Talley Group, a United Kingdom–based manufacturer of medical devices, needed to identify and reduce waste in its manufacturing process. Because many of its activities are focused on the rental market, it also had to ensure that any new enterprise resource planning (ERP) system would meet both its needs and the needs of customers. With Microsoft Dynamics AX, the company has streamlined its processes and reduced costs.
From its headquarters in Southampton, Talley Group designs and develops a comprehensive range of medical products, including pressure-relieving mattresses and cushions, and compression therapy products.
The company has expanded to serve many European countries and the United States, and also exports to China, India, and South America.
It supplies through direct sales and service operations within the United Kingdom, or through international distribution partners. Talley Group offers more than 50 product types with around 10,000 individual items that it sells or rents to hospitals, nursing homes, and general practitioner (GP) surgeries.
Talley Group first opened discussions with Microsoft Dynamics AX Partner eBECS in early 2009. Being committed to lean manufacturing, Talley Group actively sought out an integrator that would understand its requirements, the most important of which was to streamline processes. In addition, with so much of the company’s work focused on the rental market, the company wanted to ensure that a new IT solution could support not only its own needs, but also those of its customers.
John Ramage, IT Manager at Talley Group, says: “From our research, we concluded that Microsoft Dynamics AX was the only true lean ERP solution available on the market.”
eBECS was able to bring vast experience and understanding of lean manufacturing software to Talley Group. “Lean Enterprise for Microsoft Dynamics AX” was originally developed by eBECS and bought by Microsoft, before the two partners created the Lean Centre of Excellence—now an education and training resource for the Microsoft partner community.
For Talley Group, the familiarity of eBECS with Microsoft Dynamics AX was a major advantage. Ramage says: “We wanted to change our existing ERP system and Microsoft Dynamics AX seemed to fit our functional requirements and the lean principles we were looking for.
Working with the eBECS team—which intimately understands our business and Microsoft Dynamics AX—has been invaluable in building a solution that matches our needs.”
The success of the implementation is down to the flexibility of the product. Ramage says: “We were already running a lean operation throughout the business, but Microsoft Dynamics AX is designed in such a way that we were able to work with eBECS to adapt it to suit our manufacturing, supply chain, and logistics processes.”
eBECS also developed a rental module—which bolts on to Microsoft Dynamics AX—to support the manufacturer’s specific requirements. “Our rental business is broad,” says Ramage. “So we needed something that could support it. We are trialling the rental module at the moment. It’s important to us because a significant proportion of our revenues come from rental—if we get this right it will be worth the resource effort both in terms of finance and time.”
From the outset, Talley Group planned three deployment phases over three years. Currently in the second phase, the company is using the solution across its entire operation and the impact in all departments has been significant.
Accessible information. With its previous systems, employees had to collate data on Microsoft Excel spreadsheets. But using Microsoft Dynamics AX, Talley Group brings everything together into one ERP solution, delivering a single source of data accessible to all departments.
More streamlined manufacturing process.Microsoft Dynamics AX gives an accurate picture of the manufacturing process updated every 20 minutes. Lead times can be improved by identifying and acting on any problems with the supply of materials. Peaks and troughs in the process can be smoothed out, which also leads to reduced cost of manufacturing products—saving the company money.
Smarter decision making. Decisions are made on an informed basis through a single source of data. Since using Microsoft Dynamics AX, the stock inventory has been cut by around 25 per cent. Faster time to shipping, increased shipping capacity, and a reduction in the size of the despatch team has also reduced costs.
Smoother operations. Thanks to the new automated system through Microsoft Dynamics AX, customers are given accurate information about delivery and invoicing, and delivery vans always carry the correct stock.
Enhanced customer services. More accurate sales analysis is now delivered, with detailed product margin information for the sales team. “After 18 months using Microsoft Dynamics AX—and with the invaluable help of eBECS—we can see a significant reduction in the cost of administration at Talley Group and a noticeable improvement in customer services. The growth and stability of our company is being supported by our use of Microsoft Dynamics AX,” says Ramage.