Acme Alliance, LLC Optimizes Lean Manufacturing with Cloud-based ERP Solution from B&L Information Systems and Progress

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Legacy ERP system too inflexible to support Acme Alliance’s Lean business model.


Software as a Service (SaaS) Odyssey™ ERP system developed by Progress Partner, B&L Information Systems, based on the Progress OpenEdge Integrated Development Platform.


Real-time visibility into both employee production and process quality analysis enables Acme Alliance to make quick adjustments that impact the bottom line; cloud-based system reduced IT hardware costs as well as staff time and resources while providing both increased security and Disaster Recovery resources.

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Two years ago, Acme Alliance, LLC found itself at a crossroads. After seven years, the die casting manufacturer’s existing Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system was rev-locked. Acme had customized the software application so much over the years that it had become too inflexible to meet the needs of the business, and the company’s hardware environment had also become antiquated. Consequently, there were a number of modern business processes Acme was unable to do with the existing ERP system. The company had two choices—re-implement the ERP solution and start the customization process all over again or find a new ERP application. “We are a modern, innovative company, but our ERP system lacked the agility to support where we wanted to take our business,” explains Dennis Decman, Assistant Controller for Acme Alliance.


Rather than being discouraged, the company saw an opportunity to put new technology in place that would allow them to modernize operations to better align with the business and support Acme’s Lean manufacturing environment. Acme recently took their Northbrook, Illinois aluminum die casting operation live with the Software as a Service (SaaS) Odyssey ERP program, developed by B&L Information Systems, a Progress Partner company. Based on Progress OpenEdge, the Odyssey ERP system enables metalcasting operations to collect, manage and analyze crucial business information needed to track specific costs and boost profits.

More than generic accounting or manufacturing software, Odyssey meets the special needs of foundries, die casters, investment casters, machine shops and related operations, as well as the needs of every role within a company’s operation. “We chose the Odyssey system over other ERP alternatives because it was the only solution developed specifically for metalcasters,” explains Anthony Dizonno, Systems Administrator for Acme Alliance. “We spent so much time and money customizing our other ERP solution; we didn’t want to have to go through that again. Odyssey already had most of the functionality we needed, plus the industry specific features and terminology we required.”

The flexibility of Progress OpenEdge has enabled B&L to build a unique application to fit the specific needs of its industry. And the platform gives B&L the ability to quickly respond to the requirements of its customers, as in the case of Acme Alliance. “We have a very active customer community,” says Matthew Gacek, Vice President of Business Development for B&L Information Systems. “Progress OpenEdge gives us the agility to respond to their needs in a timely manner. In fact, B&L had eight maintenance releases last year alone, and we come out with a new version almost every year. That is a huge benefit to B&L customers and a competitive differentiator for us.”


Utilizing Odyssey’s Shop Floor Manager module to provide real-time information to Acme’s 115 employees was key to continuing Acme’s Lean improvement process. Appropriate for an ISO 9001:2008 certified manufacturer whose value stream production system was established to control process flow, reduce waste and improve quality, Acme Alliance began the ERP implementation with the Scrap Control, Materials Inventory, Product Inventory, Financial and Shop Floor Manager modules of Odyssey.

Lean manufacturing is all about reducing waste. Using the Shop Floor Manager module, Acme has gained deeper insight into the strengths and weaknesses of various operations and how they are impacting the business. As a result, the company can make quick adjustments that impact the bottom line. For example, Acme now requires employees to report their production against the shop order via Odyssey. Management can review that information in real time to measure production levels.

As part of that process, employees are also required to enter information about the amount of scrap they produce during a specific job, giving management realtime access to accurate scrap reporting and the ability to quickly identify where there is room for improvement in the process. “This gives us the capability to understand if we have internal scrap, where it is, in what quantities, and what we can do to decrease scrap. Closing those points of weakness can impact our bottom line,” says Mike Anderson, Kaizen Promotion Officer.
Acme opted for a phased approach to implementing Odyssey. Initially, the company chose to tackle the basics so it could quickly start reporting on production, manage finances and effectively manage material and product inventory. In the near future, the company plans to implement additional Odyssey features and modules, including the Quality Viewer and Maintenance modules.
“Implementing the Odyssey ERP system gives us the ability to capture and utilize data—including crucial shop floor data—in ways we only used to dream of. I am already impressed with the data we are getting out of the system, and we have only been live a matter of months,” says Anderson.  “We are extremely happy with the Odyssey implementation and look forward to growing into more of the Odyssey features in the future.”

“The metalcasting industry is always looking for ways to make better decisions, faster,” states Gacek.  “Using Progress OpenEdge allows B&L to grow the Odyssey ERP solution to better serve our metalcasting customers through reliable performance and continuous improvement.”

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