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Dynamic Manufacturing Solutions’ inventory software makes life easier for manufacturers

Partnerships with NAIT and Microsoft help growing Edmonton-based tech company increase its profile

Jan 1, 2012

by Geoff Morgan

DYNAMIC MANUFACTURING SOLUTIONS (No. 1 on the 2012 Alberta’s Fastest Growing Companies) got its big break by cleaning up a mess. Weldco Beales Manufacturing asked the Edmonton-based company to fix a botched software installation in 2008 that was causing chaos rather than accurately tracking the company’s inventory.

Dynamic Manufacturing Solutions founders (l-r) Mark Hamblin, Don Dyck and Marc Driessen at the Weldco-Beales Manufacturing facility
Photograph by John Gaucher

The job took six months but now everything at Weldco’s facility – from the drill bits to the pieces of steel and even the welders’ name tags – is marked with a bar code. Dynamic Manufacturing Solutions (DMS) installed 20 computer terminals encased in acrylic plastic throughout the fabrication shop so welders can use the attached handheld scanners to record the jobs they’re doing, the time it takes and the tools they’re using. As a result, every piece of equipment in use at any time is automatically recorded and inventoried on a central computer server. “If there’s a quality issue, I can tell you who did it, when they did it and go through the whole quality history,” says DMS president Mark Hamblin.

Since that first installation, DMS’s bar-code-based software has been used as far away as the U.K. and Estonia, and the company has opened a second Edmonton office as well as one in Barrie, Ontario. DMS is also a Microsoft partner and vendor and provides IT support to manufacturers. It’s a business strategy that enabled the company to grow from three people in 2008 (Hamblin founded the company with Marc Driessen and Don Dyck) to 16 employees this year. DMS is also Alberta’s fastest-growing company, increasing its revenues by 120 per cent in just the last year. Next year might be even better, according to Hamblin. “There’s more room to grow,” he says.

DMS targets labour-intensive manufacturing companies and provides hi-tech software packages to save them time. There’s no doubt on Weldco’s part that it has saved them plenty of it – and some money, too. Since DMS installed its barcode-based software system for Weldco, the heavy-equipment manufacturer reassigned three full-time employees from the payroll department to other jobs in the company. “But the real savings come when the auditors ask for information,” says Sinclair Davidson, the Weldco employee responsible for managing its inventory. Now, he can access up-to-the-minute inventory data on his desktop without even putting the accountant on hold.

DMS’s management team attributes much of its growth to word-of-mouth referrals. In fact, the company doesn’t even have a sales team – an unusual situation for a company that just posted 205 per cent annualized revenue growth over the last three years. The company’s work with Weldco Beales, which is owned by NorTerra Inc., an Inuit and Inuvialuit-owned holding company, has led to work for another NorTerra company, Braden Burry Expediting. DMS is also working with Magna International, a Canadian auto-manufacturing conglomerate.

DMS is also boosting its profile among Alberta manufacturers by running demonstrations at NAIT’s Shell Manufacturing Centre. “We have hundreds of managers of local businesses coming through our centre every month taking training,” says Neil Wenger, the centre’s electronics technologist. Hamblin says the partnership is a “win-win” because the exposure NAIT provides DMS is targeted at potential customers for the company: “Our software is in there to help NAIT teach manufacturers what they could be doing better.”

But the ability to get by without a formal sales and marketing team hasn’t blinded Hamblin to the fact that DMS could use one. Indeed, he considers it the company’s “current weak spot” and notes it will change in the year ahead. “There are only so many referrals that we’re going to get.”

The company may get some help in beefing up its market presence from a powerful ally: Microsoft. Among all the vendors in Canada, DMS is one of three finalists in the customer service category for Microsoft’s Impact Awards, which recognize outstanding Microsoft partner companies. That recognition should make the company an easy sell for a salesperson – as soon as it hires one.

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