Tech helps defense contractors gain accuracy, speed

Earlier this week, I was looking at some of the manufacturing articles on the Today’s Motor Vehicles website. I came across an interesting one about a more streamlined way for defense contractors to have their products approved for R&D and manufacturing.

The National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining launched the V4 Institute. According to the article, the industry-led consortium’s mission is “to provide advanced assurance in product development and manufacturing through virtual verification, validation, and visualization.”

“With the creation of the V4 Institute, our goal is to arrive at a point in which rigorous research, engineering principles, and scientific and mathematical data all merge together to significantly increase the impact of current physical testing and even reduce the necessity of physical testing to meet the burden of proof,” said Ralph Resnick, NCDMM president and CEO said in the article.

While we don’t operate in the R&D aspect of the manufacturing world, we do understand the need for streamlining and accuracy when it comes to defense contractors. We also understand how technology and manufacturing software can aid in this process.

Over the years, Practical Software Solutions has partnered with several defense contractors as their Sage partner. I spoke with one of them this week to reflect on how important having accurate reporting is to the military people they serve.

Defense contractors and the military rely on accuracy

Government contractors in the manufacturing industry are in a constant battle between speed and accuracy. Contracts need to be completed on time without sacrificing quality, whether it’s the products themselves or the data that goes along with them.

defense contractors

Defense contractors like Industries of the Blind Greensboro need accurate reporting or a U.S. Navy ship could be stranded in port.

Lanee Kirby, the director of information technology and services with Industries of the Blind Greensboro, said as a distribution center for the Department of Defense, poor reporting to the government could lead to the military not getting the product they ordered, getting the wrong product, the wrong quantity or not realizing IOB has a product ready to ship.

The data IOB uses and their time-sensitive pick, pack and ship operation provides support to the U.S. military around the world. Even a small error could have a huge impact.

“I can hold a ship in dock because of a missing part or cause one of our servicemen to not have everything they need to defend our country — and this could be a life or death situation,” she said. “We distribute lamps, springs, cables and other supplies to the Department of Defense, but it has much more depth and consequences than that.”

ERP software helps defense contractors stay on task

Thirteen years ago, Kirby and her team at Industries of the Blind Greensboro began their search to implement a new software system to help tighten up their processes. Aside from their No. 1 concern (will it work with their interfaces for their visually impaired employees), IoB needed to make sure they had a product that could quickly and accurately assist their manufacturing, distribution and reporting.

In February 2009, Kirby’s team chose Sage 500 and the team at Practical Software Solutions and Sage to solve update and upgrade their manufacturing software. With its integration with Military Standard Requisitioning and Issue Procedures (MILSTRIP), Sage 500 allowed IoB to have more streamlined communication with the federal government.

“Sage 500 helps us with accurate reporting because it maintains our data in a fashion that is easily accessible to our company,” Kirby said. “We have the ability to pull many standard reports to fill our needs as well as create customized reports and views to fit both our needs and our customers’ needs. Sage 500 provides the ability to extract our data in about any way possible we need to and then have the ability to manipulate it in a custom report to suit customer requests.”

Their success with Sage 500 — and their commitment to both the visually impaired community in North Carolina’s Triad and to the U.S. military — earned Industries of the Blind Greensboro the Sage Customer Award for Community Stewardship in 2011.

That wasn’t IoB’s only victory: The company reduced its inventory by more than $1 million in less than a year and increased on-time deliveries by 5 percent.

Whether its Sage Enterprise Management or Sage 500, many of our government contractors have found the same success streamlining their businesses — and streamlining their reporting to the government. If you’re a government contractor and looking to improve your reporting, contact us today.

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