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shape.png“As a result of a single integrated system [Plex Online], operations in all of our core functions have become more efficient.” —Molly Hunting, Information Systems Manager, Shape Corp.




Automotive manufacturer blazes a trail with global SaaS ERP deployment

In 2006, Shape Corp. arrived at a crossroads. Until then, the maker of automotive bumpers and other products had gotten by with a series of standalone manufacturing, financial, and other systems that had been integrated, as needed, by the company’s IT staff.

As the 1,300-employee company continued to grow and expand globally, however, the patchwork systems approach became a problem. The need to continuously upgrade and maintain different systems and integrations was putting a strain on IT resources. And data reentry and lack of access to real-time information was reducing efficiency.

So, Shape’s leaders decided to make a break with the past, becoming one of the first manufacturers in its industry to engineer a wholesale replacement of on-premises legacy systems with a fully integrated ERP and manufacturing platform delivered as an online service (software-as-a-service, or SaaS).

The 3½-year implementation at 12 Shape sites, which was completed in January, has paid off handsomely. The company’s deployment of the fully integrated SaaS-based Plex Online system from Plex Systems has helped reduce IT spending from .72% of sales in 2005 to .6% of sales last year.

More importantly, the new system has allowed Shape to fine-tune efficiency by giving employees up and down the organization real-time access to accurate, complete information. The company’s users in China run on the same system as its users in Mexico, subcontractors in Alabama, and everyone on the shop floor in its Michigan facilities.

And because the SaaS-based system is fully integrated, Shape now has insights into its operations that previously weren’t easy to come by. Because tooling data is now linked with parts data, Shape’s machine operators know exactly how many parts they can run with each tool before it needs preventative maintenance. Integration also allows Shape to quickly and easily trace the components that went into bad parts, and understand which other parts may contain the flawed components.

“Shape’s operations were growing at a fast pace, which called for an overhaul of our existing system that was cumbersome and resource-intensive,” said Molly Hunting, information systems manager. “As a result of a single integrated system [Plex Online], operations in all of our core functions have become more efficient.”