Case Study: Otodynamics Ltd

After the stock system associated with their accounts system continued to prove unstable Otodymanics took advice from their supplier and fellow 123insight user Adapt EMS and attended an Evaluation Workshop. Since going live the company has seen purchasing time reduce by 80% and stock outages eradicated.

Otodynamics medical MRP software case study
  • Recommended by supplier and user of 123insight
  • Advanced Serial Tracking
  • Purchasing takes 80% less time than before
  • Stock outages eradicated
  • Tightly integrated to intranet using SDK
  • Datasheets automatically attach to orders etc

Otodynamics Ltd, based in Hatfield, Herts, manufacture a range of hearing measurement devices for the medical industry. The company previously relied on a stock control system from their accounting software vendor, along with a collection of in-house spreadsheets and databases. However, this delivered more problems than it solved due to fragmented, disconnected data and unstable software. Said Michael Kirk, Divisional Manager; “Where do I start? The software was very unreliable at controlling serial numbers and would often crash halfway through issuing components - so we had issued stock but no serial numbers. There were so many different ways that it was unreliable it was difficult to identify specific issues. In the end we had to remove the serial tracking from the system and track them manually. We were at our wits end.” He also attended a user day for the company, where he also met others also experiencing similar issues. Justin Braime, Production Engineer added; “I remember that there were always issues with production getting orders out of the door, and many times the blame fell on the system.”

Evaluating MRP systems

The company set about investigating alternative systems, with the company initially reviewing several costing up to £50,000. He was left cold to the traditional sales approach, but liked 123insight’s Evaluation Workshop; “Short term we needed a system which could replicate what we had but with the benefit of MRP and better handling of serial numbers. Long term we needed full traceability and device history for all of our products, and to rationalise various disparate systems and processes into a single software system. When we looked at the other systems we didn’t actually get to see much, other than PowerPoints and marketing words. We were recommended to look at 123insight by existing user Adapt EMS, one of our suppliers, and we booked to attend an Evaluation Workshop, which was held locally to us at Hatfield University.” Staff from Otodynamics initially attended an Evaluation Workshop in February 2012, with two more staff attending again in May. Said Michael; “Two very influential staff came back from the workshop and said it was exactly what we needed. Their words were ‘It was almost like they wrote it for us’. What really helped was that the staff were very honest about what the software would and would not do.”

Data migration using 123insight's SDK

After attending the Evaluation Workshops Otodynamics stopped considering other systems and the decision was made to select 123insight in October 2012. The company has a number of staff proficient with SQL, so used 123insight’s SDK (Software Development Kit) to migrate data from their legacy systems. Three staff attended the initial six days of ‘no-obligation’ training, on the understanding that if the system did not meet their needs they could walk away with nothing to pay. Said Justin; “The training environment at 123 Insight’s offices was good - better than being shut away in a hotel somewhere. It’s also good that you are on the training with other customers and prospects, many of which have not yet paid a penny either.”

Despite a new product launch we’ve not had to increase staff to cope with the demand. We now have excellent visibility of long-term requirements, which is particularly useful when dealing with long lead times. 123insight’s Advanced Serial Tracking has also exceeded our expectations, as it was a lot simpler to use than our previous methods.

Michael Kirk - Divisional Manager
Michael Kirk - Divisional Manager

Implementation and go-live

After a period of data cleansing the company started implementing and went live just over five months later on April 1st 2013. Both Michael and Justin were expecting problems, which didn’t materialise. Said Michael; “Everyone was expecting the roll-out to be much more painful. There were two users in particular that stood out, having always struggled with the old system and being resistant to change, however both now love 123insight and one of them is actually considered a power user.” Justin added; “Even in production where staff are not so IT-savvy they get on with the system fine, especially the Shop Floor Data Capture (SFDC), as it’s a very simple user interface. Users also like the ‘favourites’ menu, where they can pin frequently used shortcuts.”

Once the system went live benefits were immediately noticed. The time taken for purchasing was drastically reduced, with staff spending 80% less time and a typical purchase order taking only a couple of minutes to raise. Said Michael; “We’re also being more creative with purchasing now, taking advantage of capabilities such as staged deliveries to secure supply but ensuring that we do not hold or pay for too much stock. Batteries are a great example, where we need to ensure constant supply at a competitive price. Advanced Serial Tracking is also very useful - only this morning I had an enquiry on an old product that I was able to track back using the serial number in under fifteen seconds.”

Faster reporting and intranet integration

The ability to quickly obtain data and reports from the system was of significant use. Otodynamics have developed a comprehensive intranet which they have linked to using 123insight’s SDK, retrieving live information from the system and also inserting relevant data straight into the database. Justin noted; “Reporting was a lot easier and more flexible than before, and we can now expose a lot of information on our intranet. For example, sales reports can be accessed live on the intranet’s web pages. We have some large screens around the facility which also show live data and KPI statistics, such as sales and stock performance, all of which is pulled straight out of 123insight via the SDK.” Michael added; “I produce a weekly production stats report that was previously very difficult to create - now it takes just a few minutes.”

Stock accuracy has also improved significantly, with complete eradication of stock outages, despite the company increasing stock due to the launch of a new product range. Michael commented; “We just don’t run out of stock anymore. We have production forecasts for at least six months now, so we can see far in advance what we need to order. Some of our components have long lead times as well, but we have been able to quickly identify this and hold appropriate long-term stocks accordingly.”

Overall accuracy across the system has increased considerably, which Michael attributes to 123insight’s security; “Previously staff might make a mistake on, say, a despatch note. They were able to fudge the system and get around it. Now it’s locked down, so if they do something wrong they have to escalate it to me so that I can deal with it correctly. We can also automatically attach specific documents, such as datasheets to a sales, works or purchase order, and we’re sending a lot more documents electronically now. It’s a real benefit that I can open a sales order and see a scan of the customer’s purchase order.”

Integrated CRM

The company is also taking advantage of 123insight’s CRM+ option, which provides a workflow process useful not only for managing customers but also suppliers, quality processes and more.

Since going live in 2013 there have been several new releases of the software which have delivered further benefits. Michael noted; “One thing that’s great is that the software is regularly improved. When you get a new version it’s not just a load of bug fixes. There’s always a lot of new features that we can consider rolling out. Document attachments have improved since we’ve gone live, and the latest version has improvements to the multi-stage despatch process. Support has also been top notch. The quality of the support from 123sight far outstrips other suppliers. It’s always nice to know that you are talking to people that actually know how the software works and are not just following a script.”

Otodynamics is one of a growing number of UK manufacturers that are relying more on UK subcontractors rather than the Far East, and they took comfort from the fact that one of their key local suppliers also relies on 123insight. Michael concluded; “Despite a new product launch we’ve not had to increase staff to cope with the demand. We now have excellent visibility of long-term requirements, which is particularly useful when dealing with long lead times. 123insight’s Advanced Serial Tracking has also exceeded our expectations, as it was a lot simpler to use than our previous methods.”

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