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Analog Tech Manufacturer Improves Cost Control with MRP Software
Case Studies
5 min read

Analog Tech Manufacturer Improves Cost Control with MRP Software

Philadelphian split-flap display manufacturer Oat Foundry implemented MRP software and improved material planning, profitability, and overall visibility within their operation. “There were a bunch of products that I looked into and trialed but nothing was comparable to MRPeasy,” says Sean Rossiter, President.


Bringing analog technology back to the modern world

Oat Foundry from Philadelphia manufactures custom split-flap displays much like those traditionally used in airports or train stations to convey departure and arrival information. Although nostalgia plays a big role in the business, split-flap displays have several advantages over LED displays or TVs: they provide high visibility and a wide viewing angle in most lighting conditions, they consume little or no power while static, and they draw attention by making a distinct flapping sound whenever information on the display changes.

The company was founded in 2013 by six engineering college graduates. After completing several engineering design and support jobs ranging from furniture making to cold brew coffee machines, they were hired by a local restaurant to prototype a split flap solution for displaying order numbers. Giving a fresh perspective to a piece of 20th-century analog technology, the team fell in love and decided to make the split-flap display their signature product. In addition to the traditional letter-and-number-based split flaps, Oat Foundry has also developed the Picture Flap, an image-based analog flap display.

Today, Oat Foundry is a 17-person team that has sold hundreds of displays to all corners of the world. And although their products are sought after worldwide, Oat Foundry is still a Philly company through and through.

“We source as much of our materials as possible from local suppliers,” says Sean Rossiter, President. “Most of us are from the area and we take pride in supporting our local manufacturing scene.”

Comparing different solutions to find the incomparable

Being on top of everything from product development and design to purchasing, production, and shipping is not an easy task. At first, Oat Foundry tried to do it all with multiple sets of interconnected spreadsheets, which worked just fine when the company was still young. However, while the spreadsheets grew increasingly complicated as the company expanded, they started exhibiting serious limitations.

“We needed a more integrated system for managing the business,” Rossiter says. “I wanted to be able to see our costs and margins job-by-job, tie all of the production costs to an invoice, see what’s outstanding, what our cash flow is going to be like – to have everything connected.”

Rossiter started to look for dedicated manufacturing management software, going through an array of solutions in the course of a few months. He found that the solutions on the market mostly belonged to one of two categories: expensive and too complex, or affordable but too simplistic. Finally, he found a product that was precisely in the sweet spot of functionality, price, and user-friendliness.

“There were a bunch of products that I looked into and trialed,” he says. “But nothing was comparable to MRPeasy.”

The software puts everything in one place

The implementation started in October 2022 and by the end of December, the new software was live. Although they had limited previous experience with MRP/ERP software, their engineering mindset helped them figure everything out by themselves.

“We first set up subassemblies and used them to build the final, top-level assembly while also figuring out how to customize these parts,” Rossiter recalls. “Now we can copy a bill of materials from our engineering documentation and simply change the quantities in MRPeasy whenever an order comes in.”

The new system was well-received throughout the operation. Even though it meant that assembly staff needed to track more things than before, the system connected all the departments and made vital data instantly accessible to all the parties.

“MRPeasy put everything in one place, which I think plenty of people appreciate,” Rossiter says. “It allows us to generate reports that are really informative and that we can share across our leadership team. Plus, it makes invoicing much easier as invoices can be automatically populated with the necessary information.”

Efficiency and profitability have increased

In addition to the software’s reporting and invoicing capabilities, Rossiter highlights its forecasting functionality which enables the team to quickly calculate their material requirements and make sure that critical materials would always be available for production.

“We can enter what we need to build and instantly see what we’re going to need for it,” Rossiter says.

Efficiency improvements have also found their way to the shop floor as workers use the software to record their operation times. This enables managers to identify bottlenecks in the production process and eliminate them. Finally, MRPeasy’s excellent cost analysis tools help management analyze profitability per job and improve their bottom line.

“The financial analysis capabilities of the software are hugely beneficial,” Rossiter states.

Although the company does not experience many quality-related problems, the traceability provided by the new system helps them identify the root cause of an issue and quickly check if other products have been affected.

“Customers receive a product that is easily traceable,” Rossiter says. “Knowing which lot a part came from makes it much easier to fix issues on the rare occasion something comes up.”

To other small manufacturers struggling with planning and management, Rossiter wholeheartedly recommends checking out MRP software. According to him, collecting and using accurate data regarding the costs, production efficiency, and profitability of the operation is crucial for the success of any company.

To those concerned about costs, he says: “MRPeasy is not a massive investment by any means, we only pay about $2,000 a year for it”.

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Madis Kuuse

Madis is an experienced content writer and translator with a deep interest in manufacturing and inventory management. Combining scientific literature with his easily digestible writing style, he shares his industry-findings by creating educational articles for manufacturing novices and experts alike. Collaborating with manufacturers to write process improvement case studies, Madis keeps himself up to date with all the latest developments and challenges that the industry faces in their everyday operations.

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