Transferring data in different formats is par for the course in today’s manufacturing sector. Getting the information into the main business system automatically and without error is a major issue solved by the innovative DataSwitch 5 for SYSPRO from K3 Business Technology Group (K3). This powerful data manipulation and systems integration tool has been put to effect at the Dudson Group, the world-leading ceramic tableware manufacturer and supplier.
Dudson had already installed a SYSPRO enterprise resource planning (ERP) system from K3 to automate and optimise its entire manufacturing and distribution operations in October 2007. The system went live in July 2008 and now covers its six sites – Stoke-on-Trent, London, Toronto (Canada), Valencia (Spain), Alexandria (New South Wales, Australia) and Raleigh (North Carolina, USA).
In a move to enhance the company’s ERP investment further, Dudson then implemented DataSwitch 5 for easy and automatic communication of critical data between each site. This eradicates the need for manually transferring information from external sources such as EDI messages or database transactions. Instead, DataSwitch provides a user friendly interface that simplifies data importing and exporting tasks. For example, a purchase order raised in one of the subsidiary companies automatically creates a sales order in the manufacturing company, and when that order is invoiced, stock is automatically transferred into a transit warehouse and is receipted into stock simply by entering an invoice reference. The invoice is posted automatically into the accounts payable and inter-company trading imbalances are eradicated completely.
"Throughout the Dudson organisation worldwide we make countless company transactions. These were previously keyed in several times over to create purchase orders, recreate sales orders within each site, invoice, receive goods in and post invoices. Our aim for DataSwitch was to simplify these time consuming, laborious inter-company transactions – and we are achieving our goals with savings of 100s of man-hours per week across our worldwide sites. Indeed, DataSwitch has more than paid for itself since day one," says Ervin Davis, Strategic Support Director, Dudson Ltd.
With DataSwitch, Dudson staff only have to key in data once and in many cases this is generated via SYSPRO’s MRP function. There is no re-keying of data up to the point that goods are received into the subsidiary company after delivery.
"The additional benefit of DataSwitch means that we have integrity of information. We don’t get typos and we no longer have misunderstandings. The benefits are fantastic. We have a hugely reduced amount of paper work such as credit notes. We would in the past have to issue these due to incorrect receipts or misinterpretations," says Ervin Davis.
Ervin Davis highlights the time savings and the benefits this brings to the entire organisation. "We are winning back a huge amount of time that can be channelled into customer focused work. This is possible because the technology is helping us to tie down efficiencies that allow us to focus on customer-centric value-added activities by doing what we do better and faster as well as creating quality in all we do," he says.
He explains this in greater detail by referring to a mind-boggling example of pre DataSwitch data entry.
"A worst case example would have been where we would have 2500 lines of order entry. This would have been rekeyed up to six times. Add to this the various journal entries, general postings on stock and AP postings and it is plain to see that we were generating a phenomenal amount of repetitive data. Moreover, this could be repeated throughout each site," says Ervin Davis.
"With the time we are saving through DataSwitch, our people are now able to go back to ensure that the information held within our system is correct and up to date. This is also helping with our end-user customers because we can now have a higher quality dialogue with them based on the information we have in the system," he adds.
In conclusion, Ervin Davis has no doubt of the value of DataSwitch as part of the company’s overall SYSPRO solution.
"DataSwitch is the link that has unlocked more benefits from an operational point of view than SYSPRO itself. It sounds crazy because it is a small utility but without it the system would not have brought anywhere near the benefits we would have expected. Any company that runs a multi-site operation with SYSPRO and has to process multiple transactions in sequence would find DataSwitch useful."