Leeds-based flexible packaging manufacturer Roberts Mart & Co Ltd is installing a new Syspro enterprise resource planning (ERP) system to drive efficiency improvements for both sides of its business – Romar, which manufacturers polyethylene film, and Roberts Mart, which converts the film into a wide range of packaging solutions. The phased implementation project is now well underway, with the organisation using Syspro's financial modules for both Roberts Mart and Romar.
Through its investment in the latest Syspro 6.1 edition from K3 Syspro (K3), Roberts Mart & Co. are anticipating a wide range of benefits once the system is fully up and running.
A small yet important feature that is delivering immediate results is the firm's take up DataSwitch. Simple, easy to install and a low cost utility program, DataSwitch is a quick method of updating stock-keeping unit (SKU) information. DataSwitch exports data from Syspro into Microsoft Excel spreadsheets and enables users to benefit from easy updating, without having to go into several thousand individual records held in the ERP system.
The Excel Data Import Utility facilities users to amend information in the spreadsheet then import the data back into Syspro, automatically changing the records held in the ERP system's database.
Simon Roberts, Commercial Director, and Claire Fitzsimmons, Customer Services Manager, at Roberts Mart take up the story. "Once we embarked on the new Syspro installation, we recognised the need for a way of easily managing the many thousands of SKU codes and records we have for raw materials and finished goods. Each of these items requires price reviews and updates on a regular basis. We also need to keep the lead times up to date, whether it is an issue with a particular supplier or to align with customers' changing requirements," says Simon Roberts.
The standard approach, explains Simon Roberts, would require accessing each record to update them individually, which would require a significant amount of time. This was a situation to avoid and so K3 was consulted for a solution.
"K3 recommended that we look at the Excel Data Import Utility. The demonstration showed us that we could use the software to export all of the SKU codes and records held in Syspro into a spreadsheet, allowing us to quickly update them and import them back into the ERP database/system. The speed of operation would reduce the physical task of updating the records to a couple of hours, whereas it would take several days if done the old way," says Simon Roberts.
Claire Fitzsimmons adds: "We manage a very large amount of information in terms of SKU codes for finished goods and raw materials. The Data Import Utility provides a simple, user-friendly method of keeping the information up to date. It allows me to also delete data using the spreadsheets. This provides an immediate update to the records in Syspro once it is imported back into the system. Being able to complete the various updates on a spreadsheet in this way is an important time-saving benefit."
There are also benefits for factory planning from using the Data Import Utility reports Claire Fitzsimmons. "We need to assign lead times to each raw material SKU code. This is important because these lead times drive our best of breed third part APS [Advanced Planning and Scheduling] system. The lead times change regularly, and, if you consider that we have over 3500 raw material SKUs, it would be a mammoth task to update the records manually each month – and sometimes they'll need updating weekly," she says.
"We can also be selective and update information on the fly whenever necessary. Which means virtually live data is being transferred to Syspro, which again helps the planners. It means that as soon as Syspro is amended, so is the APS system."
The Data Import Utility is also useful for managing multiple SKU records of similar items beyond changing the lead-time details, allowing any of the fields within the records to be updated simultaneously.
"The SKU code updates are the most immediate and obvious benefit but we can see that it will be useful for easier management of all the other data fields in the records. If you have multiple records of similar items, for example, it would take a long time to manually change all of them. This way allows it be done instantly," says Claire Fitzsimmons.
Both Simon Roberts and Claire Fitzsimmons highlighted the ease with which the Data Import Utility was installed.
"K3 spent just half a day on site, including the installation; the software installation only took an hour. The rest of the time was spent training me to use the software. If you are familiar with the way Syspro works, it is very easy to get up to speed so training is minimal," says Claire Fitzsimmons.
"If we hadn't invested in this software, Claire would be tied up doing all the updating herself. So, not only does this free up her workload, we are able make better use of her time rather than having a large portion of it consumed with updating the system," adds Simon Roberts.