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PN International is a large manufacturer of aluminium safety products and adventure sporting equipment. The company produces a range of safety buckles, harnesses, lanyards, belts, shoes, helmets, and ropes used in various industries, such as building and emergency services, and for sports, like rock climbing.
PN International has over 5,500 end-to-end products, which it designs, manufactures, and sells in more than 40 countries, including the U.K. and the U.S. Headquartered in New Delhi, it has three manufacturing plants in Sitarganj and Lucknow and ten sales and marketing offices across India. As the company exports its products, it has to comply with European, American, Canadian, Singapore, Malaysian, and Australian industry safety and quality standards.
Before it has a centralized database, PN International relied on e-mail and telephone conversations to communicate a variety of design, manufacturing, and sales data, such as customized safety specifications and customer account and order information, which was recorded in separate, onsite spreadsheets. With such vast quantities of information to communicate, this process was time-consuming and prone to errors. The company found it difficult to meet its commitment to deliver customer orders within 60 days, so in early 2010, it decided to implement five Oracle E-Business Suite Release 12 modules to provide a centralized enterprise resource planning (ERP) system that would consolidate its product database and streamline its sales, design, and manufacturing processes.
“By integrating and streamlining our business processes, Oracle E-Business Suite Release 12 has helped us meet delivery commitments efficiently and keep better track of orders and payments,” said Mukul Anand, plant operations and ERP project manager, PN International. “As a result, we have improved customer satisfaction rates, which has helped increase our customer base and annual revenue.”
PN International is using Oracle Discrete Manufacturing and Oracle Order Management to process thousands of products, such as climbing harnesses, belts, and buckles from design stage through to delivery. These products are tailored to customers’ exact specifications.
Because the company designs, manufactures, and sells its safety products in 40 countries around the world, many of the products have to be customized to meet complex international safety requirements or to fit various requirements of the industries in which they are used.
“Each product has a standard bill of materials, but many of the bills need to be changed to meet specific product requirements, such as the shape and size of the buckles,” said Anand. “Oracle Discrete Manufacturing gives us the flexibility to change the bill of materials depending on product specification, which allows the design team to communicate exactly what is required for each customization, and the manufacturing team to then order exactly the right materials for each product.”
Previously, materials had to be ordered to a standard bill of materials. Specific requirements for each safety product had to be addressed by the design and manufacturing teams manually. This added time to the manufacturing process and put extra pressure on manufacturing staff as they raced to meet the order delivery time frame of 60 days.
“Now our manufacturing process has been streamlined, we have reduced the pressure on our design and manufacturing teams and can easily meet our order commitments and international safety standards,” said Anand. “We can now produce more safety products for each customer, increasing customer satisfaction. We have also increased our annual revenue by 25% in the last year.”
By integrating Oracle Order Management and Oracle Discrete Manufacturing, PN International is able to keep track of customer orders from the moment products, such as steel hooks and buckles, are sold by a sales representative, to the moment they are delivered to the customer. This has improved the company’s supply chain processes by enabling it to order necessary materials in advance and to deliver products on schedule.
“Previously, our order management processes were very disjointed,” explained Anand. “We had no way of knowing what orders had been placed with sales representatives until we received the order in the manufacturing plant. This meant we were always ‘working backwards’—unable to buy raw materials such as plastics or polyester until the order had been received. Communication between sales, design, and manufacturing departments was a struggle, and we had to rush to meet our delivery commitment, which sometimes led to errors.
“Now, as soon as an order is placed, the sales representative enters the information and specifications into the Oracle system, and we can see immediately what we need to produce, when we need to produce it, and what materials we need to buy,” he said. “Having this specific information available from the beginning of the process has improved our supply chain management; enabled us to make more comprehensive, fact-based management decisions regarding our products and sales, marketing, and manufacturing processes; and helped us meet our production deadlines.”
PN International uses a range of materials to manufacture its safety equipment, including steel, aluminum, iron ore, polyester and other synthetic materials, and several types of plastics. Many of its products are made to order and include materials that need to be purchased as soon as an order has been received. The company also keeps a minimum level of materials, such as steel and aluminum, in its warehouse inventory at all times.
Previously, PN International struggled to manage inventory levels, and sometimes ordered stock that was already in the warehouse or ran out of key materials. This affected its ability to produce orders on time and put extra pressure on manufacturing staff to comply with the 60-day order-to- delivery commitment.
Oracle Inventory Management has enabled PN International to better plan its inventory levels. Having the right amount of raw materials available enables the company to complete the manufacturing process efficiently, rather than storing items as work-in-process inventory. This has reduced costly production stoppages during the company’s manufacturing process by 30%.
PN International can also complete larger orders for customers in the same timeframe.
“Taking better control of our inventory processes means we have improved our production and delivery standards,” said Anand. “In the past, we were able to fulfill basic customer orders comfortably, but as soon as a customer requested an extra product or a new customization, we struggled to meet our delivery commitment. The integrated Oracle system has helped us raise the benchmark when it comes to customer service, and we are now getting much more positive feedback. Happy customers are more likely to pass on a recommendation, which in turn has helped us win more customers. We grew our customer base by 10% to 15% in 12 months.”
PN International is using Oracle Financials to keep better track of its customer and supplier payments and collection schedules, which has improved the accuracy and timeliness of its purchase orders and invoices.
“Sales, marketing, and procurement departments from every region now enter information, such as products that have been sold or materials purchased, into a central system,” said Anand. “This information can be checked online by department managers and the accounts team, so any errors are picked up straight away, and the order can be processed quickly. As soon as a delivery is sent or received, the information is moved into the general ledger, and we can immediately generate an invoice or payment. This streamlines the process and ensures we maintain good relationships with our customers and suppliers.”
Oracle Financials also enables PN International to monitor its budget allocation and actual budget more closely to ensure it does not over spend.
PN International works with a number of suppliers to ensure it is able to buy the highest quality and most cost-effective materials for its specialized safety products. Oracle Purchasing has enabled the company to choose the most cost-effective supplier by integrating supplier information, such as prices and delivery times in a single database.
“We can now focus on suppliers’ performances to check that they are meeting their commitments and providing us with the best possible price and delivery times,” said Anand. “Comparing and analyzing these performances saves us money by ensuring we pick the most cost-effective options.”
PN International undertook a proof-of-concept for a new, integrated enterprise resource planning system in November 2009. The company assessed vendors, such as SAP, Microsoft, and Oracle, but decided Oracle E-Business Suite best met its business needs in terms of cost and flexibility.
“We also wanted an application that was adaptable but ready to go, out of the box, and Oracle E-Business Suite met that need,” said Anand.
PN International engaged Oracle Platinum Partner Filix Consulting to implement five Oracle E-Business Suite Release12 modules in early 2010. After assessing PN International’s business needs, Filix Consulting began deploying the modules on 1 March 2010. The implementation took six months and the system went live on September 1, 2010.
Filix Consulting guided PN International through the proof-of-concept and implementation stages, providing support, advice, and training. The company evaluated products for PN International and demonstrated how Oracle E-Business Suite could be adapted to fit PN International’s business needs.
“Our client was worried about how the new enterprise resource planning system would fit with its business’ complexity,” said Guarav Mathur, managing director, Filix Consulting “After we mapped the company’s business processes and requirements, we could reassure PN International that Oracle E-Business Suite would meet its business needs straight away, with very little customization.”
Filix Consulting carried out user acceptance testing at PN International, followed by a master upload. The firm then visited the manufacturing plants and marketing offices to deliver staff training. Filix Consulting continues to support PN International through its centralized support desk.
“Filix Consulting provided excellent help and advice at every step of the implementation,” said Anand. “The consultants went out of their way to guide, support, and reassure us throughout the process—we couldn’t be happier with the service we received.”