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How ERP System Controls Wood Workflow at Walnut Creek Planing

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September 30, 2022 | Press Release


Walnut Creek Planing, in Millersburg, OH, makes a wide variety of wood mouldings for home use.

From its 80,000-square-foot facility in Holmes County, Ohio, Walnut Creek Planing Ltd provides high-quality hardwood components and finished goods for the door, stair, furniture and butcher block industries. The majority of its products include everything from box newels and door stiles to fittings, mouldings, sheet good parts, stair treads, and counter tops.

Most of the wood used in the manufacturing process is cut at local sawmills within days of being harvested. The green lumber is then brought to Walnut Creek Planing’s mill, sorted by grade, and air dried in the firm’s state-of-the-art dry kiln facility. Located in the nearby town of Winesburg, the kiln can dry up to 300,000 board feet at a time.

Once dry, the wood heads to the main facility, where five high-speed molders, three optimizing chop saws, three CNC routers (including a 5-axis machine), automated finger jointing equipment, and multiple sanders and shapers turn the wood into beautiful finished products.

The sophisticated tools in Walnut Creek Planing’s production and dry kiln facilities allow them to control the manufacturing process from forest to final product. This enables them to cut costs and operate more efficiently while ensuring that every product has the highest level of quality and craftsmanship. But Walnut Creek Planing also uses another state-of-the-art tool to control workflow, cut costs and simplify the business: ERP software from Global Shop Solutions, an IWF 2022 exhibitor.

Improved Visibility with ERP
Prior to going live with Global Shop Solutions ERP software in 2009, Walnut Creek Planing had been using an Access™ database coupled with various spreadsheets and other tools to manage the business. According to Chad Wengerd, the company’s Information Technology Manager, this approach did not provide the tracking capabilities or visibility of information required to effectively run a high-volume shop floor. Why choose Global Shop Solutions ERP software?

“Because it looked like the best all-around ERP software,” says Wengerd. “It did everything we wanted in an ERP software package, from scheduling to production management, inventory to accounting. It also gave us the visibility throughout the shop floor that we need to manage the business more efficiently.”

Implementing Global Shop Solutions ERP software produced several immediate benefits for Walnut Creek Planing, including reduced inventory costs and the ability to track jobs at every point in the production process. In particular, the Advanced Planning & Scheduling (APS) module helped to simplify scheduling by allowing the dispatch list to be automatically deployed – a huge time saver for workstations running many different jobs every day.

“We run a shop floor that’s focused on team leadership and working as a team to increase productivity,” says Wengerd. “With our old system, it was virtually impossible for our plant manager to manage 25 workstations and all the manufacturing steps and materials that needed to be scheduled without overlooking an order or missing something else.” Needless to say, this made for an inefficient workflow.

“APS lets us schedule every job down to the exact minute,” he says. “With their workflow automatically organized, the team leader at each work center simply selects the job off the top of the dispatch list. This makes it easy to identify which jobs have the highest priority, and the team leader just goes down the list in order.”

Robust Tracking Capabilities
One of the best features of Global Shop Solutions ERP software is that it gives manufacturing companies the ability to track data in ways they always wanted to but were unable to do with their old systems. For Walnut Creek Planing, this includes the ability to accurately track sales order history, customer quotes, and other key data.

With a catalog of several thousand different parts, Walnut Creek Planing needs to know which parts are generating the highest volume and which are moving the fastest. Global Shop Solutions ERP software lets management quickly track the sales order history for every part in the plant. It also makes it easy to compare estimated versus actual costs, a key component in quoting accurate prices to customers while ensuring that each job turns a profit. In addition, the live inventory tracking has significantly simplified the movement of parts and materials throughout the busy warehouse.

“We used to have difficulty keeping track of where inventory was stored, especially in the middle of a demanding manufacturing process,” says Wengerd. “Our forklift drivers would go to pull a particular part only to find that it had already been used or moved to another location. Which meant they had to spend time tracking it down in the warehouse or finding a material substitution that was not filling
another requirement.”

“With Global Shop Solutions’ bin-to-bin tracking, we know exactly where every piece of material is 100% of the time,” he says. “With live inventory transactions, forklift operators can see actual on-hand inventory numbers and location on the go. Whenever someone moves a pallet of material, with several barcode scans they print a bin-to-bin ticket from the wireless printer installed on their forklift and attach it to the pallet. The next time an operator needs that pallet, they access the inventory record in Global Shop Solutions and instantly know where to find it. That’s a huge time saver!”

Paperless Shop Floor
With the help of 18 Shop Floor Data Collection stations and GS Mobile, Walnut Creek Planing has gone totally paperless on the shop floor. The only paper still in use is the 4” x 6” barcode labels affixed to lumber and raw materials for tracking purposes.

The Shop Floor Data Collection stations allow operators to electronically log on and off jobs, which eliminates written time sheets. They automatically deliver work orders, routers and dispatch lists to each workstation. And they provide critical job information by automatically linking drawings, job specs, and other documents through the Document Control™ application. Shop floor personnel no longer waste time trying to track down information for each job. And the information they get through the Shop Floor Data Collection stations are always accurate and up to date.

“Thanks to Global Shop Solutions, we now have a wealth of information on the shop floor without a wealth of paperwork following it around,” says Wengerd. “Everyone loves it!”

Of the many ERP software’s mobile application features that Walnut Creek Planing uses, electronic purchase order receipt has had a big impact. When lumber and other materials arrive for delivery, the worker enters the PO number and the amount being received into the scanner, and Global Shop Solutions ERP software automatically receives the material into inventory and generates an inventory label, which is printed to the wireless forklift printer. The forklift driver then places it on the material. In a matter of seconds, the material is received and ready to proceed directly to a workstation or the warehouse.

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