Bartec reduces pressure on production, sees 85% reduction in lead times

Bartec Auto ID Ltd, based in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, manufactures tyre pressure sensors. The company previously relied on a discontinued DOS-based Australian system to handle bills of materials, but with limited stock management. The company also experienced rapid expansion and as a result the reliance on individual staff became too great.

Said Matt Woods, General Manager; "We were a small cottage industry, and we grew quickly over a very short period. Our Production Manager was taking on all the responsibility - whether it be the procurement, the manufacturing side of it, despatch and even down to development. You just can't do it all as one person. If we hadn't have taken on a system that individual would have not have been able to cope."

Charles Beal, Technical Director added; "We also didn't know where any of the stock was. There was no way that an auditor could go through it as you couldn't tell what the value was. One of the driving forces was that the MD wanted to get accurate stock valuations. We didn't know what we had in stock, and didn't plan ahead, always buying from the people who could supply the quickest who'd charge twice as much as getting it from normal distribution. So it was costing us a lot of money to do it that way as well."

In 2011 the company started to evaluate MRP systems and were recommended to look at 123insight by two existing users, one of which being another 123insight case study customer.

Charles attended a 123insight Evaluation Workshop in November 2011, and liked the fact that various companies could attend the same event; "I thought the demonstration was pretty good. Any questions that anyone asked they were able to say 'yes we can do that' and showed them how to do it. So it didn't seem to have any glaring holes. There were actually some pretty belligerent people in the audience, expecting that the software couldn't do the stuff that they did, but it managed to do everything. I liked the licencing model as well; the fact that we weren't having to look for huge amounts of money up front, and there's no high pressure salesmen."

Bartec sent staff to the no-obligation training in March 2012, understanding that if they decided that the system wasn't suitable for them they could walk away with nothing to pay. After training was completed the decision was made to move ahead with 123insight and they started the process of migrating data from their DOS system and a collection of spreadsheets that were used in various departments across the business.

The process of reshaping and migrating the data took around seven months. Noted Charles; "The majority of that time was spent doing stock checks and getting the data into a format that we could import it. Some of it was in the old system, but a lot of it was on spreadsheets. We also had to go out and physically check stock and assign part numbers as we didn't have our own part numbering system. Someone did try to create a meaningful part numbering system which I thought was a waste of time as you have such a good search facility within the system. We thought that if something was put into the wrong category it might be stuck there, but with 123insight you can change the part number later and it reflects through everything else, which is really neat. So when someone does screw something up you can easily change it."

Bartec went live across stock and purchasing in January 2013 and immediately noticed benefits. Roles became much more defined within the business, and visibility of workloads was much clearer. Said Matt Woods, General Manager; "It allowed us to identify the roles and responsibilities, because clearly one individual can't do it all. By putting everything on the system it highlighted that we needed to have a buyer, we needed somebody in production to handle works orders, somebody in goods in, and as a result that helped our Purchasing Manager Dawn Lewis. She's a lot happier with the job and we actually ensure that the product happens when we say it's going to happen. So from that perspective it's been really good. "

Stock saw massive improvements, with the amount of goods dropping by over half from £1.2m to under £600,000. Said Matt; "The reductions mainly came from redundant products, products that were listed incorrectly, stock we'll never use again and items that we just purchased too much of at the time." Stock accuracy also benefited greatly, with Matt citing stock inaccuracies have been virtually eradicated; "We've got various different stock checks that take place now. We have components and we have completed units. Components get checked six-monthly and units get checked each quarter. As a result we are constantly checking our stock, so when it comes round to performing a final stock check it's very simple"

Lead times saw the most drastic reduction, with customers often able to receive goods 85% faster than before. Said Matt; "Now we actually produce goods in a timely manner. A lot of our components can be on 12-18 week lead times, even 20 in some cases. If a customer says they want to buy X and we quote 20 weeks you can imagine that they'll just go somewhere else. We've been able to look at these long lead time items, establish their validity and purchase them. We can therefore reduce stockholding to the extent where our maximum lead time now is about 4 weeks. We actually supply most products within 2-4 weeks." Charles added; "It takes the panic away. Customers such as Bosch have ordered 1000 of an item and then upped it to 6000. As we have a system we knew we could probably do it where as before we'd have just panicked."

Purchasing experienced knock-on benefits, as staff could identify faster-moving items more quickly and order more strategically. Matt believes that this ability to 'bulk up' has saved at least £20-30k.

Although the company saw drastic improvements in stock and purchasing they still had plans to extend 123insight's reach throughout the shopfloor, especially in light of a recent increase in business. While current information could now be relied on it did highlight some discrepancies in the original data prior to migration, which needed to be addressed. Matt, who started with the company after 123insight initially went live, was tasked with rolling it out across the business; "We had a very busy year in 2014. We had a legislation change which drove a massive amount of sales, and through the skin of our teeth we got things out the door to customers. It was luck, a lot of it, and I decided we can't do that again - we have to do better. As a result I forced everybody to do the right training and take on board the process. Now we can use the system and feel comfortable that when we say however many is in stock it's there, and if we want it manufactured how long it is going to take."

After additional training for production staff in 2014/2015 further benefits were realised. Staff had more visibility of other departments. For example, the despatch staff could see if more than one order was due for a specific customer, so that orders could be shipped together, saving significantly on courier costs.

Bartec are taking advantage of 123insight's ability to associate documents with anything, such as a part, bill of material, customer or works order. Inspection templates are now associated with subcontract orders, where previously there had been some quality issues, and this has proven very successful. Noted Charles; "Bosch have very strict quality requirements. We had an issue with quality with some injection moulded plastics, so we set up a separate template for Bosch plastics. It detailed exactly what they needed to do, with photographs of exactly what it should look like, what was acceptable and what wasn't. They really liked that and hadn't actually come across a similar system before. It also enabled us to set subcontract-supplied goods up for 100% inspection when we knew we had problems, and then set it back to 1 in 100 when we were happier with the subcontractor."

Matt believes that 123insight's intuitive interface and workflow process has helped with the roll-out to other departments; "I do think it's quite easy to use . It's not difficult in comparison to other systems. When we started working through, it was actually quite an eye-opener how simple a system it is. People are using it a lot more regularly, as they've now embraced it."

Bartec plans to extend 123insight's reach throughout the business in 2016, implementing SFDC (Shop Floor Data Collection) in production and taking further advantage of CRM+. Matt explained; "At some point CRM will be used a lot more. We don't use it to its full capacity at the moment, but I think we need more training to understand what its full capabilities are and what it will give us. We're doing things in chunks, so we're taking bits of the business at a time and trying to better those areas."

Finalised Matt; "It's quite simple really, and everybody has taken a few months to realise that, but now if you ask any one of them on the shop floor they'll all say the same thing - how did we cope without it..." Charles also concluded; "I like the business model where you haven't got this enormous up front cost, and if it didn't work out then the only investment was the training, which was nothing like spending 20-30k on a piece of software. I think for our business it's at the right level. We didn't want anything which gave us a completely automatic system. I like the way the MRP gives suggestions that you can either decide to do or not. It doesn't force you to do anything. If you're not careful you can end up with a system that gives you nothing because it is so difficult to manage."

Key Benefits

  • 85% reduction in lead times
  • Paperwork halved
  • Stock down from £1.2m to under £600,000
  • Inaccuracies massively reduced to 99.9%
  • Savings in other areas, such as courier costs
  • Able to attend several local workshops to evaluate the system
  • Can change part numbers at any time if required

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