Industry Blog

Comparing ERP for Pipe and Tube Processors

Are you looking for better shop floor management and operational control? Do you want to be able to calculate actual costs including any off-site processing? These are just a few of the capabilities that Pipe and Tube Processors are looking for in a modern Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution.

ERP systems have certainly come a long way in the past decade. Not only do they have more robust capabilities, there are now choices that are customized for manufacturing and distribution. RealSTEEL is built for pipe and tube processors to successfully operate and thrive with unique features like enhanced visibility into work-in-process and outside processor inventory. You also have the ability to track costs throughout the full process—including what is happening on the shop floor. Let’s take a look at the differences between older systems and a more modern industry-specific approach.

Traditional ERP Limitations

If you haven’t implemented an ERP system yet, you are likely using a variety of manual and automated processes loosely stitched together. Perhaps you are using tools such as Excel or Outlook to help with costing and scheduling. In this scenario, workers trying to complete a task often need to make a phone call or look up information in a separate system in order to validate information and proceed.

You probably have separate processes for creating sales orders, work orders, and production schedules. These orders must be closed before inventory is updated and there is no visibility into profitability until long after the order is completed. These activities take a lot of extra time and effort and result in many inaccuracies. Also, if you have an older ERP system, it is likely to be more accounting-focused and not specific to your industry. A standard ERP system generally requires more modifications and 3rd-party add-ons to meet the specific business and operational needs (such as pricing, processing and packaging) of pipe and tube processors. And the costs and time to make the system fit your need can add up quick.

Modern ERP Advantages

Integrated ERP systems provide a comprehensive, turnkey management solution that connects and streamlines your entire business. RealSTEEL is built on Microsoft Dynamics and addresses specific pipe and tube processing needs such as:

  • Visibility: to all processes from quote to delivery.
  • Tracking: inventory and materials throughout the manufacturing process including ID, OD, wall size, and length. All customer specifications like packaging, loading and tolerances now track with the order.
  • Costing: view and maintain costs for labor, freight, outside services and surcharges at the tag and lot level. Support for actual, theoretical, average and replacement costs.
  • Sales Quoting: quick, intuitive and accurate sales quoting and order entry.
  • Shipping: centralized shipping dispatch board to build, monitor and maintain loads. Includes management of multiple outside processing operations with direct shipment to the end customer.
  • Supporting complex operations: Full support of complex operations including multi-company, multi-currency, multi-lingual, and multi-warehouse.

Ready to explore a more modern ERP solution for your business? Contact us today to learn more about RealSTEEL built on Microsoft Dynamics and let’s schedule your personal demo. You will discover how industry-specific ERP systems can help pipe and tube processors like you to manage costs and compete.

Q&A: Steel and Metals Industry Trends, Tips and Technology

Vice President of The Wolcott Group LLC, Kevin Ameche draws on over 30 years of industry experience in manufacturing and distribution to consistently deliver superior performance results. In this blog, he reflects on the steel and metals industry, the metals software space, and the RealSTEEL solution powered by Microsoft Business Central. Kevin welcomes your comments and questions. You can contact him at: Mobile: 330.730.3666 or Toll free: 866-wolcott (866.965.2688).

What are some of the current trends in the steel and metals industry?

We are seeing increasing demand based on the rising number of infrastructure development projects. Not only does this create more demand for steel, it also creates an environment where manufacturers need to streamline their processes to achieve greater efficiencies and cost control. Implementing an ERP system is a major way to address that need.

How does RealSTEEL address industry needs?

RealSTEEL is a multi-faceted ERP solution that is built on Microsoft Business Central and is customized for the steel and metals industry. We help our customers improve productivity and reduce non-billable time. Our product supports the specific needs in this market such as multiple product lines, outsourcing, production scheduling, automated cost allocation, and toll processing. It’s really all about helping our customers grow their businesses and profits. Once you have access to enterprise data, they can see which product lines are most profitable and evaluate potential new product lines.

Why did Wolcott Group decide to enter the metals software space?

With many years of experience in manufacturing and distribution, I saw some unique needs in this underserved market. For one thing, there is a great need for technology and upgrades in general. These manufacturers typically have multiple product lines with complex processes and many requirements including:

  • real-time visibility
  • inventory tracking
  • visibility into yield and gross margins
  • materials allocation at order entry and product planning stages
  • simplified materials pricing to support sales

What type of customer would most benefit from your solution?

We specialize in working with small-medium manufacturers including metal fabricators and steel servicers, building material manufacturers, coil slitters, and pipe and tube processors. The best candidates for our solution either have no ERP or outdated systems that are inefficient and causing employee frustration and productivity loss. Another indicator is stagnant sales. That is often a sign of a need for better and automated business processes.

What differentiates an average metals manufacturer from a very successful one?

In a word, technology. The manufacturers with the highest profits and growth are making investments in their business using technology to drive productivity. With greater productivity comes greater profits. I am constantly amazed at how much opportunity there is to improve (even completely turn around) a business with the addition of an ERP system. Our solution provides our customers with control of their business in ways they have never experienced before. Data insight on sales, purchasing, stocking, producing, and planning is very powerful. All these roads lead to better finances.

How can I find out more about RealSTEEL?

We want to hear from you. Contact us today to tell us about your challenges and we will deliver a customized demonstration for your organization. We welcome the opportunity to show you how RealSTEEL can improve your business operational efficiency and business insight.


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