Strongwell and a Fully Integrated ERP System

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Located in Bristol, Virginia, Strongwell manufactures high quality, fiber reinforced polymer, also known as FRP, products by using a continuous automatic process known as pultrusion. The company, which has been in business since 1956, currently has three manufacturing locations and more than 645,000 square feet of manufacturing space. Recognized as the world’s leading and largest pultruder of FRP, Strongwell is dedicated to providing strong customer service.

To manage its complex manufacturing operation, Strongwell has been utilizing WorkWise ERP software for twenty years. We recently spoke with Strongwell’s Corporate Business Process Improvement Director, Dave Manahan to get his feedback on WorkWise and its ERP system.

Before Strongwell’s search began for a new ERP system, they were beginning to experience outdated software that no longer suited the company.

The main reason we were looking for a new ERP system was because we were a Y2K company. Our existing software had been purchased some time ago and modified heavily. We determined that maintaining it wasn’t feasible from an economic standpoint.

During their search for a new ERP system, Strongwell sent out over fifty requests for proposals to potential software vendors. It was during this search that Strongwell discovered WorkWise. The decision to select WorkWise ERP was largely due to the company’s extensive manufacturing experience and willingness to learn and understand Strongwell’s unique manufacturing operations.

WorkWise spent a lot of time with us in order to understand our manufacturing process. We’re fairly unique, and there’s not that many companies in the world that do what we (Strongwell) do. WorkWise spent the time and really made us feel like they understood what we were doing and where we were going. That was a very large factor in determining what vendor to choose.

For many of the employees at Strongwell, it was their first time undergoing a software implementation, which Dave described as a “smooth” one. Since their previous software was a “homegrown system,” it took time for employees to learn the new software, but the implementation gave Strongwell the opportunity to verify the information that went from their old system into their new one.

With a company that handles such involved work, including the production of FRP products, it needed a system that could keep track of the entire process and organize data all in one centralized space. After using WorkWise ERP, Strongwell noticed many benefits.

Having a full featured, fully integrated system, with all of the modules working together, the ability to look at inventory control and all of the manufacturing requirements, were things that we didn’t have before. The integrated system brought us greater efficiency.

Strongwell is in the beginning stages of implementing additional ERP modules to assist with the shop floor. He credits WorkWise ERP with providing tools to help get Strongwell out of the “paper pushing world,” finding better ways to organize company information and staying up to date with current company information. Additional benefits Dave notes include the ability to save time and increased productivity.

Utilizing WorkWise ERP has made Dave’s job easier in many ways, including the transferring of information and eliminating the possibility of duplicate data entry.

With our previous system there was double, sometimes triple data entry because the modules weren’t integrated so there wasn’t any information being passed back and forth. That alone was a tremendous time saver for us.

He continues to note additional efficiencies of WorkWise ERP.

The visibility of information, being able to import certain information and being able to create customer orders via spreadsheet, were major performance enhancements for us.

Strongwell using a large amount of ERP modules to help run their daily business operations, which helps those from the finance department to the shop floor.

We use close to ninety percent of the modules in the system. We certainly use the customer order processing side of it, all of the inventory controls, we use MRP, all of the purchasing modules, accounting.

Overall, Dave believes that it has been a strong, positive working relationship between Strongwell and WorkWise. He mentions the open communication being one of many qualities about WorkWise that stands out to him.

It’s been very good. The thing that I like about WorkWise, is that I get to talk to the actual people in the development and support groups. To be able to sit and talk to people on your side is something you don’t get very often, it just doesn’t happen. To me that’s a huge benefit in building relationships between the two organizations.

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