Global Metal Finishing is a multi-line aluminum anodizing and precision hard coating facility that partners with OEMs and machine shops (contract manufacturers) in the mid-Atlantic region from Maryland to South Carolina; their services include hardcoat, anodizing, passivation, chromates & ROHS, and custom services.
Founded by President & CEO Tamea Franco, Global Metal Finishing is the outcome of Tamea’s first company, East West DyeCom. Established in 1987, the company sold aluminum dyes to universities and colleges with metal art programs. In 1994, Tamea was commissioned to anodize a large casting and insulate the surface for defense contractor ITT Corp. that manufactured night vision products. This job was her first venture into a new market – machine shops and OEMs.
For 16 years, she had two sides of her business selling her product line: colored aluminum for jewelry suppliers, and servicing machine shops and OEMs. The service side grew to a point where they were shipping work globally. Tamea recognized that they had become an integral partner in the global supply chain. In 2009, she changed the company’s name to Global Metal Finishing, Inc. and fully committed the company’s efforts to service machine shops and OEMs.
The Challenge for Metal Finishers
Metal finishing is a critical step in the manufacturing process: without finishing, metal products would last only a fraction of their present lifespan because of corrosion and wear. Finishing provides durability, appealing aesthetics and environmental protection. It also enhances electrical properties, forms and shapes components, and reduces surface roughness beyond the capabilities of machining operations for parts that must mate or seal. Sometimes, finishes are used to meet consumer demand for a decorative appearance.
Metal finishing is often the final step in the manufacturing process, and slow quotes from finishers could delay or put an entire project risk. For many shops, getting quotes from outside services is one of the key areas that reduce their ability to respond quickly to customer RFQs, which in turn negatively impacts the shop’s win rate.
Delays in the upstream manufacturing process can present metal finishers with unique challenges: if a job shop takes too long to make a part, then the metal finisher is often expected to “make up that time” by expediting jobs. If the job shop has spent too much money producing the part, they may look to reduce costs by squeezing the metal finisher on price.
Global Metal Finishing experienced the same challenges as other metal finishers: suppliers demanded fast quotes, gave short lead times, no demand forecasting, and inadequate data to start the job.
ERP Solutions Falling Short
Global Metal Finishing set out in search of a solution. They sought a way to transform the way that finishing manufacturers were valued, and looked to how they could solve a key challenge facing parts manufacturers: slow quotes.
They wanted to partner with their customers to get the information they needed upfront. They knew they had to transform how their customers perceived them by promoting their value, and that they needed a system that would streamline the front end of their business.
According to Ben Lawhorn, Vice President of Operations and Sales, Global Metal Finishing spent two years evaluating different ERP systems to help solve these issues, but could not find one that did what they knew they needed.
ERP systems have limited options for quoting and require that you enter all the routing information with estimates for setup and cycle times. They also require the complete bill of materials (BOM) to make parts, and then the price for that material quantity. Additionally, ERP systems require all the details of a job to get a quote, whether you are awarded the job or not.
Making Quoting More Efficient
After learning about Paperless Parts, Ben discovered that the technology met their quoting needs, and more. Ben is responsible for the estimating and sales teams, and knew several areas of the quoting process that needed improvement: quoting consistency, business analytics, and more effective customer communications with an audit trail of the communications including specification changes.
Every person on Ben’s team quoted a little differently. Paperless Parts’ geometric pricing engine, and its ability to analyze any CAD file, helped them leverage the part’s geometry, automate the quoting process steps, and more consistently price jobs. This increased the speed at which they could quote. It reduced the data entry by 70% and reduced the average time to finish a quote from 1 hour to under 15 minutes.
The data and analytics within Paperless Parts gave Ben and his team key insights such as who had viewed a quote, win rates by customer, bottom-line impact, and according to Ben, “a better feel for our customer base.”
The analytics, coupled with Paperless Parts secure online chat capabilities, enabled Ben to create a more effective follow-up program for their customers. If someone viewed a quote but did not accept within a certain amount of time, the sales team could follow up to see if there were questions. Any questions about the job are answered quickly, and any notes related to that job are stored for future reference.
Centralizing quoting meant that anyone on the team could see the quote, any remarks or changes made to the quote, and any related communications. Automating the quoting process made it easier to train anyone on the team, no matter their experience level, to quote.
Paperless Parts provided the solution Global Metal Finishing was looking for, and their experience working with the Paperless Parts team was above and beyond their expectations. “Paperless Parts has a first-class customer success team. I want to emulate that here at Global Metal Finishing,” said Ben Lawhorn.
Closing The Gap Between Finishers and Manufacturers
Tamea and Ben believe that Paperless Parts is precisely what the finishing industry needs to promote their value and create closer alignment and partnerships with contract manufacturers. When both parties use Paperless Parts, machine shops and metal finishers can both benefit from a more streamlined quoting process. Machine shops can provide the necessary information for the job upfront, and finishers can get their quotes out faster, and be ready for the job when they receive the part from the machine shop. This creates greater alignment and a more efficient process, which leads to better quality parts.