Modular PSL Datatrack Remains The Heartbeat Of DP Engineering

Posted in Technical Members News on 6th May 2021

Redruth based DP Engineering has described itself as Cornwall's best-kept engineering secret and the longevity of the subcontract precision engineering company, established in 1952, reflects that accolade. Also not so well known is that for the last 15 years the company has based its success around the implementation of every module available within PSL Datatrack’s production control software system. The company has described PSL Datatrack as the heartbeat of the business.

Over the first fifty or so years of its existence, DP Engineering relied on manual administration and spreadsheets to run the shop floor. That all changed in 2005 when, after a period of significant growth, the company recognised a new approach was needed to support its expanding customer base. That's when the initial investment in PSL Datatrack was made and since then there has been continual acquisition of modules so that today the company uses every one available. This has led to PSL Datatrack completely controlling production on a daily basis within a company that has risen from 10 to 40 employees.

This dependence on PSL Datatrack has been very advantageous for the company and allowed it to focus its efforts on retaining and developing its business with its customers in the aerospace and oil & gas industries which make up the largest proportion of the company's client base. The company is AS/EN9100 Series Aerospace and ISO 9001:2015 accredited. It not only manufactures components for customers, typically in batch production volumes from 5-500,000 pieces per annum, but also helps them to realise their own engineering ideas by offering high levels of support through its ‘design for manufacture’ service, whereby the company's skilled production engineers work closely with customers to optimise component functionality and expectations.

DP Engineering uses the latest CNC machining centres and lathes, supported by state-of-the-art metrology equipment. However, as Sales & Marketing Director Phillip Anthony recognises, the best technology means nothing if work cannot be produced efficiently with no bottlenecks - and this is where PSL Datatrack comes into its own. Modules covering the generation and management of quotations, sales/purchase order processing, process layouts, stock control, scheduling, shop floor data collection, non-conformance, gauge calibration and traceability are essential to the efficiency of the business. Through their functionality and adaptability, all the modules are seamlessly integrated and work together to form a robust platform for the business.

On one hand, the software allows the company to respond very quickly and simultaneously to requests for quotations, typically provided within 24-48 hours. On the other, once quotations have been converted into firm orders, PSL Datatrack ensures the shop floor works as efficiently as possible with the Shop Floor Data Collection (SFDC) module managing the production of all parts passing through the factory.

DP Engineering's products are mainly safety critical parts for which traceability and visibility of the production process is absolutely vital. “Traceability is key for so many customers. When we ship an order we have it through the entire production process, from the very start when we receive the materials through to delivery of every product. Each one has a Certificate of Conformity delivery note with traceability right back to who booked material in, when it arrived, who supplied it and how it was used on the shop floor – every detail,” says Phillip.

As an AS/EN9100 Series Aerospace accredited company, DP Engineering is the subject of regular external audits and through PSL Datatrack can immediately provide assessors with all the traceability information required with historic production data readily available for any job.

With so much importance attached to SFDC, each production section has its own terminal with access to PSL Datatrack. Users can also determine whether deliveries are running to schedule and whether targets in terms of delivery times and quoted pricing will be met. The shop floor variance reporting feature monitors current costs against quoted prices and highlights variances, allowing decisions to be made to rectify any anomalies. The software provides more in depth analysis to see exactly what has happened and DP Engineering is then able to employ lean manufacturing tools that the workforce is familiar with in order to assess ways of improving processes and eliminating waste.

PSL Datatrack is scalable and this was important to DP Engineering at the outset. The company has gone on to purchase all additional modules as and when the business deemed the investments were needed in order to take even closer control of specific production functions. The software is not a one-size-fits-all off the shelf product and the close working relationship between the two companies has often seen the customisation of new modules to meet DP Engineering's exact needs. This has included the adaptation or creation of bespoke management reports and other functionality including scanning of completed works order job packs that are saved to the company's cloud-based intranet and accessed by management.

The Wishlist programme allows PSL Datatrack customers to propose amendments and improvements to the system, which could be of potential benefit to other customers too. PSL Datatrack has proven very reactive to such ideas from DP Engineering who say that many of their proposals have been taken on board.

“PSL Datatrack is a very customer focussed supplier. They help us to look at our own operation and improve what we do for our customers. We have close control and management of what is now a much larger business than in 2005. We wouldn’t be where we are without PSL Datatrack's expertise and support. They understand what we are trying to achieve and help us to get there,” concludes Phillip.