Butser Rubber increases turnover by 50% with a quarter of the admin staff and accelerates audits

Buster rubberIn 2006 Butser Rubber decided to move away from their existing stock and production database, selecting and being trained on 123insight in just 4 weeks. They reduced paperwork by 90%, obtained much more accurate lead times and were able to run several company divisions through the same system. This ’10 Years On’ case study catches up with the company after a double-dip recession and details how the company not only survived but also increased turnover and expanded into new markets.

Butser Rubber implemented MRP/ERP/CRM manufacturing enterprise software specialist 123insight in 2006 – about a year before they noticed a slowdown in business that resulted in the economic crash of 2008. Initially the company’s business focused on bespoke, small run orders for rubber products, gaskets and metal to rubber bonded products. Motivated by the immediate flexibility of 123insight, they started to diversify into larger runs of standard products. Now able to serve different markets, they were even winning business back from the Far East. It was this foresight that allowed the company to ride out the crisis, as Production Manager Charlie Easton explained: “In terms of diversification we’ve gone from a bespoke company to a mass production company, which means that we can compete in Europe and China because our production machinery and software supports all sectors, whether you want 10 or 100,000.”

Previously, the family run company relied on four staff to handle administration for their old system, but this was reduced to one. Said Charlie: “We used to have four dedicated administrators who would be processing onto our MS Access system. At the beginning there was quite a lot of administration to transfer to the new system. Around the same time we had the slowdown and we also lost staff due to children moving schools. We also built our business processes into 123insight, which meant we got things right first time and didn’t need to replace the staff. We removed a lot of duplication, especially between contract review and dispatch. On the old MS Access system we would have to manually handwrite the dispatch labels and notes whereas with 123insight we can automatically print both from the system. As a result we went from four staff to just one, which was quite a big jump. Recently we’ve just taken on another administrator as we’re trying to aggressively grow sales and we’re using 123insight as more of a sales tool as well as an administration tool.” Despite the reduction in staff, turnover has increased by 50%.

Charlie also appreciated 123insight’s flexible monthly licencing, going from their initial 13 down to 10 during the downturn: “With 123insight we had the ability to retract and we went from 13 licences to what we actually needed at the time. As things started to pick up in 2012 and 2013 we took on new staff and went back up to the same number of licences we had when we first started.”

As part of their growth plan Butser has invested heavily in new machinery, and in an effort to further streamline production they installed 42″ displays on the shopfloor where 123insight is used and are using Shop Floor Data Collection to track works orders at each stage of manufacture. Production meetings are also held around the display so that any bottlenecks can be instantly identified and discussed. Added Charlie: “We used to be driven by the paper works order or the guys at the end of the process pulling the job through because they could see it was late. When we started to clean up our stock, reduce stock levels and work in progress, only the works orders that were left on the system showed on the Enterprise screen. It meant that if we kept our administration tidy then what was left on the screen was what had to get done. This then became more powerful than the paper. If someone lost a works order it didn’t matter because we knew that job had to get done and it wasn’t a paper-pushing exercise – it was the system pushing the paper.”

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Butser replaced their accounts syatem with Access Dimensions, and the tight integration between the two has allowed 123insight users to immediately see a customer’s account status: “With the integration between Access Dimensions and 123insight you can see on screens such as quoting, despatch and sales order entry how much a particular customer owes you. If they are over 120 days or 90 days the system can put automatic stops on to prevent the order getting processed or to trigger for somebody to phone them. As we had a very scary time back in 2008 this has given us the ability to be much more proactive in chasing money and not allowing accounts to run out of control simply because nobody had asked the question.”

Previously the company relied on an Excel spreadsheet to track new enquiries but they replaced this with 123insight’s CRM+ software option. “To capture enquiries we would use a spreadsheet with a unique project number per line. If someone phoned or emailed we’d take the next number, put in their name, number, etc. and that would be their internal reference. Once we upgraded 123insight to the CRM+ system there was a feature called Project Control. Within Project Control we were then able to capture not only the unique reference number but also the customer name, start date, who was responsible, relevant tooling information, who was doing contract reviews, legal requirements, ROHS compliance, etc. We were able to capture the entire enquiry using one reference within 123insight and link it to the customer, whereas the spreadsheet never had any interaction with the system whatsoever.”

Once Butser had streamlined accounts, production and enquiry management, 123insight started to become a significant part of the sales process. Charlie explained: “The system is very useful when giving a sales pitch because you can demonstrate features such as traceability – you can show an example of another customer’s job going through. You can see who exactly logged onto the job, at which stage, how many are still due out and if you’re running at a high scrap rate. When you have a new potential automotive customer it’s very easy on 123insight to demonstrate the control you have over the process. This has meant that once we got our first big customer for several thousand units per day we were able to pitch this to another customer very easily.”

Butser relies solely on 123insight to comply with their ISO9001:2008 quality accreditation standard and for customers requiring traceability to aerospace AS9100 and automotive TS quality standards. Previously audits took all day and required a great deal of effort but now they can be done quickly and from one location: “It really is a one stop shop auditable system. We had our audit last week and we did it all from my laptop in our conference room. The auditor asked for the delivery note number of the supplier and I could bring up both the purchase order and the delivery note. We scan it at goods inwards and attach it to the purchase order, so the auditor doesn’t have to move from his seat – he can see full traceability at a right click. We can see that the parts were issued to a works order and who issued them. We have our staff skills matrix built into 123insight’s user permissions, so it only allows people that are authorised to issue those works orders. We have great confidence that we can go for our aerospace accreditation without doing anything to our system because it’s doing it automatically for us.”

The system is seen by Butser’s own customers as so reliable that they will often call Butser to check on something rather than rely on their own internal systems. “I got called out of a meeting this morning because a customer lost 120 units and they don’t have line stock for Monday morning. They can’t find the parts anywhere. So they phoned us asking ‘how many have you got’? I could see that we have 300 being manufactured this afternoon and they’ll have 300 on Monday morning. This is a multi-million pound automotive company who can’t find their stock, so they are relying on us to pull them out of that situation.”

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Support is an important aspect of any mission-critical business tool, and Butser have been extremely pleased with the assistance they’ve received. “Support has been very, very good. We only phone up when we feel that we have a genuine problem. We believe that we can navigate the system well enough to remove all the ‘where’s this PDF document’ sort of questions. When we have a problem it’s because something’s changed in the background, and that’s when we need a bit more system knowledge as opposed to 123insight knowledge. If people can’t get the answer straight away we normally get a phone call back within 10 minutes saying ‘I’ve spoken to someone else’ and we get the answer very quickly. I’ve known some of the people on the help desk for 10 years plus. It’s not like phoning BT – you don’t need to introduce yourself.”

The high level of support was brought home to Butser after they had an issue outside of 123insight that effectively left them locked out of their server: “We had a major server issue where we needed access to the server and this was outside of office hours. I was very grateful to 123 Insight staff in that they actually stayed outside of their working hours, on a Friday which makes it twice as important, to make sure that we got the information that we needed. I can imagine many other companies saying ‘it’s 6pm and I’m going home now’, but 123 Insight actually did stay until the job was done. Even though we gave them invitations to go home the message was ‘no, we’re staying until you’re up and running.'”

The company has also benefited from suggestions that they put forward to display colour-coded charts on the Shop Floor Data Collection screen, which immediately display the current status of each process of a particular works order.

Although Butser previously performed their own software updates, they opted for 123insight to do the v10 upgrade. Charlie noted that had it not been for the requirement for him to change permissions on each PC on the shop floor during the remote update it would have been completed in under an hour.

In 2009 Butser Rubber received Highly Commended in The Manufacturer Awards for their implementation of 123insight, which Charlie cites has been beneficial when talking to new prospects; “We use The Manufacturer award as quite a pushy marketing tool. When we have customers coming in – especially the automotive ones – we use this as a benchmark of the standard that we’ve managed to achieve.”

After recently investing in new machinery, Butser Rubber plans to completely redevelop their premises to a state-of-the-art facility and increase market diversity to further harden the business against possible downturns. 123insight’s subscription model also means that Butser can always take advantage of the latest releases at no extra cost. Concluded Charlie: “Even though we’re 10 years down the line with 123insight we are always on the latest version. We haven’t been kept on the system we used 10 years ago, so when we show people our system it still feels very fresh, sharp and up to date, and that’s without any big capital outlay.”

Key Benefits/Changes:

Turnover increased by 50% with 75% admin reduction
Powerful traceability allows for fast audits
‘Highly Commended’ in The Manufacturer Awards
Tight integration with Access Dimensions
CRM+ allows 123insight to be used as a sales tool
Excellent support
Painless upgrades, with new and enhanced features.

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