HV Wooding enjoy ongoing success with Exel EFACS E/8

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Founded in 1968 in a small shop in Lyminge, HV Wooding has grown to become one of the UK's leading manufacturers of precision engineered components and assemblies serving customers including Rolls Royce, Honeywell, Schneider Electric and ABB for over 30 years.

Parts manufactured by HV Wooding can also be found in over 22 million UK homes and continued success has seen the company's turnover double in six years, reaching £13.5m in 2012.

HV Wooding has five key areas of work: Busbars, Presswork, Wire Erosion, CNC Machining and Sub-assembly. With an average split between 70% Make to Order (MTO) and 30% Make to Stock (MTS), the company produces approximately 1.2 million parts per month. Depending on the nature of production, order sizes can range from single items to substantial batches measured in hundreds of thousands, with lead times varying from next day on MTS items through to months for complex custom parts where tooling also has to be designed and manufactured.

Simon Harre-Young, IT Manager for HV Wooding, explains some of the typical challenges that the company faces. "While many of our components do have a significant number of configuration options, our greatest challenge tends to be keeping pace with customer's changing demands. Optimising our capacity requirements is also central, in terms of our highly skilled workforce as well as our diverse collection of machine resources."

Visibility of what information was where, as well as what product was where, had traditionally been a problem and was a consequence of HV Wooding being reliant on a number of bespoke IT systems, spreadsheets and manual processes. Not only did this lead to data variance and duplication issues, it made it difficult to access a coherent sense of finalised information.

Playing a central role in the company's IT set-up was an aging UNIX-based EFACS ERP system implemented in 1994, supplemented by loosely connected systems for payroll, employee management, shopfloor control, as well as the aforementioned spreadsheets. Although EFACS 3.3.3 had served them well in its time, the age of that version combined with the need for supplementary systems led Simon and the team at HV Wooding to realise an alternative was required.

It was clear that the disparate systems approach was becoming a hindrance to ongoing growth as they simply couldn't keep up with the variety of work and changing requirements of customers and staff. The options were to either upgrade to the latest version of EFACS or completely replace it with a new system, though as Simon says, it wasn't really a difficult choice. "We had enjoyed a positive and productive relationship with Exel since 1994 and we couldn't afford to jeopardise the ongoing smooth running of the business."

After a demonstration of its latest version, EFACS E/8, it was immediately obvious that this was exactly what was required. Not only was it based on the latest technology, it could also be run within HV Wooding's virtual environment. Furthermore, EFACS E/8 functionality now extended to every area within the company, with Simon recalling that the Document Management and Workflow modules particularly impressed as well as the ADAPT customisation toolset capabilities.

Implementation involved working with the Exel consultant and walking each HV Wooding department through how every person's job would be done on the new EFACS E/8 system while also generating a comprehensive 'wish list' of customisation requirements. The outcome was that for most people the EFACS E/8 experience was either the same or improved, with the majority of users being very receptive and looking forward to using the new version, EFACS E/8.

Reporting and customisation were the biggest initial wins with the new EFACS E/8. The old EFACS was 'as is', whereas the new EFACS E/8 can be quickly and simply adapted to a user's exact requirements thanks to the powerful ADAPT customisation toolset. These combined with Workflow means that the company can take a business process, fine tune and improve it and then get EFACS E/8 to replicate that process – exactly what an IT system should do.

As a result, EFACS E/8 is now used much more extensively throughout the company and has replaced a number of the older systems as well as all the workarounds. The company is also looking at further ways to extend the use of EFACS E/8, beginning with the stores and stock control section, especially concerning Goods-In. Hence Simon concludes, "Not only can we mould EFACS E/8 around our current ideal processes, we can adapt these as the company continues to grow. We have already achieved our return on investment and we know EFACS E/8 has much more to give."

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