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Howes Engineering Passes ISO Audit and Maximizes its IT Use with VISUAL Quality from Lilly Software Associates


30 April 2003, Hampton, NH (USA) — In February, Howes Engineering passed an ISO audit and noted that the auditors were highly impressed by the company’s professionalism, effective management, and its use of information technology, particularly its application of VISUAL Quality, the quality management software from Lilly Software Associates. Auditors commented on “the excellent harmonization” of Howes’ VISUAL Quality program with the ISO 9001:2000 standard, as well as noting the system’s ability to “capture metrics that allow for effective analysis of internal process outputs.”


Howes Engineering manufactures and assembles precision-machined parts for industries, including medical parts and devices, load cell elements, chromatography, ophthalmology, automotive, cryogenics, and vacuum tubes. A leader in adopting new technology and managing for continuous improvement, the company has been a Lilly Software customer since 1994 and operates both VISUAL Enterprise and VISUAL Quality. Howes Engineering has also been ISO 9002 certified since 1994.


Last year, when the International Organization for Standardization mandated that companies upgrade their certification to the new ISO 9001:2000 standard before the end of 2003, Howes Engineering put its technology to the test. It began making the necessary upgrades last October and recently passed the audit well ahead of the deadline.


“We strive to be leaders in our industry, which is why we didn’t hesitate to meet the new requirements,” explains Chris Maloof, Vice President of Operations at Howes Engineering.


“Because we had the prior certification, the process wasn’t as overwhelming as it could have been. Having VISUAL Quality and VISUAL Enterprise to drive our operations and manage our data helped the audit proceed smoothly.”


The new ISO 9001:2000 standard requires a more strategic approach to creating quality objectives, ensuring companies clearly define goals for their organizations. Howes is committed to increasing delivery performance, decreasing the cost of quality, and minimizing customer complaints. “We try to establish goals that will help our company be successful for the long-term,” says Maloof. The company uses VISUAL to measure its progress and performance toward these objectives.


The company has taken advantage of key modules in the quality system to manage documents and configurations, develop inspection and control plans, calibrate equipment, prepare control charts and reports, perform SPC, track product data, manage vendor performance, nonconformance and corrective action, and manage productivity and employee training. From fifteen terminals on the shop floor, employees enter and track data in a single database, avoiding redundancy. Online entry allows management to view real-time status updates, which alerts them to any potential problems and enables them to handle issues before they significantly affect costs or on-time delivery. The system ensures that employees perform tasks consistently and reliably, which is particularly important for a successful quality program and for ISO certification.


“The audit went well, not only because of our use of VISUAL Quality, but due to the system’s integration with VISUAL Enterprise,” says Maloof. “Integration allows us to perform many tasks seamlessly and transparently. For example, employees use the preventative maintenance module in the quality system to easily set up criteria for routine machine maintenance. The system then automatically copies the pertinent data into VISUAL Enterprise, which issues a work order and inserts the task into the production schedule. We also use manufacturing tools in the enterprise software to meet contract review requirements and guide our customer order entry process and revision control.”


“Lilly Software has provided us with a rigid system to support our processes and ensure that we perform operations accurately. With VISUAL, we can ensure this repetitiveness and easily show how we gather data, which is what the auditors look for. We have a great tool at our fingertips and we’re simply trying to get the highest benefit from it that we can.”


Howes Engineering uses technology to respond faster and more efficiently to production changes and customer demands. It is dedicated to providing opportunities for growth and development in the local community and focused on making its business successful. In addition to preparing for the upgraded ISO certification, Howes recently applied for and received a grant from the state of Massachusetts to help it implement a lean training program. Whether it is working with new corporate programs or business software, the company reinforces its commitment to technology and strategy through top management participation and training offered throughout the shop. Staying strong, even in a tight economy, Howes Engineering is exceptional at applying technology and making it work for productivity and profitability.


“We always look to continuously improve,” says Maloof. “The marketplace is not getting easier and we need to keep developing our company. Our use of information technology is what sets us apart.”

About Lilly Software Associates

Lilly Software Associates, Inc. provides a complete line of enterprise and supply chain solutions for manufacturers and distributors. The VISUAL Enterprise™ suite of products helps companies capture and analyze real-time data about all their business processes using ERP, Project Management, Business Performance Management, Quality Management, Customer Relationship Management, and Warehouse Management System capabilities. From award-winning software to strategies in Lean Manufacturing and TOC, Lilly Software offers companies the tools they need for higher productivity and profitability.

Most VISUAL® applications run on Windows® 98, Windows NT, Windows 2000, Windows XP, UNIX®, LINUX, Novell®, using SQLBase®, Microsoft SQL Server®, or ORACLE® relational databases.

Lilly Software has received many industry awards for its products, service, and financial growth since its inception. Most recently, the company has been voted one of the Top 10 Best of Breed solutions for manufacturing by readers of Consumer Goods Technology, listed in Software Magazine's Top 500, selected as a Top 100 Logistics Information Technology Provider in Inbound Logistics, listed in the Top 100 Application Vendors in Supply Chain e-Business, included in MSI's Top 100 for its eighth year, and ranked as one of Start magazine's Hottest Companies.

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