Applied Information develops connected, intelligent transportation system (ITS) solutions designed to improve safety, reliability, and mobility on the roadways. The AI Glance Smart City Supervisory System™ platform allows cities to manage all their traffic and transportation system assets, including traffic intersections, school beacons, and parking systems, from one web-based application. In addition, AI’s Glance TravelSafely™ smartphone app connects drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians for a safer commute.
The Applied Information system uses a combination of hardware and software and the talent of seasoned senior engineers to create these traffic solutions. Having experienced the pain in past jobs of trying to manage hundreds of parts, contractors, and inventory items using simple Excel spreadsheets, the Applied Information team knew the benefits of using a purpose-built solution for parts management and materials requirements planning to ensure efficient and economical operations.
We knew we needed an MRP system from the outset of the company. But as a startup, we couldn’t afford a big end-to-end ERP system. The Aligni system did almost everything we needed. Over the past six years, the Aligni feature set has grown and we have adopted its structure, which has enabled our growth too. Now, we can’t go on without Aligni.
Tracking Parts and Products from Inception through Repairs
Applied Information’s use of Aligni starts within the engineering team at the beginning of the product development cycle. The R&D team uses Aligni to track all the “operational intelligence” on a specific part, including quotes, lead-times, change history, and purchase history. Their use of Aligni extends into production management, purchasing, administration, sales, and even the repairs department. While finding huge value inusing the PLM part of Aligni to manage bills of materials (BOMs) and approved vendor lists, Applied Information finds Aligni’s integrated MRP capabilities equally important for managing overall inventory.
Just in Time… is Just too Late
Applied Information makes over 200 different products. Managing the inventory includes tracking hundreds of parts and electronic components, including multi-level sub-products, printed circuit boards, shop-level subassemblies, and finished inventory.
In addition to in-house manufacturing, Applied Information uses Aligni to manage engagements with five outside contract manufacturers. To ensure quality, Applied Information first purchases and inspects components, then issues them to the contractors, and uses Aligni to manage an inventory location for each contractor manufacturer’s facility.
Aligni makes the purchasing process a breeze. We use the MRP capabilities to create a monthly build against shortages, load up work orders for all the parts, run shortage reports, then go and buy. Well-executed MRP means lower inventory overhead, shorter assembly lead times, and fewer ‘line down’ situations. This results in higher production productivity and lower COGS.
Beating the Capacitor Shortages
The experienced development team at Applied Information has seen industry-wide parts shortages in the past, and knows the production delays that can result. Anticipating the current industry-wide capacitor shortage, Applied Information used Aligni to track six years of historic usage on impacted capacitors, and “went on a buying spree” to make sure they weren’t affected.
“We are able to beat the capacitor shortage,” Deetlefs said. “Tracking against stock level, I stocked up 18 months’ supply. We are staying two years ahead on any given part. It cost a pretty penny to stock up, but we have no delays in capacitors now, so no production schedule delays.”
Solution: Aligni at Applied Information – Cloud-based, PLM & MRP
“Aligni is a very, very cost-effective inventory management system. The alternatives cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. It is in the cloud, so there is nothing to maintain. The system gives me everything I need, except an accounting/sales module, and works absolutely great,” Deetlefs observed.
Aligni delivers PLM and MRP, purpose-built to support development engineers and R&D teams:
- Easy to use: The user interface is straightforward and easy to learn.
- Improved operational intelligence: Documented, factual data sharing.
- Best-practice structure: Organized data and process flows.
- Integration API: Enables development of company-specific features.
- No Lock-In: Data always available to company to download.
- Clear, structured, documented communication: Ensure precise documentation with contract manufacturers, suppliers, and distributors.
- Solid, complete documentation: Prevent errors and unnecessary expense.
- Integration with Enterprise ERP or in-house production processes.
- Cloud-based SaaS: All those cloud benefits too!
- Value priced.
Applied Information got it right… right from the start. Leveraging Aligni’s cloud-based PLM and MRP system, they were able to set up and expand parts management efficiently, and cost effectively, from the outset. The company’s growth has accelerated, without the typical startup headaches surrounding inventory management and availability. This has benefited both the day-to-day work on the engineering team and the company’s bottom line.
Aligni definitely makes us much more efficient. With Aligni, we absolutely know what’s going on. No surprises. Visibility. Any manufacturing business needs a system like this. Aligni fits the bill.
About Applied Information
Applied Information was created to meet the needs of industries blindly investing into well-intentioned practices, without the information based on real data that is needed to make effective investment and operations decisions. The team has approached this opportunity armed with decades of technical and business experience. By further leveraging in-house industry experts, the AI family has grown to create unique, effortless, and reliable solutions for each client in their various applications and industries.