Integrated system suits changing business needs

A Birmingham based temperature sensors and instruments manufacturer is finding that an integrated system covering all aspects of its operation is satisfying changing business needs and future ambitions.

From its base at the heart of the UK’s manufacturing industry, the Industrial Pyrometer Company (IPCO) manufactures and distributes a wide range of temperature sensors and process instruments. Although the company’s customers are very different, they share a common need.

Many of the company’s products are available ex-stock but IPCO is constantly aware that each customer has its own needs. This principal underpins all aspects of the company’s operations, including the back-office functions, which support the sales, distribution and service departments.

In late 1999, it became apparent to technical director John Milward that the existing business systems were inappropriate for the company’s future ambitions. ‘The features of the old system were inadequate for our changing business needs and support was being withdrawn,’ he said. ‘So we had a golden opportunity to look into the future and produce a wish list of functionality.

‘The ideal system,’ said Milward, ‘would be totally integrated, covering all aspects of IPCO’s business. It would accommodate the inherently diverse requirements of customers and would be web-enabled to allow the company to expand into e-Business. We wanted a slick order processing system and a configurable bill of materials to allow technical sales to be entered into the system through easy-to-use forms. Most importantly, we needed a single solution,’ he explained.

IPCO identified a number of solutions – including an upgrade to the existing system – before narrowing the choice down to two. ‘In the end we chose Damgaard Axapta, supplied and implemented by New Planet Solutions,’ Milward explained. ‘There were a number of reasons but, in particular, we were impressed by their proposals for the customisation of the package and the company’s attention to detail.’

IPCO was attracted to Axapta because of Damgaard’s close relationship with Microsoft; the NT operating system and SQL Server are strategic platforms for IPCO. With future compatibility assured, Milward felt comfortable to base the next stage of IPCO’s development on Axapta.

‘Damgaard Axapta was not the cheapest option but initial cost was not the main concern. The most significant feature was the configurable bill of materials which was a major advantage. Furthermore, it was clear that Axapta would provide a long-term growth path for IPCO, which would provide business benefits at all stages of the process – from order entry to distribution and after sales support.’

The system was installed in six weeks and during this time, NPS consultants created a fully configurable bill of materials, sales order and purchase order processing and completed full integration into IPCO’s financial management and stock control system.

Through rigorous project management it was possible to implement the system at the end of IPCO’s first financial quarter without the need to run the systems in parallel. As a result, IPCO now has an end-to-end, web enabled ERP system which has been customised to fit the company’s precise requirements.

Since implementation, IPCO has experienced enhanced productivity, improved inventory control, and better customer service. The company can now create a bill of materials per sales order – unimaginable under the old system – integrated with stock control and financials. This has drastically improved stock management and, hence, overall financial performance.

‘We are delighted at the results of this project,’ said Milward. ‘The new system has helped save time by eliminating the re-entering of order information. It has also streamlined key processes ranging from customising shipping labels to tracking ‘lots’ of IPCO products for better quality control.

‘My production supervisor says it knocks spots off our old system. From the outset, NPS provided us with a vision of a solution’ which met our current requirements completely with the added advantage of being future proof. NPS completed the project on time and on budget. The level of commitment and expertise demonstrated by NPS is exceptional.’