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ERP Authority

Josh Owings joined JR Automation in 1996, and three years later the company adopted Epicor Kinetic. Through a series of acquisitions, Owings—now Director of Enterprise Applications at JR Automation—has learned Epicor Kinetic inside and out, from the tech manual to using it in the cloud. Nowadays, Owings is an Epicor Kinetic expert; in addition to the many hats he wears, Owings also acts as an Epicor User community forum lead. He explained “Epicor Kinetic offers unmatched flexibility, customization and personalization, and investment in innovation.”

A Smart Match

JR Automation, a Hitachi Group Company, helps transform how the world’s leading manufacturers make and distribute products with a range of intelligent, automated, and seamless manufacturing and distribution technology solutions. The company boasts more than 1,700,000 square feet of production floor space spanning the globe, serving customers from the aerospace and automotive industries to consumer products and healthcare. Owings observed, "We are characterized in the engineer-to-order space, but I like to describe us as design-to-order."

“With Epicor Cloud Enterprise Services for Kinetic, we’re looking out the windshield, not in the rear-view mirror.

Finding an ERP system to match that business model was not a simple undertaking. “We knew that our business was challenging to plug an ERP system into because we are a mix of construction and manufacturing,” Owings disclosed. “We needed a solution that could be customized to our unique needs. We knew first-hand that Epicor Kinetic could be tailored to our business. Epicor Kinetic fits us, not the other way around.”

Leading with Cloud

The Enterprise Application team recently launched a new JR Automation site with Epicor Cloud Enterprise Services for Kinetic and plans to consolidate on-prem instances. The support of the Executive Leadership Team at JR Automation has enabled the organization to move forward with the cloud initiative and expand its use.

When asked about reasons for moving to the cloud, Owings revealed, “We must adapt or get left behind. We don’t have any hesitation about being on the forefront,” he said. “But more than that, a web-browser-first environment delivers unprecedented ease-of-use and flexibility. I access the system from my cell phone, with secure multi-factor authentication; I’m unleashed from my laptop. The maturity of the solution eliminates limitations in terms of customization and scalability.”

Owings continued, “With Epicor Cloud Enterprise Services for Kinetic, we’re looking out the windshield, not in the rear-view mirror.”

Flexibility to Mirror the Business

JR Automation’s business includes different revenue streams, including project-based and aftermarket parts processing. Each of those lines requires distinctive processes, something that Epicor Kinetic handles effortlessly. Owings remarked, “Epicor Kinetic gives us the ability to easily support diverse workflows instead of a strict set of standards that each process must adhere to.” He also appreciated the ability to easily add custom fields to the database and to create tailored business process rules.

The Epicor Kinetic intuitive interface provides a different type of agility and non-programmers find the solution simple to navigate. Owings cited an example, “I don’t have to know a programming language to do a BAQ (business activity query). Epicor provides a drag-and-drop Graphical User Interface (GUI) to get a quick report or pull a record set without having to call on a DBA.”

Enabling Unique Inventory Processes

Due to the project-based nature of the business, JR Automation maintains minimal inventory. Owings elaborated, “We're a percentage-of-completion accounting operation. A significant benefit of Epicor is it enables us to order material directly to the project and bypass having to realize it in inventory. The PO is then routed directly to Costs of Goods Sold.”

Where the company does maintain inventory, Epicor offers another key advantage: the ability to do FIFO (first-in-first-out). “Each project realizes the full cost of associated components—even though they have passed through inventory—without us having to set average costing,” Owings imparted.

Driving New Efficiencies

Owings appreciates the many efficiencies Epicor Kinetic offers the business and shared two examples.

Previously, JR Automation did manual project build-outs with over 200 different entities per project. “The Epicor Data Management Tool (DMT) automated the process and it’s a huge efficiency gain. It also allows us to do automatic uploads of Bill of Materials (BOMs),” Owings divulged. With Epicor DMT, JR Automation is able to reduce the time to do an average build-out from two hours to as little as ten minutes with the automation.

I’ve seen Epicor invest in the database, the interface, the cloud. Epicor Kinetic is a strong solution backed by a strong company.

Secondly, the core user base of JR Automation buyers, accounts payable and finance teams can personalize the system to suit their particular needs. Owings commented, “Managers do time and expense approval and can have over 100 records to approve in a day. Being able to group grids or turn on certain fields and save those personalizations allows that individual to work in a more efficient manner.”

Data on Tap

The JR Automation team relies on Epicor Kinetic data for insights about the business. “We have elaborate reporting mechanisms that rebuild our data warehouse at the top of each hour and pull real-time data out of Epicor. The reports allow us to validate the cost to the project with the cost posted to the financial system,” Owings acknowledged. “It creates true data integrity.” In the past, this alignment of data was done weekly and took up to an hour, and now with the tools in place, it takes just minutes to complete.

The team runs reports such as open purchase orders. When expediting POs, buyers will utilize the Epicor Kinetic memo functionality and then run reports based on those notes to identify open POs, status, promise date and commitment date. Owings highlighted, “That information is visible to the entire organization, so everyone can see when components will arrive for assemblies.”

Investing in Innovation

Owings recognizes the investment that Epicor continues to make in advancing Kinetic, noting, “Over the years, I’ve seen Epicor invest in the database, the interface, the cloud. I don’t think the general user base can fully understand the magnitude of what’s required to move to the cloud and provide the same ease and functionality in a web-first browser environment instead of a smart client. Epicor Kinetic is a strong solution backed by a strong company always striving to move forward with technology.”

Company Facts

  • Location: Holland, MI
  • Specialist Industry: Industrial Machinery Manufacturing
  • Website:


  • Unique business model demands adaptability
  • Time-intensive processes
  • Need for forward-thinking partner


  • Configurable and personalized solution creates efficiencies
  • Automation accelerates pace of business
  • Discrete processes supported
  • Enabled non-programmers to utilize solution features
  • Future-ready solution
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