Acrastyle recharges its IT to generate new business

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In a growing market with increasing competitive pressure, electricity equipment manufacturer, Acrastyle, has introduced a new ERP system to eliminate waste from its manufacturing and business processes.  It anticipates up to 15 percent revenue growth with no increase in overheads.

Established in 1962 and based on the fringe of the Lake District, Acrastyle employs 100 staff and manufactures high voltage protection and control equipment for the electricity industry.

With pressure from the industry watchdog, Ofgem, on the electricity generating companies to upgrade their control and protection systems, Acrastyles market is growing but also becoming more competitive as new companies entering the sector cut prices to win contracts.  In order to compete without cutting margins, Acrastyle has invested in a new ERP-based manufacturing system from Access Supply Chain Solutions to help eliminate waste from its manufacturing and administrative processes.  

Acrastyles existing IT system was based on a collection of legacy systems developed in individual departments - estimating; purchasing; project management and; accounts - and was not integrated.  IT manager, Gareth Boyd expects the new system to remove duplication of effort, eliminate errors and improve visibility across the business

The Access system will tell us exactly how much a job costs; how much were spending on WIP; when the project is finished; what the labour and material costs were and how it compared to what wed tendered.

To justify the expenditure, Gareth wrote some custom scripts using the information from the existing disparate system to demonstrate to the management team, the benefits to be gained from everything coming from a single database, and with information flowing through the company from department to department.

The business case was clear-cut - the system would allow us to put more work through without increasing the number of personnel pro-rata; and we could price more competitively without slashing our margins.  We will be able to increase revenues by 10 to 15 percent without increasing the overhead, principally by eliminating our manual processes and being more efficient

Acrastyle chose the Access system because the supplier was easy to work with and because the system wasnt unnecessarily complex.  A key feature proved to be its tiered-search facility - although principally a project manufacturing environment, the company always uses the same components, but in different configurations. Gareth again:  We will buy a particular relay (our main high-value item), which is a generic type but with, maybe, 64 different variations - different voltages, different contact arrangements and so on.  We need to select the right set of attributes for the job - the Access system allows us to select a part from the database, drill down to the final level and drop it into the quote.  The component specified on the quote is then entered automatically into the bill of materials and the purchase order system.

The 17-user system (with five additional users for accounts) is expected to go live in May. 

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