Organization size:

86 employees

Location:

USA
Wausau, WI

Wausau Container Corp

Wausau Container Corporation was founded in 1993 by Amy
Plier, the company’s Treasurer, and three other partners.
Today, the company has 86 employees and operates with two
litho, one digital and four flexographic presses producing
folding cartons for the dairy and other industries.
Wausau Container, which recently celebrated its 31st
anniversary, has a history of innovation, having pioneered the
application of flexographic printing to the manufacture of
high-quality consumer oriented folding cartons.

They were interested in learning about our business, answered all our questions thoroughly in deep-dive demos, and were actively engaged, including the CEO, in the calls.

A legacy system + unsupported software

When the company was founded, Wausau was careful with their cash and engaged Plier’s brother, a computer programmer, to create a manufacturing order entry solution that would also generate packing lists and invoices. “Over the last 30 years,” Plier explains, “we have worked with another individual to continue development of the system; and we have added shop floor data collection, bar coding, inventory reporting and more.

However, the system was based on FoxPro, which was purchased by Microsoft and then discontinued. In addition, the system development and maintenance are a side project for the programmer, for whom the project became too timeconsuming. So that is what drove the decision to look for a packaged software solution that was developed and designed specifically for our market. Also, we had a number of information siloes in the business since our homegrown system was not integrated with our accounting system. The lack of integration made it more difficult to manage the business.”

We knew we were going to need a number of customizations to get the system where we wanted it, and we felt comfortable with their developers and the fast response times we were seeing from them during the due diligence process and beyond.

A vendor that customizes, offers fast responses

Plier continues, “My role is in the financial world, and I, along with a team of people, was tasked with researching and implementing a new MIS system for us. After doing our very thorough due diligence during which we met with all leading MIS providers in the industry, we selected HiFlow and began our implementation in January of 2023.

“A key element in our decision was the large development team they had. We knew we were going to need a number of customizations to get the system where we wanted it, and we felt comfortable with their developers and the fast response times we were seeing from them during the due diligence process and beyond.

“Since we are solely a folding carton company,” Plier explains, “we wanted a system that was focused on that area of the industry. HiFlow was written for the folding carton industry and has a couple of dozen folding carton implementations globally. We also found that not only are they continuing to invest in developing new functionalities and modules, but they were very open to adding any customizations we needed and did so fairly rapidly. Many of these customizations revolve around reporting, and we are still working through some of those.

“Also, our old system had a number of safeguards built in for operators. For example, if an operator selected the wrong paperboard, a warning would pop up so that error could be
corrected on the spot. We can now do that with HiFlow. Another big accomplishment was fine tuning the shipping system so our CSRs can quickly see shipping status and report that to customers without having to jump through hoops. We do so many jobs here every day that this type of real-time reporting is critical for us.”

We did not want siloes of information – we wanted to see a full 360-degree realtime view of our business, and HiFlow will give us that.

Visibility, efficiency and Industry 4.0

In making the decision, Plier believed that HiFlow was scalable and would help the company proactively grow its business. “It’s a comprehensive, integrated, and automated Industry 4.0 solution,” she adds. “It includes Scada monitors to track plant productivity and operator performance in real time, and it uses smart scheduling to best utilize machine time, although we are still fine tuning the scheduling system to meet our specific needs.

“Its Machine Execution System (MES) module offers real-time data exchange with machines and devices and helps us better manage our warehousing operation. The overall goal is to have a system that gives us a full 360-degree view of our business, allowing us to both react in real time if issues arise, and to better plan our workload, staffing and more. That also means that we will be able to get more work out the door with the same or fewer staff members and that will have a very positive effect on our bottom line. And we are making great progress toward that goal, thanks to the excellent support from the HiFlow team.”

We will be able to get more work out the door with the same or fewer staff members and that
will have a very positive effect on our bottom line.

Getting what you need

Implementing a new MIS is not a trivial process, and she emphasizes the need for patience, and for a thorough review of all requirements. “No system will ever be perfect,” she says, “and I made sure our team had the right expectations going in. But working with HiFlow, we were able to get 99% of what we needed, and the system is serving us well. We are still working to get a few things optimized for our business … and we believe our customizations will make the HiFlow solution even more valuable to other folding carton companies.” Plier plans to continue the process of customizing with HiFlow’s development team in the future.

HiFlow not only stuck with us every step of the way, but they were proactive in addressing all our issues.

Streamlining business systems, no more siloed data

Another area that has benefited from the new system is the purchasing system. “Before,” she says, “people created purchase orders using Word documents. Now we are taking advantage of HiFlow’s purchasing system, and we have a much more consistent operation in that regard. Plus, it integrates with our accounting system, so it makes it easier to monitor overall performance. As far as purchasing materials, we use the system to issue the purchase orders, create the goods receipt and then issue the materials to the warehouse or production floor. So, it has really been streamlined and error-free.”

“We appreciated the fact that we had access to customizable dashboards using Microsoft’s Power BI, as well as extensive production, warehouse, and sales reports out of the box, and we have been able to dial in our Power BI reporting even more so we can better customize our reporting. Also important to us was its ability to integrate with our other internal software solutions, including our Microsoft Dynamics GP accounting system. We did not want siloes of information – we wanted to see a full 360-degree real-time view of our business, and HiFlow will give us that as we complete these final customizations.”

Plier also notes that she is creating customized reports to track work that is being outsourced, something the previous system did not have but will be developed with HiFlow. “As we grow,” she says, “we find we are outsourcing a bit more, and having good real-time reporting on that work is critical.”

“We looked at a number of solutions before we chose HiFlow,” Plier notes, “HiFlow came out on top in
all our analyses.”

Why HiFlow?

In Plier’s experience, HiFlow Solutions is a true partner in her business, not simply a vendor. She conducts weekly Teams meetings with sales and product development as well as ad hoc meetings as needed, and she also received very favorable references from other successful implementations. “The HiFlow team totally outworked the competition,” she says. “They were more interested in learning about our business, answered all our questions thoroughly in deep-dive demos, and were actively engaged, including the CEO, in these calls.

Another benefit for us was that every one of these sessions was recorded and placed in a private library for us for future reference – invaluable. It made it easy for team members to refresh their memory about certain activities as well as to onboard new staff members without having to wait for a new training session to be scheduled. In addition, I used those recordings to create written Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) specific to our business, which is also a valuable tool for our team.”

When making the decision, Plier also considered the following factors:

  • HiFLow’s global expansion into new markets.
  • The investment in technology and process improvement.
  • The sense that HiFlow is an experienced partner with a vision for development.
  • The strong project management and development teams and the incredibly fast response time she gets.

The icing on the cake for Plier was the wide range of online information provided by the company, including testimonials and mini demos of the software capabilities on YouTube, as well as on-site or remote workshops as needed. These were helpful in creating the SOPs that help make sure the entire Wausau team is on the same page with processes and procedures.

No system will ever be perfect, but working with HiFlow, we were able to get 99% of what we needed

Support after the sale

HiFlow has more than 50 support staff and typically offers a fourhour response time, although the response time is usually much faster. Wausau has access to unlimited support, and the maintenance license fees are flat unless additional modules are added, making cost structures predictable.

“We looked at a number of solutions before we chose HiFlow,” Plier concludes. “HiFlow came out on top in all our analyses. While the implementation took a bit longer than expected – which is quite normal in these types of situations – HiFlow not only stuck with us every step of the way, but they were proactive in addressing all our issues. I am extremely pleased with the outcome, and the solution has lived up to their promises and our expectations. I believe we are set for the next 30 years in continuing this partnership with HiFlow as we build a more efficient and profitable future!”

Why HiFlow Solutions?

We implement – fast. The HiFlow system combines MIS and MES software with easy ERP integration.

We fill your ERP gaps. By optimizing ERP systems with MIS and MES features required for packaging and label printing.

We create automated environments. With seamless connections from order intake to shipping and invoicing.

We feed you data. With insights from real time, critical information from your production shop floor, personnel, and equipment.

We let you see. From smart scheduling to nested layouts to workflow diagrams, instantly see where you stand within the job.

Do you have additional questions about implementation? Contact our experts to discover how HiFlow System can help address your company’s challenges.