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PLANT

NDI simplifies its process


NDI’s Spectra Optical Tracking System measures 3D positions of active or massive markers affixed to application-specific tools. Using this information each Polaris system determines position and orientation of tools.
Photo: NDI

When rapid growth and aging technology threatened to stand in the way of company goals, Northern Digital Inc. turned to Intuitive Manufacturing Systems for a new enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution.

NDI, a long-time customer of privately owned Intuitive, has recently upgraded its existing ERP.

The supplier of 3D/6D measurement products used in industries as diverse as image-guided surgery, robotics and aeronautics found that the aging technology was impeding progress and generating too much customization work.

“Our goal when we released the ERP 7.2 version was to cut down 75% of customization. In the older version, things like serial number traceability weren’t there, so we had to make up our own,” explains Sherry Emblton, senior manager of manufacturing operations at NDI, based in Waterloo, Ont.

“In the new version, it’s already there so that’s just one way we’re saving a lot of time.”

Intuitive, based in Kirkland, Wash., provides a flexible ERP tool set that handles all the front- and back-office operations of a discrete manufacturing company, including: planning, inventory, engineering, purchasing, manufacturing, finance, order processing, advanced configurator and quality. Updating its ERP system every few years has become standard procedure for NDI, but its original decision to invest was not taken lightly.

After looking at several ERP vendors, the company settled on the Intuitive ERP based on several factors that directly supported corporate objectives to: immediately improve inventory management with the expandability and flexibility to support NDI’s growth; and be easy to use.

After that initial implementation, NDI got impressive results. Inventory turns have more than doubled and the company’s revenue increased from $10 million to $20 million with little increase in inventory value. The company has also reduced its order cycle time from four months to four weeks.

Customer focus

Improvements in production control and inventory management have had a direct impact on customer delivery. The material requirements planning and forecasting capabilities allow NDI to provide better service.