A SYSPRO ERP system from K3 Syspro (K3) is underpinning the manufacturing, warehousing and distribution for GW International.

Take a huge range of products, half produced by your own manufacturing facility, half imported from specialist manufacturers in the Far East, the need to react to specific client demands and seasonal changes in the end customer market, and always make sure you get the right product, in the right number, to the right place at the right time. That’s exactly what one leading UK manufacturer consistently does to maintain its number one position in the bakeware, kitchen tools and gadgets market.

From its base in Burnley the bakeware manufacturer GW International leads the world in design and production of baking tins. The company prides itself on combining exceptional service with an ongoing commitment to ISO 9002 quality assurance. The company has over 2000 product lines, which adds up to over 16 million items going through the factory gate each year. Manufacturing of this scale involves a mountain of associated data, all of which requires automation and management. For GW International, SYSPRO ERP cures the data management headache and ensures that the company can meet its commitments to its customer base of approx 400 accounts.

  • Meeting numerous challenges

Challenges abound in manufacturing and GW International has to meet several. Tina Carswell, Commercial Director, at GW International, says: “The greatest challenge to us is to manage our huge product range and make sure that our customers get exactly what they need, exactly when they need it. Essentially the production and supply requirements together with warehouse stockholding are of paramount importance to our production planning. SYSPRO ERP provides this information; and is a huge improvement on our previous system.”

There are two main parts to GW International’s operations: bakeware manufacturing and importing kitchen tools and gadgets from suppliers in the Far East. “SYSPRO ERP balances the two sides of the business effectively right across the board,” says Tina Carswell.

On one hand, the system must assist with ensuring that the bakeware presses are turning sheet metal into tins and trays and on the other it is helping to ensure sufficient supplies of kitchen accessories are stocked and distributed to customers. At first glance this looks like a straightforward manufacturing and distribution situation. However, GW International provides value added custom manufacturing for specific customers worldwide. This will normally entail a change in design, colour and label according to the customer’s requirements. Such agile manufacturing requires efficiency and access to quality data.

GW International operates two distinct manufacturing styles: manufacturing for stock to serve the domestic market and made-to-order manufacturing which predominantly support the requirements of international and overseas customers. In such situations inventory management can be a huge issue as there is a need for product visibility and traceability, but here SYSPRO ERP has solved the problem through its integrated Advanced Warehouse Management (AWM) module.

Behind all of the operational challenges sat an accountancy bottle neck, which for a PLC that prepares monthly reports was unacceptably demanding and constraining. Ultimately, the challenge for any system is to make accurate, up-to-date information available to all key personnel. SYSPRO ERP was the key to providing the right information to allow GW International to meet the varying needs both internally and externally.

  • Solving the Issues

GW International replaced its ageing and over-stretched SSA Global ERP system with SYSPRO ERP in January 2006. SYSPRO helps to manage the business as a whole: MRP, ordering, production, warehousing, distribution and accounting. It enables comprehensive data input, including integrated EDI and barcode scanning therefore boosting accuracy and providing real-time information throughout the organisation. Product visibility is provided by using unique barcodes generated by the system and applied to each item, prior to palletisation.

The solution includes the SYSPRO Advanced Warehouse Management module to help manage inventory. “We wanted a one-stop-shop system that was totally integrated into a seamless system. We had no motivation to include a second software company,” reports Tina Carswell. “SYSPRO Advanced Warehouse Management is providing us with full traceability of products and full documentation. In the past, pallets could often be misplaced, but they now are the exception.”

Tina Carswell highlights the substantial improvement in stocktaking that SYSPRO ERP has enabled. “We performed a stock take at the end of June 2007 and were able to complete it in less than 24 hours. This used to take 3 days. The system only identified a £1,800 variance in £25 million worth of stock. This was a fantastic result and demonstrates complete and constant accuracy of stock.

“In the past we would stock take and the figures would be correct for a few weeks. Then we would have to recheck at the various locations to be sure of what exactly was in the warehouse. Now we don’t have to constantly check what the system reports as we know it is accurate. We now run stock takes twice a year in line with our audit requirement,” Tina Carswell says.

  • Applying the technology

Manufacturing begins with customer orders that are received from customers using an EDI system that integrates seamlessly with SYSPRO ERP. Orders also come via fax and telephone from sales personnel and the companies network of agents. Processing this information is easy as the ERP system makes light work of it, triggering the required actions to fulfil the orders. “Before we implemented SYSPRO ERP we thought we would need another sales order administrator,” says Tina Carswell. Following automated order processing, and depending on the requirements, manufacturing or a stock draw down is actioned. All stock – Burnley manufactured or imported – goes to the warehouse. Forklift truck operators equipped with barcode scanners use the barcode to put away the stock in their respective holding areas. The process is reversed when picking orders using a pick list generated from SYSPRO ERP; here the pickers collect the pallets and take them to assembly prior to loading the delivery trucks.

Tina Carswell comments, “Implementing the AWM module was not without its own challenges as our staff had to learn to trust that the system was delivering real-time information. So, it took them a little bit of time to settle in to the idea that if the system said we had X number of a certain item in stock, we definitely had that item and in those numbers. Now however, staff wants to use the system elsewhere, such as in picking smaller orders made up from individual cases of products. It has been and remains a great success.”

  • Benefitting the whole organIsation

GW International has identified many benefits from SYSPRO ERP. “The degree of data we can extract is phenomenal. We can see exactly what is going in throughout the business,” says Tina Carswell. “Our accounting management and procedures have been given a significant boost. What used to take three weeks can now be done in six days in most cases.

“We have identified many explicit savings as well as the softer, but equally important operational benefits. Our head counts have not increased and in some instances we have decreased the number of people assigned to administrative tasks and made them more productive. We have also reduced costs tied up in excess stocks, making us a much more streamlined operation. The speed with which we can react to customer demands / market changes has evolved us into a very agile business.

“Above all, the system has united the information for the company and rendered the arm loads of idiosyncratic spreadsheets held on different PCs unnecessary. Information is now transparent and available to all,” says Tina Carswell.

  • Results that count

To use a much used phrase: the results speak for themselves. Following implementation of SYSPRO ERP, GW International has recorded some interesting facts based on soft and hard benefits, giving a clear view of Return On Investment:

  • 50% reduction of the number of staff in the accounts department
  • 50% decrease in sales administration tasks
  • 1 million carved out of the overheads
  • 25% stock reduction, targeting to hit 33% by the end of 2007
  • 100% improvement in stock accuracy
  • 100% more efficient accounts preparation time following month end (this is down to less than 10 days, where it used to take more than 20 days)
  • Instant visibility of stocks
  • 80% improved lead time, now running at 98%.
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