Enterprise Resource Planning software, or ERP, is by no means a new addition to the industrial toolbox. Among manufacturers generally, it has been the standard software tool for efficient production for decades. ERP systems automatically pull together a company’s logistics, distribution, shipping, processing, procurement, and sales information into a single software package and coordinate all that data for quality production intelligence. It is hard to imagine bringing any product to market today without it.

The manufacturing environment is simply too complex and involves too many components for uncoordinated efforts to stand a chance. ERP is the central system connecting all of the components necessary to get a product produced as efficiently and as cost-effectively as possible.

Among metalcasters, though, the penetration of this software tool — and the centralized, connected mindset it demands — has been relatively slow.

“When we came into the market in 2000, we discovered that the foundry industry had not really embraced the ERP methodology,” according to Stephan Hoppe, president of Guardian Software System, a Wisconsin-based ERP developer that specializes in programs for foundry operations.

“We came from environments where the ERP mentality is one that is meeting customer requirements, being flexible, being lean,” he said. “We discovered very quickly that our software was a really different sort of animal for the foundries. They weren’t used to that. We were introducing them to a whole different way of thinking.”