Case Study: FHS Dynamics Ltd

FHS Dynamics Ltd (formerly FHS Motor Racing) replaced their ageing DOS system with 123insight. They drastically reduced the time taken to perform tasks such as creating assemblies and raising purchase order, with paperwork being more than halved. Works orders are now more instructional for staff, and costings are much more accurate than before.

FHS Dynamics MRP software case study
  • Massive time savings - creating assemblies down from 30-60 minutes to under 5 minutes
  • Paperwork more than halved
  • Costing much more accurate than before
  • Works orders now provide manufacturing instructions
  • Interface from 123insight MRP to Sage 50 accounts
  • Excellent reporting
  • Customer care visits help take the system further
  • Audits performed faster

FHS Motor Racing Ltd, based in Slough, Berkshire, manufactures fluid management systems, serving the motor sport industry. In the 1990s the company had built its own DOS-based system to handle sales, purchasing, stock and production, but it had limitations and was difficult to use.

Greg Giles, Commercial Manager, said “It was all very manual, so you had to keep typing things in. To move from one area to another you had to go back to the main menu. There was no copy/paste, so you had to write down information to move from one screen to another and then re-key it. Our part numbers are very long, which meant that you had to keep keying in a 20-25 digit part number. You could often easily have to do this four or five times to look up a sales order to see where it was in the system, which became very laborious and prone to mistakes. Any keying errors would go through the whole system - once something was in you couldn’t change or delete it, and there was a real risk that you could re-use it and compound the mistake.”

The system also had no MRP functionality, resulting in purchasing being a very manual process, with spreadsheets and even white boards used to compensate for gaps in functionality. Greg added; “It was all reliant on memory. We had to physically check to see what we needed to buy.”

Support for the system, although available, was limited. FHS were recommended to look at 123insight by another company in the industry already using the software and attended an Evaluation Workshop event. Said Greg; “At that stage we were toying with the idea of looking at a new system. After really looking into it we found out that 123insight was perfect for us.”

The selection process

The decision was made in June 2014 to select 123insight, but due to pressures of the racing season they decided to delay; “We started setting up systems and importing data. Our peak season starts in November and it got to the stage where we realised we'd missed the boat. So, we decided to defer it for a year, which was good because I had an extra 12 months to really look at 123insight and decide what we wanted from it.”

Management decided what the short-term and long-term aims for the project were. Said Greg; ”The short-term goal was to get a system in place that we could actually use. Our previous system was just becoming so slow and hard to manage with all the numbers that we had in there. Long-term, one of the main things we wanted was better reporting. With our previous system we couldn't get any sales reporting, or any idea of sales trends, e.g. what type of products we were selling, what wasn’t selling, profitability, how many customers did we have, what did they spend, etc.”

Two staff attended the six days of ‘no-obligation’ training, which gave Greg his first vision of the benefits the company might see from the new system; “It gave me some fantastic ideas on how things should be done, and during the training session I was making a lot of notes on improvements that we could make to our systems and what parts of 123insight I could use to take things in a slightly different direction. One example was certificates of conformity - these can be generated automatically through the system, whereas before we used headed paper and typed them up in Word.”

Data cleansing

Greg took this period to forensically examine their legacy data to ensure that only relevant and accurate information was to be transferred across; “It was our chance to make 30,000 part numbers obsolete and just to try to clean things up. There was a lot of data to try to import but it was a really helpful learning experience to look at all of our parts, also adding information about lead times, costs and suppliers. Although it seemed painful at the time it really benefited us when we went live.”

The company went live across all departments in September 2015. Having used their previous system for over 20 years, staff had concerns about the switch, but these were quickly quashed; “I think everyone was a bit nervous about turning the old system off and saying 'Monday we are on the new system'. Almost straight away it felt very natural. We tried to mirror the processes of our old system as best we could for ease of transition. I can't remember it being painful at all, or even any teething problems. Even something silly like autofill on a part number -  it may only save a minute but just the joy of not having to put in the full part number or copy and pasting was just fantastic and staff took to it straight away.”

The fact that you could go from a part enquiry into a sales order into a works order or a purchase order just seamlessly and all through one screen was such a joy... ...you couldn't employ someone for the money we spend on 123insight to do what it does.

Greg Giles - Commercial Manager
Greg Giles - Commercial Manager

Benefits after go-live

One of the first benefits was the speed of data retrieval, with 123insight’s drill-down capabilities impressing Greg; “The fact that you could right-click and go from a part enquiry into a sales order into a works order or a purchase order seamlessly all through one screen was such a joy. The time savings initially from an admin point of view were fantastic. Everything was very efficient and a lot faster.”

Quotes and costings also became more accurate, highlighting the inaccuracies of the previous system; “It was a shock. When we transferred everything into 123insight and it showed us the real costs we were quite taken aback by what the difference was between the two. Things were actually costing us a lot more money than we thought. We can now identify what our costs are, whereas historically we may have been selling things at a loss or for minimal profit without really knowing it.”

Other time savings included simple purchase or sales orders raised in seconds versus 4-5 minutes, and creating assemblies drastically reduced from up to an hour to just a few minutes, with the added bonus of features such as sub-assembly structures and outsourcing of parts. PDFs could automatically be associated with items such as parts, and then automatically attached to sales, purchase or works orders. Greg noted; “From a paperwork and storage point of view it's fantastic - it's all on the system. Before, we used to have lots of folders everywhere.”

Customised documentation

All documents within 123insight can be customised, and Greg took the opportunity to assist operators on the shop floor by adding further information on works orders; “Previously, works orders were less of a guide, whereas now we call them assembly instructions. It's written down line by line how staff should put the parts together and what processes they should use, even down to picking of parts, serial numbers, how things should be labelled - we can put everything on the works order. We could really go to town on what we put down, so when new staff join the company we have clear concise instructions, bullet points, pictures, and we can attach drawings.”

Greg has been extremely satisfied with the support, noting that it is significantly better than other vendors; “Support has been fantastic. Every time we call the Help Desk, which is rare, we always get through straight away. Certainly, there are other vendors that we contact, and it's very hard to get someone on the phone for an answer. I have nothing but great things to say about 123insight support.”

Instant visibility

Visibility within production drastically improved, with FHS now having faith in their ability to quote and deliver accurate lead times. Greg noted; “It’s fantastic when somebody's on the phone trying to find out something quickly - we can check it out immediately and dive straight back on the phone. We have the ability to tell them a lead time with a high degree of accuracy, whereas before we would have to have gone away, tried to physically find the parts and then have to call them back. We can tell them straight away if we have it in stock, or go through the system to find out what the lead times are from our suppliers. It just gives us real-time information that we can give back to the customer immediately.”

One of the long-term goals was to improve reporting, and 123insight exceeded FHS’s expectations; “With 123insight we have all the reporting we could need. It kept our Managing Director and our Accountant happy. We could look forward to what areas of the market we should focus on, what customers to talk to, put price lists in the system, etc.” Reporting on stock also helped FHS to identify stock trends, which previously was impossible.

MRP accounts integration

The company uses Sage 50 accounts and wanted to link the MRP system to it, taking advantage of 123insight’s accounts interface option to link 123insight Sales Order Processing and Purchase Order Processing with the Sage 50 Accounts Sales and Purchase Ledgers.

With their ISO9001 and ISO14001 accreditations, FHS have noted that audits are performed much quicker than before. Everything  is now available on-screen as opposed to someone having to manually locate information, which previously was spread across multiple systems.

FHS have taken advantage of 123insight’s scalable licencing; “We've almost doubled the amount of licences we've had since we started. There were a couple of months where we did decrease, and it's great to have that flexibility.”

Dealing with real-world situations

Although 123insight streamlines and automates many procedures, Greg likes the fact that he still has the option to override it to deal with real-world situations; “We still ‘cheat the system’, whether buying in stock or hedging our bets a little on future movement.” FHS also regularly use 123insight’s ‘Test Company’ feature to replicate their entire database to a duplicate environment in order to try out new processes without impacting on their live system.

The 123 Insight Customer Care team pay regular on-site visits to FHS, allowing them to ask how they can improve their use of the system, but without any associated sales pressure; “We often discuss new features and what’s up and coming, not from a selling point of view but just to see if it will help us. It’s an opportunity for me to say ‘I’d like to do this with the company’, and they help me to drive it forward.”

The company is planning to move premises within the next 18 months, and is also considering adding 123mobile and 123insight’s CRM+ option to extend its reach within the business. Greg concluded; “It's very hard to estimate what the return on investment is. 123insight is absolutely invaluable and without it we have no business - it's as simple as that. It's very hard to look at something like 123insight and say how much are you saving when you look at what it costs per month. You couldn't employ someone for that kind of money to do what it does. It certainly has saved us a lot of time, which in the market we are in you couldn't put a number on.”

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