When I joined Friction Technology as general manager, I came with a fair bit of industry experience. I could see the potential of the business but I also spotted the inadequacy of the existing finance and operations system. It wasn’t even a single system but some basic software supported by several spreadsheets. It was very manually driven which made it difficult to run the business efficiently. There was no sure way to plan purchasing, control stock or clearly foresee production going through the factory.
A lot of our materials come in from Europe and South America, where our formulations are made. Lead times are often 10-12 weeks and not knowing when different supplies were arriving made it impossible to provide accurate forecasts to customers. We needed a better way.
I reviewed several business management solutions on the market. Some were good but were either too expensive for a small organisation like ours, or were reasonable but not purpose designed for manufacturing. They didn’t speak our language. One of the systems I assessed was Dynamics 365 Business Central from Microsoft and, after conferring with colleagues, it became our first choice as a capable solution, offering the best value for money for growing businesses.
We implemented it with the help of a partner called Azzure IT and the onboarding process was straightforward. Our operational efficiency quickly improved as different parts of the business integrated better. For the first time we had visibility of where different parts were that had been booked onto each manufacturing stage. We could look at the capacity of each machine and forecast production periods and delivery times. Ultimately, it allowed us to provide a better service by having a more customer-centred and data-enlightened approach because it furnished customers with accurate information and unprecedented predictive insights.
Business Central has boosted our competitive advantage in several ways: It’s given us more precision in knowing what materials to order and when to order them, which means less waste and optimised workflows; productivity has gone up and our employees have removed the cumbersome spreadsheets; our ability to access the software from our devices, whenever and wherever, enables us to be more mobile; we now have well-organised customer relationship management tools to support better pipeline management; and we get real-time finance and performance reporting which generates insights we can act on effectively.
We know our business and our customers well and we want to focus on those key facets without getting weighed down by operational processes. Business Central makes my job easier by providing a reliable backbone that keeps our production lines moving. It gives us the space to consider the more value adding aspects of our business such as innovation, product development and scaling our growth stably.
We’re now considering the next exciting phase in our roadmap – looking to future applications such as AI, predictive maintenance and production, robotics and greater automation. Business Central gives me to freedom to consider these ideas, knowing that our core operation is in good hands.