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ERP, IT and TECH on the Agenda at Southeastern Summit in Charleston

Wednesday, August 8, 2018   (0 Comments)
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AICC boxmakers and suppliers convened in Charleston, S.C., July 31-August 2 for an in-depth look at industry ERP systems and current information technology systems that can improve their business operations. Gary Brewer, President and

 
 AICC Members received a warm welcome in Charleston, SC.

CEO of Package Crafters and Director for the AICC Southeast region, presided over the meeting and welcomed members to Charleston. Noting that the attendance of 114 members and guests was one of the highest in the Southeast region’s history of holding meetings, he credited the strength of the program and the charm of Charleston for encouraging members to participate. He added that Charleston’s program and panel of ERP suppliers is a prelude to the 2018 Corrugated Week in Indianapolis, when the same panelists will convene to discuss trends in ERP systems and their own innovations with their user groups.

The meeting opened with AICC Chairman Al Hoodwin commenting on his theme of “Strength in Numbers.” “I chose this theme because working through AICC we can accomplish more working together than individually within our own companies,” Hoodwin said. “Our program today featuring our industry’s software providers gives us a good example of how bringing our industry’s suppliers into our businesses collectively helps us all individually.” Following Hoodwin, AICC President Steve Young gave an update on AICC’s strategic objectives in the areas of membership, education and training, national and regional meetings and advocacy and governance. “I hope through this presentation you will come away with the knowledge that your Association is strong and focused on the success of the independent sector of our industry,” he said.

Your ERP System: All Facets of your Operations?

The principal part of the program was a panel of industry ERP providers who looked at box plant operations through the lenses of their systems’ capabilities, asking boxmakers to evaluate how effective their particular systems are in

 A panel of industry ERP providers who looked at box plant operations through the lenses of their
systems’ capabilities

covering their operations. Leading off the session was James Beneroff of Advantzware, a software design firm located in Yardley, Penn. Beneroff noted his long association with AICC as his father Seymour Beneroff and his company Squire Container Corp. was a founding member of the Association. He noted that because every box plant is different and frequently offers a range of products beyond corrugated that ERP systems have to be able to accurately account for these activities as well. His message to the audience was to ask software providers about the ease in customizing their programs to adapt to the industry’s realities today.

Following Beneroff, Darren Artillio of Amtech took the podium. Amtech, based in Fort Washington, Penn., has a current market penetration covering 53% of the plants in the industry and recently expanded into corrugator scheduling systems with the acquisition of Avista Solutions. Artillio reported that Amtech’s most recent developments are designed to provide an enhanced web portal between the boxplant and the end customer, making real-time ordering, order tracking and delivery information readily available for customers.

Jim Silianoff of Arden Software followed, discussing his company’s focus on integrating box design software to existing ERP systems to improve workflow to better manage the design and sales process. He said an important measurement not often tracked by box plants is the design hit ratio. “It’s important to know the hit rate of your designers’ work,” he said. “Your design department can be putting out the best designs, but what percentage of these are turning into orders,” he asked. He also demonstrated Arden’s storefront capabilities which allow customers to choose from a library of basic designs, set dimensions, upload and approve graphics and check out pay for the order.

Nick Benkovich of EFI followed, with a report on EFI’s costing and production “ecosystem.” One advantage of comprehensive ERP systems, he said, was to allow owners to understand the profitability of the principal accounts. “I can ask any owner who their top 10 customers are by revenue, and they’ll know,” he said. “They are not likely to be able to name the top 10 customers by profitability,” adding that the ability to “fire a customer” is important in any business if that customer is unprofitable.

Rounding out the panel was Dana Disney of Kiwiplan, Cincinnati, Ohio, who emphasized Kiwi’s capabilities to interface with machine manufacturers and related financial software packages to offer a 360-degree view of the economics of plant operations. He said Kiwi’s system offers material management for related packaging products, tracks OEE information and will interface easily with design software such as Arden, Esko, HP and others.

The panel was followed by a Q&A discussion moderated by Mark Williams, president of Cauthorne Paper in Ashland, Virginia. Mark is a past chairman of AICC and is former owner of Richmond Corrugated.

IT for Small Biz

Rounding out the morning was Corey Babka, a small business technology consultant from The Marks Group in Philadelphia. Babka discussed a range of general business technologies that can help small businesses become more efficient in their operations and improve customer service. He cautioned about various ransomware attacks, and warned that it’s not a matter of if this might happen, but when. “We see reports every day of new ransomware attacks. It’s a serious issue.” One antidote to the problem was ensuring that all employees are trained on “computer hygiene,” meaning they understand not to open attachments or images sent from unknown sources. He said investment in IT tools are useful in that they help small businesses look and operate “bigger than they are.” He said cloud-based CRM programs like Zoho, and on-premise ones like Goldmine and ACT are good to help manage sales processes and prospects.

 
 Attendees toured the Boeing facility where the 787 Dreamliner is manufactured.

Following a trade fair/lunch in which ERP participants had tables to further discuss their systems, the group departed for a tour of the North Charleston, S.C., Boeing facility where the 787 Dreamliner is produced. The tour was arranged by Chuck Fienning and Ted Fienning of Sumter Packaging.

A golf tournament followed on Thursday, August 2, at Patriots Point Links. The winning foursome consisted of Gary Cooke, Stafford Cutting Dies; Ben Liskey,

The winning golf foursome consisted of Gary Cooke, Stafford Cutting Dies; Ben Liskey, Haire Group; Sean Peickert, Haire Group; and Shawn Watkins, A.G. Stacker.

Haire Group; Sean Peickert, Haire Group; and Shawn Watkins, A.G. Stacker.

Sponsors of the Southeastern Summit included:

  • Platinum: Advantzware
  • Gold: Poteet Printing Systems
  • Silver: Bobst
  • Bronze: Southeastern Packaging
  • Reception Sponsors: Equipment Finance, Fujifilm, Young Shin
  • Breakfast Sponsors: Arden Software, Cascades Sonoco, SUN Automation
  • Meeting & Lunch Sponsors: Advantzware, Amtech, Arden Software, EFI, Kiwiplan
  • Sign Sponsor: Complete Design & Packaging
  • Golf Lunch: Haire Group
  • Beverage Cart Sponsors: A.G. Stacker, Alliance Machine Systems, Stafford Cutting Dies
  • Contest Hole Sponsors: Fosber, Lewisburg Printing Co., Mitsubishi Heavy Industries
  • Golf Hole Sponsors: Alliance Machine Systems, Automatan, Creative Packaging, Haire Group, JB Machinery, JM Fry, Package Crafters, Southeastern Packaging

For more information about AICC’s Southeastern Summit or any AICC Summit or National Meeting, visit www.aiccbox.org/calendar or contact Laura Mihalick, Senior Meeting Manager, at lmihalick@aiccbox.org.

AICC Members received a warm welcome in Charleston, SC.