“By the mid-2000s,” explains Paul Clifford — the then Managing Director, and now Company Chairman — “It had become clear that the business (then known as KATO Entex) needed to invest in an ERP system.”
“We had a lot of disjointed systems, communications were poor and one department didn’t know what the other was doing,” he recalls.
On the company’s main Southwell site, for instance, a Pegasus accounting package delivered invoicing and basic stock control capabilities, while everything else relied on either paper-based manual systems, or spreadsheets. Clearly, it was time to move forwards into the ERP era. But using which ERP system? And from which ERP provider? A search of the ERP marketplace began.
“Any ERP system selected by Advanex had to meet a number of very clear functional requirements,” explains IT Manager, Ashley Reast.
“A lot of the company’s production is bespoke make-to-order manufacturing,” he notes, “and so scheduling and available-to-promise capabilities were important in order to provide customers with accurate and reliable delivery dates for their orders.”
Likewise, from a shop floor point of view, it was important that the chosen system fully supported the business’s planning, engineering and production processes, all the way from initial Bill of Material (BoM) creation and management, right through to the toolroom, manufacturing and finishing operations that produce the completed product.
Fairly obviously, workstation-by-workstation ‘work to’ lists would be vital to achieving the improvements in due-date performance that the company was seeking. Better costing information was another important requirement, with Advanex wanting to get away from purely manual costing processes and begin automatic cost build-ups based on real shop floor data. Finally, given the nature of the company’s major markets, requirements such as traceability and job recording were very important.