Bowron Sheepskins Christchurch
Bowron skins ERP solution for the futurewww.bowron.co.nz
Faced with an ageing enterprise resource planning system which saw staff working around instead of within it, Canterbury’s Bowron Sheepskins realised that maintaining its competitiveness depended on accurate, consolidated information. With an implementation of Infor’s CloudSuite Industrial (SyteLine) delivered by manufacturing and distribution software specialist EMDA, the company is ready for the future with a system that delivers clarity across the business.
Bowron Sheepskins traces its history back to 1879. During the late 1990’s, the company introduced a new benchmark in tanning, known as the ‘Whitan Process’. This became internationally recognised, resulting in improved quality sheepskins and significantly reduced environmental impact. A company that never rests on its laurels, Bowron’s ethos is to focus on the future without forgetting the path it has already travelled.
With some 200 people at its Christchurch head office, Bowron initiates sheepskin processing in New Zealand, with two more facilities in Vietnam employing another 400 for further finishing before products are exported to the world.
Victoria Sergel, Bowron’s accounting manager, explains why the company was ready for a new ERP solution. “The primary motivation was that we had a very old system that hadn’t been sufficiently maintained for an extended period. Added to that, the hardware which hosted it was coming to the end of its life.”
As a result, more and more decisions were being made using spreadsheets. “Critical data was being created and exchanged outside of the ERP system; everyone had their own idea of what was going on, with no single, standardised or consolidated view of the company performance at any given time,” adds Sergel.
Operating in a highly competitive environment, says Bowron business manager Neil Shewan, meant these issues were impacting on operations. “Accurate and timely information is absolutely critical to maintain competitiveness. If we don’t know the product costing and other variables, we cannot make correct decisions. This was a serious issue with the old system; it was necessary to extract data into Excel to workout what something was really costing us – and, when you started looking at overheads and the full cost cycle, your head would start spinning.”
Shewan adds that Bowron depends on close management of a wide range of variables to produce attractively priced, market-appropriate products. “Efficiency and optimal production volumes are critical. With raw materials, which change from year to year, not all are fit for every product. That adds more layers to the difficulty of accurate management and drives up the need for detailed, timely information to make sound business decisions.”
Sergel notes that an ERP project starts long before any software is implemented or even selected – and this was certainly the case for Bowron. Appreciating the magnitude of the exercise, and aware that this choice could determine the long-term success of the business, they engaged consultants to identify potential software providers. “Over a four to five month process, functional descriptions of processes were drawn up. A clearly defined template of requirements meant we could more accurately assess the fit of any potential solution.”
Shewan adds that this process alone was valuable. “It delivered extremely useful outcomes by identifying disciplines which were not adequately in place, and without which we would not have coped. Getting that ironed out before the ERP implementation was important to ensure success.”
Given its design around industrial processes and comprehensive functionality for manufacturing sites, Infor CloudSuite (SyteLine), demonstrated by EMDA, emerged as the best solution for Bowron. “SyteLine could be implemented with minimal customisation as the solution was a very close fit to our requirements. The few customisations required would have no impact on our ability to easily upgrade to future versions,”Shewan explains.
One noteworthy feature planned for implementation is the social collaboration tool Ming.le. Fully embedded with SyteLine and Business Analytics, it will allow employees to communicate, collaborate, and share documents, plans, photos, and videos from a centralised location, with all activity captured and easily searchable.
Shewan says there is some irony behind the demise of the old system. “It was implemented as ‘vanilla’ as possible – but it was so standardised in that form that it simply didn’t work. It had to be horribly customised and that’s why maintenance ground to a halt, because it became too complex.”
Implementations of ERP are disruptive to the business, requiring significant additional effort from internal resources; however, Sergel and Shewanboth agree that EMDA eased the pain through demonstrable knowledge and experience. They say EMDA’s approach focused on working with people, while time was taken to understand Bowron’s business processes, drivers and priorities. “This is not something you can rush into, and having knowledgeable people committed to working through solutions to problems is wonderful.”
Sergel commented that there are no short-cuts to the process required to get a system in place and tested to ensure a trouble free go-live.
With the implementation of SyteLine marking the completion of Phase One of the project, Bowron is now looking at extending the solution by implementing Infor’s business intelligence, asset management and quality control solutions. In due course, it will also seek to make the most of the social collaboration tool Ming.le.
One of the biggest improvements is the introduction of systems to the factory floor, with real time entry and logging of production data rather than monthly backflush.
Shewan says that while it is early days yet, Bowron is already seeing the benefit of all business information remaining inside the system. “That’s the biggest win. Everyone is reporting on the same data. As we go down the line, the data becomes a platform and becomes more meaningful in supporting business decisions.”
Importantly, Sergel notes that the solution is future-proofed and, with minimal customisations, they won’t stand in the way of upgrades taking place. “There is confidence that we can keep up with ERP and technology upgrades; two years ago, we were just so far behind.”
And, adds Shewan, the business managers now have confidence in information, too. “We can readily understand where and what our costs are across a diverse product mix and manage that more closely.”
He adds that the first month end for the company has gone ‘very well’. “We can see that the system makes sense. More than that, the future looks good as we can see the signs that we’re headed in the right direction.”
CUSTOMER STORY Windows and Doors
APL New Zealand and Australia
Integrated ERP gives window firm clear visibilitywww.aplnz.co.nz
Aluminium window designer APL has delivered customers an open view of their orders, and they keep coming back for more…
Gaze out the window of a modern building and it’s more likely your eye will be caught by the view than the manufacturing details of the window frame.
Yet if it was designed by leading window system supplier APL, the possible variations in materials, colour and type of coating run to the hundreds if not thousands — enough to distract someone in the trade from the most scenic of vistas.
Small wonder, then, that Hamilton-based APL relies on a full-blown enterprise resource planning system to run its operations.
“With Syteline, our integrated ERP system, we’re most definitely ahead of the bunch,” says APL head of information and procurement Peter Dittmer.
The privately owned business designs and markets several brands of aluminium doors and windows that are produced by a nationwide network of more than 70 manufacturers.
The business, which was started in 1971, is vertically integrated. Aside from design and testing, it has an aluminium extrusion operation (INEX), an anodising business (FINEX) and a powder-coating plant (ColourWorks).
It also operates a fleet of trucks (APL Direct) that deliver materials to its diverse network of fabricators. SyteLine, from US company Infor, is at the heart of the business, says Dittmer.
“As orders come in — the majority through an EDI interface direct from our fabricators — they are put into the ERP system. The purchasing of any requirements to complete an order, and production scheduling, are then determined by the system according to lead time.”
If a fabricator requests a powder-coated product, its progress from receipt of the order to despatch by truck is automatically scheduled by the ERP system.
“If the goods are being powder-coated in silver pearl, say, we would normally give a five-day lead time. So the system will say this order needs to be picked on day three, painted on day four and on a truck on day five. SyteLine does all that for us.”
In doing so, Dittmer estimates the system is keeping track of thousands of product variables.
“You imagine you are getting a house built, all the different parts you could possibly have for all the windows and doors, all those are integrated through the system.”
APL’s use of SyteLine goes back about four years when a separate manufacturing division, ALPAC, piloted the system. Dittmer says ALPAC was chosen as the pilot site, because it was a relatively small operation, yet it stood to make significant gains from the ERP.
ALPAC did achieve the desired outcome with resource planning and response time benefits. It was therefore a logical step, 18 months later, to go live with a full implementation of the SyteLine system, at APL.
The move to SyteLine, which is sold and supported by Christchurch-based company EMDA, represented “a leap into the 21st century”, Dittmer says. To ease the transition from APL’s no-longer-supported non-GUI-based system, EMDA initially customised SyteLine to ease the transition for end users.
“That obviously had a cost associated with it, however we realised it would make it easier for the transitional phase, which it did. We even made the paper work used by the team picking products in the warehouse identical to what they were used to, to ensure consistency of documentation.
“I’ve been involved with other ERP projects where too much change was introduced at once, and they just fall over. Now we have this in place we will slowly use more bar-coding and other features to enhance the system as we move forward with it.
“But to suddenly, on day one, change everybody’s life is most likely going to lead to disaster.”
A significant added feature of the ERP system is that it has been integrated with APL’s trucking system, with an EMDA-developed application.
“The transportation system is one of the biggest advantages,” Dittmer says.
The system lets customer service staff work with truck drivers to amend load manifests ‘on the fly”, therefore being able to give the added bonus of allowing less urgent consignments to make way for express deliveries.
“In the past we couldn’t do that — once you’d run the manifest, that’s what you had to put on board the truck.”
The system also gives a clear view of what’s aboard each of the 11 trucks and trailers within the fleet.
Dittmer sums up SyteLine’s virtues in two words: ”flexibility and visibility”. The added value of SyteLine lets it adjust for contingencies and keep customers informed of their order status which in today’s competitive market is a boon.
“We have about 70 customers and they need to know where their goods are, whether there are any delays or problems with any part of the order as it goes through the system, and when the goods will be delivered. We’re able to feed back all that information through SyteLine into their systems so they can see their order status at any stage.”
Visibility also extends to oversight of APL’s key performance indicators. Dittmer says a business intelligence “bolt-on” to the system gives snapshots of details such as sales, gross profit and margins.
EMDA’s handling of the fortnight-long go-live process, during which the supplier’s project manager and APL’s IT manager, David Mens, put in 19-plus hour days, earns high praise from Dittmer. Ongoing support — including a trouble-free recent upgrade from SyteLine version 8.00 to 8.02 — is also solid.
“EMDA has some class people and overall it has been excellent. We have developed quite a close relationship and even have a soccer tournament with them.”
But not this year. Canterbury’s earthquakes, which forced Christchurch-based EMDA into temporary premises in February, mean there will be no 2011 fixture, so the trophy they compete for will remain where it is on Dittmer’s desk.
It’s a reminder, if he needs one, of the central part SyteLine plays in APL’s business.
CUSTOMER STORY Fertility
Genea Australia and New Zealand
Genea gives birth to new baby, new systemwww.genea.com.au
The Australian IVF group spawned a new clinical supplies business that needed new system capabilities, and needed them fast…
Automated vitrification and embryology aren’t terms you come across every day, but when it comes to making babies the hard way, they are key tools in the science of successful in-vitro fertilisation. Genea is one of Australia’s leading IVF and genetic testing clinical providers, boasting industry leading success rates with its clients achieving conception rates 40 percent above the Australian and New Zealand industry average. That sort of success doesn’t come without knowing a thing or two about running IVF labs, and the equipment and processes that come with them.
A new baby
That depth of knowledge led Genea to set up Genea Biomedx as a supplier of IVF technology to the wider industry both in A/NZ and further afield. The subsidiary has been created as an outlet for Genea’s specialist tools and techniques that have come out of the long running investment in R&D behind Genea’s high clinical results with its IVF birth rates.
Genea has been in the fertility treatment game since pioneering the technology in the 1980s and is a private, unlisted company owned by its employees and associated fertility specialists.
But running fertility clinics is a very different business to designing, manufacturing and distributing medical supplies and equipment, so Genea quickly recognised that it needed a more specialised system to handle the requirements of the new business.
With strong plans to expand the business internationally, and with many of the business processes to be developed off the back of the new software system, the company needed an ERP to be put in place quickly. Infor’s Syteline was chosen and an aggressive project timeline was forced by the demands of the new business.
“Early on in the establishment of Genea Biomedx, we realised a quality ERP system was crucial to the establishment and ongoing success of the business. With our short time frames before going to market, we required a solution to be implemented straight away and Infor provided this. The rollout was seamless and now we have an established program for the future which can also be rolled out in overseas markets,” Peter Nevin, CIO, Genea said.
The key to partnering with Infor was the ability to fast-track the rollout of the software from a typical 12-18 month-plus timeframe down to just four months. A prime factor in the selection of Syteline was that it comes set up for micro-verticals using a number of in-built configuration templates, so the functional fit and ability to roll out with minimal modification ensured the tight timeframes were met.
Infor partner EMDA took a lead consulting role in the implementation. EMDA CEO Keith Jessop commented that although the timeframe was challenging, the culture within Genea enabled a nimble project environment to be established. “The organisation from the top down had fully embraced the approach for the new solution. The openness to accepting the pre-configured processes made a huge difference in containing the scope and avoiding costly modifications,” he said. Jessop reinforced that the approach Infor is taking with built-in processes designed for specific industry verticals helped accelerate delivery.
“The rollout was seamless and now we have an established program for the future which can also be rolled out in overseas markets.”
Peter Nevin, CIO, Genea
“Not only does it save us setup time, it also packages up best practice learnings across many clients in that vertical,” said Jessop.
Initially, the company is focusing on manufacturing three main products. Automated vitrification equipment (controlling where the rubber meets the road, so to speak), smart embryo incubation pods that come with integrated time lapse imaging to track cell replication, and production of the embryo culture medium itself.
Biomedx manufacturing capacity is provided through a third party facility in Melbourne, a plant in Sydney and it is currently setting up another major facility in Sandwich in the U.K.
Genea’s ERP system needed to be easy to roll out to support rapid growth, provide scalability and the ability to work across multiple global markets. As a web-based solution that was developed with the complex sourcing and sales needs of global manufacturers, Syteline fitted the bill on that front too.
“The challenge was to find a web-based system that would support bills of materials that includes liquids and chemical formulas and the complexity that comes with managing the ordering and servicing of hard, physical items such as medical instruments,” said Nevin.
Not least in Genea’s considerations was the need to meet stringent compliance requirements of the industry with important regulations surrounding quality control and quality accreditation. Infor’s ‘Quality Control System’ within Syteline documents all the manufacturing processes and the way materials are sourced, right through to the finished product, which lowered the compliance hurdle for the new company.
The capabilities that come with the new solution have meant that Nevin is now planning for the replacement of the clinical system with Syteline so the whole business is consolidated onto just one core system.
CUSTOMER STORY Automotive
Best Bars Auckland
Best Bars hooks up new production schedulingwww.bestbars.co.nz
Engineering tow bars takes more than strong steel when your customers are auto-manufacturers around the globe…
As Aussies and Kiwis continue to hook their boats and caravans up for the Great Annual Beach Migration, spare a thought for the humble tow bar. Chances are the only thing keeping their precious assets in tow was engineered by New Zealand’s market leader for the design and manufacture of ‘genuine part’ automotive accessories.
With a head office in Auckland and a sales and technical centre in Melbourne, Best Bars employs over 85 people and is a leading supplier of auto accessories to the APAC region.
Increased focus on being competitive internationally had seen Best Bars grow over its 30-year history from New Zealand into Australia and on to the US and Europe. However, inadequate system capability in the production and planning areas of the business were holding it back. Staff were using spread sheets or manual systems to plug the gaps, and this resulted in a lack of visibility between departments. While the business was performing well, it recognised that to move from good to great it needed to make improvements.
Its focus on the global marketplace, together with an outdated enterprise platform, forced a decision to begin the search for a business management system that would cover functionality in manufacturing planning, scheduling and costing, as well as CRM.
“As an emerging global supplier, it was critical that our business systems could integrate and share information with the multiple systems used by our customers. We needed to improve the delivery of information to internal users as they strive to continuously improve on meeting the needs of our customers and adding value beyond simply providing a product to market,” comments Stephen de Kriek, CEO of Best Bars.
After a comprehensive search across leading ERP systems, Best Bars selected Infor’s SyteLine over other shortlisted options, from Microsoft Dynamics to SAP. Best Bars signed EMDA to configure and roll out a multi-module SyteLine solution.
The implementation was approached in two stages and run across the whole business, from production, manufacturing and sales to distribution. Phase one involved replacing the previous system, and configuration of the feature enabling a multi-level bill of material for manufactured products. User home screens were also configured, which allow employees to access all the functions they require in their role in one place. Finite production scheduling was put in place providing real time product availability dates from production schedules.
Phase two, currently underway, involves implementation of improvement aspects that de Kriek calls “stepped gains”. These added benefits, such as ease of use and straight-forward customisations, are what led Best Bars to select SyteLine over its competitors. The production scheduling alone is anticipated to directly impact the bottom line by lowering manufacturing costs, as well as improving customer service and re-ordering. In 2014, EMDA will roll out SyteLine’s integrated CRM feature for Best Bars.
“Being a manufacturing based business, we rely on the effectiveness of production scheduling,” comments de Kriek. “If I had to choose the number one greatest benefit thus far, it would be that SyteLine is a truly integrated, finite scheduling system. The robust production scheduling is already delivering a huge number of efficiencies across the business.”
Staff job satisfaction has increased dramatically after the first phase. Increased speed and efficiency for users has improved customer service.
Employees are feeling better supported in making decisions and completing tasks. Additionally, the much improved user interface has been readilyaccepted and embraced by staff. This has resulted in lower training costs. Users can answer queries by drilling down into the system themselves, rather than query another department.
Business drivers such as customer demand, delivery scheduling, manufacturing costs and resource tracking are now simplified and much more visible. De Kriek says that the margin of error has been dramatically reduced with the new system. Users can see everything they need to, as it happens, so business decisions can be made better and more quickly.
The role-based screens mean only the relevant tools are available, while workflow screens describe standard operating procedures to users. Workflows are set up to integrate with the business’s quality management systems, ensuring that IP remains with Best Bars. The in-built application can walk users through systems and processes simply and effectively, eliminating the need for users to record, share and store procedures, a benefit de Kriek says is “invaluable”.
“We now have the ability to be on a global platform, dealing with customers internationally, thanks to this sophisticated ERP system,” says de Kriek. “SyteLine has put us on an equal footing with, if not beyond, our competitors in terms of business systems. It is now very easy to drill down into information, making our business more profitable and ultimately providing a better experience to customers.”
Other benefits have been reduced inventory levels and shortages; increased manufacturing speed and accuracy; minimisation of error prone manual steps and conflicting procedures; improved order delivery speeds; and the expeditious delivery of critical information to make smarter business decisions.
“To be competitive in the global marketplace, you have to have robust business systems in place. We’ve chosen to invest in those systems. If you can measure, you can improve,” de Kriek concludes.
CUSTOMER STORY Hi Tech Marine
Smooth sailing as Navico implements EDI solutionwww.navico.com
US-based marine electronics manufacturer Navico has successfully outsourced warehousing to FedEx courtesy of an EDI tool developed by New Zealand ERP system specialist EMDA…
When US-based marine electronics manufacturer Navico needed help to develop an electronic data interchange interface with logistics giant FedEx, it navigated its way to New Zealand.
The usual concerns about a strong kiwi dollar making New Zealand companies uncompetitive in the US market didn’t enter into the discussion, says Navico’s Tulsa, Oklahoma-based IT director, Greg Wilson, when it contracted ERP specialist EMDA to undertake the EDI the project.
“EMDA is what I like to call a trusted adviser,” says Wilson, a role it has made its own by delivering quality results for Navico over several years. The relationship goes back to 2007, when Navico acquired the former marine division of New Zealand GPS maker Navman from US company Brunswick, which had bought it three years earlier.
Navico continues to have an engineering centre in Auckland, and former Navman engineers and managers are now on the Navico payroll.
EMDA fits into the picture as the supplier of Infor ERP Syteline, which was used by Navman, and which Navico also runs. With that background, Wilson says, there was no agonising about the impact of the New Zealand dollar-US dollar exchange rate as Navico commissioned EMDA to provide its EDI solution.
“It was about the relationship we have with EMDA.
When we have had issues or difficulties or needs they have proven to be an extremely valuable partner.”
And that’s the way it has panned out once again, as Navico has successfully outsourced warehousing for its customers in the Americas to FedEx.
Manufacturing of Navico’s three marine electronics brands – Lowrance, Simrad and B&G, aimed at the inshore fishing, offshore boating and competitive sailing markets respectively – is carried out in Ensenada, Mexico. Products are made to order from logistics centres in the US, which caters for the Americas, the Netherlands, which supplies Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and Sydney, from where Asia-Pacific customers are supplied.
Since Americas warehousing was migrated to FedEx in the third quarter of this year, manufacturing orders make their way from Tulsa to Ensenada, and the finished products, with associated documentation, are sent direct to the FedEx logistics centre, from where they’re shipped to customers.
Wilson says Navico decided to outsource to cope with growth in sales.
“To be able to meet customer demand, we were going to have to spend a sizeable sum on a worldclass warehouse management system. When we took a look at the return we would get on that investment, it just didn’t make sense.
“It was a lot more financially sound to work with a third-party that had already made that investment, and capitalise on the economies of scale and transfer that responsibility to them.”
That meant developing processes for exchanging information between Syteline and FedEx’s shipping systems. EMDA were “the guys in the middle” that helped bring Navico and FedEx together, Wilson says.
It was a year-long effort, says EMDA technology head Matt Holland, who spent a month in Tulsa during a key part of the project. “What we have done is written a framework that connects to Syteline — and other ERP systems as well — and extracts data from a database, or file, if that’s how it is stored. We then create custom mapping of business partner documents that can be transferred via email or FTP.”
Documents that need to be exchanged between the Navico and FedEx include advanced shipping notices and invoices that the logistics centre needs to be able to process a shipment and send it to Navico’s customers.
Wilson says FedEx has a prescribed document format that Navico had to accommodate in its systems, while also translating its documents into the FedEx format.
“Everyone’s invoices are a little bit different, everyone’s advanced shipping notices and shipping confirmations and things like that are a little bit different, so a custom application is always required to bring a new customer into FedEx’s system,” he says.
Wilson says the project went extremely smoothly thanks to careful planning. “I think the people both internally and externally that were involved with the project were really good.
“It’s been a great success. I’m very satisfied from the IT standpoint and I believe the logistics managers are satisfied as well.
“We haven’t run into any critical or showstopping issues following the go-live, which I think is testament to the quality of work that came out of the project.”
Perhaps more importantly the logistics revamp itself is delivering the goods.
“It’s helped reduce a lot of the end-of-month fire fighting that typically went on within the organisation because our systems couldn’t handle the demand peaks. We have eased a lot of infrastructure and systems-related issues by moving to the FedEx logistics centre.
“And I believe it’s really helped smooth our distribution process and provide greater value to our customers, which is the ultimate goal. We’re able to deliver to customers in a more timely and accurate way than we could in the past.”
The success of the project affirms the solid relationship between EMDA and Navico, Wilson says.
“I anticipate we’re going to have a lot more of these success stories in the future together.”
CUSTOMER STORY Aerospace and Defence
Pacific Aerospace Hamilton
Pacific Aerospace gains competitive edgewww.aerospace.co.nz
The Kiwi aircraft manufacturer has re-engineered its business with Lean management and a new ERP system to create a solid runway for global export success.
Pacific Aerospace (PAL) is one of New Zealand’s rising stars in the export market. With multi-million dollar contracts for their class-leading P-750 XSTOL utility aircraft in the pipeline, PAL is poised for significant growth. “We expect to increase our production output significantly,” says Damian Camp, CEO of the Hamilton-based manufacturer, “with much of that increase coming from efficiency gains. We are now working leaner, cleaner and more efficiently due to our system of continuous improvement. All of these initiatives, including our new ERP software, Infor LN, are rolled together in what we call PACE (Pacific Aerospace Competitive Edge). PACE is our Lean Manufacturing programme which has hugely transformed the way we do things and how efficiently we do them.”
It hasn’t been an easy road for PAL. In 2006, the company, then under different ownership, was under pressure and needed to increase its output to meet market demand. Camp was appointed to stabilise the business introduce better business procedures and reposition the company and its products in the market.
“We embraced the ‘Lean’ philosophy, which calls for reduction of ‘waste’ across the company including movement of parts, overstocking, rework, access to tools and resources, In addition we established an OFI (opportunities for improvement) programme and adopted the ‘5S’ framework (sort, set in order, shine, standardise, and sustain) in which we re-organised our work habits and work spaces. This model alone saved us from having to add new floor space as we were able to maximise the utilisation of our existing facilities. Eventually, all of these processes coalesced into the PACE methodology which we adhere to religiously.”
“As we developed PACE, we refined our business processes,” explains Camp, “but we didn’t have a truly integrated IT system to give us a unified view of the company across finance, manufacturing and sales.
One of our regulatory requirements is traceability of parts during the manufacturing process and for the life of an aircraft. We needed to know exactly where each part came from, how it was manufactured and even from which batch of material it was fabricated from. With more than 4000 parts and components per plane, it was a key consideration for us.”
Over the course of several months, an internal team detailed exactly the company’s requirements including capabilities for manufacturing, parts control, audit and financials. “Of the several RFP responses,” explains Camp, “the proposal from EMDA built around Infor LN was the one that most aligned with our requirements. We felt that they could work within our PACE framework and the capabilities of the software were optimised for the aerospace industry with a track record of successful implementations.” PAL also found LN’s multi-currency capabilities attractive as well as the fact that EMDA would specify, install, configure and support the necessary hardware.
Once the decision was made to contract EMDA to proceed, the project went on hold. “At that time we just couldn’t justify the expenditure,” notes Camp. “Once the market turned around we took it up again and now we are realising concrete benefits from the new system.”
“From an installation perspective,” says Tony Vile, senior consultant with enterprise software specialists EMDA, “the PAL project was a smooth operation. They were very specific in what they wanted and had developed a detailed incremental implementation schedule. Once the initial delay was behind us, we moved quickly on getting them up and running. Their business processes were quite sophisticated but we were able to help them map their data and routines almost directly into the Infor LN framework. We ran a number of workshops and training sessions with the idea of empowering PAL staff to take ownership of the solution once it had been set up.”
“We tried to avoid excessive customisation,” says Camp, “for instance, we would change some of our processes to fit into the LN schema. At the same time we could configure LN to reflect our own unique requirements. The team at EMDA were extremely supportive to this approach and their expertise in developing routines was instrumental in the project’s success.”
One particular capability of Infor LN that PAL is employing is the Product Configurator. “Each aircraft is unique,” explains Camp, “and specifying each individual component is an integral part of the sales, manufacture and maintenance process. With Configurator, we can build the plane ‘on paper’ and prepare a bill of materials. We can weed out incompatible optional extras, which saves a lot of time during the specification phase. And once the parts have been identified, we can proceed with pricing and then manufacturing. The aircraft fitters and engineers have to be confident that the parts they use are the right ones. There is no margin for error and Infor LN goes a long way in ensuring the highest levels of product integrity.”
PAL is still navigating the functionality of Infor LN. “Our focus on Lean operations means that we don’t do everything at once,” concludes Camp. “We’re building capabilities in business intelligence and product lifecycle management. We like the ability of Infor LN to expand our manufacturing capacity without adding extra layers of management. It fits very well within our overall PACE and Lean frameworks. To EMDA’s credit, they have worked with us to our own schedule and requirements and have added significant value every step of the way. We are working on two large overseas orders for the P-750 XSTOL and we have every confidence that we will be able to produce them, using Infor LN as a basis, quickly, correctly, and most importantly, profitably.”
CUSTOMER STORY Marine Supplies
Re-engineering costing makes boat go fasterwww.c-tech.co.nz
C-Tech, a key supplier of carbon fibre products for America’s Cup yachts, has navigated into new waters thanks to ERP system SyteLine and deployment expert EMDA…
When the 34th America’s Cup is sailed in San Francisco in September, Auckland company C-Tech will be as close to the action as it’s possible to be without actually being aboard either of the competing yachts.
As it has been for more than a decade, the 16-year-old company is a supplier of carbon fibre components to the America’s Cup teams. And C-Tech chief executive Alex Vallings, a sailor, will be competing in San Francisco Bay at the same time as the America’s Cup is being contested.
However, Vallings will be racing an 18-foot skiff with cloth sails while the America’s Cup is fought over by 72-foot catamarans with fixed-wings larger than the wing of a Boeing 747.
Vallings might well have mixed feelings as his boat skips across the waves, knowing that the big cats’ wings have diminished C-Tech’s role in the world’s richest regatta. A key component of a cloth sail, the batten, is absent from the rigid wings.
For most of a decade from 2001, more than three-quarters of C-Tech’s business came from supplying a unique, hollow, tapered rectangular sail batten. When the 31st America’s Cup was sailed in Auckland in 2003, the battens were used by Team New Zealand, Alinghi and Victory Challenge.
At the 2007 Cup in Valencia, says Lyn Holland, C-Tech’s administration manager and Vallings’ partner and fellow sailor, not one of the dozen participating teams was without the battens. “We supplied battens for every syndicate, so we were at our export peak with sail battens making up 80 percent of what we sold.”
The battens’ popularity was down to their strength, lightness and durability – the product of design and manufacturing nous that resided in Vallings’ head.
“Then someone decided to put solid wings on America’s Cup boats and completely ruined our market,” Holland says. “So things changed – and we changed our product mix at the same time.”
At about that time and with that kind of contingency in mind, C-Tech decided to upgrade its cashbook accounting system. The company was prospering – since Vallings started the business in 1997, revenue was approaching NZ$5 million, it had 17 staff and occupied an 1800sq m manufacturing facility in west Auckland.
Much of its success rested on Vallings’ engineering expertise and his ability to accurately cost the made-to-order jobs that came in via the company’s website.
“He built up all the manufacturing processes so could look at a job and know pretty well how long it should take and how much it would weigh so he could multiply that by the cost of carbon to get the material cost. He could pretty much do the labour and material costs in his head, or if it was particularly complex, on a piece of paper,” says Holland.
“Nobody else in the company had that capability or that information.”
However, if the company was ever to be sold, that institutional knowledge needed to be incorporated in its business systems. And there was another long-standing issue: with 80 percent of sales going overseas, currency conversions were time-consuming.
“We wanted to make our exporting process simpler. And we wanted to have a feel for actual costs – take them out of Alex’s head and put them into a bill of materials system. Our eventual objective is that someone will be able to come along and buy the company and its assets and one of them would not be Alex.”
Holland, who ran her own software development business before merging it with C-Tech in 2001, homed in on enterprise resource management (ERP) system Infor SyteLine, supplied by Christchurch-based EMDA. With its strengths in managing complex manufacturing processes and export businesses, it wasn’t long before SyteLine rewarded Holland’s judgment.
When America’s Cup defender Oracle Team USA set the design rules for the regatta being contested in September, far from having the wind taken out of its sails, C-Tech was able to rely on SyteLine to help it develop other product lines.
Battens have gone from being 80 percent of sales to 45 percent and the company has become a supplier of tubular composites for applications as diverse as telescopes, guitar necks and gun silencers. And it is keeping its America’s Cup hand in, making control components for the wings of the 2013 regatta’s yachts.
“Without the costing information we gained from having an ERP system we could have gone down some wrong tracks very easily,” says Holland. “We also have a much clearer picture of product cost versus sell price at a time whe people are taking a lot more care over what they buy. They’re not so willing to pay top dollar and we’ve had to be careful about our margins. SyteLine enabled us to change our product mix because we had visibility of costs.”
The ERP system has also eased the exporter’s exchange rate burden. C-Tech doesn’t engage in currency hedging, but with more than 350 suppliers and 1600 customers, most of them overseas, Holland appreciates SyteLine’s currency conversion functionality.
There was another objective, too, in choosing Infor’s ERP SyteLine, developed using the .Net toolset: C-Tech wanted a system that would interface with in-house software.
“We have a lot of spreadsheets and databases that record laminate information and product technical specifications and we looked for an ERP system that was going to be relatively easy to get things to talk to each other. The integration with Excel was one of the key reasons for choosing Syteline.” Integration remains a work in progress, Holland says.
In the meantime, despite “a much reduced role” in the 34th America’s Cup, Vallings and Holland are eagerly anticipating the event.
“We will be there and I’m looking forward to it,” Holland says
CUSTOMER STORY Distribution
Tui Products Tauranga, New Zealand
Picking accuracy eliminates supply chain reworkwww.tuigarden.co.nz
Seed, fertiliser and garden products company Tui Products has taken back control of complex stockholding by implementing Infor’s Warehouse Mobility solution…
Faced with a problem of continual mis-picks owing to the similarity of stock keeping units (SKUs), the company sought an improved solution to eliminate inaccuracy and the subsequent cost of returned stock. As an existing user of Infor’s LN ERP solution, the introduction of Warehouse Mobility was an obvious step forward.
Tui Products Ltd (Tui) is a 100% New Zealand owned and operated company that has been in business for more than 100 years. The company continually develops innovative products to suit the country’s distinct climate, conditions and lifestyle.
Tui’s information and business systems manager Mark Leslie explains that mis-picks have a significant knock-on effect for the business. “Our products are high-volume, low margin. A lot are very similar in appearance and specification, and that was leading to the wrong items being sent to our customers.”
Not only did this result in difficulties for customers which had to return the products and wait for delivery of the correct items, but the subsequent additional logistics including handling of credit notes and re-entering stock into warehouses incurred unnecessary cost. “That quickly eroded already slim margins,” Leslie confirms.
Tui knew exactly what was required to solve the problem. “We needed a system which would enable us to check the pick list, scan the product and verify if it was indeed on that list and confirm it against the sales order. If yes, it is on the order, off it goes, if not, back on the shelf.”
“We needed a system which would enable us to check the pick list, scan the product and verify if it was indeed on that list.”
Mark Leslie – Information and Business Systems Manager, Tui Products
This sort of information is also essential for production, adds Leslie. “Live inventory means we have a clearer idea of what stock we have on hand, what we have on order and being able to anticipate out-of-stock situations before they happen. All of that has a direct impact on customer service, with one of our key KPIs being Delivery in Full On Time [DIFOT].”
Making the selection of a suitable solution to meet its requirements wasn’t exactly difficult, relates Leslie. “Well, we have Infor LN already in use as the ‘mothership’, and we are close with a number of other businesses which have implemented the module with great results, so we knew what we were in for.”
The module to which he refers is Infor’s Warehouse Mobility. The solution provides visibility of stock movements in and out of warehouses, freeing information for use by sales, production and management staff to get a clear picture of where stock is located and in what quantities.
“The choice of Warehouse Mobility was obvious as we knew it worked, and any other solution would probably require some level of integration to get it working seamlessly with Infor LN; that was a problem we didn’t want to deal with considering the short time frame to implement the WM project,” Leslie adds.
“We immediately know – with confidence – if there is stock available in the warehouse, on the production line, or in the supply chain.”
Mark Leslie – Information and Business Systems Manager, Tui Products
This observation was borne out in practice; he describes the implementation, conducted by Infor implementation partner EMDA over the course of two months, as ‘surprisingly easy’.
It wasn’t only the implementation which went smoothly; Leslie says Warehouse Mobility is simple to use. “The ongoing administration is straightforward. You configure to your business requirements but the end result is how easy the end user found to use the application. Short precise workshop training session ‘scan this or that, upload there’ and it is done. The fact that it is so easy to use makes a hell of a difference to staff buy-in and reduces the negative connotations of change management.”
That’s one perspective; another is that the solution has delivered the improvements in picking accuracy which were desired. “We’ve seen a 67 percent improvement in accuracy. That means 67 percent fewer returned orders, 67 percent less on reverse freight, and 67 percent less credit notes and the resulting processes of returning stock to inventory,” Leslie reports. Tui has recently had the lowest amount of credits in a month since recording results. Tui now scan picks over 95% of all items leaving its warehouse.
Then there is DIFOT, something which he says is far more achievable when the correct items are picked, packed and dispatched the first time. “That improves customer satisfaction, as you can imagine; we sell to wholesalers who need to keep their customers happy. When the right items arrive, everyone is happier.” There is a clear focus on customer satisfaction and being the ‘preferred supplier by choice’ which means we have to get it right.
Putting data at the fingertips of people within Tui who need it, Leslie adds, has improved production accuracy. “We immediately know – with confidence – if there is stock available in the warehouse, on the production line, or in the supply chain; we also know exactly where it is in the system, so locating any given product is simple. That reduces time and motion; it also allows for more accurate production of the items which are running low in inventory.” By knowing where product is along the supply chain it allows Tui to have better visibility of inventory, increased DIFOT and stock levels.
Tui ROI for this projects is two and a half years, this is being achieved through accurate leaner inventory levels, reduced capital requirements because of streamlined processes and looking at minimal miss picks, reduced credits, reverse freight.