Innova Packaging Systems (IPS) develops packaging material handling products, pallets and containers for use primarily by the animal fodder industry. The company was founded in 1988 and is based in the historic town of Ypres in Belgium. A particular hallmark of the packaging production sector is the high cost of raw materials. “This ate into about 55 percent of our turnover,” says director Jacques Vanmoortel. “It was therefore essential to see over our inventory in a strategic manner. Only once you have a clear view of the matter are you in a position to make the most efficient decisions.”
This was one of the many essential requirements IPS had when the company went in search of an ERP system. For ten years, IPS had made use of a system that had been developed in-house. This was becoming cumbersome due to the many adaptations and fixes that had been added over the years.
“We went in search of a new ERP system, one that would guarantee continuity of our operations and which would require as few difficult modifications as possible. The package needed to include all aspects of production and ensure user friendliness and reliability,” continues Vanmoortel.
The ERP solution would also need to be suited to a mid-sized operation. “We don’t have a large IT department and could therefore not establish a team to devote lots of time to overseeing a new system.”
After a thorough analysis of the market, IBS ERP software, which comprises IBS Enterprise software, IBS Dynamic warehouse management software and IBS Dynaflow, stood out as the clear choice. The ERP software would ensure efficiency, right from the moment a customer orders to delivery of goods, including all associated administration.
One of the most important criteria in the search for a new ERP system was the drawing up of a preliminary plan and then the actual implementation. “We needed a partner who had enough insight into our business to put forward a solution that provided the most capabilities.” Preparation of the software was undertaken by a limited group, during the short period from June 2006 to January 2007.
The data from the old system could well have been converted, but was not transferred to the new ERP system. “This was a conscious decision on our part: to start from scratch, with a system that offered better capabilities.”
Efficient warehouse management systems
With the new solution, IBS Dynaflow monitors the production orders for each machine. The material for each order is selected based on previously sent data from the laboratory. The choice of raw materials allows the creation of a pick-list in the dynamic warehouse management system. The status of each order is monitored and labels printed to keep track and identify each production. In the new warehouse system, various raw materials are allocated to categories for each job and can therefore be compared with finished products, leading to greater visibility. In the previous system, jobs used article numbers which made analysis impossible. Now, with a range of alternatives, the best manner in which to meet the demands for and complete each order can be quickly deduced.
Vanmoortel explains, “Because of the ability to completely track and classify our products in the ERP system, we have far greater order status visibility. I can simply log on from either my office or my home and instantly see what jobs each machine is currently working on, how much has been completed and what planning remains to be done. This is very useful for a company that needs to operate 24-hours a day.”
Transparency has been heightened for external partners, too. Customers receive a reference number for each order that allows them to track their orders right up to when they are ready for transport or collection.
To be able to follow manufacture and logistics in real-time has given enormous added-value, as has the software’s capability to render reports and analysis. The true cost of each product can be exactly calculated. Complete integration across all modules of the application provides insight into not only the raw materials used, but also tracks the cycle times of each machine to determine lead-times for every order that is processed.
IBS consultant Bart Nuyttens elaborates, “IPS makes full use of the flexibility and user-friendliness of the warehouse management system. Not only does this provide a business with insight into the exact situation of the company’s operations, but also identifies where increased efficiency and optimization can be achieved. From a practical point of view, various functional aspects of the software have been implemented step-by-step – this has been an efficient way in which to quickly get up and running, get users up to speed and to get the most out of ERP system.”