to Astute Electronics supply chain operations
Astute Electronics specialises in the sourcing, testing and supplying of high quality semi-conductors for demanding applications. Underpinning its supply chain is an innovative SYSPRO solution supplied by K3 Business Technology Group (K3). With this system in place Astute has been able to surge forward as one of the world's leading suppliers of fully tested and warranted electronic components, with offices in the UK, USA and China enabling it to serve customers globally.
The ISO9001/2000 approved company was established in 1989 and now has a turnover of US$45 million. The company's HQ is in Ware, Hertfordshire. It is the UK's largest independent supplier to the military and has a 25,000 square foot warehouse facility in Scotland that holds $70 million in stock. Its UK operations also serve Europe, with the Americas and China supported by their own dedicated offices.
Among the company's USPs is its unique 1-year warranty on all products that is sources from leading manufacturers worldwide. Astute products are used for a wide range of applications and the company's customers include the military, aerospace, avionics, contract electronic manufacturing, automotive, electronics distribution, IT/add-on boards, instrumentation and broadcast markets.
Astute went live with SYSPRO in October 2006 and the company has not looked back. The solution is tailored to provide massive strength to the company's supply chain and deliver total visibility across the entire enterprise, with links to the various sites made possible via secure Internet access. Now on the latest issue of SYSPRO (issue 10, SP2), Astute's solution includes Finance, Distribution, Bill of Materials, RMA (Return Merchandise) modules with some custom development specifically developed by K3 for the company.
Out with the old
Simon Humphreys, IT Manager at Astute, says that the SYSPRO system is light years away from the company's original system, which when he joined the company three years ago the majority of the users were keen to replace.
One of the first things he did, therefore, was to examine the market of available enterprise solutions. Narrowing the scope down to eight potential systems, he organised a two-day offsite meeting that included the senior management team so that they collectively could review what was on offer. At the end of the two days, all agreed that SYSPRO would provide a single unified platform that would grow with the company.
“The original system was antiquated, inflexible and difficult to administer. It was not secure and to get information out of it into a readable format could take two days. The reporting system was, therefore, weak and only allowed a restricted range of Excel spreadsheets and the graphical capabilities were poor.
With SYSPRO we can generate any type of report we need virtually instantly, giving management immediate visibility. We have also developed dashboards for senior personnel so that they can instantly access information and this gives them the ability to gain an immediate view of business performance,” says Humphreys.
Humphreys can ensure that users get access to the information they need from SYSPRO. This enhances security of data, allowing only authorised personnel to make changes.
“SYSPRO's security features give more control over the system and this benefits the organisation as a whole because only authorised colleagues can input changes. This gives us confidence in the information,” he says.
Lot Traceability supports Astute quality
Lot Traceability is extremely important for Astute. The company prides itself that all products are 100 per cent fit for purpose. When goods come into the company, they are meticulously matched and recorded against Purchase Orders. The products are then subjected to stringent testing and benchmarking performed by Astute's Quality Assurance Department. The tests are recorded within SYSPRO. The recorded information includes photographs of the components and all test results.
These product dossiers are extremely important as Astute guarantees that each component does precisely what it is supposed to do. With this rigorous approach, Astute is able to provide a comprehensive one-year warranty on all its products.
“Accurate traceability is a must for us and SYSPRO provides a centralised information resource that records everything about our products,” says Humphreys.
SYSPRO delivers simplicity of use
Humphreys describes Astute's operation as “straightforward”. On the surface, this is true: the customer orders a product, Astute procures, tests, warrantees, ships and invoices. However, Humphreys acknowledges that this is due to the control that SYSPRO has brought to the company and that it really is an exacting, sophisticated procedure.
“Our process begins with an Order and these come in various ways – email, fax and telephone. We input these into the system and we obtain a Quote for the items. Interestingly, we have to match the part number the customer uses to those used by our suppliers, but with the comprehensive records we have in SYSPRO this is not difficult. It lets us see what has been bought before, who supplied and supplier options.
“We then send the Quote to the customer. The customer confirms via a Purchase Order, we order the part, it comes in and we send it for testing to the QA department. Once we are satisfied that the product will perform its job, it is despatched and the accounting procedure takes over,” says Humphreys.
Humphreys says the cycle varies depending on the product, but with SYSPRO the company has total control, has optimised its procedures, and shortened the process.
“We are a lot more in control of what we do. SYSPRO speeds up the process incredibly – in fact, we can safely say that from order to shipment we have shortened the cycle by 15 per cent. This means we can invoice earlier,
“And with the growth in business comes the growth in inventory levels. The system provides a clear picture of what we hold and allows us to tightly manage stock levels,” he says.
Extending the reach of SYSPRO
Astute has interesting plans for developing its system further. This is due to the way SYSPRO moulds to the exact needs of the company.
“The great thing about SYSPRO is that all is possible. It is extremely flexible as well as having the power to support anything that we expect of it. K3, for instance, is busy writing bespoke add-ons for us to allow us to perform more customisation of the system. In addition, we will integrate our despatch agent's booking and delivery tracking software so that we have a seamless record of when we shipped the product and when it was delivered. This further bolsters our customer records and keeps everything within our centralised system.
SYSPRO reflects where we as a relatively young company approach our business. It has all the power we need to take the company forward and it fits well with our vibrant, go-ahead culture,” concludes Humphreys.