ERP provides growth as it should be

Posted on 5 Jun 2015 by The Manufacturer

Using Epicor ERP to flex and adapt to a surging growth in orders.

KMF has grown to become the UK market leader in the supply of precision sheet metal solutions
KMF has grown to become the UK market leader in the supply of precision sheet metal solutions.

Founded in 1971, KMF has grown to become the UK market leader in the supply of precision sheet metal solutions to a diverse range of industry sectors, committed to quality, investment and innovation.

If you buy a coffee from a service station machine, pay at a car park machine or use a public information kiosk the chances are that the piece of equipment – comprising sheet metal parts and other complex components such as lighting and circuitry – will have been manufactured in its entirety at KMF’s Staffordshire plant.

Recently KMF has evolved from offering basic sheet metal products to building these complex total solutions – also including automatic number plate recognition systems and high end commercial aircraft seating components.

Now the business serves well over 200 customers across a wide variety of markets.

A great fit for make to order

Complex sheet metal solutions is a growth market, but its make-to-order nature means that every single customer requirement that comes through KMF’s door is totally unique, presenting a fresh challenge.

Epicor KMF FactsKMF’s secret to success is its ability to manage these increasingly complex and numerous orders with high levels of visibility and control. The use of Epicor ERP has been pivotal to it doing so.

When growth really accelerated a few years back, KMF realised that it needed a highly robust enterprise resource planning (ERP) system with top make to order credentials.

Epicor ERP now provides KMF with one source of information across the business, managing critical processes, delivering rich reports to management and automating communication with customers.

A need for visibility and control

Rapid growth in order scale and complexity had left KMF in need of greater visibility and control of its business operations than its existing software platform could deliver.

This system was highly centralised within the business and didn’t support the need for the slick end-to-end processes spanning many departments that were now required.

Nor could it provide the speedy management information that would help KMF to steer its business performance on a daily basis and become more responsive to customer demands.

“As we were dealing with a higher level of order throughput of greater complexity and scale, we needed to be able to flex and adapt quickly to different requirements. But we also needed to implement standardised processes to ensure that high quality and consistency was maintained, whatever the job entailed,” comments Keith Nicholl, operations director, KMF.

“Because we were delivering total solutions, rather than simple sheet metal components, our relationship with many customers had also changed and there was a greater demand on us to be able to provide information tracking the status of jobs, all the way from order through to delivery.

Epicor KMF3
Complex sheet metal solutions is a growth market.

“With our existing software this would have meant producing reports manually by taking information from multiple systems, which would simply take too long,” continues Nicholl.

KMF chose Epicor ERP following a full survey of the market, being particularly impressed with its strength in make-to-order manufacturing environments.

“Other systems we looked at just didn’t seem as capable in this regard,” said Nicholl. “The capability in Epicor ERP for bill of materials tracking and order routing, as well as its MRP module, were other strong factors.

“We were really impressed by the speed and flexibility of the system and ways in which we could configure it with ease to meet specific make to order processes without changing the base code.”

Collaborative implementation

The implementation process was vital in ensuring that KMF got the right benefits from and maximised the potential of the Epicor ERP platform.

Working with an Epicor lead consultant, KMF chose to create a single implementation team comprising representatives from all key departments who would guide and drive the project from its outset right through to user training and set-up.

Epicor ERP PQ2This ensured a consistent approach and one which took the needs of all departments into consideration.

“Taking this approach meant that we could work successfully with Epicor to implement the system in a way that was mapped to everyone’s needs while ensuring that each department was consulted throughout the process,” said Nicholl.

“Then, when it came to pilot testing and training, the same representatives were equipped to take the system to their department, help to train and coach users and ensure it was well accepted from the word go.”

Epicor ERP is now used constantly across the KMF business with around 120 daily users and a high number of power users in specific teams and departments such as order entry and purchasing. But Epicor is supporting much more than these fundamental departmental processes.

Key decisions in KMF’s weekly management team meetings are now shaped and directed by the performance reports that Epicor produces at short notice. As Nicholl explains, “We have around 100 customers who are live each month and we have to work extremely hard to keep these orders on track.

“The Epicor system’s reports automatically alert us to any slippage or issues which need escalating, meaning that we can take immediate action to resolve them before they become problematic.”

Epicor KMF
KMF’s secret to success is its ability to manage these increasingly complex and numerous orders with high levels of visibility and control.

According to Nichol, “The reports have also been critical in helping us to keep a watchful eye on ongoing business performance in the long term, such as monitoring order profitability, through the relationship between sales order value and material spend.

“Also, because the system is tracking orders and jobs end-to-end, we’ve been able to improve our ratio on material stock turns, because the system is ensuring that people buy the products they need at the right specification, quantity and point in time.”

Geared up for growth

KMF sees the two main benefits achieved from its Epicor implementation as increased visibility and control. “Visibility of data across the business has enabled us to make better and timelier decisions,” says Nicholl.

“This has helped us to meet our obligations to customers and manage the increasingly complex make-to-order challenges that are required as we extend our production of end-to-end solutions.”

At KMF, Epicor has put information in people’s hands that wouldn’t have been possible in the past. It means that staff are in full control of the processes they manage and can make informed decisions without having to refer to various departments.

Epicor ERP PQIt also means that KMF can respond to changing customer requirements much faster. “We’re able to process customer orders more quickly than in the past, ensuring best practice and innovation in the business and keeping customers constantly informed of progress, through automated daily updates.

“This helps us all as a business to focus on the things that are important; delivering top quality make-to-order solutions to customers every time, and being able to do so on an increasingly large scale.

“With Epicor we’re ready for the future,” concludes Nicholl. “The software has geared the business up for growth, and it keeps on giving.”