When Ontario-based Atlantic Tube & Steel (AT&S), a manufacturer of automotive and structural steel tubing, needed an ERP solution, it turned to SYSPRO Business Systems to help maintain inventory and volume advantages while at the same time help AT&S stick to the required high quality standards. Today, if an order of steel does not conform to specifications, and if AT&S receives a customer complaint, the company can now use SYSPRO to quickly identify the relevant production run.
“With that information, we can take all the rest of that steel out of stock,” says Larry Brandon, AT&S’s sales manager. “That way we avoid sending the wrong product to other customers, which helps us eliminate, or at least minimize, any negative quality perceptions that might arise in the market.”
Lot traceability also allows AT&S to drill down to the source components of any production run. “That saves us a lot of time. It also lets us go back to our suppliers in a timely fashion if their product doesn’t meet our specifications,” adds Brandon.
SYSPRO is one of the leading, and longest standing, international vendors of business software and solutions. It has over 30 years experience in the ERP industry. The company is operational in over 60 countries across the world with over 1500 channel and support partners.
The company boasts of a client roster of 14,500 customers within vertical markets ranging from manufacturing and distribution to financial services. One of the industries SYSPRO supplies solutions to is the automotive sector.
“To succeed, the automotive components and accessories industry must offer superior products in a collaborative environment in the correct quantity, at the right price and right time, while improving production flow and cycle times. SYSPRO for Automotive Components and Accessories provides creative, innovative solutions to these challenges. The Blanket Sales Orders and Releases module facilitates the unique requirement of the automotive industry in which automotive OEMs perform call offs against order contracts they have with component suppliers on a regular basis,” says a company statement.
SYSPRO enables the industry to manage the entire supply chain, allowing an integrated view of all operations from production planning and scheduling, to purchasing and invoicing. SYSPRO facilitates the streamlining of business processes, enabling customers to accurately forecast sales quotas and operating budgets; and to track progress on the shop floor, in the warehouse and distribution center. “Our inventory forecasting and serial tracking systems facilitate the forecasting, recording and replenishment of inventories, while our engineering change control applications provide the means to control and record changes to bill of materials, as well as enabling archived bills to be accessed at any time,” says the company.
SYSPRO also has a number of specialized car manufacturers as clients. Specialized vehicle manufacturing covers a wide range of organizations, from Formula One racing cars and high-performance automobiles to military vehicles, buses and fire trucks. While the range of products and customers in the industry is diverse, specialized vehicle manufacturers share common challenges – the industry operates in highly competitive markets, often with a high cost of tendering, products are typically of a high value and highly customized, and there are onerous aftermarket demands.
For example, one of SYSPRO’s clients is Ontario Drive & Gear (ODG) which makes specialty vehicles – the ARGO and Centaur which are amphibious all-terrain vehicles. Both are world leaders in their categories, and are designed to meet the demands of the off-road vehicle market. These six- and eight-wheel drive vehicles transport people and equipment through challenging terrains which are inaccessible to other traditional all-terrain vehicles.
In 1991, ODG was using four separate systems for Inventory, Accounting, Sales and Material Requirements Planning. The challenge was to com¬bine all four systems into an integrated management system. The system needed to be rock solid – stability and data integrity were of foremost importance, followed closely by a requirement for flexibility, transparency and affordability.
ODG chose SYSPRO because administration of the system was minimal and never needed an IT specialist to manage it. When the company first got SYSPRO’s ERP solution, ODG had just one facility and 40 employees – today it operates two plants and has 145 employees. “The flexibility in the system was provided by the countless options that allowed us to tailor it to our specific needs as opposed to having to adapt our processes to the system. When this was not possible and we had to adapt to the program, we found that SYSPRO improved our thinking, our processes, and our assumptions,” said Michael Eckardt, VP Finance at ODG.
Automotive Industries (AI) asked Phil Duff, CEO of SYSPRO Worldwide, to tell us a little about the unique features of a new mobile platform SYSPRO is developing.
Duff: The SYSPRO Espresso architecture is one of the first platforms of its kind to use a single source codebase (for the business logic) to create native applications for any mobile device, with built-in powerful customization capabilities both for the end-user and for developers to engage. SYSPRO Espresso will provide customers access to all their business information as easily as if it were at their desk and will work on any popular mobile device, including the desktop. Additional unique features of SYSPRO Espresso are:
The tailored experience enabling customers to customize the look and experience of SYSPRO Espresso applications
Always accessible: even when not connected SYSPRO Espresso applications work offline – synchronize later when you have a connection
Library of applications available: SYSPRO Espresso applications will be available via the trusted community platform of the SYSPRO App Store
AI: How do you see the platform helping your automotive customers?
Duff: The ability to access, search and retrieve real-time SYSPRO data (sales and service information, supplier and parts information) anywhere, anytime will speed up the ordering process. This will enable our automotive customers to provide a faster, personalized service to their customers. Our Product Configurator solution is of particular relevance to our specialist vehicles automotive customers as it will enable them to do immediate on-the-floor configuration and ordering.
AI: What are some of the biggest differences in the requirements of your automotive customers as compared to those in other industries?
Duff: The high cost of an error in this industry makes traceability critical, with a far bigger reliance on data. For this reason we have ensured our various solutions like Blanket Purchase Orders and Releases provide our automotive customers with comprehensive tools to record contracts with their suppliers, and an accurate means of tracking and reconciling cumulative release quantities and converting them into purchase order quantities. Our Engineering Change Control (ECC) enables our automotive customers to apply strict control over their design-to-market processes by providing an integrated rules-based electronic workflow system with full version control, security and auditable history. It also gives them the tools to record and track new and modified product design and process changes, assess the impact of these changes on costs and associated data, and control the change routing and approval processes.
AI: Tell us a little about your vision for SYSPRO’s automotive business. Duff: Our vision for all our customers, not just those in the automotive business acknowledges the economic uncertainty facing companies, and which forces them to focus on attaining greater efficiency. SYSPRO needs to provide our customers with the tools to perform greater scenario planning, manage suppliers more efficiently to ensure reliable delivery, and improve the bottom line by closely managing production, scrap and cost variances. We have embraced the trend for ERP applications to be more ‘consumer-friendly’ through the consumerization of ERP and an improvement in how users engage the software, as well as how they acquire the software. SYSPRO believes that increasing the adoption rate for ERP applications that will ultimately help make implementations successful, is driven in part by improving the overall user experience – users embrace applications that are friendly to use and more intuitive. With all this in mind SYSPRO is investing resources in the following:
Enhancing our Warehouse Management offering
More agile what-if planning and improved quotation processes will allow SYSPRO customers to deal with the most discerning customers
The facilitation of the move towards cloud computing and to improve how SYSPRO can be run over the Internet
We have created a SYSPRO App Store that allows developers to publish their works, and for customers to browse and purchase these applications. This provides choice to the consumer who will be able to acquire and download applications that have been developed anywhere in the world.
AI: What are some of the strategic differences in approach to regular automotive OEMs and those manufacturing specialty vehicles?
Duff: Regular automotive OEMs tend to operate in a make-to-order environment in which case the design phase has already been completed and customer requirements start with, and are specified in the sales order. The focus is then on ensuring an efficient order-to-invoice processing. Manufacturers of specialty vehicles operate largely in an engineer-to-order environment which will include an upfront design phase, and therefore the process starts with the design phase which is often done in collaboration with the customer. Therefore the use of SYSPRO’s Product Configurator enables manufacturers of specialty vehicles to be responsive and to provide a fast personalized service to their customers.
AI: How do global automotive OEMs benefit from SYSPRO’s ERP solutions? How do you customize SYSPRO’s solutions to fit regional requirements?
Duff: Particularly for component and material suppliers of original equipment manufacturers (OEM) synchronizing supply with customer demand is a key requirement to prevent costly line stoppages in assembly plants. This involves not only automating order processing and other processes in the supply chain, but also executing production plans using LEAN principles. SYSPRO Blanket Sales Orders and Releases provides the tools to record contracts with OEM customers, as well as an accurate means of tracking and reconciling cumulative release quantities and converting them into sales order quantities. SYSPRO Blanket Sales Orders enable SYSPRO customers to easily update call-off schedules for their OEM clients, as well as reconcile the cumulative position against their OEM contracts. Confirmed customer schedules, in turn, become an input for demand planning and ultimately, production and purchasing requirements linked to the relevant schedule requirement dates. SYSPRO’s Requirements Planning and Factory Scheduling provide you with the tools to implement LEAN principles manage the replenishment process and ensure that you meet your OEM contract service levels. Streamlined electronic collaboration with your OEM customers is facilitated through features such as Document Flow Manager, SYSPRO e.net solutions, EDI, Office Automation and Messaging, fax, email and various Business-to-Business import and export functions, thus reducing response time, margin for error and penalties associated with disruption to OEM production lines.
With regards to our fit for regional requirements, SYSPRO has an enviable track record in the ERP market for providing our customers globally with the flexibility and customizability they need to deliver on the requirements in their markets. A good example of this is how our system has been able to integrate with eNaTIS (Electronic National Traffic Information System) in South Africa and enabled the capturing in the system of each vehicle’s unique details like chassis number, engine number etc. Finally with our App Store we have created an online marketplace in which the SYSPRO community can access purpose-built solutions from all over the world, therefore providing our community with far greater choice as well as the opportunity to see what other organizations are doing to extend the value of their SYSPRO systems.