The Secrets to a Long-Lasting ERP Implementation

Infor VISUAL enables Tube Specialties, a fabricator of complex tube assemblies, to improve their overall productivity and shop efficiency, and support customer requests without spending excessive time and absorbing additional costs. 

Tube Specialties, Inc. (TSI; Tempe, AZ) is a world-class tube assembly manufacturer for the aerospace industry, focusing on complex and challenging tube assemblies. Currently employing 97 employees, the shop is gifted in all aspects of tube fabricating and assembly, including bending, end forming, machining, welding, brazing, swaging and non-destructive testing for tube assemblies.

Becoming a certified aerospace OEM supplier is a complex endeavor that requires the strictest regulatory compliances. With the assistance of an integrated QA system configured as part of the Infor VISUAL suite from Infor (New York, NY), TSI has accreditations in ISO 9001:2008 and AS9100, plus NADCAP certifications in Welding, Heat Treating and Non-Destructive Testing.

The tube manufacturer evaluated various ERP systems before choosing Infor VISUAL in 1995. A great amount of importance was placed on a system being user friendly. In fact, TSI originally implemented Infor VISUAL without the help of consultants. Only one employee attended formal training, using a ‘train the trainer’ strategy to educate the other employees.

In this shop, lead time for some production parts may take up to six months or longer to complete based on internal and external processes. From the time material is ordered until the finished part is shipped, TSI can see everything and exactly where they are within every work order in Infor VISUAL.

An overview of how the Infor VISUAL system operates.

Because their major customers typically send purchase orders only a few weeks before they need delivery, the shop manufactures products in advance according to customer forecasts that are updated weekly. Once the forecast is entered into Infor VISUAL, a planner runs the material requirements planning (MRP) function daily to create a shortage report for purchased and fabricated material requirements.

The purchasing department prints a daily shortage report to project future shortages and, using the Vendor RFQ Module, emails the quote request to the approved vendors. These vendor quotes are then entered into Infor VISUAL. After receiving quotes from outside vendors, the information is combined with the information already in the system (such as labor costs and how long each operation will take to manufacture the part). The software uses this information to determine the unit cost for the job. This process verifies that all product prices are based on accurate costing.

Next, the MRP module determines when the various sub-components of the order are needed to meet the target shipping date. The module tells purchasing when to buy material to make their sub-assemblies, when the shop floor must start the sub-assemblies, and when the final assembly must be started to deliver the part on time. The system generates a traveler, listing all the operations required to produce the part. The traveler then includes a bar code for each operation.

When an operation starts, the direct labor employee scans their ID badge along with the traveler barcode to automatically capture their actual work order time. By comparing estimated times to actual time, the cost analysis perfectly measures efficiency levels plus, as a by-product, the shop schedule is automatically updated.

Infor VISUAL’s patented scheduling and throughput modules assess production floor capacity levels and bottlenecks as well as proactively evaluating profitability of all shop floor areas using ‘what-if’ scenarios.

When customers visit the Tempe facility, they can see exactly where their parts are in work-in-progress (WIP) as well as the estimated times associated with the remaining operations through Infor VISUAL. More than one impressed customer on the shop floor has been heard to say, “Your ERP does that!?”

Infor VISUAL documents all manufacturing process steps, from drawings and change notices to supplier requirements and certifications, from purchase orders to manufacturing documents such as process routings, and from test procedures, equipment calibration and maintenance records to non-conformance reports and disposition forms.

An overview of the Infor VISUAL Quality Management system.

The QA system tracks and helps to develop processes in design, pre-production, production, and post-production quality tasks by analyzing all quality data, including Gage RR studies, PPAP, APQP, SPC, FMEAs, Tool and Gage Check in/out, and Product Data Collection.

From the built-in recall system to the skills and training matrix, Infor VISUAL is an end-to-end integrated QA system that accommodates the entire Document Control system. The company uses the Audit Manager for internal audit tracking and scheduling. Also, the use of the Corrective Action Module to issue and track Corrective Action Reports (CARs) is a hugely beneficial at audit time.

All of the accounting modules are fully integrated and, because the company has used Infor VISUAL for years, all historical data is available. Additionally, the company’s professional support colleagues in banking, outside accounting firm, lawyers, and others find that Infor VISUAL’s financial reporting meets all of their expectations.

The Accounting Department uses the monthly WIP Valuation report to track how long a work order has remained in in progress. If any length of time in processing seems unusual, Production Control is requested to verify whether the work order is still active and, if not, determine which corrective action should be taken.

Finally, Infor VISUAL exports the weekly payroll data, which is easily uploaded to the company’s payroll provider, saving them time and duplicate entries.

Tube Specialties, Inc., 1721 W. 10th Street, Tempe, AZ 85281, 480–968‑2453, Fax: 480−968−0300,

Infor, 641 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10011, 646−336−1700,

Andy Pratico

Andy Pratico is the international business development manager at Synergy Resources, 320 Carleton Avenue, Suite 6200, Central Islip, NY 11722, 631-665-2050, Fax: 631-665-2084,,


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