How GJ Motorsports saves 4 hours of weekly admin with Katana API automations
GJ Motorsports has used Katana to optimize and simplify their manufacturing workflow, meaning less human intervention, hours saved weekly, and more space for the business to grow. Read their story below.
Since implementing Katana, we’ve grown our product offering, and that wouldn't be possible without it. It has freed up my time so I can focus on designing and creating more products. It also means that I am not working until 11 pm every night.
Thomas Judge, Owner at GJ Motorsports
With Katana API, GJ Motorsports has completely automated order management and shipping processes with the help of Zapier connections
They have streamlined all shop floor operations with Katana’s Shop Floor App
And they now have a complete overview of their materials and products to never experience a stock-out again
About GJ Motorsports
GJ Motorsports is a Chicago-based aftermarket automotive parts manufacturer making accessories, primarily for pickup trucks. They make lighting products in their manufacturing facility where the main machining process occurs, while a few operations, such as anodizing and powder coating, and materials, are outsourced. In Katana, Thomas has 222 products and 120 materials, of which around 60 are sellable materials, and the rest are used for sub-assemblies.
Thomas spends his days in the office, doing most of the design, sourcing, and procurement work. He also does a lot of work in Katana, dealing with order management, customer service, accounting, and more. His background is in software development, so he’s used his knowledge and skills to automate many workflows and ended up saving two full workdays every month by not having to do admin work.
GJ Motorsports employs make-to-stock batch manufacturing and has an equal rate of B2B and B2C sales. GJ Motorsports also have one shop floor worker who takes care of the assembly, manufacturing, and shipping processes. They use Katana, OpenCart e-commerce platform, and ShipStation for perfectly automated processes.
The challenge they faced
To run a successful make-to-stock manufacturing business and sell their products online, GJ Motorsports needed software that helps to track their inventory and manufacturing processes in real-time. This includes being able to commit specific items to sales orders and keep track of materials running low.
Tom often ended up in situations where they ran out of materials and needed to delay manufacturing until a new purchase order was in place and items were delivered. Having a live view of inventory levels was an absolute must for both materials and products.
The new software solution had to have either a native integration with their e-commerce platform OpenCart or an opportunity to build a custom solution via API or automation tools (such as Zapier, Inegromat, and CartRover).
I had configured some automations between OpenCart and UPS WorldShip to deal with the shipping but there were no manufacturing modules or packing lists, and overall it was very clunky.
The solution they found
Over the course of last year, GJ Motorsports has completely automated its order management and shipping process with the help of Katana API and Zapier connections. Other features like Katana Shop Floor App and real-time inventory overview have allowed them to reduce their admin work by 4 hours every week.
I used to spend around 15 minutes per individual order on admin work, and I would be doing it all – preparing the packing lists, labels, and shipping. Now I do not need to touch any of that. Instead, I can put this time into designing new products and developing the business.
In case a sellable product is about to go out of stock, Tom just needs to create a manufacturing order in Katana. By the time a manufacturing order gets created all raw materials have already arrived in the inventory ready to be used in the production of the next batch.
1. Ability to monitor shop floor operations with the Katana Shop Floor App
GJ Motorsports are make-to-stock batch manufacturers, therefore the products are made when the inventory starts to run low. The manufacturing order is created in Katana and then the shop floor employee sees what needs to be done in what amounts.
Tom has two stations set up on the shop floor, one for the operator and one dedicated to a machine, and from there the operator sees the direct workflows as well. They will check the manufacturing order – how many need to be made and whether all materials are available – and then schedule the day around it.
Once the order is completed, shipping automation is triggered – so the manufacturing inventory will be updated and products will become available for shipping in ShipStation.
I find the Shop Floor App very useful. We can set assignments, and to make one product requires three to four different jobs and they can just click and go and I can then check the manufacturing order to see what’s in progress.
2. Automating repetitive tasks and shipping workflows with Zapier and Katana API
Here’s their current sales and shipping workflow.
An order comes into their OpenCart e-commerce site, then it goes into Zapier and is directed to QuickBooks, ShipStation, and Katana. From there, all things related to Katana are triggered – orders are scanned once per hour and Katana finds eligible sales orders that it can pick up for shipping. An eligible order is a sales order where all the required items are in stock and the status of the order is “not shipped”.
When it picks up an order, it triggers Zapier to release orders to ShipStation so the operator can see them. They have a dashboard on the shop floor where the operator can then see when an order is ready to be shipped, then he goes into ShipStation and ships it. Once that’s done, the order gets marked in Katana as delivered.
To make this all work seamlessly, Tom has employed a mix of Katana API queries and Zapier connections. An API query scans the orders, and based on that it tells Katana that the order is packed. Once that is done, Zapier comes in – a webhook from Katana to Zapier communicates to ShipStation that the order is ready for shipping.
I don’t have to do anything myself anymore – as soon as the operator marks the manufacturing order as complete, the dashboard on the floor says whether these orders are ready to ship. Once he’s done, he puts the items on the shelf and within an hour the dashboard will update and will release jobs for the shipping computer so they can be shipped via Ship Station.
This all means that I need to spend less time on that sort of stuff and have more time to actually develop my business.
3. Regular stock reports with Easy Insight
One of GJ Motorsports’ suppliers who makes wiring harnesses keeps them in the GJ warehouse for reselling, so Tom is employing Katana’s integration with Easy Insight to send weekly inventory reports to the supplier.
I am also using Easy Insight integration to create a weekly report for one of my suppliers who keeps their finished goods in my warehouse.
Every Friday night I send him a report of what is in the warehouse automatically, based on the stock levels in Katana. He can see the projection of the inventory required, are we behind or on time, and the stock levels of his items without needing to come to the facility.
Keeping costs low and customers happy with Katana automation
When asked what factors influenced his choice of Katana, Tom responded that he needed either an API or native support for his e-commerce platform. He did try Katana’s competitor platforms but they lacked Zapier (or other connector apps) or the API.
It was much easier to integrate Katana the way we wanted it, and to get the data in and out of Katana via the API and Zapier. We also needed a connection to ShipStation that was not possible with other software but was possible with Katana + Zapier. In Katana, the workflows are highly customizable and could be set up in the way we wanted.
Katana’s price point was similar to other competitors and more affordable than another employee who’d be working with admin work. On top of that, there are fewer mishaps with customer orders, and items are always received, manufactured, and shipped on time, increasing customer satisfaction.
With the help of Katana, the GJ Motorsports team was able to:
Simplify work for their operator, with assignments easily created and tracked
Automate daily processes, so they require as little human involvement as possible, particularly order completion and shipping
Extract data for weekly reports with no manual work needed
Get a more affordable manufacturing solution for their specific requirements
Automotive manufacturers can use their engineering bill of materials to track production in real-time and use batch and lot tracking features for efficient quality assurance and supply chain management.