Atherton puts IFS mobility at core of ERP system

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Melbourne-based manufacturer, Atherton & Sons, has integrated IFS’s mobile field service operations with ERP following its failed first-generation solution for technicians using mobile devices in the field.

IFS applications will reportedly put customer service management and mobility at the core of Atherton’s ERP system.

As Australia’s only manufacturer of large infection control equipment, and one of the largest manufacturers and installers of commercial kitchen equipment, the Atherton manufacturing business is built around the use of state-of-the-art technologies to constantly improve its products and services.

So when a key piece of technology – a mobile service management solution integrated with its ERP system – became unsupported and had to be decommissioned, the manufacturer decided to replace both with a single long-term business information platform.

After consulting with 13 leading ERP suppliers and an in-depth evaluation of five ERP solutions, Atherton found only two with a field service management solution that was 100% developed by the supplier.

“If after-sales service is a core part of your plan, then you have to be extremely diligent in your selection of an ERP solution. There are not many ERP vendors that have service management and mobility as part of their core DNA,” said Sean Boston, Atherton Chief Executive Officer.

“When we viewed every other ERP system, service management was either bolted onto the system or was a third party system that had been purchased and integrated. With IFS you could see that service management was a core component.”

In addition to core service management and mobility components, the new IFS solution will handle Atherton’s financials, human resources, manufacturing, project and contract management, customer orders, distribution, maintenance, document management and quality management.

The solution is a single information platform – with real-time business intelligence available across Atherton’s operations for the first time. The solution is expected to drive a number of business improvements including:

  • Improved service efficiencies with easier access to information covering the entire product lifecycle, from manufacture to installation to maintenance;
  • Improved visualisation and more timely analysis of demand and capacity across all areas of the business using inbuilt data analysis and enterprise dashboard tools;
  • Improved shop-floor utilisation with the ability to coordinate project engineering requirements and high-volume product manufacturing in a single system;
  • More efficient compliance with the Therapeutic Goods Agency (TGA) with Document Management and Quality Management both part of the core ERP system; and
  • Reduction in Quality Assurance overheads with the ability to document process workflows easily within IFS replacing existing procedure manuals and control charts.

“Previously, we weren’t able to act on real-time intelligence, it required a manual review of the reports. IFS has an inbuilt ability to act on the data as it happens and that will aid us in improving our efficiencies,” said Boston.

“IFS’s project-based manufacturing solution is exactly the type of tool we need to schedule our project engineering requirements through our shop floor, at the same time maintaining production for high volume infection control products.

“We also anticipate it will reduce our QA overhead significantly by more easily documenting the workflows that are required.

According to IFS Australia and New Zealand managing director, Rob Stummer, organisations are looking for smart ways to integrate their service management and mobility solutions with their ERP systems.

However, Stummer said that in Atherton’s case, the manufacturer realised that if businesses are serious about after-sales service then service management and mobility really need to be more than integrated.

“They should be part of the same flexible and agile enterprise suite, sharing key functionality including finance, human resources and project management,” he said.

Image: Atherton & Sons