Turbine Support Services (TSS) is a Windsor, CT-based distributor of parts that go into jet engines. A key competitive differentiator for them is being able to supply clients with quality parts on short notice. To do this efficiently requires streamlined workflows in a number of areas — processing orders, tracking inventory, certifying parts, updating customer and vendor records, scheduling work to be completed up to two weeks out, and accurately billing large customers like Pratt & Whitney.
As TSS’ order volume and number of clients grew, so did the challenges associated with getting their ERP software to adapt to changing workflows. In particular, TSS had developed a new system for packaging parts to make it much easier for customers to install these parts when performing aircraft maintenance. This greatly improved customer satisfaction, but it became an operational headache because the ERP software wasn’t designed to do what TSS now needed. To compensate, they came up with manual workarounds that relied heavily on Excel spreadsheets and using whiteboards to manage orders, but this wasn’t a sustainable way to operate.
Triple Helix determined the simplest, most cost-effective solution for Turbine’s immediate problem would be an interface to their ERP system that made hard-to-get-at data easily accessible and visible in real-time where it was needed most – on the shop floor. The solution wasn’t designed to be a replacement for the ERP system but rather a supplement to it, adding back in the 20% critical functionality Turbine lost as the business grew and workflow processes changed.
As a result, the data which had been buried deep in the ERP system is now automatically extracted and continually updated on a 60-inch touchscreen monitor that is installed in the shop area where orders are fulfilled. Anyone in the company can instantly see what is due to ship today, tomorrow or next week, as well as inventory levels, shipment status, order changes, etc. Processes have been streamlined substantially, along with big improvements in data accuracy. Also, reports no longer have to be printed out and questioned in terms of their accuracy. A second touchscreen was installed in TSS’ Georgia facility, alleviating the need to hire people for manual handling purposes and saving the company $150,000+ annually.
TSS is a good example of a company whose employees start depending on a readily available tool like Excel or Access when they can’t get their jobs done through more sophisticated systems like ERP software. What starts as a “temporary” workaround solution soon becomes responsible for running the business.
Triple Helix developed a solution that allows TSS to realize all the benefits of utilizing Excel, but in a way that better manages the weaknesses and risks an over-dependence on Excel introduces. Our solution improved integration between Excel and TSS’ ERP system, thereby solving a specific data access and reporting problem. It has enabled them to retain the good qualities of Excel while simultaneously reducing the impact of the bad. The result is a “new” architecture that delivers data from disparate sources into a consolidated, user-friendly, easy-to-maintain single point of access.