A few days ago we visited Franciaflex a MAC Group business based in Rennes in France. MAC are a significant customer of 360 Innovations the Canadian Software supplier that some of you may have seen at Fit Show this year and who we helped bring to the UK. 360 has more than a thousand users in North America and Europe, and is the world leader with its software solutions for a variety of industries that manufacture and sell custom-made products with a presence in Canada (headquarters), France, the United States and Mexico…. and now the UK.
As businesses in our sector mature, grow and become more complex they often outgrow the systems that run the business itself, sales and customer management, MRP and MRP2, capacity planning, survey installation and dispatch planning etc…. the business as a whole. We’ve seen various attempts to address this with varying degrees of success using existing manufacturing software and tried and tested ERP systems such as Microsoft Dynamics, always complex usually compromised and never ideal.
The visit to France was to see a truly impressive project, MAC profitably turnover around €280 million and manufacture PVC, Aluminium and Timber windows doors and glazed structures, they have 18 plants and numerous retail trade and commercial brands and businesses. The 360 project will replace 22 different pieces of software* across the 18 plants and enable manufacture from any plant and delivery to one customer from multiple sources. The software also enables web sales and one MAC business selling blinds already has over 20% of its sales made direct on the web via 360. This web sales model is well established in North America and used by trade suppliers for their dealers. As you’d expect workflow rules ensure that the processes flow and are not missed (for example a survey triggers a task to manufacture, a purchase invoice is checked against receipt of the goods and correct pricing before being cleared for payment, consumption of MRP stock triggers a reorder etc etc and all automatically every time without anyone forgetting or needing a spreadsheet or a sticky note.
Around 3 years in to this massive project there is a team of three in France from 360 led by a Canadian VP. From MAC group the IT team has some of it’s 11 members dedicated to the project led the the IT Director. The success so far is not just down to the software but the project planning and management and the manufacturing and process skills of the implementation team and as a result MAC are already seeing the benefits on the bottom line.
The opportunity for our clients to increase profits by squeezing suppliers or increasing prices is limited, it has been for some time and it is increasingly so. What used to be a simple equation Cost+Margin = Price is now Profit = Price- Cost , a very different proposition and one that requires efficiency. Right First Time On Time at Lowest cost is not going to be optional if you want to make profits in the future.