Manufacturer puts outdated ERP system on ice

When mobile refrigeration manufacturer Waeco Pacific's productivity was restricted by an outdated ERP system, it gathered input from all departments to find a fix.

The legacy system had plagued all aspects of the company, from management, to ordering, stock control and dispatch, and caused stressed staff to create separate systems in their departments, limiting interoperability and efficiency.

Waeco national logistics manager James Stuart said problems in the system's warehousing module meant critical operations like stocktaking, stock control and communication had to be done manually.

"We were unable to create bin locations or look at a stocktaking module in the software," Stuart said. "It was all done manually to compensate for having a poor system in place; when staff entered an order they would take the printed order to the old system, type in the docket, and twice a day an employee would take invoice dockets to the warehouse where staff pick, pack and dispatch the stock."

By involving staff from all departments, Stuart said requirements, procedures and expectations for the new ERP system was made clear.

"Involving staff from each part of the business helped map out procedures that were specific to their own operational area," he said.

"We wanted them to become subject experts and their responsibility was to learn about [the new ERP system] and, to learn how it could be applied to their own area functionally." "They then created work instructions with screen dumps for every task, effectively making a guide for colleagues."

Once consultation was completed, Waeco's former project manager and financial controller Jeff Coombridge decided the company needed a well-supported, wireless and unified platform where it could build a system to support growth and improvements. But it was required within three months.

As a result, the company chose Microsoft Dynamics NAV from Microsoft Dynamics AX, because it had global reach and ease of integration with Word and Excel.

The rollout began late last year across Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and New Zealand with the system going live in November 2005 at a cost of $250,000.

With support partner Tectura, Waeco also implemented a simple wireless infrastructure upgrading its administration complex and warehouse systems.

The company said integrating Microsoft Dynamics NAV into existing Microsoft environments is easier because it runs on a Microsoft SQL Server back end.

Waeco pacific managing director Andreas Bischof said NAV integrated systems from all departments which promoted efficiency, flexibility and communication.

"We were starting to run individual solutions for each area of the business but now we have everything under one umbrella. This lets us integrate our business areas such as CRM, warehousing and stock control to make us more productive and efficient in our use of resources," he said.

Waeco IT manager Mark Maki-Neste said today when an order is placed the docket automatically prints in the correct warehouse location at the dispatch supervisor's desk.

Maki-Neste said it can be married up to an automatically generated consignment note.

"This has drastically improved performance with less room for human error making the entire warehousing system more reliable and efficient," he said.