CM Precision Components Ltd is a leading supplier of precision engineered components within UK and Ireland and was established after the purchase of CM Precision, a division of CM Engineering.
CM Precision Components supply to automotive and aerospace industries including customers such as Terex and Bombardier. Business is good and the company is busy with 24 CNC mills running about 45 hours a week. However, CM Precision Components have a relatively small customer base, 30-35 regular customers and want to get more business from their current customer base and expand in these target sectors and companies.
Challenge – “there are always problems with old and out of date systems”
CM Precision Components inherited a software system. The company before had Sage line 500 and at this time the company was a branch of a larger organisation which had multiple sites performing variations of engineering. Kieran Cooper Finance Director at CM Precision Components said: “Before he sold off the other sites, Sage Line 500 fitted the previous owner’s needs. However, it was obvious from the outset the system didn’t fit our needs and we also didn’t want to move forward with it as the price of support was uneconomic.”
Kieran continued “We could not get a new system in from day 1 as the buying date was moved forward 6 months, therefore we had to go with Sage Line 500 even though it was a much bigger system than we needed. Generally, we follow the approach if it isn’t broke, then don’t fix it and at the time the system was what it was and we had to move forward with it.”
CM Precision Components realised early that there are issues when inheriting software as often the systems are disparate and processes are dated and don’t suit your current mode of operations. Kieran commented: “there are always problems with old and out of date systems. It didn’t integrate with email, it took longer to find what we needed and we required an army of people to get information out of the system – all these factors made our business inefficient. At the end of the day, Sage forced the decision on us to change to a new system. As well as this inefficiency, we also looked at the cost of support. For instance, in three years using Sage Line 500 we called support twice but were still paying a lot annually for it.”
CM Precision took a different approach when selecting for a new software system. Kieran said: “We created a wish list and thought of all the things we would like in an ideal world. The wish list included things like email integration and additionally we wanted to be able to easily get reporting information. Ultimately, we needed ease of access.”
CM Precision Components has small admin team (2 people). While they need to inform, they don’t have the luxury of a resource who can crunch numbers all day. Kieran said: “we needed a system that made it relatively easy to get data out so small batches are turned around quickly. We process over 100 invoices a month and have at least 100-150 jobs a month that need looked at and processes were inefficient as these 100-150 orders had to be manually entered. Our buying processes weren’t slick either, we used to order parts when we received the order from the customer. This created problems with stock control because even when we asked the suppliers not to deliver to a certain date sometimes they ended up delivering before the date we requested. We required a system that would counter this and gave us better order scheduling and logistics.”
Solution – “we have saved time and can do more”
When selecting a new system CM Precision Components looked at 3 or 4 others companies on a cursory basis. Kieran commented: “I saw ProgressPlus when working at another role and I was impressed. As an accountant I knew it would suit our business and would do very nicely. With ProgressPlus, we get more detail.”
ProgressPlus features and functionality stood out. Kieran said: “we needed to drill down and get into the nitty gritty and it helped us do that easily. It provides us ease of access, availability of information, to do lists and order scheduling. Also with relative ease, job information can be put in and we get reports out.”
CM Precision Components have 1000 active parts every month. Kieran said: “we manufacture component parts for products that our customers build. Therefore, if our customer wins a contract we will get repeat business every month. The result of this is at any one time we have 1000 active parts that we can be asked to make within that month, this works out about 200 or 300 jobs a month. As you can imagine with the workload, sometimes it takes longer to set up than run. Now with using ProgressPlus, it helps us take the guessing out of how much money we are making on individual jobs.”
Result – “we have saved lots of money on man power”
Some of the main benefits CM Precision Components are experiencing is having readily available information that can be easily accessed and acted on. Kieran said: “we can see if there are three or four jobs we are not making money on and then work out what do we need to fine tune. ProgressPlus helps you make better business decisions.”
For CM Precision Components ProgressPlus is helping save money on phone bills, postage because the employee is no longer having to find invoices and post them on.
Kieran said: “we have saved money on man power as well as efficiency savings on those so-called boring jobs. This is the one cost businesses probably use most but don’t think of it, such as time taken to photocopy, chasing up people, posting invoices and chasing up deliveries.”
Another benefit has been ease of speed. Kieran commented: “one employee used to work 9 am to 5 pm five days a week without lifting his head and it is not like that. With ProgressPlus we are able to spend more time making decisions. The employees can now look at jobs when we are not making money on. Giving us information to make better decisions.”
Kieran said jokingly “ProgressPlus has annoyed the suppliers because now we can trace pricing. We buy in cut pieces and the old system held one price so there were no comparisons. With ProgressPlus, we are now buying better and have brought on new suppliers. We used to hold 100,000 metal parts and now that is down to 50,000. I now realise that before we used to end up working for nothing on certain jobs.”
CM Precision Components operations are more efficient and they have better information.
Kieran commented: “BETTER INFORMATION – is what is key to us. Giving us the detail we didn’t have before and traceability on products or parts. We can now trace back who was working on the job and let the employee know that a bit of care needed before the job is finished.
Kieran continued “ProgressPlus is integrated into Sage 50. But the main analysis and usage is through ProgressPlus. We can see exactly what we are buying and how much we are paying and why we are spending more. For example, recently it helped us identify that we were paying more due to delivery charges – things people didn’t consider before. We used to buy safety boots from a company in the UK and because the boots were £4 cheaper the employee through it was a better option but with ProgressPlus we later found out we were paying £7 on delivery costing us more. These are the sort of things and ProgressPlus is helping us find out.”
CM Precision Components are going for SC21 and ProgressPlus is helping with continuous improvement.
The company is also planning more use of the product and will be using Shop Floor Data Capture (SFDC) and they are also growing. They are building a new factory and will use ProgressPlus for material tracking.
If you are looking at selecting a new production control system, before you do.