Solutions

West Paw Design

FileMaker Go for iPad helps automate business and save hundreds of thousands of dollars per year

Eco-friendly pet product manufacturer unleashes new manufacturing process with FileMaker Go for iPad

West Paw Design in Bozeman, MT (www.westpawdesign.com) keeps manufacturing local jobs, exporting to dozens of countries and saving hundreds of thousands of dollars annually using FileMaker Go

Overview

  • Driven by a passion for pets and the joy they bring, West Paw Design creates eco-friendly pet toys, beds and apparel that feature most innovative designs and use the best possible materials.

Industry

  • Manufacturer of high quality pet products: toys, beds, apparel

Solutions

  • Developed custom manufacturing and inventory automation solution using FileMaker Server and FileMaker Go for iPad

Benefits

  • Saved hundreds of thousands annually; maintained sustainable manufacturing; supported 10% annual growth; exported to 28 countries
West Paw Design
FileMaker Go for iPad helps West Paw Design track inventory and manage shipping.

West Paw Design in Bozeman, Montana, makers of eco-friendly toys, beds and apparel for four-legged friends, has discovered a dramatic new manufacturing productivity tool – FileMaker Go, the best-selling business database app for iPad and iPhone. FileMaker supports the company’s mission of creating safe, fun and durable products for dogs and cats, while also contributing to the “big picture,” environmentally and economically.

The entire business runs on FileMaker software integrating iPads, desktops and servers. With FileMaker, West Paw manages everything from order entry to purchasing, raw and finished inventory tracking, human resources, overseas tax calculations and shipping. At West Paw’s 31,000-foot production facility, 48 employees provide a potent example of how local manufacturers can thrive in a competitive global economy, supporting President Obama’s goal of doubling U.S. exports by 2015. The company exports to 28 countries and continues to grow at more than 10% per year. Montana also deemed West Paw the state’s Exporter of the Year.

Inventory
Employees scan barcodes to automate the manufacturing process.

Green is good

With sustainability in mind, West Paw uses organic, recycled and recyclable materials in its sewn and injection-molded products and streamlines its operations. It has reduced its environmental impact with a state-of-the-art, energy-efficient facility that uses Lean manufacturing, the “just in time” production system Toyota created to identify and eliminate waste. Lean manufacturing increases efficiency by optimizing the flow of materials and respecting individuals’ input and talents – a factor evident in the effusive pride of employees and their pets, the company’s official product testers.

Beyond Lean, West Paw realized that it could further increase manufacturing efficiency by going mobile with its FileMaker database solutions. On the production floor, raw materials advance from one station to the next in tote-bins or “kits” for sewing, injection molding or further assembly. For years, inventory managers carried clipboards, jotting down each kit’s contents and the raw materials consumed, tracking everything on paper for subsequent database re-entry. Managers carried bins of work in progress from station to station. When products went into finished goods inventory, customer service representatives sometimes jogged back to the shipping dock to let specialists know that a rush order was ready to go.

But today, iPads equipped with FileMaker Go automate the manufacturing process. As bins go through production, employees scan barcodes at each step using tiny, keyfob-sized Bluetooth scanners attached to their iPads. The FileMaker database, accessed on iPads and hosted in the back office, automatically deducts raw materials from inventory, advances kits to the next stage of production, moves products into finished goods inventory and alerts specialists when products are ready for packing and shipping. Then the production process kicks off again as new orders arrive.

Using FileMaker Go for iPad, we can take time that’s wasted on non-value added activities, free up employees for more meaningful work and add manufacturing jobs … jobs that allow individuals to genuinely add value based on their own unique expertise.

— Spencer Williams, President, West Paw Design
West Paw Design 3
Products' stocking levels are tracked and potential shortages flagged with FileMaker Go for iPad

Recent Exporter of the Year

At a time when many American manufacturing jobs are migrating overseas, West Paw is as busy and productive as ever. All products are 100% “Made in the USA,” including the super-durable Zogoflex material used in West Paw’s virtually indestructible toys.

“Governors, senators and other dignitaries often tour our facility to see firsthand how West Paw exemplifies the green growth and aggressive exporting needed from small- and medium-sized businesses to reinvigorate the U.S. economy,” says West Paw Design President Spencer Williams.

West Paw Design 4
"... mobilizing an enterprise ... system on the iPad in weeks, [is] simple and fast with FileMaker Go for iPad.”

Staying fleet of foot

Although the new FileMaker manufacturing system is sophisticated, it did not take long to develop. IT Support Specialist Chad Oster created FileMaker Go solution in-house in a few weeks, starting from scratch. He rolled out the initial database in one week, and then created scripts required for automating details such as work-in-progress inventory calculation.

“Imagine mobilizing an enterprise resource planning/manufacturing resource planning (ERP/MRP) system on the iPad in weeks, including everything from inventory tracking to shipping,” says Oster. “This type of ambitious business and IT feat is not only possible – it’s simple and fast with FileMaker Go for iPad.”

According to Williams, FileMaker Go is having a tremendous impact on productivity and efficiency. This includes saving the company hundreds of thousands of dollars per year in staff hours that can be reassigned to more meaningful tasks.

Management reporting and visibility have leapt to new levels. Williams and his team have an instant view into metrics that were almost impossible to track in the past. They can see if there are delays or issues at one manufacturing station, dissect and solve the problem based on employee input and revise the FileMaker database to automate the improved business process. That would take many months of software customization using an off-the-shelf ERP or MRP solution.

“From a high-level view, the USA needs to create jobs and be more economically viable in the world market,” says Williams. “Using FileMaker Go for iPad, we can eliminate time wasted on non-value added activities, free up employees for more meaningful work and add manufacturing jobs – not jobs involving the drudgery of moving materials around, but jobs that allow individuals to genuinely add value based on their own unique expertise.”

For FileMaker:

Kevin Mallon
Public Relations Manager
FileMaker Inc.
408-987-7227
kevin_mallon@filemaker.com
http://www.filemaker.com

For West Paw Design:

Spencer Williams
President
West Paw Design
406-585-0505
spencer@westpawdesign.com
http://www.westpawdesign.com