505 State Street
Des Plaines, Illinois 60016
847/824-0181 fax 847/824-7848
Contact: Laura Moreno.
Software Features: Released in 1999, Synchro is available in 16- and 32-bit form. A client/server system, it replaced AFSynergy--the DOS-based product sold by AFS since 1989 and currently in use at more than 250 foundries worldwide.
Synchro uses the point-and-click features of Windows to coverall aspects of foundry management from estimating to invoicing. It has a "base" system for most foundry needs with option modules for other requirements.
The base system covers: order processing, contract review for ISO 9000 and QS 9000, photos and video clips to "show how," storage of detailed product methoding, and scheduling (via graphical drag 'n' drop) for both infinite and finite capacity scheduling. It handles all documentation (acknowledgements, process sheets, shipping memos and invoices) and covers data collection, work-booking, scrap-tracking and analysis, inventory and shipments. All reports and documents are created via "Crystal Reports" software, allowing individual users to personally design and amend their paperwork. Web tools allow linkage of schedules and documents to customers and suppliers via Internet and Intranets. By design, the software contains no accounting module; instead it links to virtually any popular accounting software package in the U.S. and elsewhere.
Option modules comprise estimating and quoting, purchase order/inventory management and Internet (EDI) connectivity.
Software Applications: Casting via sand, shell, investment, permanent mold, centrifugal and diecasting.
Computer Platforms: Programmed via a three-layer technique using Visual Basic for the user interface (with custom ActiveX components), C++ for data access and manipulation (utilizing the latest Microsoft ADO components), and SQL Server or Access for the data management layer. Operates on Pentium PCs and equivalents, NT and Novell networks with Windows 98, NT and 2000 clients.
Number of Installations: More than 20 worldwide, including Babs Foundry, Inc., Norton, Massachusetts; Tommie Corp., Thorsby, Alabama; Custom Aluminum, Cambridge, Ontario, Canada; and Investacast, Ilfracombe, England.
Training, Support and Update Options: Training is available either on-site orvia courses at AFS headquarters in Des Plaines, Illinois. Typically 4-6 days instruction is required per base installation.
Case History: In 1989, Superior Aluminum Castings, Inc., a green sand aluminum foundry in Independence, Missouri, replaced its previous data collection system with the then DOS-based AFS product. Over a period of 12 months, control of all production-oriented functions was invested in the system. The staff, led by then President Dwight Barnhard, implemented estimating, costing, quoting, production scheduling and quality functions, together with creation of acknowledgements, route cards, packing slips, shipping memos, invoices and credit memos. The system was in use continually from its installation until this year when control was transferred to the replacement AFS product, Synchro .
The software was implemented quickly with a minimum of disturbance. The ability to customize both documents and management reports to reflect current needs was welcomed by all users. The Windows-based system was thought much easier to use than all earlier systems. David Barnhard, Superior's current president, credits the software package with enabling the company to operate efficiently with less than half of the office staff that otherwise would have been employed. The installation allows several people to have concurrent access.
One major innovation is that each day the company can analyze its performance and profitability for that day. As a result, action can be taken to improve favorable trends or to reverse unfavorable ones as early as the next day.
Benefits that are seen by Superior from the replacement Windows package include:
* video clips and photos that instruct workers on "best job practice;"
* Windows "drag 'n' drop" techniques that revolutionize finite capacity;
* production scheduling and improvement of customer service;
* documents that can be customized within the "safety net" of a package system.