Case Study: Beck Optronic Ltd

After struggling with their previous MRP system, which was too expensive to upgrade, and downsizing the business, optical system manufacturer Beck Optronic selected 123insight. Lead times subsequently improved by 10-15%, the company's stock to turnover ratio improved and they had better traceability, which was important for their ISO quality accreditation.

Beck Optronic MRP case study
  • Stock to turnover ratio significantly lowered
  • Lead times reduced by approx 10-15%
  • On-time delivery performance improved
  • Better traceability for ISO quality accreditation
  • Able to easily customise documents and reports
  • Can now schedule deliveries from suppliers to reduce work/waste
  • Errors massively reduced

Beck Optronic Solutions Ltd, based in Hemel Hempstead, Herts, designs and manufactures integrated optical systems for medical, industrial and defence markets. Beck were struggling with their previous MRP system, which was cumbersome and with limited functionality. Said Andy Hedges, Production Director; “The biggest problems were with the user interface, which wasn't very good. To drill down on information you had to open multiple screens, so it just took longer. The shop floor loading system was almost non-existent, which made forecasting and capacity planning really difficult. The other issue we were struggling with was stock control. We could find out where our stock was but it took a long time to run reports and to get information on stock and work in progress valuation.”

Selection process

At the beginning of 2014 Beck Optronic decided to investigate either upgrading or replacing their MRP system, but the business was also dealing with other issues; “At the beginning of 2014 we got to a point where we were struggling with the MRP system and the business was struggling as well. We were looking for a system with more functionality that would help us with control and planning. We looked at a few systems as well as our current provider, and having seen information about 123insight online we booked to attend an Evaluation Workshop. The short term goals were to get us up and running with a good MRP system that would allow us to manage stock and work in progress. That was seen as one of the biggest areas that we needed to improve quickly. Longer term, the financial control over the business was key.”

Staff attended an Evaluation Workshop early in 2014 and were immediately impressed. Noted Andy; “It was really informative and it gave us the opportunity to relate it to real world scenarios, as opposed to having something like a brochure and a software demo with a sales person. So, that process was definitely important in our decision-making .”

Training

They selected 123insight, with staff attending training in April 2014, and Andy liked the fact that it was offered under no obligation, on the understanding that if they didn’t wish to move ahead afterwards they could walk away with nothing to pay; “I liked the approach of the training, and that we could actually look at the system before making a final selection. The system itself was really good, not cumbersome at all - the user interface worked well for us. Information was available straight away, so it ticked a lot of boxes, and going forward it was the flexibility of the entire system that we liked.”

At this point the company continued to struggle, entering a period of administration in the Summer of 2014. It successfully emerged in October, reshaped as a new, smaller business, moving away from some manufacturing processes and focussing  more on design, development, prototyping and manufacturing of optical/opto-electronic systems. Beck immediately set about moving ahead with 123insight, knowing that the new business would need a better system than its predecessor, organising an implementation day with 123insight staff. Having had painful experiences with previous systems, he was surprised at the ease at which the system could be implemented; “It was a bit unusual because we were transitioning into a new business. The process for actually entering the data onto that system went really well. It was planned well and we were helped out all the way through it.”

As well as re-shaping the business and implementing 123insight, Beck Optronic also moved premises, delaying the go-live until March 2015. However, when they were ready, the roll-out happened very smoothly. Andy commented; “We went live across the whole organisation; from sales order processing all the way through production, configuration control, despatch and invoicing. We went live everywhere on day one.”

If you’re transacting less then there’s the potential for fewer errors... ...The fact that there weren’t any up-front costs made a significant difference.

Andy Hedges - Operations Director
Andy Hedges - Beck Optronics

Go-live and benefits

Immediately, the company saw benefits, as processes were simplified and information was available to all staff, which Andy cited as a major plus; “I think the standout benefit was the fact we could have data immediately. I’ve talked about the user interface before, and that was a big thing for us. It just made life so much easier to drill down on batches, part numbers, purchase orders, etc. right the way through.”

Paperwork dropped dramatically, as many documents were stored electronically and emailed instead of being printed, and all documents could be easily customised to the company’s style and brand. Andy noted; “There's no doubt that the paperwork reduced from our previous system, in terms of purchase ordering, production scheduling; the amount of paperwork that was spread around the business was quite high. Now, it's all just a part of the system. There's no need for paper schedules, etc. so it makes a big difference for us. Paper reduction is huge. We reshaped a lot of the forms and used some help and support from 123 Insight to be able to do that.”

The core MRP function of their previous system was limited, but with 123insight it was a much faster and less complex process; “The previous MRP system was cumbersome and we very rarely used it purely because it was so awkward and unwieldy. Now, we run MRP and it runs quickly and smoothly. We have the data we need to make our purchasing and manufacturing decisions. You can automatically issue works orders and route cards, the picking list is created, there's no other transactions within that, and no need to print any other documentation. We had to do all of this manually previously.”

KPI improvements

As data started flowing through the system it gave them information on key areas of the business. Said Andy; “Our key metrics are lead times and on-time delivery performance. We can work out what value of our order book is overdue at any time, and that's definitely helped us to reduce our lead times and overdue orders. 123insight  has also improved our traceability. Stock control, batch control, serial numbering, etc. have all improved as a result.”

Errors have reduced across all departments; “In the administrative roles, 123insight is much easier than the previous system - it was quite cumbersome, didn't call up part numbers for you, etc, so the errors are down. It makes a huge difference to stock control and purchasing, so we're not double ordering. Once we've set the parts up on the system it just stops us making mistakes in production. All of these features cut errors, and also the amount of transactions you're doing, which is a big thing. If you're transacting less then there's the potential for fewer errors.”

Lead times have reduced, and with many products having a 10-12 week lead time in this sector, being able to reduce this has been very beneficial; “It’s probably saved a week to a week and a half off our standard lead times. It’s a competitive market, and we’re trying to compete with everybody else in Europe and the Far East, which is a challenge, but we've seen growth in both order book and profits .”

Support

Andy also hasn’t had any issues when needing assistance; “Support works really well. I don't think that we've ever had any issues in terms of using the help desk. If ever there isn't an immediate answer it's a case of 'we'll call you back', and 9 times out of 10 it's a few minutes or half an hour.”

Andy concluded that although the 123insight business model initially attracted him, it was the functionality that ultimately persuaded him; “The upgrade cost of the old system was going to be significant for us and was part of the reason why we looked elsewhere. The fact there weren't any up front costs, for a new company made a significant difference. It’s just the whole package - from training, implementation, the software itself and flexible licencing. It just works well and ticks all the boxes.  It gave us what we wanted. I think the biggest enhancement it gave us was the visibility of our stock, and work in progress. That was where it exceeded our expectations the most.”

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