Sign-Zone is a manufacturer of visual communication, event and promotional display merchandise. Founded in 1989, Sign-Zone is headquartered in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota and has grown to over 400 employees strong. They maintain a production facility in the Twin Cities region along with eight remote distribution facilities across the United States.
Sign-Zone distributes their products through corporate owned outlets: Creative Banner Displays, Showdown Displays and Victory Corps.
Sign-Zone’s 100,000 square foot production facility is made up of seven value streams that are managed by about 150 staff. Each value stream consists of workstations responsible for three to four tasks, for example, printing, sewing, or assembly. The production facility operates six days a week from Sunday to Friday running three shifts daily.
In 2006 Sign-Zone adopted Microsoft Dynamics NAV to help support its production and accounting functions. A homegrown internal website was developed to deliver customer sales order information from NAV to the shop floor where employees would carry out the manufacturing process. Today, Sign-Zone processes 600-1,200 production orders a day.
While Sign-Zone started out small, it has grown into a multi-million-dollar domestic manufacturer. The time had come to evaluate operations to streamline production, minimize waste, improve quality, and increase efficiency. The following deficiencies were identified:
An internal Sign-Zone team made up of the Production Manager, ERP Analyst, Business Analyst and Project Manager came together to lead a plan for improvement. The team identified three primary objectives:
Once the objectives were identified, the Sign-Zone team created a requirements document. At that point, Sign-Zone reached out to their Microsoft Dynamics NAV partner. The partner met with Sign-Zone to understand fully their objectives and requirements.
Sign-Zone accepted the following solution proposed by their Microsoft Dynamics NAV partner:
Turn on Advanced Warehousing in Dynamics NAV
By enabling and configuring the advanced warehouse features in Dynamics NAV, Sign-Zone can accurately manage and track the inventory needed for production orders. The specific location and quantity of each item can be easily identified.
Implement Barcode Scanning
Warehouse Insight from Insight Works is an add-on for NAV that brings mobile device integration to the warehouse floor. Warehouse Insight combined with 15 Datalogic Falcon X3+ handheld computers with scanning capabilities enabled Sign-Zone to process receipts, put-aways, picks, movements and perform inventory and cycle counts in the most effective manner possible. The result is an accurately and efficiently managed inventory system.
Integrate the Shop Floor Data Collection Add-on for NAV
Shop Floor Insight from Insight Works is a comprehensive solution to capture employee and production time. Sign Zone leverages Shop Floor Insight to support four key components in their production process:
Each workstation is equipped with a touchscreen computer enabling workers to interact easily with Shop Floor Insight.
Integrate Advanced Planning and Scheduling
Sign-Zone manufactures a breadth of products which can be customized by the customer. This results in thousands of unique production orders requiring an advanced planning and scheduling solution. MxAPS from Insight Works works together with NAV and Shop Floor Insight to create a responsive, repeatable and highly accurate production schedule.
MxAPS accurately generates efficient production schedules with the ability to respond to unplanned events such as scrap resulting in work that needs to be redone. MxAPS combined with Shop Floor Insight communicates to the workers on the production floor their specific tasks and timelines.
Every hour MxAPS will automatically generate a new schedule to account for new orders, rework and time remaining on existing orders. Each new schedule will generate a status report so supervisors can easily identify if any orders are in jeopardy of missing their shipping deadline.
When generating a schedule, MxAPS will group similar production materials together to reduce machine changeover time.
MxAPS automatically breaks larger orders into multiple smaller orders and includes them in the daily schedule. If production falls behind when processing large orders, MxAPS will automatically increase the daily quantity required to make up any shortfall and meet the due date.
Configure NAV to Execute Specific Processes
While the integration of the add-on products from Insight Works is relatively straight forward, Sign-Zone identified specific processes they want followed on the production floor. Sign-Zone’s NAV partner employed their team of professionals to configure NAV and the other components of the solution.
The adoption of the new processes and software tools by production workers was, for the most part, seamless. Staff welcomed the change as it provided the necessary insight into what items needed to be produced at what time using what process with what materials by which specific employee. Each computer terminal was equipped with a printed set of instructions that included a precise set of processes to follow. Within a couple of days, staff adapted to the new process.
The NAV customizations and add-ons delivered numerous positive results including:
This project was a culmination of efforts between Sign-Zone, their Microsoft Dynamics NAV partner, and Insight Works. Between Sign-Zone clearing identifying their requirements and the NAV partner understanding and implementing those requirements, a best-of-breed solution was designed to deliver for the customer. Transparent communication between all parties involved paved the way for a successful integration.