To streamline both businesses, improve their profitability and enhance customer service the companies are investing jointly in a central supply-chain management system from In2grate Business Solutions.
Pentland Wholesale provides a full range of market leading commercial refrigeration and catering equipment to the trade, including many of the UK’s white goods retailers. Stock held at its 30,000 sq ft warehouse covers more than 700 products lines from national and international manufacturers.
Acme supplies, delivers, installs and maintains refrigeration, air conditioning and catering equipment to a variety of sectors including hospitality and leisure, education, healthcare, retail and the public sector. It handles everything from a single door refrigerator through to a full turnkey fit-out project. A large part of its workload is subcontracting for Pentland Wholesale installs and maintenance.
The management team wants to streamline administration and gain much greater visibility of all activities across both companies. The existing computer systems, however, lack functionality for a wholesale operation, which presents problems. They comprise two software packages, one for operations and the other for accounting. This incurs duplication with inter-company requests between Pentland Wholesale and Acme. For example, it entails raising purchase orders that are converted into sales orders by rekeying the information.
“By choosing Dynamics NAV, we will have a system that will grow with us and it will be supported well into the future.”
With an extensive inventory of equipment and parts in its warehouse, Pentland Wholesale needed to have a clearer picture of its stocks, be they equipment or spares. It also wanted to optimise the use of its warehouse, making it more ergonomic for the warehouse staff, which would improve efficiency and productivity.
Pentland Wholesale outsources maintenance and wants to improve management of subcontractor services and spare parts – whether these are supplied as warranty free of charge items or paid for if out of warranty. With this is a need to understand what equipment it has supplied to which customers and where it is installed, with extensive service histories and easy access to reports. This should help engineers solve equipment failure problems quickly. For example, they could use the system to help work out why a component needs replacing when it was changed a few months earlier.
Managers also wanted to have easy access to business information that would help make both companies more profitable. Therefore, any new system would have to provide the ability to analyse profit and loss across customers, sales regions and products.
The management team researched the market and looked at various enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems from different suppliers. It eventually narrowed the choice to two systems: Microsoft Dynamics® NAV and Microsoft Dynamics® GP. Either would integrate with both companies’ Microsoft® software and enhance productivity.
Following a 12-month long selection process, including a detailed scoping exercise from both potential suppliers, the team selected In2grate’s Microsoft Dynamics NAV-based system with integrated electronic proof of delivery and proof of service functionality.
“By choosing Dynamics NAV, we will have a system that will grow with us and it will be supported well into the future. The functionality that In2grate provides for electronic proof of delivery and proof of service means we have a full audit trail and we can trigger billing from the point of delivery rather than having to wait until the drivers and engineers return to base,” says Chris Allen, Financial Director across both businesses.
The new system will provide full warehouse automation with wireless barcode scanning for Pentland Wholesale, covering complete products and spares inventories. The system will facilitate improvements in all warehouse activities, such as picking and put-away enabling productivity and efficiency improvements. Acme’s 45 service engineers’ vans also act as mobile spares warehouses and the system will recognise the stock levels on each vehicle. Keeping a global view of equipment and parts is important, as Pentland Wholesale is well known for its extensive inventory, allowing it to service orders quickly, direct from stock in its warehouse.
The system will also provide customer relationship management (CRM). Customer service agents will use it to gain instant access to customer records showing what they have bought and when, service histories extending back 10 years and more, and future service calls. If a customer calls in to request a repair, the agent can access the customer’s records instantly and respond accordingly. This will further enhance customer service, an area in which both companies have a strong reputation for excellence.
As a central system that integrates both businesses, there is no duplication of data. Therefore, if Pentland Wholesale requires Acme to install or service a piece of equipment, a Purchase Order is raised and turned instantly into a Sales Order, without any further rekeying. Likewise, if Acme is fitting-out a kitchen it can raise a Purchase Order for equipment it wants to buy from Pentland Wholesales and this registers as a Sales Order on the system.
Coupled with the real-time accounting features of the system, is the management reporting functionality provided by Dynamics NAV Dimensions, which provides dimensional analysis of every financial aspect of the business. It will allow managers to look at profitable and unprofitable activity down to item level. For example, they will be able to see those products that are selling well; they could also look at regional performance, or identify areas that could perform better with investment. This is a key feature of the system and is a powerful tool for proactive business management.
With integrated electronic proof of delivery using a GPRSenabled mobile handheld device, it is very easy to document that items have been delivered and signed for by the customer or customer’s representative. The driver can also take a photograph of the delivered items to prove that they were intact and fit for purpose when he left them with the customer. There is no waiting for the driver to return to the office with signed paperwork. By transmitting the details directly from the customer site, billing can be processed instantly and sent out the same day as the delivery. This has an immediate benefit for cashflow.
Electronic proof of service works along similar lines. Jobs are sent direct to Acme engineers’ mobile device. The system allows them to scan parts taken from their vans, automatically updating the spares inventory. It also shows them the history of the items they are servicing or repairing and quickly analyse problems with the equipment. When the work is complete, the engineer can photograph the installation or service work done, capture the customer’s signature for proof of service and update the main system while he is on site. Again, this allows same day billing.
The mobile devices also allow the customer service team to locate the delivery drivers and engineers, to keep customers informed of progress, which again enhances customer service.
Chris Allen is very clear about why In2grate won this deal. “The approach the In2grate team took was exemplary. The In2grate team worked extremely hard and put a lot of resources into the proposal As well as demonstrating that they could take all our data and put it into the new system, they could configure it to provide a full history of each piece of equipment. These histories cover the lifetime of the equipment - more than 10 years for some kinds of products,”
Benefits at a glance