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Coram Showers

Coram Showers is the UK's leading specialist in the design and manufacture of shower enclosures, showertrays and bathscreens. The company's range – available in a wide variety of types, sizes and styles of installations – are sold to leading builders' merchants such as Plumb Center, Jackson Building Centres and others.

The Client

Over the years, Coram has completely redesigned its products several times over with the aim of making them easier to install than anything else on the market. Today, the company has many unique design features and construction techniques which enable it to make products that are competitively priced and built to the highest possible standards. As a result, Coram has become a popular choice with UK house builders and with the leading builders’ merchant groups.

Products manufactured at the Bridgnorth, Shropshire, factory include doors, wall channels, frames and corner posts. Among the designed-in features are smooth edges, all screws and fixings are concealed, and all glass is toughened safety glass that complies with BS6206 Class A. The frame is finished to BS6496 and the enclosure is power shower tested to BS6340. Other features of Coram’s showers include a full length, waterproof wall fixing and hinge, said to be the most durable and long lasting on the market, and push-fit bottom seals which enable the installer to make adjustments for out-of-true walls.

Requirements

Not surprisingly, Coram’s commitment to quality does not just apply to the products it makes and in September 2002 the company decided to replace its ageing DOS-based Comet MRP system which was clearly no longer capable of meeting the increasingly demanding requirements of the business.

Says IT Manager Ian Spittle: “As we grew we realised that we needed to move on with our IT. Support for the old system was falling away and it was becoming increasingly difficult to manipulate or to extract any data from it. It was becoming a bit of a nightmare, to be honest, and it was clearly vital that we changed.”

The company set up an implementation team that consisted of key function heads such as the sales manager, sales director, production director, financial manager and IT manager, and drew up a list of potential system suppliers. This was soon reduced to a shortlist of five and all were visited.

Solution

The subsequent aim was to reduce the shortlist even further but the EFACS ERP system from Exel Computer Systems, the UK’s largest author of integrated business solutions for manufacturers, “stood head and shoulders above the rest”, says Mr Spittle, and it was instantly chosen as the preferred system.

“Everyone knew EFACS was the one we wanted,” he says, “because it was way ahead of the others in terms of how it fitted our business and also how it could be manipulated to fit our business with the use of bespoke modules, bespoke reports, and so on. We were also very impressed with the people at Exel. They were very knowledgeable about our industry sector and totally understood our specific needs.”

One of the major features of the EFACS system was this ability to tailor the software to meet the particular needs and demands of the Coram business.

“I’d say that 90% of EFACS as it came out of the box was useful and relevant to how we run our business here,” says Mr Spittle. “However, obviously a system’s never going to be a 100% match but the beauty was that the people from EFACS helped us along the way to get that perfect fit. So we have always had the choice that we could either change our business processes slightly to meet EFACS or alternatively change the software to match the way we operate. Having this flexibility is a major attraction of the system.”

Coram was very pleased with the way the installation and implementation of EFACS went and felt that the system fitted the business so well that there wasn’t any real need to make further changes.

Currently, Coram is using around 70% of the EFACS system – all the MRP modules, the MPS modules, backflushing, sales order processing, purchase order processing, the accountancy system, and the EDI modules. There are parts that will probably never be used, says Ian Spittle, but only because EFACS is designed for use by a wide variety of businesses and Coram’s simply doesn’t match those criteria.

However, Coram is continually looking at how to improve the quality of service that it offers to its customers and in December 2003 the company decided to use EFACS to cut the delivery times of goods to builders’ merchants.

An EDI link was set up between EFACS and a remote warehouse in Stafford where key products are stored. The warehouse is run by a third party haulage company which doesn’t have access to any EFACS modules but when orders come into Bridgnorth – and meet the dual criteria of being key products and for a certain type of customer – the details are fired off to the warehouse as PDF files using the EFACS Mailshot routine and the despatch notes and delivery labels are printed out directly in the warehouse.

Results

As a result, orders are sent out of the door much quicker than was previously possible.

“Before,” says Ian Spittle, “our haulage company didn’t hold any stock. We held it all here at Bridgnorth and when our customers ordered, depending on the cycle for the driver of the lorry, it might have taken three or four days to get the goods out. Now, nine times out of 10 the haulage company can get the orders out the same day that they are received, so the whole delivery process has been improved considerably.”

Mr Spittle concludes: “We knew from the beginning that EFACS was the right system for us and we’ve been proved right time and time again that we obviously made the right decision. We are delighted at the way it has helped to improve our efficiency and our customer services and at how its flexibility gives us the freedom to change the way we operate without having to make major changes to our IT infrastructure.”

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Contact our team of experts to discuss your business requirements. Our team will discuss how Exel’s ERP & Field Service Management software can benefit your business processes and arrange a product demonstration.

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