Accounting and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Software System.
“Our decision to seek an integrated system was the result of having too many unlinked data depositories in order to integrate critical decision-making information,” explains Stan Hope, Progress Paint’s Vice President of Operations. “With so many outdated and non-integrated systems, we were plagued with time-consuming compilation of data, which shortened the time span to make effective decisions.”
Inventory, for one, was managed through two separate software systems. One system was only able to handle Work In Progress inventory (WIP), while the other system maintained finished goods inventory. Progress Paint had to perform quarterly physical inventories in order to control product counts.
“One system handled our formulas and raw material costs. That was it,” says Chief Financial Officer Lance Gilbert. “Once finished goods came out of production, they were manually entered into our AS/400 system, which included our General Ledger and sales orders.”
Without a Materials Requirements Planning (MRP) system, Progress Paint used spreadsheets – some of them completely paper-based – to determine material usage. This method made it difficult to control appropriate inventory investments, such as the production of unnecessary parts, Gilbert says. On top of that, whenever a formula or product change occurred, there was a lag time between taking the costing from the formula system and getting it on the general ledger system. And creating environmental reports, such as Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA) reports, could take as long as a month using Excel®, Gilbert says.
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Solution provided by DEACOM: The Progress Paint software search team, which included the president, technical director, office manager, formulator, and Gilbert and Hope, evaluated a number of ERP software providers prior to its selection of the DEACOM Integrated Accounting and ERP Software System in April of 2006. “Our vendor selection course of action consisted of a review of our specific requirements, several in-depth demonstrations, and conversations with current customers in similar industries. Deacom continually exceeded our expectations throughout the process,” Hope says.
DEACOM integrates all business processes of a process manufacturing company – including formulation, purchasing, sales, production, inventory control, lot tracking, quality control/assurance, reporting, and accounting – in a single system that does not require customization. And after only seven months, Progress Paint completed full data conversion, implementation, and training.
Today employees manage their business processes through the DEACOM System. Users can view both WIP and finished goods inventory in real-time, and maintain perpetual inventory costing in First In, First Out (FIFO). For detailed lot tracking, users may drill from inventory onhand to inventory lots to actual purchase orders in three clicks. The DEACOM MRP System allows users to set order points and forecast requirements in one screen for total materials management.
Another benefit of DEACOM is its custom formatted templates that are tied to current formula data, making it easy to generate SARA reports and Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS). Once a calculation is altered, the new data is automatically adjusted in each template so Progress Paint’s reports and MSDS forms are always up-to-date. And when it comes to security, the system allows companies like Progress Paint to set up system-wide restrictions based on individual employees, departments, locations, or job titles.
Summary: Since going live on the DEACOM System, Progress Paint has greatly increased its efficiencies compared to its previous software setup. “Our people’s time is now spent performing more productive tasks and decision making, instead of less productive data compilation and integration,” Gilbert says.
Progress Paint employees now can quickly manage data from one, central location because of DEACOM’s complete business process integration. With WIP and finished goods inventories in one spot, for example, employees can quickly view current and accurate inventory data without the need for daily cycle counts. And because inventory information drives through to DEACOM’s MRP system, Progress Paint gets a complete, real-time view of all its material requirements.
“It’s like we went from the 19th Century to the 21st Century (with MRP),” Gilbert says.
Additionally, SARA reporting can now be completed in less than a week – instead of a whole month. Even system navigation is improved for current and future employees, due to DEACOM’s intuitive design and interface.
“The Deacom experience was truly a pleasant one,” Hope says. “From converting data from multiple sources to responding quickly to questions and issues, Deacom ensured every step of the way that we would reach our business goals when we needed to, as smoothly as possible.”
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