Manufacturing firm LJA Miers is the first UK customer to implement BusinessOne enterprise resource planning (ERP) software running on its HANA in-memory database platform, helping the firm to spur business growth by gaining better insights into its data.
LJA Miers is a mid-sized UK firm specialising in the supply of rubber and plastic products to sectors such as the automotive and construction industries.
Alongside a sister company, Miers Construction Products, which operates on the same IT infrastructure, there is a combined turnover of approximately £10 million, with both companies forecasting swift growth over the next year. There are a total of around 75 employees across the two firms, including sales, accounting and production staff.
However, as this growth occurs, the company is “bursting” with administration demands, with substantial amounts of data manually inputted - a laborious and time-consuming process, made more complicated by the company’s operations being spread across three separate sites.
In order to enable for its operations to scale and improve customer experience, last October the company began an extensive project to overhaul its IT systems at a total cost of £150,000, including introducing new Fujitsu servers and a refresh of PCs.
The main aim however was to introduce an ERP platform which would bring together all of the data within various parts of the organisation into a single system, replacing its legacy Lakeview software.
“We needed to upgrade as we were experiencing growth within our business. Our previous system was well supported but didn’t have the reqquired capacity, particularly on the production planning side,” Andrew Miers, managing director at LJA Miers, told ComputerworldUK.
Following discussion with SAP consultant firm Prospettiva, LJA Miers decided to implement the BusinessOne system with a manufacturing specific software add-on. The systems are expected to go live in January 2014.
The firm had initially been intending to implement BusinessOne on SQL databases, but decided instead to run the ERP system on the in-memory database platform, HANA.
This will allow the LJA Miers to process and deliver data to various parts of the company much more quickly, enabling a number of benefits such as reducing administration, improving customer service and enabling a real-time view of production demands across the whole organisation.
“At the end of the month I used to spend four solid days correlating reports so I could do my KPIs to present to the board,” Miers said. “Now I can use my dashboard on my computer with HANA by pressing a button and it is done within 30 seconds.
"It will give me so much more time to actually drive the business forward instead of number-crunching.
He added that the system will reduce the need to hire more adminstrative staff as the company grows, while sales staff will be able to improve their own services by viewing production data in real-time.
“When we have the system up and running fully, my sales guys will be able to see what machines are being utilised and when with their iPads, so they can tell customers whether we can fit in four hours of production tomorrow, so they can have specific parts the day after.”
“Instead of the sales guy picking up the phone and speaking to production about moving an order forward, which might take three or four hours at the moment, with HANA they can find this out straight away from their iPad.”
LJA Miers' BusinessOne on HANA implementation is the first for a UK company. Miers said that he had not previously seen SAP as a good fit for a company of LJA size, with the German vendor having a reputation more for dealing with larger multinational manufacturing companies.
“I had always thought of SAP as dealing with large organisations using fifty million pound SAP computer systems, so it did take a lot of effort to persuade me. Potential misgivings were that they would sell me a system and we would have some problems, but they would move on. But SAP has made us feel like they will look after us.
“It is a culture change within our business, it is not just swapping out the hardware and the software systems – we have got to be more customer-focused now, and we will be using the computer system to help generate that customer focus ethos.”