A single, flexible, ERP solution for Mettis Aerospace

Consolidating several IT systems into one solution makes good sense. Backed by expertise from Exel Computer Systems plc, Mettis Aerospace has installed EFACS E/8 to do just that. It has introduced common business processes, enhanced data availability and has the ability to adapt to future requirements.

Mettis Aerospace provides precision-forged and machined components in titanium, aluminium and special steels for the aerospace industry. Based in Redditch, the company employs 510 people and has a turnover of £60 million. Customers include Airbus, Boeing and Rolls Royce.

 

When three companies merged in 2001 to form Mettis Aerospace, it relied on two main IT systems. Installed in 1992, EFACS was used for financials while Sanderson PICS covered production. The systems supported four main business units on one site - Precision Forge, Aerostructures Forge, Structural Forge and Machining & Surface Treatments.

"The problem we had were different processes for each of these areas," says IT Manager Dave Green.

Having two databases wasn't easy. Data from the Sanderson multi-value database was extracted to the EFACS database. It was impossible to drill down from financials into the production system. Reporting made use of comma delimited files, spreadsheets and a separate Microsoft SQL Server database.

"It was very fragmented and took a lot of handholding to ensure the data got to where it needed to be. We had to pay for support for EFACS and Sanderson even though we only used certain aspects of both," says Dave Green. "From an IT perspective, we were unable to move the business forward."

Single solution

Mettis Aerospace decided to implement a single integrated solution for easier support and to end complex interfacing.

"We wanted a common business system with a central data repository. We needed to streamline our processes, so we needed workflow. We also wanted to improve data availability."

The decision was between Exel's EFACS E/8 and Sanderson Unity. Both offered a reimplementation for the cost of an upgrade. Not liking its multi-value database technology, the Sanderson solution was soon ruled out.

By opting for EFACS E/8, data could be extracted from both databases, restructured and reloaded. The system could also be tailored without the costs of bespoke customisation. Processes were able to be streamlined as workflow came as standard.

"We have a really good long-standing relationship with Exel. The feature set of EFACS E/8 fitted with our objectives and the implementation cost was favourable."

Building confidence

As the overall project manager, Dave Green called upon Exel for project management, data mapping and training skills. The in-house implementation team was drawn from key departments.

"I worked with Exel to develop the project plan. We had a core team of 12 Mettis staff."

Training was given by Exel to this group who then wrote new process documents. Their work revolved around the challenges of data extraction and mapping, as well as a new chart of accounts. Mettis also increased the capacity of its existing virtual environment before Exel installed EFACS E/8.

Much confidence was gained by the company's team, thanks to Exel's timely and knowledgeable support. Test uploads to the new database were successfully refined for each department until the idea of parallel running seemed unnecessary.

"Exel's help was very good. They did what we asked of them," says Dave Green. "We then took the decision not to have parallel running."

After a final preparatory weekend in November 2013, the new system went live for over 100 users on the Monday morning. An invoice run was successfully completed by lunchtime.

Common processes

The operational differences were immediately noticeable. For example, the company's test and release quality assurance process had been rationalised across the four main business units. The same idea was used elsewhere too.

"We managed to pull all the different ways of working from the four business units together into one process for each functional area like purchasing, finance and sales."

Mettis Aerospace has spent two years building on these achievements. The new database, using Microsoft SQL Server, is a single data repository which also helps when tailoring the system.

"The killer feature for us is flexibility. We have used the EFACS E/8 Customisation Toolkit and Workflow module a lot," says Dave Green.

Workflow has seen users go completely paperless for purchase requisitions. The Customisation Toolkit allows additional fields to be added to applications for workflow or reporting purposes.

Document Management pulls together vital information and provides easy, auditable access. Users also enjoy "far superior" standard search capabilities.

More automation and streamlining of business processes is planned, in order to increase productivity. Contract Control and Engineering Change Control modules are being looked at too.

"The availability of data is now vastly improved. We can get at the data like we have never been able to before," says Dave Green.