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CBE +

CBE+ has expertise in precision engineering, electroless nickel plating, gear cutting and laboratory services.

Business Imperative

Privately-owned engineering firm CBE+ was formed when the owners of a Sheffield engineering firm sold the business, and then acquired two separate Chesterfield-based engineering firms – a precision engineering firm that produced complex components for some of the most demanding industries in the world, and a metal treatments and finishing business.

“The challenge was that the two businesses used different manufacturing and finance systems,” explains Lindsay Atkins, CBE+ Group Operations Director. “In one business we had one manufacturing system linked to QuickBooks for finance, and in the other business we had a different manufacturing system linked to Sage for finance.”

Challenge

And with four systems and two separate databases, she explains, obtaining a group-wide view of the combined business was very difficult.

“We were spending all our time amalgamating data, rather than analysing it and working with it,” sums up Atkins. “Plus, people in the two businesses knew their way around one set of systems, but struggled to use both.”

Moreover, she adds, the level of embedded functionality in the two manufacturing systems left something to be desired. Capacity planning, for instance, was generally carried out on spreadsheets, while a CRM capability was completely lacking.

What to do? The answer, she explains, was obvious: migrate away from the present systems, and move to one highly-capable ERP system that would embrace both businesses, and so provide the group-wide visibility, control and coordination that was presently lacking.

And which highly-capable ERP system, in particular? Once again, relates Atkins, the answer was obvious: Exel Computer Systems’ EFACS E/8 ERP system.

Why Exel?

The owners and senior management team at CBE+ knew Exel Computer Systems well, she explains, and were very familiar with Exel’s EFACS E/8 system.

The reason? The now-sold Sheffield engineering firm that had preceded CBE+ had used EFACS E/8, and CBE+ management were fully aware of EFACS E/8’s capabilities and credentials. Moreover, she adds, there was a high level of cultural ‘fit’ with Exel’s personnel, as well as with the EFACS E/8 user group.

“In the context of CBE+, we knew that we were dealing with two very different manufacturing environments – a batch engineering business, and a process-led metals finishing and treatments business that carried out nickel plating and other similar treatments. An ERP system intended for both environments had to be very capable indeed – and with EFACS E/8, we knew from past experience that it could do the job.”

Implementation

Accordingly, in the autumn of 2019 CBE+ management opened a dialogue with Exel, signing the contract in early November.

This wasn’t to be a conventional implementation, however – and in two important respects.

First, CBE+ management were keen to implement EFACS E/8 very rapidly – very rapidly indeed, stresses Atkins. Not only would a rapid implementation enable the two businesses to access the benefits of EFACS E/8 more quickly, but an aggressive implementation timetable would mean that CBE+ could avoid the payment of another round of software subscriptions and licence fees to the companies providing the soon-to-be decommissioned systems.

And second, CBE+ would be buying EFACS E/8 licenses, but running the software remotely, on a leased and hosted platform. With two physically-separate businesses sharing a single domain, explains Atkins, a hosted system was the best way of provisioning EFACS E/8 across the group.

Implementation began in January 2020, and very soon was impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, with Exel implementation personnel forced to support the implementation remotely. Nevertheless, the team at CBE+ made rapid progress with the implementation, thanks partly to their prior experience with the software, and partly by electing to focus on the core requirements – in the metals treatment and finishing business, for instance, capacity planning would be left for a subsequent implementation phase.

Accordingly, CBE+ went ‘live’ with EFACS E/8 on June 1st 2020, exactly on schedule.

Business Benefits

“Now, we’ve got a single version of the truth, automatically, without having to log off one system and log onto another,” enthuses Atkins. “All the information that we need is accessible and visible, with no need to reconcile and amalgamate the underlying data.”

“Plus, we’ve got a capacity planning capability in the precision engineering business, and one planned for the metals treatment and finishing business – as well as CRM, which we didn’t have before. And we’ve got a Business Intelligence capability too, thanks to EFACS E/8’s inbuilt Microsoft Power BI capability.”

“In short, we’ve gone from four systems and two databases to one system, and one database – and two businesses poised for greater productivity and faster growth.”

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