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Altek Beissel Needles Limited is an India-based sewing machine needle manufacturer marketing the Beissel brand internationally. Originally established as a joint German-Indian venture and known as Altek Lammertz, the manufacturer became an independent company in 2003, and in 2006 licensed the Beissel trademark from German manufacturers BMN Beissel Maschinnadel GmbH.
Altek Beissel Needles employs more than 150 manufacturing employees at its 80,000 square-foot factory in Chennai. The factory runs 24 hours a day and has capacity to produce approximately 100 million needles a year, each of which is subjected to 155 different quality checks. Altek Beissel Needles is the only needle company in the world to manufacture 100% of its needles under the ISO 9002 Quality system and the first company to pass the sewing machine needle performance standard set by UK-based international legislation and testing authority, SATRA.
When Altek Beissel Needles’s partner company closed in 2003, the company realized that if it was to become an independent organization, it had to develop the capability to sell needles to countries across six continents and build a reputation as a professional, efficient, and cost-effective alternative to its European, Japanese, and Korean competitors.
To do this, the company needed to create an integrated enterprise resource planning (ERP) system to support its financial, manufacturing, and customer relationship management processes. In 2007, it decided to implement modules from Oracle’s JD Edwards EnterpriseOne suite.
Oracle’s JD Edwards EnterpriseOne suite enables us to easily complete financial processes, such as payroll or purchasing and accurately track our product pricing and fixed assets,” said S. Ganesh, managing director, Altek Beissel Needles. “Since implementing the JD Edwards system, we have ramped up our manufacturing capacity and increased our sales by up to 50%, without increasing our back-office staff.”
Altek Beissel Needles produces needles for a variety of niche markets. Each customer has precise specifications and high expectations that the company is able to meet its requirements.
“There are thousands of types of needles used across our customer base,” explained Ganesh. “Any product you can think of―garments, shoes, bags, curtains, car-seat covers, children’s dolls―has a different set of manufacturing requirements and therefore requires a different set of needles. To meet these niche requirements, we need to consistently produce a large variety of high-quality needles, on time and to micron-level specifications.”
To maintain its existing customer base and grow the business after the company became an independent organization, Altek Beissel Needles needed to improve its capability to deliver products and services to its customers, while ensuring it maintained its cost-effective appeal.
“One of the attractions of buying from an Indian manufacturer is production costs,” said Ganesh. “We needed to keep our prices low but at the same time execute our manufacturing and customer services professionally. Because many of our customers are overseas, we never meet them face to face, so we need to make sure all our communications, from introductory e-mails to order acknowledgment and delivery, is highly efficient and responsive.”
Altek Beissel Needles was using Tally accounting software to track its accounting and production planning processes, such as invoicing and inventory management, but it had no customer relationship management system and was unable to respond to customers in a timely manner.
“We needed to inspire the customer with confidence that we were able to meet their manufacturing and delivery requirements, and to do that we needed to keep the customer updated throughout the whole order, production, and dispatch process,” said Ganesh.
“Many customers order different types of needles on one purchase order, so to keep track of their exact requirements and provide the customer with an exact delivery time, we needed to implement an ERP system that enabled us to monitor all 15 steps of the production process.”
By implementing JD Edwards EnterpriseOne Requirements Planning, Altek Beissel Needles is able to accurately predict how long it will take to manufacture and deliver a customer’s order, which has reduced its order response time from a minimum of two weeks to 24 hours.
“At the end of every month, we take stock of exactly what has been ordered, what we have in stock, and what we need to manufacture for the next month,” explained Ganesh. “In the past, when a customer placed an order for a specific amount and type of needles, it would sometimes take us two weeks to determine which needles we had in stock and which we needed to manufacture, and then get back to the customer with a delivery date.
“Now we have integrated our inventory data and production schedule in the JD Edwards EnterpriseOne system, we know exactly how long it will take to pull an order together and can give the customer an exact delivery date within 24 hours. And we keep our delivery promise in every one of those cases.”
Altek Beissel Needles is using JD Edwards EnterpriseOne Production Scheduling and JD Edwards EnterpriseOne Manufacturing – Shop Floor to produce its vast variety of needles more accurately.
“With 70 different types of needle systems and around 1,000 types of needles, we need to be clear that we are producing exactly what has been ordered,” said Ganesh. “By accurately monitoring our production process through JD Edwards EnterpriseOne Production Scheduling and JD Edwards EnterpriseOne Manufacturing – Shop Floor, we are now able to meet our target of manufacturing the correct needle 95% of the time. Earlier, the ratio varied from 60% to 80%, which resulted in inventory accumulation because we kept production running.”
The ability to predict delivery times and manufacture orders with a greater degree of accuracy means the company has increased its sales by at least 50% in the last two years.
“As our customer service has improved, so has our reputation,” explained Ganesh. “As more and more prestigious customers experience our ability to deliver as promised, we have been able to increase our customer base from three or four countries in 2004 to 40 countries today.
“And because so much of the production planning, such as checking available materials when predicting order times, is done within the ERP system, we have been able to handle this increase without increasing back-office manpower. All this is due to JD Edwards EnterpriseOne’s level of automation and integration.”
Altek Beissel Needles is using JD Edwards EnterpriseOne Financials to integrate financial data, such as stock valuations, production costs, payroll, and profit and loss accounts, which has reduced the time taken to generate month-end financial reports from three to four weeks to two or three days.
“Now our financial data is in sync, we can generate month-end financial reports faster and with less effort,” said Ganesh. “Creating these reports from our legacy system was a time-consuming process, and we often had to generate more detailed reports, such as cash-flow statements manually, which took even more time. With integrated data, we can create financial reports and documents, such as customer account statements effortlessly and error-free.”
As accounts information is also now available to anyone in the company on a real-time basis, staff in different departments can enter financial data such as purchase order information and generate ad hoc reports, such as profit and loss or balance sheets, as and when they need to. This has enabled the company to redeploy many of its accounts staff and reduce the department down to one or two people, who can now work more efficiently and concentrate on more detailed accounting tasks.
In the past, Altek Beissel Needles was tracking the prices of its wide array of needles using a manual spreadsheet. Over time, as prices changed or new customer specifications for different needles came in, data entry errors affected the accuracy of subsequent invoices.
“JD Edwards EnterpriseOne Advanced Pricing has significantly reduced the risk of human error by enabling us to produce invoices automatically from pricing and purchase order information that has been entered into the integrated system,” said Ganesh. “Tracking all our prices manually was a daunting task and data entry errors were inevitably made. These errors didn’t happen very often, but even one mistake on an invoice can cause embarrassment for us and the customer, and requires time and effort to correct. These mistakes also reduced customers’ confidence in our professional ability.
“Customers aren’t concerned with how many other customers we deal with, or how many needles we have to price, they are only concerned that they are paying the correct amount and getting the best possible service. Now the company and our customers can be sure our invoices are 100% correct.”
Using JD Edwards EnterpriseOne Financials has enabled Altek Beissel Needles to reduce the costs of maintaining its more than 200 needle manufacturing machines, by streamlining maintenance scheduling processes and cutting the number of breakdown call-outs.
“Most of the 15 steps involved in manufacturing a needle require a different type of machine, and we have more than 40 machines in certain operations,” explained Ganesh.
“All our machines need to be in top condition so we can continue to meet our delivery times, so we have developed a preventative maintenance system that predicts at the beginning of the year when a machine will need to be serviced and what parts are likely to need repairing or replacing. Entering all this information into the fixed asset module means that our maintenance schedule is 100% predictable and not left up to individual staff to decide on a machine-by-machine basis.
“Since developing this system, we have hardly had unpredictable break-downs, and maintenance costs are now only about 8% of our total revenue.
“Because the maintenance is prescheduled and we can predict what replacement parts we will need, we are also able to factor these costs into our yearly budget.”
Automating maintenance scheduling has also reduced the stress and workload placed on manufacturing staff and managers. They can plan for when particular machines won’t be available and no longer have to make decisions that could be detrimental to the business, such as taking out a machine for repair part-way through the production process.
Altek Beissel Needles has streamlined purchasing and sales operations by integrating inventory data and customer purchase orders in JD Edwards EnterpriseOne Inventory Management and JD Edwards EnterpriseOne Order Processing.
The company can now immediately see what materials it needs to purchase to fulfill a customer order and e-mail a purchase order to its suppliers immediately, speeding up the procurement process. It takes less time to place orders and orders can be placed before the company runs out of stock. Because these purchase orders are e-mailed to suppliers rather than printed out and posted, the company also saves money on paper costs, as well as reducing its carbon footprint.
“With this integrated information at our fingertips, we can also produce a weekly report showing our four-week cash flow, which we weren’t able to produce before,” said Ganesh. “This gives us greater visibility into our sales and purchasing information, so we can monitor our budget and inventory more effectively.”
Altek Beissel Needles evaluated several IT providers, including Microsoft and SAP, but chose Oracle based on its strong production planning capabilities and recommendations from other manufacturing companies.
“We looked at several companies offering ERP systems, but after speaking to several vendors and peers in our industry, we decided Oracle best met our business needs,” said Ganesh. “Everyone we spoke to recommended JD Edwards based on its strong manufacturing and production support. Oracle also has an excellent reputation and support infrastructure in India and we were impressed by the level of access provided to its talented specialists.”
Altek Beissel Needles engaged Oracle Gold Partner Cyret Technologies to assist its own IT department in implementing the JD Edwards EnterpriseOne modules.
The company had initially spent six months looking at a variety of ERP systems to understand how the business would benefit from various modules.
After deciding on Oracle and engaging Cyret Technologies, the modules were rolled out over two and a half years, starting with JD Edwards EnterpriseOne Financials and JD Edwards EnterpriseOne Order Processing before moving on to JD Edwards EnterpriseOne Production Scheduling, JD Edwards EnterpriseOne Advanced Pricing, JD Edwards EnterpriseOne Requirements Planning, JD Edwards EnterpriseOne Inventory Management, and JD Edwards EnterpriseOne Manufacturing – Shop Floor.