In 2018, Planex partnered with us to update their Materials Requirement Planning (MRP) system. Our solution incorporated the implementation of Dynamics NAV 2018 to act as a business backbone. Planex and Fenwick worked for 9 months preparing for the system change. In February 2019 they pulled the plug on the old ERP and went live with NAV. The business benefits have resulted in a more reliable and safe system, with a streamlined quoting process.
Together, Planex and Fenwick combined efforts in a unique force. Interestingly our ethos’s aligned; Planex’s vision is to create simple long-lasting furniture solutions, while Fenwick’s vision is to create simple ERP solutions for long-lasting business outcomes. Thus, we worked together to achieve a system that would sustain them for the future.
This is the story of our implementation…
Planex is an Australian family owned, furniture designer and manufacturer based in Melbourne. In operation since 1972; they specialize in steel storage solutions for the evolving workplace. They cater to commercial, government, sports, hospitality and residential markets, aiming to empower individuals in these industries to work more effectively.
The Planex design philosophy is encapsulated by CEO Jean-Pierre Jardel’s (JP) minimalist ethos. The products have been designed with a less is more elegance, resulting in versatile furniture that lasts a lifetime. The team hold a collective culture of “doing no harm” which ties into this ethos. They are here to look after each other, their stakeholders, and the environment. Planex don’t just speak this culture; they talk it, walk it and embed it into every facet of the business.
Stepping on site at Planex today, you will enter a factory with solar power and LED lighting. You will see automated machinery and robots manufacturing furniture designed for easy repurpose through recycling, reusing or reconfiguring . This do no harm focus arises from Jean-Pierre’s background in Biological Sciences. Studying this field united JP with his mantra that the environment is critical to way we live. Planex temper everything they do within this minimalist framework.
The MRP challenge
Ultimately, for Planex to stay in line with these core values, their internal operations had to be as efficient as possible. In mid-2017 the team realized they needed to replace their existing Infor SyteLine MRP system. Keeping it vanilla for 20 years on same system, it had become a piece of legacy software, struggling to meet modern requirements.
SyteLine led to unnecessary data entry and could no longer support the operations of their growing business. The areas for main concern were within their quoting process and MRP calculation. The quoting process required manual-double entry and resulted in an unsuitable format for designers and architects. The MRP system calculation ran over night and created instability in scheduling. These inefficiencies gave rise to errors, duplication of tasks and wasted time. Ultimately their outdated system posed a great risk and was no longer supported through updates.
For Planex, updating their MRP tied in with the companies simple long-lasting ethos. There is nothing complicated about their product; thus, nothing should be complicated about their MRP.
Finding the right software and discovering requirement
Planex began the search for a new system. They soon discovered that choosing the right software can be the hardest part of the process. Equally important is finding the right IT company to perform the implementation. The right company would need to recognize their operational needs and embed a system that was tailored to these needs.
CEO JP believes, you are “opening up warts and all to the vendor” when changing systems; external resources need to understand the business inside and out.
Planex required an MRP specific platform that synchronized with their procedures. Other systems they attempted to adopt proved unsuitable for manufacturing processes. These systems were perfect for a job shop environment, however Planex being a manufacturer of discrete products, required software designed for MRP. Operating for two decades on the old software, Planex had adjusted their methods to suit it. Other trialed systems forced their processes to conform to a new platform. Overturning embedded production processes was a risk for the company. Ultimately, they wished to continue running production in a similar way. Maintaining consistency, would ensure a continuation to produce furniture and meet client satisfaction.
After a failed system attempt, Planex gained a deeper understanding for what they truly required. Returning to the drawing board in 2018, they continued the search for the right system and people to implement it.
Partnering with Fenwick
Eventually, Planex partnered with us at Fenwick. We demonstrated that NAV software was what they required without needing for it to be re-written or reconfigured and modified. They chose NAV for its track record in suiting a range of small to large manufacturing businesses. We provided our manufacturing enhancements to NAV though our Fenwick gold apps which enabled add on functionality to meet their needs. Yet, the big influence was that NAV provided a pathway for growth through updates.
They chose our team for our personal and solution-based service. Our consultants presented in depth experience of tailoring the software to suit specific requirements. JP describes our team as “entirely organized from the beginning”. This was a nice contrast for Planex as the process so far had left them a little bamboozled. We dispelled any concerns with our goal to bring on-board a new system of safety and reliability.
Implementation process and people
We worked together for 9 months to prepare for the change. The lead up involved onsite workshops, analysis and trainings. Every implementation is unique. It is not only the business situation that is unique, but the different people involved. At the heart of every implementation process lies the people driving it.
Fenwick consultants worked; to engage, inspire and teach Planex about NAV. We carried through our culture of service, through providing personalised support and a business solution for the long term.
Ryan Mortimer: Lead consultant
Ryan has in depth experienced implementing NAV/Business Central in manufacturing. Ryan led the implementation and was responsible for formatting and integrating a new quoting process for Planex in NAV.
Jesse Clarnette and Brendan Scott: Consultants
Jesse and Brendan gave continuous on and off-site support through workshops, walkthroughs and training. They didn’t just implement a new system; they provided a reactive hands-on approach. Planex felt our consulting team gave open, direct and clear answers.
Fenwick are a moral company with good moral ethics…they gave open, direct, clear answersJean-Pierre Jardel, CEO, Planex
The team had become comfortable operating under the old system. They were accustomed to patterns of work and the behaviour that came with it. The implementation process provided everyone with the chance to adapt and prepare for a new way of working. The Planex flat structure ensured everyone from the grass roots was exposed from early stages.
Change has to be ground up, and everybody has to embrace itJean-Pierre Jardel, CEO, Planex
Their collective culture of looking after each other and striving for a long-lasting solution drove the project in a motivating way.
Jean- Pierre Jardel (JP): CEO
JP was the voice of the implementation. He believed business growth was unattainable on the outdated software. His passion for keeping things simple, designing furniture “built-out of obsolescence”, ignited a need to have streamlined software.
Karina Clarke: Business Development Manager
Karina was the agent of change, bringing support. Karina witnesses how people responded to the implementation, helping them to manage the shift. Her vision was that the update would help individuals reach their full potential. NAV had the potential to enable everyone to not double up on jobs and keep information in one spot. She reiterated that the project would “shake the tree of change” and lead to a new entry in the marketplace. Her job was about getting people to trust and use the new system.
“In this industry if things stay the same for too long, you run the risk of becoming irrelevant or being left behind”Karina Clarke, Business Development Manager, Planex
Tony Mumford: External project manager
Tony was the external driver of the project and had provided Planex’s ERP support for the last 20 years. He knew all the internal pitfalls attached the SyteLine system. He drove progress and constantly reviewed. Implementing a new ERP is a momentous task and companies don’t necessarily have the internal resources to drive it. Sometimes an ERP update doesn’t take precedence however, and Tony’s primary role ensured the project didn’t take the back burner but remained on track to meet the go-live date.
Alex Jardel: Main NAV support number
Alex is JP’s son and is a part of the Planex team. He was the project “Super user” – Tony’s eyes, ears and hands during the process. Alex was the first point of contact for information. He had knowledge of the old SyteLine software and manufacturing processing. This insight gave him the ability to analyse the juxtaposition between the old system and NAV. In doing so, he could comprehend various tasks to be performed in preparation for the update.
Michael Kaoullas: Factory Manager & Gerald Ramirez: Production Planner
Michael and Gerard were brought up on the old SyteLine system. For them it was a quantum shift to NAV. Both had to be part of the decision-making process, as they would be the chief users operating it.
Fenwick solution: NAV acting as the operational backbone
NAV software provided a system designed for manufacturing industry conditions and ensured Planex’s internal operation didn’t need to be reconfigured to suit. The new system delivered a single integrated platform which streamlined processes and provided a solid foundation for future growth.
Our solution resulted in changes to their quoting process and MRP calculation.
Originally, all quotes produced in the old system involved a two-step process. Information was taken from Syteline and inserted into an excel spreadsheet. Input constantly had to be checked to avoid transcription errors. Additionally, the quote output was unsuitable to meet needs of designers and architects.
Our solution involved building a standard quote format and integrating it with NAV. Ryan dedicated time to creating this tailored format in consultation with Planex’s salespeople. The new format produces outputs from NAV that automatically sends to designers and architects as they are printed. This output possesses functionality to be custom-made to suit client or vendor needs. For example, a furniture schedule from an architecture firm has a specific format. We mirrored that format in quotes to ensure relevant information could be copied and pasted into schedules or spec sheets. This improved representation of information allowed enhanced communication between sales teams and designers. It ensured designers or architects were equipped from the moment they received the quote.
Internally for staff, there is a new sense of reliability. Employees now don’t have to key in information multiple times, as information has been integrated on one platform. Planex now have a consistent format that is user friendly for all parties.
Staff have adapted well to the change and are now successfully using the new system. Originally, salespeople were apprehensive about the change in quoting process. However, post go-live the team have worked together and adapted to the new platform.
Now everybody loves it, as it enables us to prepare quotes we can tailor and tweak specifically for the client, depending on how much information they requireKarina Clarke, Business Development Manager, Planex
MRP calculation and synchronized scheduling
The old SyteLine MRP system originally ran its calculation overnight. This never directly influenced production scheduling as the system performed calculation of materials through the duration of the night and was complete for production the following day. However, the amount of time it took presented delayed access to information, which created risks to scheduling and unreliability.
Our implementation involved reproducing the system calculation in NAV and reducing the time to only a few minutes. This ensured a real time visualization of information, as opposed to waiting overnight. It allowed scheduling and production to resume consistently with more stability. Ultimately, we understood the hazards of a system that forced Planex to change their internal processes. Considering this, we replicated their processes and allowed them to keep their specific scheduling procedures intact. Minimizing disruption to embedded procedure, operations were able to continue with trust and reliability.
A new ERP system to suit a long-lasting simple ethos
We introduced a modern, industry specific system that has increased efficiency for all users and processes. In doing so we streamlined workflows to reduce double handling and manual processes. This gave better visibility and access to information to support decision making. Planex ultimately wanted a future pathway for progress. Dynamics NAV 2018 has provided this with a stable backbone for operation and a future of updates.
The system takes heat and stress out of processesKarina Clarke, Business Development Manager, Planex
Post go-live, Planex are running their business successfully on new NAV platforms. This is an impressive feat after tearing apart a system that was heavily embedded for 20 years of operation. Remarkably, there was no parallel processing involved with the change. They pulled the plug on the old system and immediately went live with NAV.
The Planex leadership team believe the update is positioning the business “in a sweet spot, where the wind is about to pick up and move quickly”. In other words; a pathway for the next improvement, leading to real time data collection from the shop floor, enabling them to close off jobs and have better control.
Planex and Fenwick are a pure representation that the people behind the technology are the driving force in an implementation. Planex felt we were reliable, responsive and consistent in providing advice and guidance throughout the project. We brought our high-quality service and expertise with NAV to the forefront. We observed Planex as a team inspired to reach their full potential. Our united vision for a long-lasting solution was achieved with a system that is sustaining them for the future.