At a Glance
Valfilm, the biggest polyolefin film producer in Latin America, successfully transitioned to Plex from a SAP system within a 60 day deadline.
Because Plex is specifically designed for manufacturers, Valfilm saw a boost in employee productivity and usability due to how easily information flows through the system.
Plex speeds time-to-market by making real-time data available to internal decision-makers, cutting development costs, and helping to more accurately cost new products.
Plex provides easier and more accurate inventory control, improved quality assurance, and robust business reporting.
When Dow Chemical announced it was selling its polyolefin film packaging arm in Findlay, Ohio, Valfilm LLC, the wholly owned subsidiary of Brazil-based VALGROUP Packaging Solutions jumped at the opportunity to expand its operations in North America. The challenge Valfilm now faced was a contractual obligation to move its new acquisition off Dow’s SAP ERP and on to a new ERP system.
This migration had to be achieved within 60 days of the change in ownership and without impacting production schedules. This looked set to be no mean feat bearing in mind that the operating unit produces 24,000 tons per year of stretch film, automotive adhesive and release film, building and construction protective film, and PVDC barrier film.
Jason Parsell, Site Training Coordinator at Valfilm explains the thinking: “We had a very tight, legally binding deadline to withdraw from Dow’s SAP system and begin operating independently. We commissioned Plante Moran to help us select the best possible alternative ERP: one that could be deployed in a matter of weeks; could run both our plant floor and our finances; and that wouldn’t cost us more in licensing, IT and management time than the value it could deliver back.”
Business consultancy Plante Moran deployed its ERP system specialists to review the business requirement and to propose a solution. They recommended that Plex be assessed against the capabilities of the TOTVS system, which was Valfilm’s existing ERP system in Brazil.
“What we were really looking for was a single system where everything we needed to run our business – from research and development to production, HR, finance, supply chain, shipping and everything in between – was included and designed to work seamlessly. All this was required without the need for bolt-ons and additional interfaces between plant floor data collection and the reporting and analysis capability. We also needed a solution that could be deployed without us having to buy too much hardware that we would then have to manage and factor in for upgrade budgets. And then of course, on an ongoing basis, we wanted an ERP that would help us to make faster, better
informed business decisions.”
Parsell continues: “Plex was the obvious choice for us because it could be rapidly implemented and because we felt its intuitive interface would be popular with our users. What’s more, we were impressed that Plex was designed for shop floor employees first, whereas other ERP systems appear to be geared toward accounting and other back-office functions.”
While the Plex Manufacturing Cloud is a fully integrated ERP system providing all the capabilities manufacturers need, Valfilm’s management team had to plan for a swift and seamless migration, prioritizing the core processes it required in order to maintain business as usual.
Plex allocated a dedicated solution engineer and delivery consultants to work with Valfilm throughout the solution design, implementation and training phases all the way to go live.
“Having reviewed the extensive list of process modules available in Plex, we created an initial starter pack solution that included customer sales, engineering, supply chain, scheduling, inventory management, and quality. We plan to add procure-to-pay, production and the full accounting and finance capabilities at a later date,” explains Parsell. “After all, if you can process customer orders, buy the necessary supplies, make the goods, ship them on time and bill for them you can keep your facility running.”
In theory, getting a cloud manufacturing solution up and running in a couple of months seems feasible, but within that timeframe Valfilm also had to migrate over and verify operational and business data, and then train the full spectrum of users from sales personnel to production operatives.
“Our solution architect quickly developed a clear and concise plan of every task that needed to be executed and worked through the implementation phase with a project leader from each of our departments. Once we had deployed the software, we went into the all-important training phase,” notes Parsell. “Each functional team was allocated a two-hour training session where Plex experts walked users through their day-to-day activities using the relevant Plex job screens. For example, we showed our sales people how to enter customer details, orders, assign parts, set up billing and shipping details and more.”
“For our production teams we created simulations, taking them through the production process and all the screens they would need to interact with. We offered 24-hour support because we knew answering questions instantly and troubleshooting on the spot would boost user confidence and accelerate adoption.”
“During the evenings following each training session Plex delivery consultants uploaded a raft of training aids that took our different teams through their processes step-by-step. This helped them to revise, so that by go-live, they were fully proficient.”
Having undertaken a pilot of the system with a number of key suppliers, Valfilm was able to go live with Plex within the 60-day deadline. In just a few short weeks the new Plex deployment begun to generate powerful results, from helping to better manage costs all the way through to accelerating research and development.
The core results are as follows:
Plex is designed to be incredibly intuitive and because it is one system that’s designed specifically for manufacturers there’s no need for an additional interface in order to transfer production data into the ERP system as was the case with SAP.
- Employee productivity
“Our users are impressed with the simplicity of Plex and surprised by how easily and rapidly information flows through the system. Our process owners believe that Plex is far simpler and also more powerful in terms of the insights it provides than many other systems that are much more cumbersome to operate and to interrogate,” explains Parsell.
- Cost control & business reporting
Immediately following deployment, Valfilm’s particular focus has been to understand its cost base. Particular activities have included reviewing noncompliance and scrap levels, and analyzing product set-up times and BOMs for real-time information on material consumption. Gathering this information has allowed Valfilm to adjust certain attributes of a number of components in order to reduce production costs.
- Inventory management
“Having previous experience of other ERPs I can confidently say that undertaking inventory reconciliations, or updates, at the end of a production cycle is far easier in Plex than other ERPs. There are no additional calculations to perform, with all the adjustments you might need available on the same page,” states Parsell.
- Quality assurance
As an international manufacturer, Valfilm’s products must comply with local regulations and always achieve the very highest levels of quality. Having Plex on board with its ERP system integration and mandatory quality management processes gives the firm’s customers additional peace of mind about the quality of the products they will receive.
- Competitive advantage
One of Valfilm’s core brand values is around continuous improvement. Consequently, the firm invests heavily in research and development – engineering new products to fulfill customer commissions and to exploit gaps in the market. Valfilm’s engineering teams can already see how the Plex Manufacturing Cloud will speed time-to-market by making real-time data available to internal decision-makers, cutting development costs, and helping to more accurately cost new products.
Valfilm continues to explore the additional value its particular range of ERP modules can deliver by dipping into the Plex User Community. Parsell regularly poses questions and searches for answers to very specific business issues and is impressed by the responsiveness of this group of super users.
Moving forward, Parsell will review some of the outstanding Plex modules: “We’ll soon be assessing the maintenance module for our production machinery. This will help us to identify any potential cost savings and efficiencies we could make in our maintenance contracts.”
“Wherever we go next with Plex, one thing I can say is that we are absolutely delighted with the level of expertise we have received from them. Theirs is an ERP that is purpose built for manufacturing and it shows in the value it is already delivering back to our business.”