Sussex Wire: “We Had a Mess on Our Hands”

Sussex Wire is a small, thriving company with a rich 40-year history of designing and manufacturing complex products to precise tolerances. A world leader in delivering custom, cold-headed parts in mini- and micro-geometries, the company looked forward to a bright future as new equity poured in and new acquisitions seemed inevitable.

Then a key employee left, and management faced a startling truth: In places, the company still operated very much like a Mom and Pop shop.

“We had a mess on our hands. It was crazy,” says Tim Kardish, President. “He (the departed employee) had been responsible for design, engineering, and tooling. When he left, we struggled to find what tool dye print went with what part for a customer. Engineering would spend up to a half hour trying to figure it out.”

That’s the situation Madan Mathevan, Sussex’s new Director of Engineering, found when he arrived at the company recently.  “The drawings and documents were all over the place, sitting in six different computers and eight different hard drives.”

Had the former employee sabotaged Sussex? Not at all. On the contrary, he may have worked so well that he covered up flaws in the company’s processes.

“Frankly, he was probably facing all the same problems we found after he left,” says Kardish.

 

Document Management for a Small, but Growing Company

Mathevan knew the company needed a better way to manage its design data so that engineers could quickly find the files they needed. And with so much growth on the horizon, Sussex needed more than a vaulting and search engine.

Mathevan wanted a document control system to support data from Sussex’s primary design tool, Autocad Inventor. But it would also need to work with whatever formats future acquisitions might bring—like Pro/E or Solidworks.

He thought the document control system should bring some enterprise heft to the growing company, too. He envisioned a workflow engine to manage engineering change notices. He wanted a way to capture revisions as designs passed back and forth from Sussex to customers. And if possible, he hoped to link to quality control, FEA, and manufacturing documents.

“We’re a company that makes to order all of our products, so our primary driver is our customer’s drawings. We basically link all our documents—quality, engineering drawings, manufacturing, FEA, and all the CNC programs to that drawing,” says Mathevan. “Everything we write is linked against that part number.”

Higher up the management chain, President Tim Kardish had concerns about ISO 9001 and 2008 compliance, too. “When I looked at other companies, I saw we were ahead of many of them. But we could still improve our ISO schedules—our ISO engineering process, document development, and control processes.”

As diverse as everybody’s concerns and goals were, it turns out they all really wanted the same thing: Adept software from Synergis.

 

“We Needed Adept”

Adept is a simple, powerful engineering document management system that helps companies find, manage, share, and secure business and design content across an enterprise. And while Adept software can be found at giants like General Mills and Dow, it can also be easily and affordably implemented at smaller companies, too.

Sussex Wire uses Adept at its headquarters in Easton, Pennsylania, today. and in the future, as it adds new companies and locations, the software will easily accommodate a distributed, multi-CAD environment.  Overkill for a small company, Kardish disagrees.  Adept is a package that’s just the right size today, and will scale tomorrow. “We start small, and in essence buy seats as we go,” he says.

The solution works well for the company. Today, searching for parts and related files has become seamless at Sussex Wire. “Now when we go and look at a part number, we can basically see a complete history of what is happening with it—including all the communication that we had with the customer in the earliest stages of the project. It’s all linked to the drawing,” says Mathevan.

“If a customer comes to us and asks, ‘Can you give us the history behind everything that happened on this particular product?’ We can quickly show them all of the audit trails that happened on that particular product as well as all of the documents engineering-wise, manufacturing-wise, quality, and tooling.”

Because of Adept, management and executives have stopped using words like “mess” and “crazy” to describe their document management situation. “We needed Adept,” says Kardish.

To read the complete case study, click http://bit.ly/1NI8i6M

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