Plex Systems: Celebrating Makers

During a plant tour on Wednesday, I was asked if most vendors organized such visits for analysts. I had to confess I have been to data centers, call centers, RD labs but not to many factory visits. Most ERP vendors have avoided the shop floor like the plague, and certainly would not highlight it on an analyst visit.

Not so Plex Systems, which had not one, but two such visits during their analyst summit in Michigan. One was to the Sanders Chocolate factory, and another to the simulated Edge Corp factory at their HQ.

The stunning St. Patrick’s Day sunset contrasted with reminders of a brutal winter – the still frozen lakes and the pothole filled roads. The spring thaw was a good proxy for the manufacturing Renaissance in the US and Plex is poised to take advantage.

It has evolved from traditional strengths in the discrete auto and aerospace component supplier segments to growing presence in food and beverage and some other process sectors. It is moving up market as larger enterprises deploy it for MES, quality and other functionality in two-tier and surround, hybrid settings.

Plex’s Manufacturing Cloud continues to scale very nicely. Over 175,000 users log in from over 20 countries. 36 million pages are served every day. Over 40 TB of data is delivered each month. That translated to 37% growth in net bookings last year.

The day was full of blue collar talk. Jargon such as auto-release, LPN barcodes, recipes and trace ability was common.  Metrics focused on scrap, pull efficiency and inventory turns.

The customers who presented make gritty thermostats and valves. There was a certain nonchalance that the Plex software just worked.  As a Sanders executive put it “we were not going live on Plex, we were going dead on our AS/400”

To me, a small detail from the day summarized the “maker” attitude that pervades Plex. The chocolate plant hygiene required us to wear jackets and hair covering (in photo below). As we lined up for the tour, we picked out jackets from a rack. They had been customized with Plex and Sanders logos. How did they know the chest sizes of the guests? They had not asked us. The analyst relations team “guestimated”  them and produced them with a handful of suppliers. That’s modern manufacturing. Mass customization at affordable economics and just-in-time. And software which allows customers to go live and run smoothly with a nonchalance.

Photo Credit: Plex

(Cross-posted @ Deal Architect)

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