Case Study: How One Manufacturer Put Out the Fire on its Burning ERP Platform

Case Study: How One Manufacturer Put Out the Fire on its Burning ERP Platform
Case Study: How One Manufacturer Put Out the Fire on its Burning ERP Platform

Sarah Nicastro
C&C Power, Inc. identified that it was on a burning platform which was getting in the way of being able to make essential business changes. This is the story of how the company achieved a reduction in stock-outs by 25% thanks to real (not general) materials requirements planning (MRP) functionality, reduced the impact on processes associated with design changes after orders are released to manufacturing, and achieved faster order turn time and a hugely improved customer experience.

C&C Power, Inc. manufactures, installs and services power supply and telecommunications equipment used in data centers around the world. As such it provides essential infrastructure that must operate 24/7 to its demanding customer base which includes fortune 100 companies along with data centers, telecommunication companies and government agencies. And not only is it an engineer-to-order and configure-to-order manufacturer, it also provides aftermarket service for front access, standard, rack mount, and spares battery cabinets, as well as landing boxes, battery monitoring, telecom, commander plus controllers, and integrated distribution systems.

And that means its own internal business processes have to be constantly calibrated to be reliable, fast and accurate.

The burning platform had to go

Since 2019, C&C Power, Inc. was working hard to reduce order turn time and complete battery replacements and other field service work with its internal team of technicians and external contractors. The company found itself on a burning enterprise resource planning (ERP) software platform, supplemented by third party report writing and quality management software.
Change was needed and the company hired an independent software selection consultancy. “As a very dynamic business, we had some strict requirements,” C&C Power, Inc.’s operations manager, John Materse explained. “Our forecasts were limited and typically only project-based with configurations changes. Our low volume, high-mix, highly configured products are specific to each customer, yet customers still expect fast turn times, due in part to customer specification approvals, lean supply chains and expecting quick delivery. So, we needed an ERP system to help us better plan inventory, labor and was forgiving to accommodate customer changes–some that are very last minute.”

Based on their needs, C&C Power, Inc. shortlisted IFS, Microsoft Dynamics 365, Infor Syteline (since rebadged as Cloudsuite Industrial) and Epicor. IFS was chosen.
Before implementing IFS, C&C Power, Inc. heavily customized their systems to lower turn time for most orders from 45 to 60 days to within 14 days, with just less than half shipping within one week. The company’s standards were set high. C&C Power, Inc. wanted to be able to provide excellent customer service, ship quality products and make sure its colleagues had uninterrupted access to the system—and the IFS MRP functionality was up to the challenge.

Sophisticated MRP capability essential to properly service customers

“One thing we needed IFS to do was help us reduce and sustain a shorter lead time—without us breaking our backs trying to accommodate that,” Materse said. The company needed real materials requirements planning (MRP) capability in an ERP system to make quick decisions and simulate whether it had parts in stock. Only then could C&C Power, Inc. really service the customer and provide instant answers instead of having to make out a bill of materials (BOM) to see what parts might be bottlenecks to completion.

After an accelerated six-month implementation, C&C Power, Inc. replaced the existing footprint of their previous ERP system with IFS’s MRP and were able to set about meeting their new goals from the get-go.

Unlike the burning platform, IFS’s MRP is detailed, easy to read and seemed more preconfigured and ready to go from the initial set up—lead times could be entered at a supplier level, at a part level—and C&C Power, Inc. gained a lot of the flexibility it was looking for. As for the capacity planning requirement, the company is now in a position to better manage the resources and get a detailed capacity plan for manufacturing.

Immediate process improvements mean happy customers

Right away, C&C Power, Inc. enjoyed improved visibility into their inventory levels and how they squared with customer orders—advantages that its previous ERP system couldn’t sustain. For instance, when inventory was reserved for an existing customer project, the company’s legacy system did not reflect that, which led to stockouts and delays of customer orders when the same inventory was sold twice.

Now with the IFS system, C&C Power, Inc.’s “ability to handle reservations of components is greatly improved,” Materse said, and they can rely on a functionality that actually works. Since April 2020, the company has already experienced a reduction in stockouts by 25% and expects this to increase as C&C Power, Inc. gets more acclimatized to the system and builds up its transaction history data to re-plan inventory levels on other parts as well. Even though C&C Power, Inc. is starting from ground zero with a lack of transaction history, IFS’s MRP functionality already provides vastly improved visibility into when parts need to be replenished due to the demand plan.

New ERP introduces an intuitive, proactive approach to MRP

“In our old system—I would spend time looking proactively for problems—just hunting for that part we had to order that would cause us heartache,” Materse described. “Now every time MRP runs, our planners have information in front of them that finds the problem for them and points them in the right direction.”

The IFS ERP solution is proving a good fit for C&C Power, Inc.’s low volume, high-mix manufacturing environment, where the product and related BOM are built around customer requirements which can sometimes change midstream. Complex manufacturing operations can handle these changes to customer orders, but flexibility is a must, especially when it comes to the handling of product customizations.

IFS ERP can support this need for greater flexibility as employees can go into the system, open a shop order and add a part when the customer calls and says they want an additional configuration. These changes can be made until the orders are released for manufacturing without it causing an issue. Even during the manufacturing process, the company can make changes to ensure it delivers on customer expectations.

As the new ERP is much more efficient at handling these midstream changes, the system has also enabled C&C Power, Inc. to reduce the cost of the average change order by several percentage points. The company always charges for midstream changes, but that fee was previously higher because the company had to go through a series of manual transactions. “The ERP system has improved the process for us to make changes enough that we can sometimes lower our design costs for customers,” Materse said.

Fast and accurate service configurations–with the customer site in mind

C&C Power, Inc. does more than design and manufacture equipment for their customers—the company also provides aftermarket service and support for their uninterruptible power supplies, DC power equipment or batteries. The company is relying on the service management functionality in their IFS ERP solution to increase technician utilization rate and improve the customer experience on annual maintenance contracts, warranty work, battery change-outs and break-fix repair.

“One of our biggest challenges is understanding our customer sites, the obstacles we have to deal with, and where our equipment is placed,” Materse said. Previously, the company relied on Microsoft Excel to store service information, such as site surveys and serial numbers—but this manual method presented challenges.

With IFS, “we can set up customer sites to reflect what equipment is in what room so it can be serviced more efficiently. We rent equipment, and now have the systems in place to recognize when it is rented, where it is located and when to invoice it,” explained Materse.

The new system also allows C&C Power, Inc. to be more effective while quoting. “If we have to go through a security checkpoint that takes three hours, or the room is a mile into the building—we are now in a position to factor in that time,” Materse said.

Invest in new technology to help meet market demands

C&C Power, Inc. is a perfect case in point that it is never too late to make the shift away from a burning platform. The company knew their pinch points and set about finding a solution that could support their demanding criteria. With IFS ERP solution and its MRP capabilities now in place, the company is able to address its greater need for efficiency across both its manufacturing and field service operations–and the benefits are being felt by employees and customers alike. Operations are now streamlined to help the company address issues quicker and significantly improve the customer experience in a way that they legacy system just could not deliver.

As demand for greater flexibility and agility increases, it is clear to see that whatever the moment of service requires, reliable ERP solutions are necessary to help companies like C&C Power, Inc. deliver on the latest market demands.

About The Author

Sarah Nicastro is a Field Service Evangelist with IFS.

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