Manufacturer Avon rolls out Sage ERP X3 globally; increasing automation on the shop-floor

The leading global rubber manufacturer has ripped and replaced five legacy ERPs to facilitate the business' growth strategy and speed up factory floor functions.

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The leading global rubber manufacturer has ripped and replaced five legacy ERPs to facilitate the business' growth strategy and speed up factory floor functions.

Avon Rubber, which has an average annual turnover of £125 million, has deployed Sage's ERP X3 across the UK and Americas with China and South America to follow next year.

Across the protective gas mask division Avon counts the US military as one of its customers. It also supplies worldwide dairy farmers with rubber milking equipment.

Mike DePasquale, Avon Rubber's group enterprise system manager, said: “We produce thousands upon thousands of transactions a day. Avon has ambitious growth plans and we needed something to grow with us.”

Facilitating discrete and process manufacturing

As a company who deals with both discrete and process manufacturing Mike and the infrastructure team struggled to find a software company that could serve Avon Rubber’s various needs in one package.

Discrete manufacturing refers to the production of whole items like cars, furniture or toys while process manufacturing refers to the formula that makes up these items. Avon both produces both the items (gas masks) and the materials that make them (rubber) and its ERP needed to reflect that.

“It’s not the norm. A large majority will do one or the other. Most software packages are geared to one or the other. X3 allows us to flex it in any line of the business.”

The firm's five legacy IT ERPs included Pix by Sanderson, Infor, Sage 300, Minx and Comshare.

The final decision was a toss-up between Microsoft’s Dynamics and Sage’s X3, but the partnership with services integrator Inixion sealed the deal, De Pasquale said.

He added: “No-one puts in an ERP system for fun - you put it in because you have to and you are going for growth. So if you are going to do something that painful make sure you work with somebody that you trust and has a good relationship with the vendor.” 

Mobility and apps

Software is run out of the Belcamp office in Washington, DC, where the datacentre is also located, but employees can access the browser everywhere as it is published outside of the firewall.

“We have an iPad app that allows our sales guys to work offline. You might have guys in the middle of a farm in Poland with no internet connection and they can look up customer sales information, invoicing and orders and when they get back to their hotel it syncs up. It allows them to work more efficiently.”

Around 100 sales reps use iPads, out of 750 employees across the company as a whole.

"We felt that we could secure an Apple iPad much better than we do Microsoft Surface. Now if I leave my iPad in an airport, I can wipe it from here", De Pasquale said.

Avon runs a customer relationship management app on its Regional Sales Managers (RSMs).

“We’re trying to automate as much as we can”

“We’re looking at things to help the machines operate more efficiently, looking at ways to upgrade infrastructure to stay current. You always have to stay with the times because if you aren’t constantly staying with technology you are going to fall behind.

“We’re trying to automate as much as we can but we don't want to automate just for the sake of it”, De Pasquale added.

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