Amalie Oil Company is a manufacturer of oils and lubricants. Facing the challenges of its legacy enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, JD Edwards, the company sought to implement a new ERP system that would help support operations well into the future. The company chose Microsoft Dynamics AX and worked with Microsoft Gold Certified Partner Blue Horseshoe Solutions to drive the implementation forward. With Microsoft Dynamics AX in place, Amalie Oil now has a single solution to support all business processes. The company has also improved business insight, helping to streamline reporting and manufacturing operations. Amalie Oil has also been able to reduce IT costs, speed development, and support growth. In fact, the company currently doubles in size every six years, but with Microsoft Dynamics AX in place, it has only had to increase staff 25 percent.
||Amalie Oil is doubling in size every six years and we have only had to increase our workforce by 25 percent. We would have been unable to effectively scale to that level of growth without Microsoft Dynamics AX.
Chief Technology Officer, Amalie Oil Company
Founded in 1903, Amalie Oil Company is a manufacturer of high-quality petroleum products such as motor oil and lubricants. In all, the company blends and packages almost 2,000 different products, including private-label products for major retailers and automotive-parts chains. Amalie’s main production facility is in Tampa, Florida, offering 18 million gallons of bulk storage and blending capacity. With 200 employees, Amalie Oil serves customers in all 50 states in the United States and more than 100 other countries.
To support operations, Amalie Oil has relied on JD Edwards for financial management since 1999, with plans to roll out the software’s sales order entry, manufacturing, and distribution capabilities shortly after the initial implementation—a plan that never came to fruition. “We set the goal to run our business on a single, integrated system,” says Gianni Barkett, Chief Technology Officer of Amalie Oil Company. “However, we struggled in making JD Edwards support both our discrete and process manufacturing needs and in supporting batch formulations in our blending operation.”
What’s more, as the solution aged, support for it became increasingly sparse and expensive, customization was tedious, and information retrieval required the expertise of IT, power users, or finance staff. Challenges continued to multiply when the future of the JD Edwards product became uncertain. Says Barkett, “When JD Edwards merged with PeopleSoft and then was acquired by Oracle, we didn’t have a good feeling about the future of the solution, so we began to look for a new ERP system.”Solution
After considering its options, Amalie Oil chose Microsoft Dynamics AX for its new enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. Explains Barkett, “We considered implementing Oracle E-Business Suite or upgrading our existing JD Edwards solution to NetSuite OneWorld. But with Microsoft Dynamics AX, we found that it supported the broad range of functions that our business needed and we could customize it to work the way we do, which we couldn’t do with the other solutions.”
To implement the solution, Amalie Oil worked with Blue Horseshoe Solutions, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner. Going live in 2006, Amalie Oil has since worked with its partner to upgrade the solution to Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009 SP1. Currently, 45 employees in back-office and middle management positions have full licenses to the system. Another 100 employees in manufacturing and warehouse positions have web-user licenses, providing them with functionality and information from the underlying ERP system via web portals.
Amalie Oil uses Microsoft Dynamics AX across all operations, including discrete and process manufacturing. With Microsoft BizTalk Server facilitating electronic data interchange (EDI), vendors can place orders directly into the system and receive order confirmations, advanced shipment notices, and, in the near future, their invoices. And for vendors without EDI capabilities, Amalie Oil hosts an online portal that provides the same scope of functionality. Once Amalie Oil receives an order, Microsoft Dynamics AX automatically reserves available inventory. If the inventory is not available, the master-planning team uses Microsoft Dynamics AX to initiate the manufacturing of new products in the right quantities or, if the correct raw materials are unavailable, alert the procurement and planning team of the need to place an order. To facilitate this flow of information, Amalie Oil has taken advantage of the Role Centers in Microsoft Dynamics AX, giving employees only the information and functionality they need to do their specific jobs. Explains Barkett, “By using a Role Center, an employee in shipping, for example, can see exactly what items are ready to be loaded. Because the Role Centers are so intuitive, adoption has been great and we have received positive feedback across the board.”
Taking advantage of the extensibility of the solution, Amalie Oil has also worked with Blue Horseshoe Consulting to implement the add-in solutions Warehousing for Microsoft Dynamics AX, which provides robust warehousing capabilities, including key functionality from the ERP system to warehouse staff via their handheld devices. Working together, the two teams have also made a number of customizations. Most notable among these is a bulk-shipping customization that enables Amalie Oil to reserve trucks from its logistics vendor and optimize loads across the compartments of those trucks.Benefits
With Microsoft Dynamics AX in place, Amalie Oil benefits from a single solution to support all business processes. The company has improved business insight, helping to streamline reporting and manufacturing operations and ultimately increase the quality of services it provides. Amalie Oil has also been able to reduce IT costs, speed development, and lay a foundation for future growth.
Improve Business Insight and Reporting
With all employees working on one system, Amalie Oil has established a single source of company information. In getting deeper into this information, the company has found the solution’s drill-down capabilities particularly beneficial. “With JD Edwards, most employees would have to turn to a power user or person in finance or IT to get the information they needed, which could result in a five-page report just to get one piece of information,” says Barkett. “Now, with Microsoft Dynamics AX, employees can quickly find the information they need and then drill down into it to explore further, cutting the amount of phone calls and unnecessary reports we create by about 30 percent.”
Enhance Manufacturing and Service
In addition to providing support for its batch formulation and discrete and process manufacturing needs, Amalie Oil uses Microsoft Dynamics AX to run a more streamlined manufacturing operation. “Now, production managers see exactly what orders are scheduled and ready for release and they can see if there are any issues with that order,” says Barkett. “For example, if we don’t have enough labels to run a line, a visual control will alert them. They can then arrive at an informed decision, for example, to make fewer products. What’s more, employees across the organization receive notification of this issue and change and can then give a customer the option to accept a longer lead time or purchase a different product.”
Continues Barkett, “The ability to make informed decisions is saving us hundreds of labor hours in non-value-added efforts such as chasing down inventory.”
Cut IT Costs, Speed Development
Moving from its legacy system to Microsoft Dynamics AX has enabled Amalie Oil to rely on a more common skill set for IT support and eliminate the need for a costly third-party service provider. Being able to code in Microsoft .NET through the MorphX development environment in the solution has also meant faster development. In fact, according to Barkett, “The development lifecycle is 40 percent shorter than with JD Edwards.”
In terms of supporting growth, Microsoft Dynamics AX has proven to be the right choice. Using the solution since 2004, Barkett notes that, “Amalie Oil is doubling in size every six years and we have only had to increase our workforce by 25 percent. We would have been unable to effectively scale to that level of growth without Microsoft Dynamics AX.”