Nordson DAGE, a division of Nordson Corporation, is a supplier in the Semiconductor and PCBA electronics markets with its award winning portfolio of Bondtester and X-ray inspection systems for destructive and non-destructive mechanical testing and inspection of electronic components. Headquartered in Aylesbury, UK, the company has a wholly owned distribution and support network of seven offices covering Europe, Japan, China, Singapore and the USA with manufacturing/assembly facilities in China and the UK.
Nordson DAGE exports over 90 per cent of its product outside of Europe. While Bondtester products have many hundreds of potential configuration possibilities, X-ray systems are predominantly standard with fewer custom configurations. Given the hundreds of individual components in each product, sub-assemblies are built to forecast with final systems being assembled to order. The Chinese facility also happens to be the company's biggest supplier, providing primarily low intellectual property components and sub-assemblies. High intellectual property components are sourced in the UK, which is also where all final assembly and product testing takes place. Nordson DAGE also services and supports its products in all geographic areas.
The electronics industry is renowned for its insistence on speed. It therefore comes as no surprise that president of Nordson DAGE, Phil Vere, commented: "driving down inventory while managing the company's supply chain and keeping it tight has a direct bearing on the shortness of our delivery times." He continued: "Because of the fast-moving nature of the industry, we must also be continually innovating both our hardware and software. And because we operate in every market with over half our regional staff being in front of customers, we have all the complexity of being a global company while being smaller than many typical global enterprises."
For the past 15 years, Nordson DAGE had been relying on an earlier version of the EFACS ERP system from Exel Computer Systems, based in its UK facility. China had its own basic, spreadsheet-based system which could not link with the UK. Considerable growth combined with the increasing requirement to tighten up the supply chain by having the UK and Chinese facilities linked by a common ERP system put greater demands on the existing systems, as Satyam Sachania, ERP systems administrator, explained: "In China, the existing system was simply unable to cope despite many spreadsheet-based workarounds while the UK EFACS system had become so highly customised it was clear we had to move to a new system."
Instead of treating this as an upgrade from EFACS, the company investigated a number of other systems which would meet its strict criteria, according to a cost benefit analysis. In addition to this, any system chosen would also have to be able to link with SAP ERP, used by the rest of the group for corporate accounting and reporting.
Sachania explained why after a thorough consideration of a variety of systems, Nordson DAGE decided to stay with Exel and EFACS E/8. "We liked the fact that Exel is a UK company and that it also has a number of installations in China with people that we know. Exel also has experience of successfully linking UK and Chinese operations. From a user perspective, by investing in EFACS E/8 there is a degree of continuity in terms of familiarity and ease of use. At a business level, we also felt that we could do a faster, less disruptive implementation. Both of these were important in helping to get buy-in from key users in the company."
After initial help from Exel in terms of preparation and planning, Nordson DAGE undertook the implementation itself, going live in the UK in December 2011 after only 6 to 7 months. China went live in June 2012 after ensuring that everything and everyone was happy with the system in the UK. Remembering the slickness and speed of the implementation, Vere said: "We didn't lose a single business day during the entire implementation." Sachania added: "And it only took one Saturday to migrate all live data – it went very smoothly."
Nordson DAGE used the implementation period to re-evaluate its business processes and to thoroughly clean and refine its data. "By cleaning our data and getting rid of obsolete parts we reduced our part count by 70 per cent – this is a huge reduction and speeds up the use of the system," remarked Sachania. Vere added: "EFACS E/8 also enabled us to improve individual company visibility as well as intercompany visibility and our supply chain is now much tighter."
EFACS E/8 has also brought a number of group wide benefits. It allows the Chinese facility to interact with other divisions within the group, something that is crucial given that it is increasingly supplying direct to other divisions and not just DAGE. The ability to interact with the group's SAP system has brought improvements in group wide management visibility as well as corporate accounting. Vere concluded: "EFACS E/8 has given us the stability and a platform to build on for the future, including the improved interconnectivity and visibility that we need for our corporate requirements."