Lacking end-to-end control of operations and process automation, building products manufacturer JSC Zeus Ceramica replaced isolated one-off software solutions with a holistic approach based on Microsoft Dynamics AX. This allowed them to build an all-inclusive record keeping solution that provides for the comprehensively controlled environment they sought across all of their international locations, optimizing their internal operating structure. Situation
JSC Zeus Ceramica is a leader in the manufacture of ceramic granite and makes products both for large public spaces and private homes. Product quality is an integral part of the business philosophy of the company and a crucial part of their business’ competitive strategy.
Control automation at Zeus Ceramica relied on isolated solutions based on 1C:Enterprise 7.7. While systems generally performed their functions, there was no provision for end-to-end operational control, unification of primary data input, or elimination of duplication of operations. Fundamentally their operational systems did not take into consideration the specifics of the ceramics industry. The need for functional enhancement through the introduction of an ERP-class industrial system had been identified and discussed as far back as 2008.
Based on these discussions, and after careful research of various options, Speranza s.p.a. Group (Italy), parent company of Zeus Ceramica, decided to use the development and introduction of such a new ERP-based system at Zeus Ceramica as a pilot project to prepare for eventual deployment throughout the Group.
Thus, a range of specific requirements for the ERP-system had to be adopted:
• Availability of solutions appropriate and applicable to the ceramics industry
• High Usability across multiple user environments
• Functionality relevant to the requirements of the business
• Easy integration with other existing internal and external systems
• Multilingual capability and the availability of the required localized versions Solution
Zeus Ceramica considered upgrading the existing 1C:Enterprise platform or introducing SAP/R3, Oracle Applications or Microsoft Dynamics AX as possible options for development of their new ERP-based solution. 1C:Enterprise, being a highly regionalized system, was immediately rejected.
Microsoft Dynamics AX was selected from the other options because of its optimal ratio of price and functionality, large-scale opportunities for adaptation and integration, and the availability of powerful ceramics-industry-specific solutions. A vertical solution specifically designed for the ceramic industry was included in the design. This would also support eventual rollout to the entire Speranza s.p.a. group of companies.
The pilot solution was launched in early 2012. By November 2012 the system, based on Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009, was in full commercial operation providing fully automated accounting of core activities and a range of auxiliary departments including molding powder, enamel, samples and laboratory.
Implemented functions include:
• Raw materials and consumables procurement from domestic and foreign suppliers
• Warehouse process automation
• Calculation of end product costs
• Sales management
• Fiscal and financial accounting
• Consolidated planning
• Cash flow management
• Analytic reporting
• Cooperation with the central office of Speranza s.p.a. Group
Also integrated were payroll processing, personnel records management, reporting to fiscal and statistical authorities, and data exchange with bank/client systems. The complete solution is based on a standard three-tier architecture; database server – application server – client sites. Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 is used as the core DBMS. The nucleus of the system consists of three virtual servers located in the data center in Italy. All business processes were approved by the parent company, meaning that the solution can next be introduced in Speranza s.p.a. companies in other countries, with minimal adaptation to the local specifics. Benefits
|The introduction of automated control based on Microsoft Dynamics AX makes it possible to optimize business processes, control them, and monitor the achievement of the target performance results of each department.|
| Alexander Boogoslavsky|
As pilot for the entire Speranza s.p.a. Group, Zeus Ceramica achieved a fully coordinated and centralized operational and automation control environment by building it on a firm foundation of Microsoft Dynamics AX ERP software.
Alexander Boogoslavsky, CEO of Zeus Ceramica, comments that “The introduction of an automated control system based on Microsoft Dynamics AX in the company makes it possible to optimize business processes, control them in everyday operations, and monitor the achievement of the target performance results of each department.”
Objectives achieved include:
Integrated all-inclusive record keeping at the enterprise
According to user testimonies, it was the first time they felt they were working in a single team, depending on each other and being jointly responsible for the results.
Optimization of the internal organization of the company
The end-to-end nature of the system enabled the creation of single primary data input points, which reduced not only man-hours required, but also the number of errors.
Specification of production costs
Full-scale implementation of the system makes it possible to see the real production costs at every stage of the production process. Such specification makes it possible to conduct detailed analysis of the production costs and make managerial decisions based on their optimization.
Options for operational analysis of performance indicators
The new system records each operation after it takes place, making it possible to analyze the current situation and prepare operational reports.
Basis for activity planning
The accounting system development makes it possible to introduce a subsystem of activity planning: materials procurement, cash flow, and budgets, all of which will be provided at the next stage of project implementation.
Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009 facilitates operations with different languages (Russian, English, and Italian) and it has localized versions for all countries where Speranza s.p.a. has its enterprises. The broad environment of partner relationships established around Microsoft Dynamics AX made it possible to find a suitable industry-specific solution, which led to a reduction in labor costs and an acceleration in the implementation process.
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