CSW Coldform warms to self-installed MRP system

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Rent-I.T. Systems, Southampton, Hampshire. CSW Coldform Ltd, based in Market Harborough, Leicestershire manufactures cold formed metal parts with a staff of 40 people. After a management buyout in 1994 they invested in a high-end MRP system. A DOS-based system, it remained relatively unchanged until the company decided to replace it in 2004.

Said Cliff Freestone, Financial Director; "Although we were paying maintenance, it seemed that every time an upgrade for each separate module came along, we had to pay for it. Also, as the vendor was repeatedly acquired by other companies it appeared that their business was moving in a different direction and not gearing its products towards companies of our size. It was becoming more and more expensive to hang onto their coattails. We attended a 123MRP workshop and the product fitted the idea of what we wanted - it was more modern and didnt require the purchase of separate modules. We felt that we were dealing with a company that was actively developing the product."

In February 2004 CSW decided to adopt 123MRP and sent three people on the user training course, two on implementation and one on the administration course. Of the training Cliff commented; "Aside from myself the others only had basic MS Office skills, and I only have a rudimentary understanding of networking over that, but we found it relatively easy and came away feeling confident. It wasnt long after training that we had the system back in the office to train others on, which again was easy as the wizards lead you through most practices."

CSWs network was also ageing, so they contacted Rent-I.Ts authorised partner, Deverill, who supplied and installed a new server in March. After a two month delay caused by external accounting issues and holidays, CSW started implementing in June. Cliff commented; "The implementation actually went pretty smoothly. We pretty much stuck to the implementation plan given to us during training - it was a million times easier than the original MRP installation in 1994, which took months and actually affected our cashflow as we couldnt even print invoices for several weeks! When we went live with 123MRP we didnt have any major issues. In fact the staff that were not involved with it would not have known wed changed systems had it not been for a note we posted on our noticeboard."

At the end of June, CSW had trained all staff internally and had exported their data from their existing MRP system. They decided to use Rent-I.Ts data import service, costing 750, and duly emailed their data. Said Cliff; "We just prepared our data in our own time, sent it over and the import was done for us - they connected to our server remotely and updated it the following day. During the few support calls we made it was refreshing not to be asked what version are you running as all of their customers have the same complete system. "

CSW went live on 1st July 2004 across all departments, just one month after starting their implementation process. The most immediate benefit was in the ability to transfer documents electronically. Said Cliff; "We now email or fax most documents directly from 123MRP, such as Sales Order Acknowledgements and Purchase Orders. Weve halved our paper usage, cleared half a corridor that used to be stacked with pre-printed paper and destroyed the surplus that our printer held in stock for us."

Despite the fact that CSW already had an MRP system, they were surprised at the increased visibility of data and speed of input that 123MRP delivered. Cliff added; "Data entry was a lot quicker because of the wizards but where weve seen real benefits is in the report writing. When we went on the training none of us had real Access skills but within a couple of months weve been able to write every report without assistance. You can get the data out in any shape and form you need."

As turnover continues to increase CSW now intends to expand into more complicated metal components, through both in-house manufacturing and worldwide outsourcing. Supply chain management will become a key factor and Cliff is confident that 123MRP will be a major tool in this key area of the businesss growth; "It is already helping us with our subcontracting of products requiring plating and heat treatment. We couldnt use our previous MRP system to track items leaving the factory, so we ended up using spreadsheets. 123MRP did exactly what it said on the tin and gave us what we needed without having to spend more on modules. Its easy to budget for with low setup costs and we did it all ourselves. It was simply about moving to a product and company we felt comfortable with."

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