“We can’t even imagine having made another ERP choice – SYSPRO has really surpassed our expectations and helped us completely reshape our business.”
– Evan Derrick, TiLite ERP Developer Analyst
TiLite, a division of Permobil, LLC has one mission: to design and build world class, customized manual wheel chairs that are individually fit to chair-users. Defining its lightweight titanium and aluminum chairs as “wheeled prosthetics” for everyday living, TiLite created and trademarked the TiFit ™ chair to provide users with an aesthetically and ergonomically superior experience. The company’s EZ-Ti online ordering system ships orders to people in 40 countries.
Operating for many years as a multi- product company via a combination of home-grown technology patched to smaller software packages, TiLite knew that changing its business model to focus on one product would simultaneously require updating to robust ERP technology. The company went from producing five highly customized chairs per day to 70 or more, and expanded into 40 countries.
Today, TiLite utilizes a custom web configuration called EZ-Ti to give customers an easy way to input the specifications and measurements that will make their chairs uniquely their own. EZ-Ti is linked to SYSPRO through Business Objects. These Business Objects automate the order directly into the Bill of Materials (BOM), attach stock codes, build the sales order, and mesh seamlessly into Materials Planning, Factory Documentation, Advanced Quality and other MRP modules.
Installing SYSPRO’s full ERP suite allowed the company to rejig valuable resources to focus on unmet market needs. In 1998, one year after deploying SYSPRO, TiLite produced the first of its flagship “CrossSport” chairs. Today, the company has increased its production 12-fold and substantially expanded its wheelchair product footprint.
TiLite, founded almost 30 years ago, became known to sports and leisure activities enthusiasts as one of the great innovators of products leveraging super strong, but lightweight titanium. Once a prolific manufacturer of bike frames, golf shafts, motorcycle frames and wheelchair parts, the company began exploring the feasibility of applying their custom fabrication skills into a single focus: the building of customized manual wheelchairs.
TiLite was known for its skilled and innovative leveraging of Titanium, a type of metal with both desirable and undesirable properties. Titanium has the highest strength-to-weight ratio of any metal and it delivers superior vibration absorption.But, it is difficult to refine, weld and bend, is comparatively costly to other metals, and therefore design and manufacturing mistakes can quickly sap a company’s profits. But TiLite had the needed expertise, and a strong reputation for innovation, to match.
The future opportunity was attractive: the manual wheelchair market is expected to grow to $2.9 billion dollars by 2018. The decision was made to change the company’s go-to-market strategy to the single focus on designing, engineering and building world class manual wheelchairs. To do that it had to change its operations at every level and it needed a powerful, flexible and scalable ERP solution to adjust to the new business model. TiLite selected SYSPRO ERP in 1997 and has been a leader in the customized manual wheelchair market ever since.
“In addition to changing many of our operational processes, we knew that we needed to do everything possible to keep our costs low,” said Evan Derrick, ERP Developer Analyst for TiLite. “We were very focused on providing an end product that fit like a piece of clothing, and we knew that customization like that would require new processes and very streamlined technology to make the numbers work.”
Customization, Flexibility is Key
Beginning with production of five chairs a day and sales/delivery in the U.S. only, TiSport leveraged its SYSPRO ERP solution on multiple fronts.
“We moved from a more manual call center front end to a web front end configurator that put the power into our customer’s hands to select and build the exact chair they wanted,” Derrick said. “SYSPRO’s embedded Business Objects translate the order into a Bill of Materials (BOM), assign stock codes, generate the sales orders, etc. So all those people resources that we once needed to perform those tasks -that are now performed by SYSPRO ERP- can be moved to areas that provide more value to our customers.”
Because Derrick has been with the company for 13 years and has held a number of positions in IT, inventory, fabrication and assembly, he has a great handle on the improvements that the SYSPRO ERP solution has delivered.
“SYSPRO delivers great customization capabilities – it is so flexible that you can pretty much do whatever you want with it.
The VB Scripting is easy and totally open, so you can modify your work environment to your needs,” Derrick says. “And from the customer’s perspective, we are getting a lot of positive feedback that the people resources that we’ve moved over to services are really being well received.”
Growing rapidly per year, and now selling into more than 40 countries, TiLite is a great example of how SYSPRO ERP can help companies grow, improve their profits and even remake their business models.