Australian Mint invests in technology

The Mint is also refreshing its business systems in an effort to increase efficiency.

The Royal Australian Mint may be in a heritage-listed building, but there will soon be nothing old about the technology. The Mint has been going through a refurbishment and modernisation program that has involved it moving from two buildings into one and significantly revamping its technology.

In addition to employing robots and automating its materials handling system, the Mint is also refreshing its business systems.

The $3.6 million contract won by Cincom Systems of Australia will include a range of software for enterprise resource planning (ERP), knowledge management, compliance and quality management and for the contact centre. There will also be a human resources system upgrade that will include an employee self-service function.

Acting CIO, Kylie Hays, said the Integrated Business Implementation System (IBIS) project is well on track to go live on December 15.

Hays said that the Mint currently has an enterprise system that performs most of the ERP, contact centre and human resources tasks, but to a limited degree. Quality management and compliance is currently undertaken manually.

“The system that is in place now (which is at least five years old) does not meet business needs anymore. A lot has been customised by our IT guys, who have had to tack on reports and other features as things changed over the years,” she said.

“It is quite difficult to support and relies on the people that have been around the longest who understand it best.”

Each business area to has had to map its processes from end-to-end and by doing so many divisions have discovered ways to improve efficiency, according to Hays.

The project is still in development phase but the human resource (HR) module is already up and running in parallel with the old system for testing.

“Everyone is really pleased with it. All leave applications are currently done on paper. Once this new system goes live people will be able to apply for leave online automatically. It will be much more efficient for everyone, reduce paper and reduce the amount of time spent running around getting approval.”

The system will be rolled out using Cincom's preferred Fastpath methodology, which includes aspects such as bug tracking, speed tests and load testing on existing IT systems.

“Part of that procedure involves a conference room pilot where we put a bunch of machines in a room in a test environment and let people use it for a week or two. This process is due to start in October,” said Hays.

Hays said one of the main improvements the Mint is looking forward to with the new system is better forecasting.

“The new system will be much more transparent from beginning to end. The current system only lets you see isolated sections of the whole process. People will be able to better plan their jobs, which will reduce additional ad-hoc functionality that people have been using, such as spreadsheets,” she said.

“I think [this extra visibility] will also reduce the amount of planning meetings that people will have to go to.”

Hays said the new system should also facilitate better workflow and reporting. “At the moment we do a lot of SQL reporting on top of the system but the new system will have built in and customisable reporting,” she said.

The over-riding advantage, according to Hays, will be the presence of 'one source of truth'.

“The upgrade fits in with the 'One Mint' philosophy that is behind the refurbishment. Now that we are in the one building, we want everyone to have the same standards. We want everyone to be able to use a computer and everyone to be able to see what other staff are doing. I think that will create a lot of efficiency as well.”

The Mint has 180 staff, only around half of whom currently use a computer.

“With the new HR system online, everyone will have to access a computer so we'll be doing a lot of basic computer training for people in the factory who have never had to use a computer before,” she said.

There will be kiosks of new computers in the factory area for staff to be able to use.

In addition to buying new computers, the Mint has purchased a range of other hardware to support the software upgrade. This includes a new PABX and VoIP system, which was completed at the beginning of the year, primarily to support the sales and call centre teams. It also includes new EMC Storage Area Network (SAN) products, which went out to tender late last year.

“We have also had to upgrade our time keeping hardware – the Mint still has a physical clock on / clock off system. It is a traditional way of doing things in a factory and makes it easier for supervisors to keep track of people so they wanted to keep that system but we have had to buy new hardware to support that.”

Hays said that Cincom Systems of Australia won the contract because it provided the best value for money and a shorter implementation timeframe than competitors.

“They also had a really strong experience in manufacturing environments, which was key for us. The Mint is unique because it is government but also has the manufacturing element. We had to leverage off that experience in the provider that we went with, while still adhering to the government standards,” she said.

“We also liked their Fastpath methodology, especially with our environment – we have a very hands-on user base so we are able to do a lot of training through the conference room pilot.”

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