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Engineering Services Electrical chooses K8 Field Service to grow their business

ESE chooses K8 Field ServiceEngineering Services Electrical (ESE) have signed an agreement to become Datawright’s newest customer. The company have chosen the K8 Field Service solution to support growth plans for their energy management, property and facilities business. 

 

Established in August 1992, ESE work with a range of public/private sector business and domestic end users across Northern Ireland. The company provide a comprehensive range of essential facility services including, Building Services, Plumbing and Mechanical and Electrical Installation and Testing, Pest Control, Waste Management, Landscaping and Consumables.

ESE chose K8 Field Service for its range of functionality. Key to their decision was precise control over all field service processes. ESE also required a fully integrated field service mobile app and comprehensive back office functions to streamline processes such as call logging. Their K8 system will go-live with 7 full users and 25 mobile app users.

ESE have recently won a substantial 7-year service contract for two large Housing Associations in Northern Ireland. This will be a partnership contract with Bayview Contracts.

Bayview Contracts are an existing Datawright customer using K8 Field Service. ESE had previously been evaluating software options for a long period; the new housing contract win meant that they needed a solution that would fit both their current requirements, and their future requirements, as they grow.

Darren Johnson, Director at ESE said: “We have a very good working relationship with Bayview Contracts and we were impressed with the way they utilised the K8 Field Service system to manage their operations. We were confident that K8 Field Service would provide the future-proof flexibility for expansion that we were looking for”.  

 

For more information about Engineering Services Electrical – visit their website

 

About Datawright

Datawright provide advanced business management systems, installation and support services to manufacturing and field service customers, large and small. Datawright have been immersed in the manufacturing and field service markets for over 35 years and have developed class leading, functionally rich and highly flexible ERP systems: K8 Manufacturing and K8 Field Service.

Datawright is a Kerridge Commercial Systems company - a group of companies specialising in providing leading, market-specific, business management solutions across the world.

New Success Story - NanoDiamond Products

NanoDiamond Products

“Since implementing K8 Manufacturing, we have doubled our staffing and have a much more stable business to develop”. Alex Engles, Process and Development Director, NanoDiamond Products.

 

NanoDiamond Products (NDP), established in 2009, is a thriving and successful manufacturer of industrial diamond products. Prior to implementing K8 Manufacturing, NanoDiamond mostly relied on manual systems, but had reached the point where paper-driven processes were becoming too onerous given increased business volumes. 

Such is the nature of their products, quality has to be a given customer expectation; service levels and rapid shipment distinguish NanoDiamond and drive their competitive edge. A primary consideration was for a system that didn’t need to be customised to manage the specialties of their business. 

Read the customer success story here

 

Industry 4.0 - Are UK manufacturing companies prepared?

Industry 4.0 - how ready are UK manufacturing companies?

In her latest blog, Nicola Mullen (Marketing & Telesales Manager) discusses Industry 4.0. 

Industry 4.0 termed “the fourth industrial revolution” is set to transform manufacturing over the next few years. Not a new technology in itself – instead, Industry 4.0 is a fusion of a number of significant and emerging technologies: Big Data, advanced analytics, the Internet of Things, digital modelling, additive manufacturing, computer-integrated manufacturing and so on. In short, these various technologies can come together to enable manufacturers to do things they couldn’t do before.

Based on research from The Manufacturer, we've developed an infographic to show how prepared UK manufacturing companies are for Industry 4.0. 

To find out more view the blog/ infographic here

 

 

The Current Manufacturing Landscape: Industry 4.0

Industry 4.0: The current landscape

Industry 4.0 is set to transform manufacturing.

With technology rapidly impacting all areas of our lives, it was naive to believe that manufacturing would be exempt from the digital revolution. We’re officially in the midst of Industry 4.0, dubbed the ‘fourth industrial revolution’ — but has it lived up to expectation?  

In his blog, Andy Gough (General Manager) takes a look at how the current manufacturing landscape has been shaped by Industry 4.0. 

To find out more read the full blog post here

 

BYOD: How beneficial is it?

Bring Your Own Device

In his latest blog post, Andy Gough (General Manager) discusses Bring Your Own Device (BYOD).

In a world where we are surrounded by modern technology and advanced devices, BYOD is not a new phenomenon. Employees have adopted a more relaxed attitude to IT for years now, using their own personal laptops and mobile devices to carry out a range of workplace tasks.

BYOD offers numerous advantages. For employers, with a BYOD policy in place, there’s little need to invest in expensive equipment, minimising costs. Employees can also benefit, as they can work on a familiar device using a familiar operating system, eliminating the often frustrating period of getting to know a new device or system.

BYOD is revolutionising IT for business — but just how beneficial is it? 

To find out more, read the full blog post here.

 

New Success Story - ASL (Customer Portal)

ASL - Customer Portal

 

“By offering a more ‘self-service’ approach to selected customers, we can move towards reducing our own overhead demands and focus more attention on other business priorities.” Bryan Borley, ASL National Service Manager  

 

ASL is one of the UK’s largest independent managed print solutions suppliers. The company’s fully integrated K8 Field Service system is not only essential for managing business operations, but ASL is also harnessing its capabilities to support strategic growth. Notably, the company is progressively deploying the system’s K8 Field Service Customer Portal – enabling its customers to self-serve key requirements.

Read the customer success story here

 

 

What is ERP software?

What is ERP software?

What is ERP and how can it benefit your business? In his latest blog post, Ian Jack (Business Development Manager) explains more. 

In any business, efficiency is key. As the saying goes, time is money, so the more time your business loses through time-consuming processes, the less time you’ll be able to spend on the things that matter — driving sales, maximising profits and ultimately strengthening your business. 

As your business grows, this problem becomes increasingly pertinent. Scalability is an issue that many growing businesses face but thankfully, software has been developed to ease the pressure on businesses and streamline processes.

To find out more read the full blog post

 

The Statistics: UK Manufacturing

UK Manufacturing

In his latest blog, Ian Jack (Business Development Manager) discusses UK manufacturing statistics.

Manufacturing is big business, contributing £6.7 trillion to the global economy. While misleading figures place the UK way down the list of manufacturing powerhouses, UK manufacturing is the 11th largest manufacturing nation, directly employing 2.6 million people.

However, it hasn’t always been plain sailing for UK manufacturers. The media has frequently reported a shrinking sector over the past few years as a result of UK economic changes. This was most notable during the economic downturns in the 1970s, early 1990s and between 2008 and 2009.

To find out more read the full blog post here

 

Supply Chain Security: Key Considerations

Supply Chain Security

Barry Thompson (Account Manager) outlines key considerations around supply chain security.

Your supply chain is a complex network of people, processes and technology that play a fundamental role in the operability of your business. Without it, productivity would cease — but is your current supply chain putting your business at risk?

According to a recent report conducted by PRG on behalf of Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review, 73% of those surveyed said that supply chain security was extremely or very important to their business. Despite this, just 7% would rate their current supply chain security as excellent. Although the majority of respondents believed their system was good or very good, 21% gave themselves a fair or poor rating. 

To find out more read the full blog post here

 

Datawright wins Software Innovation Solution of the Year Award

Datawright wins Software Innovation Solution of the Year Award

 

Datawright, has won the 2017 Software Innovation Solution of the Year Award for an ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) project delivered to long-term customer, Arlington Automotive (NE). The award forms part of the European IT & Software Excellence Awards, now in their 9th year and established to recognise best practice in customer solutions and service excellence. 

Datawright’s relationship with automotive parts manufacturer, Arlington, goes back to 1999 when the company first implemented Datawright's manufacturing focused ERP software, K8 Manufacturing. 

Arlington, has a target press stroke per minute for their machine presses, and had been capturing this performance data the following day - when it was often too late to have a direct effect on production rates. Real-time performance data during each shift was becoming a crucial requirement and Datawright therefore designed and implemented a solution to link Arlington’s K8 system with two of their presses. Using Wi-Fi automation devices connected to a micro-switch in each press enabled the presses to become ‘Internet-connected things’ with real time performance data, updated every minute, displayed on shop floor and back office dashboard views.

Prior to the implementation of the IoT project, Arlington’s average output was six parts per minute on each machine. Following implementation, productivity has risen to an average of seven parts per minute, representing a 16% gain in productivity.

Garry Luke, Systems Engineer at Arlington said, “Datawright have been really excellent software service providers, explaining requirements we were unaware of, steering us expertly and helpfully, and offering to undertake extra tasks when we were pressed for time. We could scarcely have asked for a better service in any way. I am particularly indebted to the Datawright team who successfully executed the challenge of implementing the task in under four weeks from appointment - a tremendous achievement.”

Andy Gough, General Manager at Datawright said, “We’re proud of our long and proven record of delivering effective IT problem-solving solutions and value to customers. The Arlington IoT project is a great example of this. We designed and delivered this solution and, what made it unique, was the fact it bridged the hardware/infrastructure and software elements of collecting big data, using the Internet of Things and analysing the data collected. It’s fantastic that our work has been recognised by the European IT & Software Excellence Awards and we’re thrilled that we not only won this award against such strong competition, but were also shortlisted in two further award categories. I’d like to extend a big thank you to all my team who’ve worked extremely hard to achieve such great recognition!"

 

Datawright is a Kerridge Commercial Systems company - a group of companies specialising in providing leading, market-specific, business management solutions across the world. Datawright provides fully integrated systems, installation and support services to all sizes of manufacturing and field service companies. 

 

Arlington Automotive Case Study

Datawright shortlisted in the 2017 European IT Software Excellence Awards

Datawright - finalist in the 2017 European IT & Software Excellence Awards

Datawright, provider of fully integrated business systems for the manufacturing and field service industries, have been shortlisted as a finalist in the 2017 European IT & Software Excellence Awards. Datawright are finalists in three categories:

  • Big Data, IoT or Analytics Solution of the Year
  • SME Solution of the year
  • Software Innovation Solution of the Year

 

The successful nominations are a direct result from an IoT (Internet of Things) solution implemented for long-term customer Arlington Automotive NE (previously DPE Automotive).

Now in their 9th year, the European IT & Software Excellence Awards 2017 attracted more than 500 entries. The awards are given for IT solutions that get to the heart of customer issues, deliver business opportunities, a clearer understanding of data, and more efficient and profitable outcomes. The award winners will be announced on 30th March 2017 at a gala dinner and presentation ceremony.

Datawright’s relationship with car parts manufacturer Arlington Automotive NE goes back many years. The company first implemented K8 Manufacturing (Datawright's Manufacturing focused ERP software) in 1999. Since then, Arlington Automotive have grown considerably and are now a division of global supply chain specialist, Arlington Industries Group Limited.

In 2016, Arlington Automotive’s continued growth meant that real-time performance data was a crucial requirement. As an agile company, they wanted to be able to react to real-time data regarding the performance of their machine presses, during each shift. Arlington have a target press stroke per minute for each machine, but they previously only captured this data the following day, this was often too late to have a direct effect on production rates.

Datawright implemented a solution to link Arlington’s K8 Manufacturing ERP system to two of their presses. Wi-Fi automation devices connected to a micro-switch in each press enabled the presses to become ‘Internet-connected things’. This allowed K8 Manufacturing Dashboards to display real-time performance data, updated every minute. A range of dashboard views were developed for both shop floor and back office monitoring.

Prior to the implementation of the IoT project the average productivity output was 6 parts per minute on each machine. Following the IoT implementation, productivity has risen to an average of 7 parts per minute on each machine, illustrating a 16% gain in productivity. Garry Luke, Systems Engineer at Arlington said “Datawright have been really excellent Software service providers, explaining requirements we were unaware of, steering us expertly and helpfully, and offering to undertake extra tasks when we were pressed for time. We could scarcely have asked for a better service in any way. I am particularly indebted to the Datawright team who successfully executed the challenge of implementing the task in under 4 weeks from appointment; a tremendous achievement”.

Andy Gough, General Manager at Datawright said, “Datawright have a long and proven record of delivering effective IT problem-solving solutions and value to customers. The Arlington IoT project is a great example of this. The solution was designed and delivered by Datawright, what made the project unique was the fact that it bridged the hardware/infrastructure and software elements of collecting big data, using the Internet of Things and analysing the data collected. It’s fantastic that our work has been recognised by the European IT & Software Excellence Awards. We're looking forward to the results being announced at the end of March”.

 

Arlington Automotive Case Study

Kerridge Commercial Systems to acquire Integrity Software

Kerridge Commercial Systems to acquire Integrity Software

Datawright is a Kerridge Commercial Systems (KCS) company - a group of companies specialising in providing leading, market-specific, business management solutions across the world.

 

21st November 2016

Kerridge Commercial Systems (KCS) a global company headquartered in the UK has reached an agreement to acquire Integrity Software, based in Johannesburg, South Africa, and its successful suite of products. This acquisition is a key strategic investment for KCS in South Africa and a positive development for Integrity Software.

KCS has acquired Integrity Software as part of our on-going plans to grow and provide market leading ERP and business management solutions to the distribution markets across the world. With Integrity Software, we add further solutions and expertise for our core market focus of the Distributive Trades and specifically strengthen our offering for the retail orientated Distributive trades. Furthermore, we can now offer our South African customers a payroll and HRIS solution. The companies will form one of the strongest ERP providers focused on the particular needs of the distributive and retail trades in Southern Africa.

KCS is the market-leading and award-winning provider of solutions with over 1100 distributive trade customers worldwide, focusing on wholesaler, distributor, retailer and merchant sectors. In parallel, Integrity Software has a 20-year history of delivering Retail and ERP solutions to the retail and distributive trades with a similar customer profile to that of KCS. The acquisition supports the KCS strategy of continued growth through focusing on our specific area of expertise i.e. solutions for businesses that need to Source Effectively, Stock Efficiently, Sell Profitably and Service Competitively. The acquisition of Integrity Software by KCS follows the successful acquisitions of Dancik International in July 2015, and Mincron in June 2016, both in North America.

Integrity Software will continue to maintain and support the existing Integrity Software solutions and in time will introduce new benefits to their customers from the KCS portfolio such as advanced e-commerce, mobile commerce, and Cloud services as part of an optional upgrade path and optional added functionality. Equally, KCS will introduce modules from the Integrity Software suite to their existing K8 ERP system such as Payroll Solutions to further support their existing customers.

Speaking about the acquisition, Ian Bendelow, KCS Group CEO commented, “This is key strategic acquisition for us and our first in Africa which has been an important market for us over many years. It strengthens our presence on the African continent, expands our capability and provides a further platform for growth. Integrity Software aligns with our successful business strategy of focusing on retail, trading and business management solutions for the distributive trades. We have operated in the African region from our offices in Johannesburg for some 20 years. It is a successful and important region for the KCS Group. Our customers will benefit from this acquisition by providing greater strength and depth in our South African based team to support our functionally rich solutions to meet their business goals and challenges.”

Greg Gerasimo, Managing Director of Integrity Software states, “The acquisition by KCS brings together two great companies with similar history, culture and customer profile. The combined resources will further strengthen the services we can offer to our customers in Southern Africa and I look forward to being part of the Group and leading the Integrity Software team into a new era of opportunity.”

As Managing Director for the KCS Group in Africa, Des Nangle will support Greg and the team and help to ensure that benefits of being part of the larger group are available to all our customers.

##########

 

For more information, please visit our websites:
www.kerridgecs.co.za
www.integritysa.co.za


Or contact: marketing@K8.co.za

 

Bring Your Own Device: the field service software paradigm of the future

Go back a few years, and one of the biggest issues in field service management was around hardware. Specifically, the kind of device that field service management engineers should be equipped with in order to work effectively with a business’s choice of mobile field service software.

But turn the clock forward to today, and a lot of the heat has gone out of the debate. Or at least, out of that particular debate. Instead, there’s a more pragmatic view being taken: a view that there is no universal ‘one size fits all’ device that is exactly optimal for every business and every field service management engineer.
 
Yet if that particular debate has moved on, another has arisen in its place. And potentially, a debate that’s even more heated. Specifically, why bother worrying about—or specifying—mobile devices at all? Why not simply allow field service management engineers to use the device that they like best—namely their own personal choice of mobile device? 
 
Termed ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD), it’s a policy that is fast-gaining serious support among businesses. According to a global survey of CIOs by analyst firm Gartner Group, for instance, nearly 40% of enterprise organisations said that they expected to stop providing mobile devices to their employees by 2016, relying on a BYOD policy instead.
Of course, that’s still a minority of respondents—albeit a large minority. Moreover, it’s a fair bet that most of those respondent organisations were talking generally across their entire workforces, and not specifically in terms of a BYOD policy relating to field service management devices and field service management engineers.
 
All of which begs an obvious question: while BYOD might be right for organisations generally, is it the right thing to do in the context of field service management engineers wanting to connect with mobile field service software?
 
 

Form factor

To some, the suggestion will sound foolhardy or downright ridiculous. What about security, they ask? What about specifications? What about the costs of supporting all those mobile device formats—such Windows, Apple’s iOS, Android, and Linux?
 
We’ll touch upon each of those concerns. But let’s start with specification. According to a survey contained in a recent White Paper published by IBM, 82% of respondents expect smartphones to play a “critical role” in business productivity over the next two years.
 
To those of us with memories long enough to recall field service management engineers lugging bulk laptops (and sometimes printers) with them everywhere, the suggestion seems laughable.
 
But hang on. The latest hi-spec smartphones are continuing the trend begun by Apple’s early iPhones: ever-larger screens, with Internet connectivity and browser display considered just as important as telephone functionality. Moreover, most web browsers now come ready-optimised for mobile devices of that size and format.
 
And for a field service management engineer, that smartphone form factor may well be perfectly adequate.
 
Just consider the use cases. What—and where—is the next job that they should go to? A smartphone-sized device can handle that. Basic activity recording: the time the job started, and the time it was completed? Yes, that’s not a problem, either. Browsing spare part availability back on the enterprise server? Likewise. Browsing detailed repair instructions, and maybe watching a ‘how to’ video? Again, likewise.
 
Even invoicing presents few problems—especially not in the B2B world. Forget printing out an invoice: just send a PDF of the invoice to the customer’s e-mail address.
 
And if a smartphone really, really, really isn’t big enough? Try an iOS, Android or Windows tablet—seven inches, eight inches, or even ten inches.
 
 

Securing your data

But what about security? Even if all these tasks can be sensibly carried out on a smartphone or tablet computer, how can it possibly make sense to connect uncontrolled and potentially unknown devices to a corporate network?
 
Well, yes. Security is indeed a concern. But chiefly back on the enterprise server, it turns out, where it can be properly managed. In short, the risk relating to the device itself is fairly minimal.
 
Surprised? You shouldn’t be. Consider popular websites such as YouTube, eBay, or Amazon.com, which most of us routinely access from mobile devices, using web browsers and—for transactions—built-in encryption. And if we’re happy to access popular sites such as these from our mobile devices, then why should we be any less happy to access our company’s mobile field service software?
 
Of course, this requires mobile field service software that has been properly developed from a security point of view. And mobile field service software that is properly secured on the corporate server.
 
But the overall moral is clear: buy the right mobile field service software, and then manage it properly, and device-associated risk from a BYOD policy is minimal.
 
 

Which operating system?

Finally, let’s turn to the challenges of supporting multiple device operating systems. And certainly, there’s plenty of choice: Windows, Apple’s iOS, Android, and Linux, not to mention ‘flavours’ of some of those, such as the increasingly-popular Chromebooks, which use Google’s Linux-derived Chrome operating system.
 
But is this diversity necessarily a problem for a company adopting a BYOD policy? Probably not, because provided that it is running mobile field service software from a mainstream vendor that is capable of supporting such operating systems, then the problem belongs to the software developer, not the end-user field service company.
 
Certainly, here at Datawright, we strive to develop mobile field service software that is truly ‘device agnostic’, capable of interacting seamlessly with major mobile operating systems.
 
That way, simply put, supporting BYOD becomes our challenge, rather than your challenge.
 
 

Productive workforce

Roll it all together, and what have we got? A view of BYOD that is rather less daunting, hopefully. And certainly one that is also more firmly grounded in reality, rather than in fears and prejudice.
 
Does BYOD actually save much money? Given the much lower cost of mobile devices these days, probably not. But in any case, that’s not really the logic behind BYOD.
 
Instead, the goal is satisfied and content field service management engineers, working productively and at peak efficiency, using a device that they are both pleased with and familiar with—their own.
 
Which has to be a goal worth striving for.
Mincron acquired by Kerridge Commercial Systems

Datawright is a Kerridge Commercial Systems (KCS) company - a group of companies specialising in providing leading, market-specific, business management solutions across the world.

 

30th June 2016

Kerridge Commercial Systems (KCS), a global company headquartered in the United Kingdom, has reached an agreement to acquire Mincron Software Systems, based in Houston, Texas, and its successful suite of products. This acquisition is a key strategic investment for KCS and a welcome development for Mincron. The companies will form one of the strongest ERP offerings for the distributive trades in North America. 

KCS is the market-leading and award-winning provider of solutions with over 800 distributive trade customers worldwide, focusing on wholesalers/distributors/retailers and merchants in the construction, industrial and other sectors.

In parallel, Mincron has a 30-year history of delivering ERP solutions to a similar customer profile i.e. businesses that need to Source Effectively, Stock Efficiently, Sell Profitably and Service Competitively. The acquisition of Mincron by KCS follows the successful acquisition and integration of Cary, North Carolina-based Dancik International in July 2015.

Mincron will continue to focus on product innovation, including maintaining and supporting the existing SmartDistributor product suite while providing customers access to other products and services from the KCS portfolio.  

Speaking about the acquisition, Ian Bendelow, KCS Group CEO commented, “This is another key strategic acquisition for us and our second in North America in as many years.

"It strengthens our geographical presence in the North American market and provides a further platform for growth in this important region. Mincron aligns with our successful business strategy of focusing on trading and business management solutions for the distributive trades, including wholesalers, distributors, retailers, merchants and resellers.

"Our customers will benefit from this acquisition through greater strength and depth in our North American team to support our functionally rich solutions to meet their business goals & challenges.”

Wendy Berger, General Manager of Mincron stated, “The acquisition by KCS brings together two great companies with similar history, culture and customer profile. The combined resources will further strengthen the KCS brand in North America and I look forward to being part of the Group and leading the Mincron team into a new era of opportunity.”

As Executive Vice President for KCS Group in North America, Alan Cross will support Wendy and the team and help to ensure that that benefits of being part of the larger group are available to all our customers.

 

For more information please visit our websites: 

www.dancik.com

www.mincron.com

Or contact: marketing@kerridgecs.com

 

Kerridge Commercial Systems (KCS) provides specialist software, services and support to deliver fully integrated trading and business management solutions to customers, large and small – wherever they are in the world. 

Immersed in the distributive, manufacturing and field service industries for over 40 years, our technical experts are thought leaders in trading and management technology, and our innovative and flexible approach ensures our customers partner with us for the long-term.

 

KCS Group celebrates 40th anniversary

KCS Group celebrate 40 years of software innovation!

 

Datawright is a Kerridge Commercial Systems (KCS) company - a group of companies specialising in providing leading, market-specific, business management solutions across the world.

 

This year the KCS Group traces its roots back to 1976 and is proud to celebrate 40 years of providing innovative computer software solutions to the distribution, manufacturing and field service sectors.
 
Ian Bendelow, chief executive officer, said: “Although computer technology has progressed dramatically over the past 40 years and business needs have changed considerably, we have remained true to our company’s ethos. Focusing on the needs of our customers, we deliver quality solutions to address their business needs and technical innovation that adds real value to their bottom line. For our customers we bring consistency, stability, longevity and innovation. We are particularly proud to have established many long-term relationships and to have seen our customers develop and prosper. Those long term relationships, many of whom have been with us for 10, 20 and more than 30 years, really make a difference. Driven by entrepreneurial opportunities our customers are constantly innovating and it’s been our job to support those opportunities and also bring technology innovation. It is amazing to reflect on how 40 years of supporting distributors/wholesales and merchants has evolved”.

In addition to UK operations in Hungerford, Bourne End and Gateshead, the company, which employees 400 staff, also has major facilities serving customers in Ireland, Netherlands and South Africa. In 2015, KCS expanded in to North America opening offices in North Carolina.

The KCS Group now has around 800 customers, serving 6,000 locations and 80,000+ users in 18 countries.

 


 

Five enterprise IT trends shaping the future of manufacturing

Back in the 1990s, there was much talk of the ‘lights out’ Factory of the Future, staffed entirely by robots—hence the absence of interior lighting. It didn’t happen. And perhaps it never will. Instead, today’s understanding of the Factory of the Future is much more grounded in achievable reality. While robots have their place, goes today’s thinking, so too do people, and flexible multi-purpose machinery.

Which isn’t to say that impressive technologies won’t be part of the picture. Simply that those technologies will be more of an evolution from where we are today, rather than some bold leap into a brave new world.
 
In particular, it seems likely that those technologies will be grounded in enterprise IT, rather than hi-tech robotics, advanced manufacturing processes, and innovations such as 3D printing.
 
So which new enterprise IT technologies will shape the way that manufacturers go to market, serve their customers, and fulfil their customers’ requirements?
 
It’s a tough call. Because—as with all those confident forecasts of the ‘lights out’ Factory of the Future—predicting the future is never easy. 
 
Nevertheless, here at KCS Datawright, we recognize that our job is to stay abreast of the fast-changing technologies that underpin and drive enterprise IT. So read on, for our take on five key technology trends set to change your manufacturing business over the next few years.
 
 
#Wearable computing
There have been some amazing advances in small form-factor computers—just look at the smartphone that you’ve probably got in your pocket. But these are still devices that have to be carried around, can be lost or mislaid, and call for conscious action in terms of usage. You have to specifically switch them on, for instance, and actually look at them. 
 
Now imagine a computer that’s physically attached to you, requiring just a glance. In fact, don’t imagine it: it’s here already, in the shape of the Apple Watch, and Google Glass.
 
The latter is wearable computing as a pair of spectacles—on sale today, although the price-tag isn’t cheap. With Google Glass, you can play music, see a computer screen, check e-mail or watch videos.
 
Potential usage in a manufacturing context? Well, what about watching a video—complete with text and sound—regarding an assembly that you’re about to build. Or getting step-by-step instructions as you actually undertake that build.
 
 
#The Internet of Things
As consumers, we’re used to using the Internet to interact with other consumers, and to access services on remote servers: Facebook, YouTube, iPlayer and so on. Now imagine using the Internet to interact with devices, instead. In a nutshell, that’s the Internet of Things.
 
How will we use it? As consumers, we might want to turn the heating up at home, before we get there. Or turn the oven on. Or check the contents of the fridge, before calling at the shops on the way home.
 
But for manufacturers, the use cases are even more compelling. Machines on customer premises, for instance, which ‘call home’ when they need servicing, or require consumables replacing, in much the same way that inkjet printers can do now. New billing models are another opportunity: with the Internet of Things, instead of selling machines outright, it’s possible charge for machines by their amount of use—the number of pallets wrapped, for instance, or the number of injection moulding components produced.
 
The challenge in all this? First, achieving two-way communication over the Internet of Things securely, and safely. Second, interfacing these new use cases and billing models into ERP. Rest assured that at KCS Datawright, we’re working on both, right now. 
 
 
#Big data, analytics, and dashboards
According to well-informed sources, Amazon.com’s well-known “Customers who bought this also bought …”recommendation engine contributes about 20% of the firm’s revenues.
 
It’s powered by clever analytics that mines Big Data to see the connections between millions of purchases. And in the years to come, ordinary businesses will routinely be doing the same, to spot vital clues as to instances where demand is cross-linked, enabling better targeting of offers and promotions. Your business probably isn’t doing that now—but it could be soon.
 
And from a management point of view, analytics-driven user-specific ‘dashboards’ will be how businesses are managed. Forget bulky reports and wading through screens of data: everything an individual manager needs to know will be presented to them on a dashboard, red-flagged or green-lit as appropriate. Plus, the ability to ‘drill down’ into exceptions, to see the underlying causal factors that have given rise to situations that haven’t gone to plan.
 
Leading businesses are doing this today, but only through expensive Business Intelligence applications. But in the future, this is the way that enterprise IT will work, out of the box.
 
 
#Mobile computing
The coming era of mobile computing offers an intriguing proposition: mobile devices delivering connectivity and enterprise applications at any time, in any place, and on any platform.
 
Because in terms of enterprise IT, the days of a Windows-only world have gone. Tablet computers powered by Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android operating systems have made all the running over the last five years, with Google Linux-derived Chromebooks showing just how inexpensive mobile laptops can be.
 
The moral for manufacturers? Enterprise IT of the future will need to support not only a truly platform-independent mobile device, but also the ‘Bring Your Own Device’ paradigm, where employees expect to be able to access enterprise applications on their own everyday mobile devices, rather than lug around another device, just for work.
 
 
#Truly connected supply chains
Electronic communication along supply chains isn’t new. EDI, for instance, goes back to the mid-1980s. And the Internet has delivered further significant advances in how manufacturers communicate with customers and suppliers: portals, XML, supplier collaboration networks, web services, and B2B marketplaces such as Ariba.
 
The trouble is, each of these advances is simply a different take on the electronic aspect of the transactions that are taking place. In other words, the decisions and communication process undertaken by the humans in the supply chain haven’t really changed.
 
Yet it’s those human-driven decisions and communication processes that make up a lot of the elapsed time in supply chain processes. Electronic processes take just seconds, more or less irrespective of the technology of choice.
 
Our guess: that will start to change, and soon. Once an MRP process has calculated a requirement, why wait for it to be reviewed before issuing purchase orders, schedules and call-offs?
 
It’s a development that already happens in some of the world’s very largest manufacturing companies, and we expect to see such ‘server-to-server’ communication gradually migrate to smaller manufacturing businesses over the next few years.
 
 
Roll it all together, and what do we have? Five different takes on enterprise IT, from five fast-changing technology paradigms.
 
Will it all come to pass, exactly as we’ve described? Probably not: no forecast is ever 100% correct, and the world of technology development takes some interesting twists and turns. After all, who predicted the iPad?
 
But one thing is certain: those who do take the time to think about the future will be better prepared when it arrives.
 
Is it time to replace your manufacturing ERP system? 3 warning signs to watch for

No one really enjoys replacing a manufacturing ERP system. Doing so isn’t cheap, it takes time and effort, and it isn’t without risk. The temptation, in short, is always to carry on just a little bit longer with your existing manufacturing ERP system, and work around its limitations.

But inevitably, there comes a point where those limitations can’t be ignored. Because to do so would be business-limiting, curtailing the opportunities for growth, enhanced profitability, and improved efficiencies that a new manufacturing ERP system can provide.
 
Yet recognising that point can be tricky. And the mere passage of time isn’t a reliable guide: some companies can outgrow a manufacturing ERP system in just a few years; others can be happy with a decade-old system, and see no reason to change.
 
In short, it’s down to the individual business itself, and the pain points that it is experiencing. So here’s our take on three warning signs to watch for.
 

Warning sign #1: a lack of functionality or flexibility

When you bought your existing manufacturing ERP system, it will have met a specific list of criteria. In other words, at that time, it was a good fit.
 
But in the intervening period, your business may have changed. Perhaps you now have overseas operations. Perhaps you’ve embraced an aftersales service model. Perhaps you have entered a radically different market, manufacturing (say) process-based products or built-to-order products alongside your existing conventional assembly business.
 
And if your existing manufacturing ERP system doesn’t support these new facets of your business, you’ll struggle. Workarounds can only go so far.
 

Warning sign #2: signs of age

Sometimes, the problem isn’t a functionality gap, but a performance gap. Your manufacturing ERP system has become slow and unresponsive, as the number of users has grown, and the demands on the system have become more complex.
 
Sometimes, the issue is hardware, which can become unreliable, costly to maintain, and starts to require a level of specialist support that is increasingly difficult to locate.
 
And other times, support is no longer available from the original provider of either the manufacturing ERP system or the hardware, as they have either gone out of business, or been absorbed within a much larger company which has little interest in older users of legacy software or equipment.
 
 
Again, faced with such a situation—even if the system’s raw functionality is still adequate—is can be better to bite the bullet, and move to a newer manufacturing ERP system. A manufacturing ERP system which is faster, more stable, and less costly to maintain.
 

Warning sign #3: no support for newer technologies

From a technology perspective, there’s more to consider than simply the technology on which your manufacturing ERP system runs.
 
Because in terms of both user accessibility and exchanging data with suppliers and customers, technology also moves on apace.
 
Perhaps you want to support mobile devices on the factory floor. Or provide access to remote workers and busy executives on the move.
 
Perhaps you want to provide suppliers with access to your manufacturing ERP system, via a supplier portal. Or perhaps you’re selling direct to customers, online.
 
These days, both forms of data communication are very common, and are best carried out by fully interfacing to a manufacturing ERP system, rather than carried out at arm’s length by bolt-on capabilities updating in batch mode. 
 
Again, fudges and workarounds can only take you so far: at some point, it’s better to recognize that it’s time to invest in a system that will deliver the functionality that you need.
 

So is it time to bite the bullet?

Put it all together, and what have we got? In short, three clear warning signs that strongly suggest that a new manufacturing ERP system could be a productive investment.
 
Granted, the existence of one warning sign on its own may not tip the balance in favour of wholesale replacement.
 
But two or more should be taken as a definite indication that it’s time to start surveying the manufacturing ERP system market. And when that time comes, we at Datawright would be delighted to have a conversation with you.
 
Five key technology trends set to change your service management business

The future is coming towards us, fast. Will you be ready?

“I never make predictions—especially about the future” American columnist H.L. Mencken once observed. He had a point, perhaps. But for companies with aftersales service management businesses, ignoring the future isn’t an option. They have to make predictions about the future, in order to be fully ready to meet that future when it arrives.

Because otherwise, their competitors will.

So what does the future of enterprise IT hold? Which new technologies will shape the way that service management companies go to market, serve their customers, and fulfil their customers’ requirements?

It’s a tough call. Because, as companies in the aftersales service management business know all too well, predicting the future is tough enough within their own particular industries. Predicting the future in someone else’s business—enterprise IT—may be a bridge too far.

But at Datawright, enterprise IT is our business. And it’s our job to stay abreast of the fast-changing technologies that underpin and drive enterprise IT.

So what does the future hold? Read on, for our take on five key technology trends set to change your business over the next few years.

#Wearable computing

There have been some amazing advances in small form-factor computers—just look at the smartphone that you’ve probably got in your pocket. But these are still devices that have to be carried around, can be lost or mislaid, and call for conscious action in terms of usage. You have to specifically switch them on, for instance, and actually look at them.

Now imagine a computer that’s physically attached to you, requiring just a glance. In fact, don’t imagine it: it’s here already, in the shape of the Apple Watch, and Google Glass.

The latter is wearable computing as a pair of spectacles—on sale today, although the price-tag isn’t cheap. With Google Glass, you can play music, see a computer screen, check e-mail or watch videos.

Potential usage in a service management context? Well, what about watching a video—complete with text and sound—about a repair that you’re about to undertake. Or get step-by-step instructions—live, or recorded—as you actually undertake that repair. Navigating to a customer site? A GPS will never get much more convenient that a screen that stays permanently in front of your eyes, whichever way you turn your head.

#The Internet of Things

As consumers, we’re used to using the Internet to interact with other consumers, and to access services on remote servers: Facebook, YouTube, iPlayer and so on. Now imagine using the Internet to interact with devices, instead. In a nutshell, that’s the Internet of Things.

How will we use it? As consumers, we might want to turn the heating up at home, before we get there. Or turn the oven on. Or check the contents of the fridge, before calling at the shops on the way home.

For your service management business, the use cases are even more compelling. Machines on customer premises, for instance, which ‘call home’ when they need servicing, or require consumables replacing. New billing models are another opportunity: with the Internet of Things, it’s possible to charge for machines by their amount of use, rather than per-month, or forcing customers to buy outright.

The challenge in all this? First, achieving two-way communication over the Internet of Things securely, and safely. Second, interfacing these new use cases and billing models into ERP. Rest assured that at Datawright, we’re working on both, right now. 

#Big data, analytics, and dashboards

According to well-informed sources, Amazon.com’s well-known “Customers who bought this also bought…” recommendation engine contributes to about 20% of the firm’s revenues.

It’s powered by clever analytics that mines Big Data to see the connections between millions of purchases. And in the years to come, ordinary businesses will routinely be doing the same, to spot vital clues as to instances where demand is cross-linked, enabling better targeting of offers and promotions. Your business probably isn’t doing that now—but it could be soon.

And from a management point of view, analytics-driven user-specific ‘dashboards’ will be how businesses are managed. Forget bulky reports and wading through screens of data: everything an individual manager needs to know will be presented to them on a dashboard, red-flagged or green-lit as appropriate. Plus, the ability to ‘drill down’ into exceptions, to see the underlying causal factors that have given rise to situations that haven’t gone to plan.

Leading businesses are doing this today, but only through expensive Business Intelligence applications. But in the future, this is the way that enterprise IT will work, out of the box.

#Mobile computing

The coming era of mobile computing offers an intriguing proposition: mobile devices delivering connectivity and enterprise applications at any time, in any place, and on any platform.

Because in terms of enterprise IT, the days of a Windows-only world have gone. Tablet computers powered by Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android operating systems have made all the running over the last five years, with Google Linux-derived Chromebooks showing just how inexpensive mobile laptops can be.

The moral for service management businesses? Enterprise IT of the future will need to support not only a truly platform-independent mobile device, but also the ‘Bring Your Own Device’ paradigm, where employees expect to be able to access enterprise applications on their own everyday mobile devices, rather than lug around another device, just for work.

 #Social listening

What do your customers say about you? Really say, when you aren’t in the room? And—perhaps just as importantly—what do they say about your direct competitors?

Answering these questions is the purpose of ‘social listening’: jointly monitoring the Internet, CRM systems, Twitter, Facebook and a myriad other channels—some of which exist today, and some of which don’t.

Why listen? And to what end? The logic is simple: Through social listening, companies can better understand what their customers want, and—just as crucially—what they don’t want.

Such insights can play a valuable part in the development of new products, and new service offerings. Just as importantly, they provide real-time clues as to how a business is performing, as viewed through the eyes of the people best placed to judge—its customers.

And don’t down play the importance of social listening, say experts. Today’s marketing is often about trying to persuade unwilling customers to buy what a company has wrongly predicted they might like. Tomorrow’s marketing will be about persuading them to pay a premium for something that has been developed in full knowledge that it’s likely to be a hit. Which is a rather different—and much more profitable—proposition.

Roll it all together, and what do we have? Five different takes on enterprise IT, from five fast-changing technology paradigms.

Will it all come to pass, exactly as we’ve described? Probably not: no forecast is ever 100% correct, and the world of technology development takes some interesting twists and turns. After all, who predicted the iPad?

But one thing is certain: those who do take the time to think about the future will be better prepared when it arrives.

 

New IBM Business Partner Certification

Business Partner IBM

New certification strengthens successful long term relationship

Datawright is delighted to have gained a new-certification as an IBM Business Partner. This prestigious status follows successful assessments of staff competencies in the latest IBM Power Series and System X technologies. Business Partner status enables Datawright to continue installing and supporting IBM equipment; a position the company has been proud to hold since 1990.

The long term association with IBM is firmly centred on company’s mission to deliver the high quality IT solutions. In parallel to the advanced software applications in K8 Manufacturing and K8 Field Service, customers also expect a reliable, proven and technically capable hardware platform. Working with IBM not only ensures that Datawright offers what is widely understood to be the best technology available, but also maintains continuity in expertise and experience to protect customers’ system investments.
    
Datawright’s IBM-centred capabilities are also being used to meet the growing demand for system hosting – a cost-effective alternative to managing an in-house server. Norman Thompson, Head of Technical Services, said, “We are now also able to host IBM Power servers running AIX as an alternative to Linux-based servers. It’s increasingly clear that hosting not only represents excellent value for money for our customers, but also frees up their resources to focus on other priority areas. Other benefits include remote system monitoring and management - there’s always a team of skilled technicians available to resolve any issues that arise.

Allied Vehicles invests in K8 Manufacturing

One of the UK's leading manufacturers and suppliers of adapted and special purpose vehicles invests in K8 manufacturing software from Datawright.

Datawright announces that Allied Vehicles have purchased a market leading K8 software system, including a fully integrated Shop Floor Data Capture solution. The system will bring wide-ranging benefits and help to ensure Allied Vehicles’ projected growth.

Allied Vehicles, based in Glasgow have signed with Datawright for a 55 user K8 system; 30 users will be utilising the Shop Floor Data Capture solution. The fully integrated system is used by many leading companies in the manufacturing and service management sectors. The installation of K8 Manufacturing will include comprehensive user training, consultancy and on-going system support.

 The Allied Vehicles Group has grown consistently to become the UK's leading manufacturer and supplier of adapted and special purpose vehicles. Their new K8 Manufacturing system will provide a platform for managing additional growth and will provide Allied Vehicles with the future-proof flexibility for change and expansion.

 An important element of Allied Vehicles’ ERP system requirements is quality assurance. Allied Vehicles’ managing director, Paul Nelson, commented “Every vehicle produced by Allied is subject to rigorous quality control procedures, backed by external testing and certification. When we made the decision to acquire a new ERP system, we reviewed all major providers. K8 was chosen as it offered the best capability to achieve the highest quality control standards. Using the latest technology, the Shop Floor Data Capture solution will also offer unparalleled visibility into our manufacturing and distribution processes, from goods receipt, right through to customer despatch”.

Datawright general manager, Andy Gough said, “We welcome Allied Vehicles to our ever-increasing customer list and we are pleased they chose a K8 manufacturing system for its strengths, compared with competitors’ products. Implementation has already begun and we look forward to working closely with the Allied Vehicles team to help them maximise the benefits from their K8 system.”

About Allied Vehicles

 

One of the UK’s most innovative automotive companies, the Allied Vehicles Group specialises in delivering affordable, high quality solutions to meet the needs of customers in niche areas of the vehicle market. Established in 1993, Allied Vehicles is rooted and based in Glasgow and operates through a number of trading divisions.

The company now employs over 440 people. Vehicle design and production are centred at the 20-acre manufacturing plant in Glasgow, where all vehicles are subject to rigorous quality control procedures.

To find out more about Allied Vehicles visit their website

Highlights from our Customer Conference 2015

Two day conference provided great insights for KCS Datawright customers

The 2015 KCS Customer Conference provided customers with a varied and interesting programme covering the latest in the company’s software solutions and more. The conference focussed on how KCS customers could add value to their businesses using IT, both strategically and tactically.
 
View video highlights below:
 

 

New developments

For many K8 Enterprise customers, the highlight of the two day conference was the introduction of the upcoming K8 Enterprise release – Version 13, which includes over 120 enhancements. Delegates also learned more about Web Builder, the company’s integrated electronic trading application.  
 
Some significant developments in the company’s support and training provisions were announced. In particular, COO Alan Cross said that his team will be focussing more on reducing the need for customers to make support calls. “We are confident that by working together, a combination of training and extending knowledge, our customers will not only be able to gain more value from their systems but also make fewer support calls”.  During a break-out session, customers discussed the new K8 Enterprise training catalogue at length.
 

Company updates

Mike Beech, Product Marketing Director, brought delegates up to date with the work of the Customer Advisory Board. Introduced in 2014, the CAB has already proved to be a valuable resource in delivering ideas and specific user requirements into the product development cycle.
 
Day one’s opening session also included a review of the technologies that support KCS’s cloud and hosting services. A growth area for the business with an increasing number of customers making the switch away from on premise servers. Being able to more focus on the business – means less time spent on system management. 
 

Engaging sessions

Guest speaker for the evening reception and dinner was best-selling author, presenter and business guru Geoff Burch. Entertaining and thought-provoking, Geoff delivered an informed perspective on topics drawn from his considerable international experience, with a focus on customer service and managing the overall customer experience.
 
Day two of the conference comprised a programme of break-out sessions which ensured that the event truly had something for everyone. Delegates learned about new developments including a detailed session focussing on the latest K8 Enterprise release. Sessions about Business Intelligence and the K8 Enterprise Service Management solution were also on offer. Customer experiences included Shop Floor Data Capture, workflow management, dashboard facilities and ecommerce functionality. Following on from the K8 Enterprise User Group’s launch in February 2015, a User Group session was also held which included lively discussions about the future of this important user community.
 
A series of sessions, delivered by KCS partners were also on offer, briefing delegates on WAN solutions, SEO, ecommerce, mobile proof of delivery and EFT systems. 
 
Summing up, CEO Ian Bendelow said, “Our annual customer conference has become a flagship event in our calendar. Each year, we strive to make the event as beneficial as we possibly can, not only for our customers, but also our technology partners who play a key role in meeting our customers’ ever-changing requirements. Much more than an opportunity to share how we are investing in products and services for the future, bringing everyone together also creates a stimulating environment. Open discussion leads to ideas being generated which is exciting and rewarding for everyone.”  
 
 

 

TRM Group on course for success with new K8 Manufacturing system

Datawright announces that TRM Group, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of mineral insulated cables, has gone live with its new, 25 user K8 manufacturing system.

A fully integrated suite, encompassing stock control, production, sales, CRM and accounting applications, K8 Manufacturing was chosen by TRM Group for its functionally-rich manufacturing capabilities and to support the company’s complex operational requirements. K8 Manufacturing will also serve as a platform for future growth and development.

TRM Group Senior Production Planner and Buyer MICC Ltd Jason Shek said, “Our previous system could no longer cope with our growing demands and had reached its end of life - we had to become more customer focussed.  We needed a fully integrated system that could cut out the need for us to duplicate effort, provide us with much faster production planning capability and enable everyone to have accurate, up-to-date stock information. We also required a system that could give us full traceability of every product which, in some cases, is a mandatory requirement for our customers.”

As part of the TRM Group implementation, Datawright also installed a comprehensive product configurator application to support the sales team and make it easier for the company to manage its bespoke orders.

Prior to making the decision to implement K8, Datawright worked closely with TRM Group to ensure that the system’s capabilities were a close match for its business processes. And in looking to partner with a company that offered long term investment security and a strong customer partnership ethos, TRM Group were also impressed with Datawright’s R&D roadmap and support services.     

Datawright Commercial Director, Ian Farrar said, “From the outset, we recognised that TRM Group was going through a significant and exciting growth phase. Clearly, they needed a new scalable system, that would not only address their immediate requirements, but also enable them to ‘future proof’ their IT capabilities. We are delighted that TRM Group have now implemented K8 and look forward to a successful, long term association with such a fast moving business.”

About TRM Group

TRM (Thermal Resources Management Ltd) Group are the world's largest manufacturers of mineral insulated heating, thermoelectric and fireproof wiring cables, along with CSA / ATEX approved heating elements and temperature measurement probes and assemblies.

www.temperature-house.com