Valley Forge was struggling with an MIS designed for commercial print that did not meet the complex needs of the business
The size of the business meant that inventories of dies, raw materials and finished goods were large and hard to track
Materials and tooling are stored in many different places.
Label Traxx’s label-specific workflow is able to manage the entire business
Tooling and raw materials are tracked with ease
Finished goods moving into and out of stock are managed accurately
Valley Forge is able to supply to the pharmaceutical industry with confidence in its systems
Label Traxx stores all locations for tooling and other materials
Historical data is stored for future reference
Accounting is integrated and profitability is monitored through data collection
As label converters go, Valley Forge Tape & Label has been around a long, long time. Opened in 1962 by Paul Myers, Sr., the company began by printing tapes on a Markem printer in the Myers basement. The Myers children helped in the business after school. In 1975, Myers’ son, Paul Jr., and his step-brother, Dennis Hulton, began managing the company. Today, Myers is President and Hulton is Vice-President and General Manager.
From its humble beginning in the Myers’ basement, Valley Forge Tape & Label has grown to a $10 million, privately held business providing labels to mid-Atlantic and northeastern US manufacturers from a suburban Philadelphia plant in historic Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. The 30,000 square foot factory obviously has expanded significantly through time, and presses are scattered throughout the factory in a series of smaller areas that provide cozy work environments and foster crew cooperation. Some 50 Valley Forge employees work two shifts daily running ten presses to produce prime and pharmaceutical labels, plus a wide variety of special products.
Its half-century in business creates problems at Valley Forge Tape & Label that are not seen at many label converters. For example, the company has detailed die records in its MIS system for nearly 7000 dies—mostly rotary dies, with some print cylinders. Old and rarely used dies are kept in the company warehouse, but most—including more than 1000 four-inch dies—are kept in cabinets scattered throughout the plant, where they can be readily accessed for production jobs. The nature of this inventory problem means that press operators and production planners must be able to quickly determine whether the necessary die exists, and then to locate it. Some years ago, dies were grouped by size, but today the location of a particular die depends more upon where storage space was available when the die was purchased. Commenting on the complexity of the system, Dooley says: “Our situation presents a complex database problem, but Label Traxx handles it with ease. The search features incorporated in the system is invaluable for a situation such as ours. And the notation features tell us, for example, exactly when we used every die and on what job ticket, going back more than ten years. The system handles our die inventory problem quite easily, and with amazing accuracy.”
Valley Forge has stocked more than 1400 raw material items to keep its ten presses busy, presenting still another accounting and inventory problem for its MIS system. Add to that some 1500 products produced for customers and put in stock, and Valley Forge needs a recordkeeping mechanism that is flexible yet robust. Dooley comments: “Since we installed it, Label Traxx has never let us down. We rely on it to manage virtually every aspect of our business.”
“The flexibility of Label Traxx,” says Dooley, “becomes important because of how our business operates. For example, when a job is estimated, the estimator assigns it to a particular press. Then when the detailed scheduling is done, the job may be actually done on a different press. The system lets us quickly change the files to ensure that we have accurate records of just how the job was done. Because we do labels for pharmaceutical suppliers, detailed and accurate records are a must. Label Traxx gives us and our customers confidence in this area. It also helps maintain a permanent record, with an actual sample, of every job we’ve ever run.” Despite his having joined the company well before computers, Dooley is quick to embrace the latest technology to assist Valley Forge maintain production. Recently Valley Forge Tape & Label installed Auto Traxx, a direct data encoder that feeds usage and inventory data into Label Traxx directly from the press.
Dooley directly supervises Label Traxx on a day-to-day basis, together with Nancy Canale, the Valley Forge Office Manager, who is responsible for functions such as training and customer support. Says Dooley: “Everyone in the plant uses Label Traxx.”
Despite their long usage of the software and their success with it, Dooley and Canale both regard training as important, and take advantage of Label Traxx training sessions to learn the latest capabilities of the software and to better understand parts of their system that might be underused. Says Dooley: “Label Traxx is the basis for running our business. We rely on it in every phase of our operation. It has never let us down.”