Simoldes Plasticos is one of the world’s leading developers and suppliers of injected plastic moldings for the automotive industry. It’s one of two divisions of the Simoldes Group – the other division, Simoldes Tools, makes the molds. With three factories in Portugal, two in Brazil as well as one in France and Poland, Simoldes Plasticos offers a service to the world’s global motor manufacturers.
But this, says Pedro Pinho, IT Director at the company’s headquarters in Oliveira de Azemeis in northern Portugal, was part of the problem. “Since 2000 we have had very strong business growth which has our revenue rise to 260 million Euros,” he says. “We began to expand all over the world and we had a strong strategy for selling. But that created an information problem. We had a lot of information, all based on different systems, and the linking all of this information was very time consuming.” For example, they might have a project using factories in Portugal and Poland, and perhaps subcontracting as well. “It was hard to control efficiency and the total process,” says Pinho.
The issue didn’t affect the quality of their products or their logistics, but it did affect their internal control structures, so they began looking for a solution which they could use all over the world says Pinho, adding: “We wanted a standard vision, to be able to consolidate and control all group activity.” After looking at a number of software suppliers to find the right solution, they chose IBS Enterprise Financials. IBS held appeal since Simoldes had been working with the company for ten years and IBS was also clearly able to provide solutions all over the world.
But an important point for Simoldes was that the software was easy to use and install. “We looked at software which was more complex,” Pinho recalls, “but we would have needed more people in project management. We didn’t want a big key user team; we wanted straight-forward applications.” They set up a small team to work with IBS to define the core model and that core model worked everywhere. “Configuration was not so drastic,” says Pinho. “We didn’t have to adapt the software – we only had to configure it – and we took a bit longer over the configuration to make operations easier.” IBS designed special sub-projects and interfaced the system with Simoldes’ production and logistics software.
The system is centralized at the company’s headquarters in Portugal, where there is still some fine-tuning going on. Simoldes’ main partner has been the IBS office in Portugal, but other IBS offices were involved in supporting the installation in other countries. Roll out throughout Europe took just over a year and two factories in Brazil will follow next. A little extra time was required for the roll out in Poland, due to different legal requirements, but that was anticipated. “The main issue was not with the software but with changing the procedures in the accounting areas,” says Pinho. “People who work with accounts traditionally like using paper, but eventually they took to the software because of its ease of use and functionality.”
Improved business flow
Simoldes has also implemented IBS Corporate Data Maintenance (CDM) software. This solution integrates and coordinates the flow of business information between Simoldes’ different units and legal entities helping the company achieve substantial savings and benefits.
Company-wide collaboration and sharing of data helps improve the use of resources through aggregating and automating company processes. With IBS CDM, Simoldes has taken steps to achieve online control of its total enterprise finances – a must in today’s economy.
“Because we have a structure that is based on headquarters and then we have plants all over the world, IBS CDM allows us to control and to define things in headquarters and then to propagate this information to all the plants, so it’s making our job much easier” states Pinho.
Decisions made easy
But the important thing is that Simoldes has got what it wanted: prompt figures from all of its facilities in a simple, compatible format which allows for accurate decision making. “We now have more transparency in our business and we can take decisions faster,” Pinho explains. “We get on-time reports with all the information we need, and that gives us tight control over costs and inefficiencies. Top management can see things very clearly and promptly. The software provides us with the truth to go after costs.”
He says that it is difficult to determine a clear return on investment in money terms just yet. “It’s the transparency which is important. But we are already seeing costs dropping and are well below budget.” The automotive component business is a tough one, and now Simoldes can go to customers with up-to-date information. “We need real-time figures when we go to clients to talk about prices,” Pinho points out. “There is continuous pressure for cost reduction, and we now have the figures to put forward with our case.”
The ten year relationship with IBS has provided Simoldes with a business partner that has all the necessary tools for supporting the company’s business. “Our relationship with IBS is running very smoothly and we get a quick response. It’s all working very well from our point of view,” concludes Pinho.