How Delta Development Team effortlessly stays in stock with Katana
Delta Development Team Inc. manufactures portable refrigerators for the transportation of blood. They switched from using only QuickBooks Desktop to a setup of Katana integrated with QuickBooks Online, giving them live inventory tracking and planning as well as a structured and unbroken manufacturing process.
The biggest thing was being able to track our materials and then plan for them. In our old system using Quickbooks Desktop, we didn't really have both pieces talking to each other correctly."
Alexander Blanchard, Operations Coordinator at Delta Development Team
Katana’s inventory planner enabled the Delta Development Team to manage manufacturing via live materials tracking and accessible planning
Use of the Shop Floor App helped streamline and optimize their manufacturing process
Taking advantage of Katana’s multilocation functionality to cope with strict quality control
About Delta Development Team
Based in Tucson, Arizona, Delta Development Team is an American company that produces medical refrigeration units for the portable transportation of blood.
Chatting with Alexander Blanchard, the Operations Coordinator at Delta Development Team, we learned that the company started out by making large refrigerators called Tricons, which are large shipping units used by the military. Then, two years ago, they developed APRU, the Autonomous Portable Refrigeration Unit, the world’s most portable, FDA-listed blood and vaccine refrigerator. The APRU has since become their main product.
Alexander implemented Katana in Delta Development Team’s fulfillment process and is in charge of purchasing and inventory management for all of their materials. We spoke with him further about the company’s overall experience with Cloud Manufacturing Software.
Hurdles to overcome
Before implementing Katana, Alexander told us that the main struggle for Delta Development Team was keeping track of materials — planning for the future without knowing what was currently available.
To keep track of materials, our COO had a pen, pencil and his memory — ‘OK, I’m pretty sure we have all of these, so we’ll need more of this in a month’, – and that’s simply not a good system. So when I started, I wanted to get Katana up and running, so that we’re utilizing it and keeping track of our materials. That was the biggest need, and I think we’ve done a pretty good job of that.”
According to Alexander, the manufacturing process was another area that needed improvement. The product comprises several subassemblies, so there’s a pretty long bill of materials, and the manufacturing flow previously lacked structure.
In the past, it was just kind of loosey-goosey — ‘I’m just gonna make whatever I wanna make’ essentially.”
Finding a suitable solution
Even before Alexander joined the company, the Delta Development Team’s IT specialist researched various manufacturing software before choosing Katana Cloud Manufacturing as the most suitable option. Starting to work with Katana, Alexander found it an ideal solution to their challenges.
I had some experience in updating people’s ERPs and MRPs and I was actually really impressed with Katana… …what they really needed to do was keep track of their materials, and that’s definitely the thing that Katana has done best for us. Katana is the perfect size for this company.”
Live inventory tracking
As keeping track of materials was one of the biggest struggles for Delta Development Team, Katana quickly solved the issue via the live inventory management functionality, allowing the team to avoid blocking the manufacturing flow due to a lack of materials.
Inventory tracking has kind of been the big one for us. The thing that I love the most is the flags that I get, a little notification that says these materials are re-ordered. I’m constantly checking that list. And then I can see what material is going to run out in a month. If I have higher reorder points, you know, sometimes it’s a little different but being able to set that has been the biggest help.”
I will say over the past month or so, purchasing with our larger purchase orders that we’ve needed to make, the only time we’ve been late on items has been due to our vendors.”
We’re able to track where we are in the production process and we can kind of, you know, plan and tweak from there. When we do have things like vendor delays, things not getting to us on time, we’re able to see we still have materials to make these other subassemblies. We’re allowed to skip things and then work on other things. It’s really nice to have all those manufacturing orders planned out so we can just keep on moving on.”
Utilizing the Shop Floor App
Katana’s Shop Floor App is one of the features that has helped Delta Development Team improve their manufacturing process. They started with some basic functionalities and over time, kept improving their flow, exploring new possibilities.
Our production techs are pretty good about marking their manufacturing orders operations as completed, but one thing we’re not utilizing and what I want us to when we start the next product in a month or two — we’re not currently keeping track of how long it takes to do a manufacturing order.”
One of the other nice things that we really like about the Shop Floor App is that we can assign tasks. We have that really long list of manufacturing orders that I can see, but I can limit what the production tech can see. So they can only focus on the current manufacturing order.”
Even applying the basics of the Shop Floor App helped to improve the whole fulfillment flow.
It does feel like there’s more structure. Now people have a goal in mind like, ‘okay, I need to make six of this subassembly and then move on to the next one’.”
Mistakes have decreased in terms of materials consumed because people are a lot more aware of what needs to be consumed. What we really wanted to get out of Katana was just tracking materials at first, but I think we can use it a lot more. The part it’s done very well for us has been to at least stick to that aspect, keep track of the materials.”
Managing multiple locations
Another Katana functionality that Alexander finds really helpful for their business is multilocation. As a producer of blood and vaccine refrigerators for military and ambulances, Delta Development Team is required to keep pretty intense documentation of all of their materials and have very comprehensive quality control.
We have our main manufacturing location, where all the sales orders and purchasing is and we have a second location that we just call “quarantine” that we put our NCM into. NCM is nonconforming material. So anything that does fail the QC process…gets moved into quarantine.”
Having two locations is big for that. So we know which items, which materials subassemblies are being investigated and which ones we can actually use for production.”
Tracking serial numbers
Serial number tracking is crucial for electronics manufacturers. Delta Development Team was one of the companies that helped Katana to develop this feature by participating in beta-testing, and providing valuable feedback for further improvements. Here are Alexander’s experiences with the first iteration of serial numbers functionality:
Serial number tracking has definitely improved from where it started. At first, I was unable to attach serial numbers to make-to-stock orders, only to sales orders that were made-to-order. Now I can just assign serial numbers wherever I want.”
I can assign serial numbers to the end of the manufacturing order and I can track those to the sales orders and that’s perfect.”
Katana’s impact on the company
In general, Alexander says that Katana has been helpful at every step of their manufacturing process, and highlights the constant improvement and development of the software.
Overall my experience with Katana has been really really great. It’s easy to do stock adjustments, stock transfers, and stocktakes. I can easily see all the materials that we’re going to run out of in a month. So all of those things for me are awesome. They help me do my job.”
The other nice thing about Katana is that they’re constantly making updates for us. It feels like there are times when I was like ‘Hey, can we track serial numbers? Sure, Let me add you to the beta!’ Everything that we’ve kind of requested we’ve got. There hasn’t been an update that we don’t care about that. It’s always something that kind of helps us in some of our processes.”