Plex Systems Review

Plex Systems, Inc.
Product:
Vendor:
Founded:
Headquarters:
Plex Smart Mfg.
Plex Systems, Inc.
1995
Troy, MI
Ownership:
Customers:
Deployment Model:
Free Trial:
Private
650+
Cloud
No
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Plex Smart Mfg. At A Glance

Good: Customizable to fit a manufacturer's agile and complex needs, real-time access to data and analytics, self-service mobile app for shop workers.
Bad: Not all features are offered in HCM module, learning curve for new users.
Bottom Line: Integrated software that help manufacturers automate their workflows, deliver high-quality products and make better business decisions.

Product Overview

The Plex Smart Manufacturing Platform is an integrated solution that helps manufacturers automate their business processes. It includes a manufacturing execution system (MES), an enterprise resource planning software (ERP), a supply chain management (SCM) solution and Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT) technology. Plex is deployed in the cloud and is scalable to meet a facility’s agile needs. Employees can also access the Plex Mobile app to capture data, update their work orders and perform other tasks.

Plex has many benefits, such as:

  • Design created by manufacturers with many years of experience in the field
  • Customizable options for unique needs and requirements
  • Ability to quickly respond to customer, market or other changes
  • Access to real-time data to make better business decisions

Features

This section will focus on the Plex ERP software, which includes all of the features of the manufacturing execution system (MES), plus the ERP modules. We review its key features below.

Production scheduling – Users can plan out their Materials Requirements Planning (MRP) process, including  forecasting materials they need based on scheduled downtime, maintenance and other factors. Users can also create finite production schedules where they can customize their rules, resource availability and other factors, and they can use a what-if scheduling scenario for additional insights. Finally, facilities can reduce over-production waste by relying on the digital Kanban scheduling feature.

Production management – There’s a real-time control panel for managing operations that uses color-coded statuses for each job. The module also includes features for plant and equipment maintenance, such as a standard maintenance, repair and operation (MRO) list for supplies or materials for each machine. In addition, users can monitor production activities using built-in dashboards that capture various metrics.

Inventory management – The track-and-trace feature maintains a digital trail of each stock for auditing purposes, such as its current location, who uses it and what’s it used for. There’s an integrated barcode scanning and printing feature that lets operators scan barcodes using their mobile device. Other inventory management features include lot management, shipping and receiving and sequenced parts delivery.

Quality management – Plex includes closed-loop (Plan, Do, Check, Act) quality control features to help manufacturers better maintain quality of their products and prevent recalls. Users can create process control plans with inspection instructions and check sheets for each product specification. They can also collect and analyze inspection data, use configurable methodologies to attain industry standard compliance certifications and customize built-in forms for corrective and preventive issue management.

Supply chain management – One of the features of this module is customers and sales management. The customer database stores interactions, quotes, expected close date and more, so sales reps can track their pipeline. They can also set up workflows for managing requests for quotes (RFQs). In addition, sales managers can get insights into their reps’ performance and other metrics using the dashboards and analytics, as well as forecast projected sales revenue. Lastly, customers can access their own portal to view their order status and communicate with sales reps. Note that Plex integrates with Authorize.Net for payment processing functionality.

Enterprise consolidation – This module helps enterprise companies centralize all of their operations for multiple locations and/or business units. The consolidated global financials feature supports multiple currencies, and users can perform accounting tasks for different divisions/locations in one place. The software also has audit trail reporting and other features to help companies stay in compliance.

With the corporate cash management feature, users can process and send payments for their different divisions. The centralized sales features allow business units to use a centralized pricing list for all of their products in addition to working off on their own. Business units can also use the same supplier to purchase multiple items in a single purchase order for bulk discounts and other savings.

Financial management – Plex provides robust analytics tools, so users can get better insights into their financials. They can run ad-hoc queries, create customized dashboards and share results for key metrics like revenue, expenses, cash flow and receivables. The software also has standard reporting templates and a library of key performance indicators (KPIs). The more advanced accounting features are tax-exempt purchasing, the ability to calculate sales tax based on shipping forms and account reconciliation.

Human capital management (HCM) – A few of the HCM features offered include time and attendance tracking, expense management and people analytics. Users can also track health and safety events (e.g., employee injuries) to comply with regulatory bodies, such as the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA).

Target Market

Plex targets process and discrete manufacturers in many industries, such as aerospace, automotive, food and beverage, electronics, industrial, precision metalforming and fabrication, and plastics and rubber. It has over 650 customers in more than 2,000 facilities in 29 countries. We’ve listed 10 of its customers below.

  • American Axle and Manufacturing
  • Avon Machining
  • Creative Foam Corporation
  • Firstronic LLC
  • FT Precision
  • G&W Products
  • Horizon Technology
  • Shank's Extracts
  • Shape Corporation
  • Wisco Industries

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Implementation/Integration

New clients work with Plex’s implementation services team. While the process and timeline are specifically tailored to each client, some of the components involve planning, product education, use-case validation, software configuration, readiness and go-live.

Plex provides customizable training services that can be delivered virtually or on-site. There’s also a four-day comprehensive boot camp program that gives users an opportunity to learn more about the Plex Smart Manufacturing Platform. Lastly, Plex offers a self-paced online learning library for an annual fee.

Customer Service & Support

Users can access the Plex Community to browse the knowledge base, connect with other users and submit a support ticket. In addition, Plex offers three support packages:

Silver – The Silver package is included into the subscription price and covers 24/7 system monitoring, two authorized support contacts and 24/5 support.

Gold – The Gold package is intended for medium and large businesses and includes the features of the Silver package, plus four authorized support contacts, 24/7 support, live phone case submission, monthly monitoring sessions and quarterly meetings with a dedicated customer support manager.

Platinum – The Platinum package targets medium and large businesses with additional needs and includes the features of the Gold plan, plus full-time dedicated support contacts, support services and business review, and support by phone, online or on-site.

Pricing

Plex provides scalable annual subscription packages that cover unlimited users and machines, as well as 24/7 access to an experimental sandbox environment. It doesn’t publicly display its pricing, so please contact the vendor directly for a quote.

Shortcomings

Plex doesn’t offer some of the typical HR features in its HCM module (e.g., payroll), but it can be integrated with a HRMS software like Paychex or ADP. Also, the software has some complex features that could be difficult for new users to grasp at first.

Screenshots

Plex Systems, Inc. Screenshot 1
Plex Systems, Inc. Screenshot 2
Plex Systems, Inc. Screenshot 3

About

Plex System was launched in 1995 after its founders dealt with inaccurate and cumbersome processes on a factory shop floor. Its mission is to help manufacturing companies automate, track and analyze their operations in order to build better products. Plex adheres to six core values: helping customers succeed, staying 100% engaged, generating ideas, valuing integrity, getting the work done and leading the smart manufacturing movement.

The vendor attests that it has over 11 years of double-digit growth. It’s also received many accolades, such as Gartner’s 2019 Magic Quadrant for Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES), the 2019 National Best and Brightest Companies to Work For list and the 2019 Metropolitan Detroit’s Best and Brightest Companies to Work list.

Plex is headquartered in Troy, MI, and has offices in Irvine (CA), Reston (VA), Prague and Pune (India).

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