Astute, a global distributor of electrical components, is the largest nonfranchised
company of its kind in the UK, with an annual turnover of £40
million. In 2009 it won the contract to provide material management services to
a leading French defence contractor.
The contract was a complex one, with unique requirements that Astute’s
embedded ERP system (Syspro) could not fully provide the functionality and
flexibility to effectively support. What’s more, Astute had to find a solution that
would not disrupt its current operations; something with minimal
implementation and timescale implications.
That’s where WAERlinx from Waer Systems came in. This Cloud-based service is
now the primary system used by Astute for demand management, Kitting,
transaction processing, inventory management and point-of-use replenishment,
and it was this partnership that allowed them to show their customer that they
were the right choice for the contract, with the first live transactions processed
on WAERlinx at the start of August 2010.
The contract between Astute and the defence contractor involves the supply of
products such as PCB boards and electrical components, and the management
of inventory between Astute’s warehouse and their customer, using a
combination of WAERlinx Kitting modules and its Kanban/Replenishment
What does it do?
All master data, such as part numbers and BOMs (Bills of Material) are
interfaced from Syspro (Astute’s system) to WAERlinx, allowing vastly improved
visibility and efficiency for all parties.
How it works (in detail):
Initially, Mestec (their customer’s system) sends the MPS (Master Parts
Schedule) – a delivery schedule for Kits for the next five years – to Syspro.
Syspro then formats the MPS and it is interfaced to WAERlinx.
At this point, any changes to the delivery requirements for the next two years
(new orders, delivery date changes, quantity changes etc.) are identified and
added to WAERlinx, updating the delivery schedule.
When the delivery schedule is sent from the customer it is at Kit level, and
WAERlinx explodes the Kit to the individual components and quantities
required. Once the MPS is processed to WAERlinx, a forecast file at component
level is generated and interfaced to Syspro at Astute. Astute then generates an
MRP identifying their purchasing requirements for the next five years.
As the customer’s demands become due, Astute picks, packs and ships them to
the customer and a delivery file is generated and interfaced to Mestec showing
that the inventory is in transit.
Once received by the customer, the Astute’s on-site person records receipt of
the inventory to WAERlinx, the records are interfaced to Syspro and Mestec to
confirm the stock position on site, and the transfer of ownership from Astute to
the customer is captured.
As the customer consumes the inventory their engineers update Mestec,
confirming quantity and traceable information used. Mestec interfaces these
records to WAERlinx, which triggers an automatic replenishment order if the
inventory levels drop below the agreed levels – ensuring a smooth
consumption pattern and crucially, no shortages.
Real-time WAERflow interfaces are in place between all key systems, meaning
that demands, shipments and receipts are immediately shown on WAERlinx.
Consequently, at any given time, all inventory can be accounted for at any
point in the supply chain, whether through Mestec on the customer’s side, or
Syspro at Astute.
The parts and components required by the customer are changing all the time –
a key requirement that has been incorporated into the solution; when each
order is received and formatted for processing, an exceptions report is
automatically generated and sent to Astute to highlight missing part numbers
and other anomalies. WAERlinx also automatically manages the transfer of
ownership from Astute to the customer.
In addition, if parts become damaged on the customer’s site, this is also
recorded so that although the part is unusable, it is still accounted for, for
billing and stock replenishment purposes.
All this requires no human input and is therefore highly effective and
accurate, and has dramatically reduced both human resources and errors.
What is particularly noteworthy with this project is that it provides Kitting and
Kanban (using WAERlinx) but also an interfacing solution (WAERflow) allowing
all parties to see real-time stock information wherever they are in the supply
chain and whatever system they are looking at.
What’s more, demand lines allow Astute to better forecast and share
information with suppliers, thereby also vastly improving procurement.
Schematic Diagram of the Astute/WAERlinx/Mestec Solution