Conquering Complex Business Challenges

Why the Manufacturing Industry Turns to Best-in-Class HCM

To continue growing their businesses, manufacturers need to be able to manage their employees efficiently, maximize productivity, and have actionable information for decision making. As the backbone of the global economy, your industry must adapt rapidly to fluctuating challenges, while managing day-to-day operations including overtime calculations, union regulations, a large variety of job codes, and more.

The complexity of these needs has steered many leaders in the manufacturing industry to adopt unified, comprehensive human capital management (HCM) for a number of strategic benefits:

  • Dynamic, seamless scalability for shifting workforce sizes due to seasonal variations, acquisitions, or sell-offs
  • Simplified oversight of employees across various locations, subsidiaries, job codes, and benefit plans
  • Centralized data platform for all employees, eliminating redundant data entry and reducing errors
  • Streamlined compliance for auditing
  • Substantive cost savings through reduced administrative overhead

These features have already been realized by an enormous number of manufacturers that have come to rely on the greater control and workforce insight afforded by best-in-class HCM.

Read on to discover how leading businesses in the industry are applying these solutions with revolutionary results.

“Our workforce has embraced this new technology, and the ease of use has been key to our success in these efforts, bringing us benefits that would have been impossible with a more complicated system that was difficult to navigate.”

—Jen Gambill, Sr. Director of Payroll and HRIS

Contura Energy

Elevates technology experience with cloud HCM solution

Contura Energy is a mining company with operations across major coal basins in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. The company supplies metallurgical coal to produce steel and thermal coal to generate power to customers around the world. Contura was formed with assets spun off from another company as part of a bankruptcy restructuring. The HR team had previous experience with a capital-intensive HCM solution that was supported by a large, onsite IT operation. Needing an HCM solution in place and ready to go in a short period of time, they desired a more nimble, cost-effective option that could be delivered via the cloud.

Contura launched their new cloud-based solution in only 45 days, and was live on its first day as a new company in July 2016 for all employees.

Most of the employees at Contura affiliates had not previously utilized a self-service platform to manage their HR information. So, when this functionality was launched, the company invested in kiosks with computers and printers at the local mine sites, providing a convenient location where employees could learn about and engage with this new technology. According to Jen Gambill, senior direct of payroll and HRIS, the feedback has been very positive.

“We’ve totally transformed the employee experience and revolutionized the way we manage time submission for our hourly population,” said Gambill. “Our employees now use the solution’s facial recognition time-clocks to record their time, which also allows supervisors to approve any exceptions electronically, reducing the time and printing resources previously required by this process.”

Management has also shown support for HR’s change efforts at the company. User-friendly reporting capabilities have provided management with up-to-the-minute information that can aid in creating hard-cost savings, increased productivity, and, ultimately, more data-driven business decisions.

“One of the most significant benefits is the way we have gained control over our data,” said Gambill. “We determine which reports we want to create and which ones get prioritized, allowing us to respond to a report request in a day rather than weeks or months.” As a result, teams throughout the Contura organization are better able to analyze the data that is important to their daily work. “We can provide the Operations team with reports in real time, monitoring the daily total hours paid, overtime, and shift patterns,” said Gambill. “We have been thrilled by the level of functionality our comprehensive solution offers us, and the ability to get the data we need on our own.”

Semblex - Ultimate Software

“ The levels of control, speed, and accuracy are big wins for our business. We have a tremendous amount of information that can be made available to executives, managers, and HR teams for strategic analysis and decision-making.”

—Todd Switzer, Director of HR

Semblex Corporation

Reducing waste, finding soft-cost savings through 24-7 access

As Semblex Corporation, a regional manufacturer of fastening solutions, began to expand and open additional manufacturing plants across the country, its corporate leadership knew that the basic functionality of the service bureau could not keep up with the growing business demands. Seeking a completely new solution that offered flexibility, greater control and advanced business intelligence, Semblex decided on a cloud-based, comprehensive HCM solution and never looked back.

The provider of cold-formed fasteners, drive systems, and other engineering services had complex and evolving needs. For instance, managing its new facilities and the associated hiring alongside the seasonal variations in its workforce, which includes virtual employees, demanded an expansion of access to crucial data and a reduction in administrative overhead. The leadership at Semblex found these benefits in unified HCM. With 24-7 direct access for employees and managers through a Web portal, the entire workforce gained the ability to control and modify its own data rather than having to request a change from an external provider. “In many ways, we felt like the payroll service bureau owned our information because we always had to depend on it to handle our reporting. With a unified HCM solution, we own our information and the power, flexibility, and control is giving us so many advantages. We’ve really elevated the way we work and the way we are managing our workforce,” said Todd Switzer, director of human resources at Semblex Corporation.

Automatic routing for approvals through workflows streamlined these processes even further. The new cloud-based solution was so well-received by the employee base that Semblex stopped printing paper checks and direct deposit forms altogether—resulting in immediate cost savings.

Alongside the ease of use and expanded access capabilities, the manufacturer’s HCM solution provided powerful business intelligence tools for reporting and analytics. While its previous system often involved calling a technician on the phone to create or update a specific report, comprehensive HCM allowed the reports to be tailored, produced, and reviewed in-house without delay. “Now, because our unified HCM solution is so easy to use, we can get what we need and have it delivered to internal teams very quickly. The levels of control, speed, and accuracy are big wins for our business. We have a tremendous amount of information that can be made available to executives, managers, and HR teams for strategic analysis and decision-making,” said Switzer. The result was a massively elevated level of control and access to information that was critical for planning and decision-making by managers and the executive team.

These benefits have already been consistently realized by Semblex—and its leadership expects even more hard- and soft-cost savings as more HCM features are adopted in the future.

Alliance Coal- Ultimate Software

"The single-greatest value added to our company is the intuitive, easy-to-use technology that puts the software right in the hands of our workforce.”

—Layne Herring, General Manager of Payroll and HRMS

Alliance Resource Partners, LP

Elevating strategic business operations with a leading HCM solution

As the third-largest coal producer in the eastern United States, Alliance Coal provides more than 39 million tons of coal a year to the nation’s utility plants and industrial users. With mining operations dating back to 1971, the company has grown to more than 4,500 employees in seven states.

Alliance Coal was using an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system but felt it needed a more agile, flexible solution to manage the complexities and changes that growing businesses encounter—without having to rely on internal resources.

“To provide you with an idea of how complex we are, our miners can have up to 18 earnings codes in a single paycheck,” said Layne Herring, general manager of payroll and HRMS at Alliance Coal. “As we continued to expand our mining operations before upgrading our HCM solution, we found it increasingly difficult to update those codes or really make any change in the system. We needed to make enhancements to our technology but were afraid of straining our internal IT, payroll, and HR departments in the process. Our new solution’s configurability allows us to make immediate adjustments as our business needs change, and the cloud delivery alleviates the need for us to tap IT resources for upgrades and maintenance.”

According to Herring, in addition to helping Alliance Coal be more nimble, their new solution’s self-paced learning options have encouraged adoption of the software and have made it easier and faster for employees and managers to use.

“The single-greatest value added to our company is the intuitive, easy-to-use technology that puts the software right in the hands of our workforce,” said Herring. “We have miners working remotely in 13 locations throughout the Northeast, making it challenging to train all employees at our corporate headquarters. With a user-friendly interface and the array of convenient, online training options, we experience virtually no lag time in getting our employees on this top-notch HCM solution.”

By upgrading to a single solution of record to manage all of its people information in one place, Alliance Coal has also gained complete visibility into its workforce. Managers and executives throughout the company are more easily able to access this information to evaluate employee productivity, monitor manpower costs, and receive timely information on trends impacting their workforce.



For companies in the manufacturing trade, a flexible, a scalable and powerful HCM solution is a crucial tool for meeting the challenges of the industry. Service bureaus and other providers may provide only a fraction of the functionality and control of unified, cloud-based people management—despite costing more money. On top of that, these options are likely to result in your employee data being fragmented across multiple data sources and tables.

Switching to best-in-class HCM can centralize an entire organization’s HR and payroll data and provide greater access while simultaneously offering the strategic business intelligence needed to prepare for the future.

About UltiPro®

More than 6,600 organizations have selected UltiPro as their payroll and HR software of choice. With a proven history of streamlining payroll and human resource processes for the hospitality industry, UltiPro can help companies, whether they are looking to remain compliant or stay on top of their payroll requirements while keeping efficiencies high.

  • Maintain accurate and centralized employee data even with large, distributed workforces.
  • Analyze groups of metrics together, such as quality scores, financial performance, and turnover.
  • Improve information accuracy and accelerate business intelligence through one easy-to-manage platform.
  • Scale, grow, and seamlessly add properties to your portfolio without adding to HR headcount.