LONG BEACH, CALIF. — New Jersey injection molder Modern Plastic Technics Inc. soon will begin testing open-architecture information systems from a machine monitor supplier and a software developer.
The aim is to integrate data cleanly from production and business management sources — a task the parties say has been difficult to achieve in the past.
The software project will link operations of shop-floor process monitoring systems from Nicollet Process Engineering Inc. of Minneapolis and prepackaged business management systems from the products division of Mascon in Schaumburg, Ill. The companies announced the project last year, but had not chosen a processor to test it. Both Nicollet and Mascon use Microsoft Windows NT software and the same relational databases.
Modern Plastic Technics has used Mascon's Aims-brand business management software since 1994.
``We're still growing into it,'' President Ben Uscinowicz said. ``We're hopeful that the new Windows-based version of Aims will allow us to do a lot more.''
Now, the molder is upgrading to a Windows system from a DOS-based configuration and installing Nicollet's real-time production monitoring system to track part production, analyze cycle times, log downtime and measure maintenance activity. The companies expect testing to begin in March.
Modern Plastic Technics employs 250, operates 33 injection presses and produces tooling, assemblies and decorated parts. Sales topped $20 million in 1997 after reaching $15.6 million sales in 1996. The firm occupies three buildings in West Berlin, N.J., and has additional warehousing in Cherry Hill and Voorhees, N.J.
The Nicollet-Mascon effort matches an operating program, databases and other technology. The result is a kind of open architecture that allows users to select the best-of-breed software in all applications areas.
In 1994, Modern Plastics Technics maintained its sales and inventory data in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet format. Now, the Mascon Aims system is used for inventory control, automated invoicing, bills of materials, order entry and recording purchase orders. Sales and inventory have grown by a factor of four.
In the collaboration, Nicollet and Mascon initially will transfer basic data between independent systems with both maintaining master files. Later, the systems will share data files and eliminate redundancy. Most business management information systems ``stop short of actually gathering production data,'' according to Amir Raza, general manager of the Mascon products division.
Raza and Joe Pack, Nicollet division director of plastics, discussed the collaboration in interviews at the Western Plastics Expo, held Jan. 6-8 in Long Beach.