As IT manager for Millar, Inc. in Houston, Texas, Todd Miller operates in a world with very little margin for error. Over and above the routine requirements any IT manager faces, his role at Miller’s brings with it some particularly daunting challenges.
As a leading provider of neurological and cardiac catheters to the clinical and research segments of the healthcare market, the Millar team not only has to meet a heavy burden of government regulations but also faces the hard reality that anything less than perfection in production could become a source of major problems for someone further down the line.
The good news, though, for Miller and his team is that since the company switched to the M1® manufacturing ERP software in March of 2013, they’ve been more than able to meet those challenges and a few more besides!
M1 manages growth and improves delivery time
“For a company like ours a strong technology infrastructure is critical and M1 is a key element of that infrastructure,” says Miller. “We run a tight ship and M1 allows us to maintain high volume production and equally high customer service levels. It also gives us a level of visibility into the company and its operations that is extremely important for us on several levels.”
The healthcare market is growing and Millar itself has been very much on a growth curve. Three years ago, Miller reports, headcount at the company stood at about 105; today, it’s closer to 140 and they’re still hiring!
“M1 has been a key resource for us in terms of managing growth,” says Miller. “M1 has brought us increased efficiently and significantly improved our on-time delivery rates even as our business has grown.”
Prior to converting to M1, on-time delivery rates at the company hovered around the low 90s, Miller reports. Today, they’re touching 99%. “Since converting to M1, our improved ability to provide customers what they need in a timely manner has resulted in a marked increase in sales,” Miller adds.
Visibility key to comply with FDA regulations
Most of Millar’s manufacturing is built to stock rather than custom product and the superior visibility M1 provides has allowed the company to keep inventory levels lean while keeping on-time delivery rates high, Miller says.
“Our inventory management is so much more efficient since we moved to M1 and our ability to know exactly what we have in stock and where it actually is a huge benefit—particularly for an organization like ours that operates out of a three-acre campus with five different buildings in Houston and a separate R&D facility in Auckland, New Zealand,” he points out.
With M1, Miller explains, the company has a level of confidence about its inventory that it just didn’t have before converting. “M1 can not only tell us how many of a certain product we have but also where it is—in which stockroom and in which bin,” he says. The result: the company is no longer ordering product it doesn’t need and overall supply chain management is significantly better than in pre-M1 days.
Also much improved as a result of the switch is the company’s ability to keep the government happy.
“As an FDA-regulated business, Millar has very large regulatory demands in terms of the visibility of our product throughout the entire production chain,” says Miller.
The company lot-tracks raw materials and components and serial-tracks finished goods for its entire product line. Since switching to M1, says Miller, production managers can now pull up at any point in the production process a lot number or serial number and see the complete history of that item.
“That not only allows us internally to maintain traceability on products but it also means we can provide the FDA with that kind of information they need quickly and easily,” he explains.
Superior reporting capabilities
Indeed, reporting capabilities at the company in general since switching to M1 have seen a significant improvement, Miller says.
“One of the great strengths of M1 is its flexibility and we’ve been able to take some of the standard M1 reports and customize them to what we need and give us even greater visibility,” he explains.
Miller says he and his team modified M1’s stock status and inventory re-order reports quite extensively and completely redesigned the Job Traveler application to provide additional information to operators and satisfy additional regulatory requirements.
While software customization can often be a costly and labor-intensive process, M1 makes it easy, he says. “M1 is flexible enough so that you don’t have to bend your business to use it effectively. M1 allows us to operate the way we always have but now we are able to collect so much more information about our basic day-to-day operations.”
Close to three years after Millar went live with M1, Miller’s enthusiasm for the program is as strong as it was on the initial go-live day.
“I would definitely recommend M1 to any manufacturing company,” he says. “We’ve found M1 does everything it claims to do; it is intuitive, quick to learn and able to respond effectively to a company’s specific business needs and processes. Converting to M1 has brought significant benefits to our company on multiple levels over the past three years and we’re looking forward to more of the same going forward.”