INFORMATION: Free information is available from INFOR on the subject in this story. Click here to request a copy

A comprehensive project management function, fully integrated within an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, was one of the prime reasons that Colin Mear Engineering, a British provider of manufacturing solutions to the worldwide tobacco industry, has purchased an Infor COM ERP suite from Infor Global Solutions. The ERP company is a global supplier of software solutions to a number of small to medium-size enterprise (SME) manufacturers, distributors and processors in specific sectors or vertical markets.

Privately owned, Colin Mear Engineering is a British company specialising in providing a complete service to the tobacco products manufacturing industry. Based in Chard, Somerset, the company designs, manufactures and installs specialist cigarette making and packaging machinery to customers around the world. Typically, orders are for one-off machines enabling customers to cost-effectively test product innovations or produce lower-volume, niche product lines.

The company required a high quality project management function because over 60 per cent of the company's 12 million (pounds sterling) annual turnover derives from project-based contracts. It also needed a comprehensive but affordable ERP system that would serve the entire enterprise and provide an IT infrastructure to support new business development plans. Rather than buy a separate project management software package and link it to ERP, Colin Mear Engineering decided to look for a totally integrated system.

Infor COM was chosen, not only because it met the requirement for full integration of project management and ERP, but it also offered many other important advantages. These included a range of modular applications that would support every department in the business, from marketing and sales, through design engineering and manufacture to distribution, including financial and human resource management.

In addition, Infor COM is based on industry standard open technology; this means Colin Mear Engineering will be able to expand the system as the business develops and connect it to other supply chain management systems, both within and outside the company. All these features were available at a price within the customer's budget.

"On a systematic basis, we looked at several competitors' products, but the Infor system stood out as being designed for the manufacturing industry and right for our type of largely one-off, project-based business. It will also provide the company-wide IT infrastructure necessary to support future expansion and ensure we continue providing the highest level of service to our customers," said Graham Wood, chief executive officer (CEO) of Colin Mear Engineering. "We operate in a global market and we need not only a reliable and robust business system, but also a strong partner as a supplier. Infor meets both these requirements."

Colin Mear Engineering provides a specialist machine making facility, installation, spares and a full customer support function. For the specialist machines it operates on a strictly 'make-to-order' basis and already applies lean thinking, 'demand-pull' principles to its operations. The Infor system will work alongside lean methods and provide essential manufacturing management functions, including engineering change control to minimise errors and maintain accurate records. It will provide material requirements planning (MRP) where needed. The new system replaces a ten-year old DOS-based financial software package that had been extensively modified to support operational requirements, but had become inappropriate for Colin Mear Engineering's current demands and future needs.

"The issue with producing one-off equipment is that there is only one chance to get it right, so you have to be right first time," said Graham Wood, emphasising the need for resources such as Infor COM ERP to minimise risk and ensure the right outcome.

Mike Spragg, managing director of Infor Global Solutions UK, said: "We are very pleased Colin Mear Engineering chose Infor COM and we look forward to working closely with a British manufacturing company that is wisely investing to expand its global business. Infor COM is designed specifically for the manufacturing industry and offers both general business and specialised modules. The modularity and flexibility, coupled to the means to customise the system, means it is ideal for the small- to medium-size enterprise (SME) in vertical markets."

Customers of Colin Mear Engineering include the leading names in the tobacco industry such as, BAT and Philip Morris. Founded twenty years ago, the company has built itself a reputation for excellence in designing, manufacturing and installing machinery for making and packaging tobacco products. This expertise will be used to explore other market sectors and actively expand the company's business in the years to come.

Besides manufacturing and supplying a range of its own products, a significant amount of its current work is derived from modifying older machines supplied by customers. These machines are then used around the world, often for lower-volume production of niche products. Colin Mear Engineering is able to extend the value of the equipment and add advanced features in a short time, at a high quality and competitive cost, attributes that few competitors can match, claims the company.

INFORMATION: Free information is available from INFOR on the subject in this story. Click here to request a copy

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