If an ERP system cannot map new business processes, it has to be replaced. A Franconian mid-sized company has hit the mark both with a new system and with its IT Partner.
"We want to convince the industry to move away from welding, screwing and riveting and towards adhesives," Jan Scheibe, IT project manager at Röckelein GmbH, Nuremberg, puts his finger on a corporate goal. The company, founded in 1975 as a retailer of adhesive tapes, abrasives and work protection products, today employs 70 staff and produces stamping parts made from adhesive tapes and prints all types of adhesive packaging tapes. They obtain most of the tapes from their premium partner 3M and then finish them by cutting and stamping the log rolls or parent rolls or laser cutting shapes from them. A further key production area is printing adhesive packaging tapes. The Nuremberg office houses the administration, accounting and sales departments while production, the central warehouse and sales for eastern regions are located in Reuth, near Zwickau, in Saxony.
The customers come from all sectors of industry, mainly from the automotive and electronics industries. Röckelein now achieves 58 percent of company sales with production articles. However, the old ERP system was designed completely for the commercial side and did not cover production at all. Delivery dates for production articles, machine capacity and production planning could only be worked out manually. "We couldn't carry on like that. We wanted to continue growing, but it could only work with modern IT," says Scheibe, explaining the situation. Therefore, it was decided in 2011 to move to a new, modern ERP system that could include production and would enable all company processes to be consistently mapped.
For this purpose, the head of IT initially looked for appropriate programs at relevant trade fairs and selected four providers to which he presented a catalogue of requirements. A preliminary meeting was then held with each candidate, in which the catalogue points were once again discussed in detail. At a follow-up meeting each candidate could then present its solution in a demo system. "It was important for us to see in advance if we could stay with the standard solution or whether we would need to perform a lot of adaptation," says Scheibe, naming one of the selection criteria. In addition, he was keen to be able to do some of the programming himself, for example, adding or deleting tables or fields.
The decision was clearly in favour of the Microsoft Dynamics NAV ERP solution because the standard version of the system effectively covered 90 percent of all requirements. The presentation by the Microsoft partner COSMO CONSULT also proved key to making the decision. "COSMO CONSULT rounded off the whole thing with advice and additional modules that they had developed themselves," says Scheibe. So in addition to the ERP standard, the company uses the COSMO CONSULT process manufacturing, quality management, workflow management and supplier evaluation modules and the Sievers DATEV interface. COSMO CONSULT also programmed a product master data generator that led to significant time and work savings when transferring data into the new system.
The most impressive change made by the new system was the production sequence planning process. In the cutting shop, different knives are used to cut different adhesive tapes. Dynamics NAV now saves the right knife or tool for each machine and each material. The software can now plan the production sequence based not only on the due date for the order but also on the tool required. The sales team enters the new orders into the system, which then starts a planning run and creates production orders, which the sequence planning system sorts automatically according to the due date and the tools required. Frequent, superfluous set-up times are a thing of the past.
The old system only allowed a production order for a final product, while the intermediate steps were handwritten in a folder that accompanied the order. "That method was a source of numerous errors," recalls Scheibe. These days the sales team enters the order into the system and the planning run determines that it needs not only one but two articles: the cut rolls and the completed stamped parts. Therefore, the software creates two production orders and plans both according to the due date and the tools needed for the corresponding machines.
Once an order is completed in the cutting shop, the time and material are recorded and the order is completed and posted to stock. This tells the second production order that its material is now available so that production can begin. Here too, the finished product is posted to stock. The posted stamped parts that will be needed in the next three days are automatically recognised by the system during the next cycle for warehouse commissioning and a pick note is created. "This warehouse commissioning system has enabled us to reduce shipping errors to almost zero," enthuses the IT manager.
A major step forward has also been made in terms of batch tracking. Every product that is delivered is assigned a batch number in the ERP system. One log roll is used to make 20 cut rolls, which in turn yield 50,000 stamped parts. If a customer then complains, for example, about the adhesive strength, the whole batch can easily be traced. Another major success is the increase in punctual delivery. Scheibe describes the situation: "In the automotive industry in particular, a late delivery is bad, but an early delivery is just as bad." Under the old system, the employees looked in a folder and tried to process the orders on time. Today, Dynamics NAV automatically helps to keep to the prescribed deadlines through production planning.
In addition to many other advances in production such as the determination of requirements with automatic procurement proposals, successes have also been seen in management. "There are many standard reports in the system. But we also chose it because, among other things, you can create a lot of reports yourself," recalls head of IT Scheibe, citing the daily reports on machine capacity, for example, which he can easily adapt to the company's internal requirements. The management can now look up current sales or profit margins, compare target costs with actual costs and refer to many other up-to-date key figures.
So Röckelein is not only satisfied with its new ERP program but also with its IT partner. "A new ERP system can be one of the most important steps for positive company development. It is essential to do everything with the right partner and this is exactly what we have done," Scheibe is sure of that. He puts together a small change package every quarter, mostly consisting of requests that he cannot perform himself. These are minor points that Cosmo Consult usually implements in two or three days. And Microsoft Dynamics NAV is also to be expanded within the company. This includes functions such as the barcode scanner connection, production data acquisition and personnel time management or changes to graphic user interfaces. "Our previous successes show that we are on the right path with both the program and our IT partner. And we are going to continue along it," concludes Scheibe.