Every year around the holidays, I find myself reflecting on the events and achievements of the year. For Ultra, the most rewarding aspect of 2016 was the growth and successes our clients achieved with our involvement. Our client base of manufacturing and distribution clients perform in the most competitive industries in the marketplace, and I am grateful our team has been able to offer our expertise to help them improve and transform their business processes.
Here are a few client spotlights, and the value they gained through our services.
New ERP for an Electronics Manufacturer
For one of our notable projects of 2016, Ultra worked with a mid-sized electronics manufacturer located in the Midwest. As defined by the project’s future state, one of the main goals was to implement a new ERP system while maintaining the company’s Lean manufacturing processes.
In March, we helped the company go through a successful NetSuite implementation for both their domestic plant and their location in China. Through extensive value realization and optimization, we transferred our client’s ownership of purchasing and manufacturing to their China plant, allowing the US team to shift their focus towards more of a service-oriented facility rather than manufacturing.
ERP Upgrade for an Industrial Vacuum Manufacturer
Another successful implementation led by the Ultra team was with a manufacturer of industrial vacuum furnaces. Rather than a cold implementation, if you will, this engagement was more of an upgrade project. The company was using a version of Infor Syteline that hadn’t been upgraded consistently, so there was a vast difference between the original and the one we implemented.
The output of this company is complex, engineer-to-order products, which can take one to two years to build. We improved the capture of engineering labor by re-structuring their planning process. By making these improvements along with those to the scheduling and execution of shop floor tasks, the company significantly improved their cash flow. And by gaining improved oversight of their planning process, they can now purchase expensive items needed for production with more strategic timing, rather than wasting money up front when the part wouldn’t be needed until much farther down the line.
In addition, we helped the company lay down a systematic foundation for their field service operations, which in turn improved their planning and costs in services.
BPI and ERP for the Chromatography Industry
On the other hand, there are a few projects Ultra is still currently engaged in, where we are already adding value. One of these is a manufacturer and developer of chromatography products. This company started an implementation project on their own, without an independent consultant, but ran into some delays. They reached out to Ultra to help them identify these issues and get their project back on track.
Our first step with this company was to initiate a root cause analysis. After we conducted a thorough analysis of their existing systems and efforts to date, they brought us on to lead a brand new BPI and ERP Selection project. At this point, the client has completed the current state analysis and education phases, is just about through with future state mapping, and will initiate their solution selection starting in January 2017.
An Industrial Component Manufacturer’s Journey to Lean
Another engagement we’d like to highlight is one of our larger and longer projects for a company that designs and manufactures industrial components like electric heaters, sensors and controllers. They are multinational and multi-site, operating in 19 countries and at over 25 different locations. The company has grown organically and through acquisition, which created a complex landscape of systems. To simplify processes and improve responsiveness, the company has been executing a Lean transformation journey over the past few years. One critical step for continuing this transformation was to rationalize and consolidate systems to better support a leaned out future state.
Throughout the last ten months Ultra has been engaged, we have completed the current state and future state analysis for all 19 countries and designed a methodology – using components of our own and others geared towards a Lean enterprise – to complete a successful selection process, which concluded in November. Due to the client’s size, this project had some additional elements for analysis outside of the standard BPI and selection, including sales & operations planning, organizational change management, and an executive scorecard.
In the end, the client selected four components in addition to ERP – PLM, CRM, a configurator, and Ion middleware – that will be implemented in a four-stage rollout. Our team was assisted by a full-time PMO provided by the client, including two VP-level employees, two directors, and one manager.
Supporting New Products and Global Growth in the Pharma Industry
Last of our company spotlights is a startup in the pharmaceuticals industry, one known for being highly regulated and complicated. This company contracted Ultra to help select and implement a software that would aid in releasing their product to market, and managing the subsequent rapid growth.
In addition to the complications associated with a heavily-regulated industry and rapid growth, the client also has plans for growing globally. Realizing there will be concurrent challenges, they brought Ultra on to help them with their business process definition and ERP selection.
To date we have completed both components, in addition to the first stage of implementation of a solution that will be able to support the 4-5x forecasted annual company growth. Currently we are in phase two of the implementation, focusing on the sales and supply chain capabilities of the software.
Lastly, Ultra was ranked in the FORTUNE 50 Best Small Workplaces by Fortune Magazine and the Great Place to Work® Institute, in our first year of participation. As part of the ranking, our employees were surveyed and returned outstanding responses to questions on company structure, employee benefits, employee satisfaction, value-driven assignments, and trust in management. Receiving this award reinforced our existing company culture focused on customer success.
I would like to give one last thank you to our customers and all of Ultra’s employees for continuously investing in our clients’ success, and for making 2016 such a great year. Here’s to even more happiness and success in 2017!