An interview with Deschberger Metall- und Blechbearbeitungs GmbH
Whereas some companies are struggling with the challenges posed by the pandemic, others have experienced a boom. And so is Deschberger Metall- und Blechbearbeitungs GmbH. The company from St. Martin / Upper Austria has 30 employees and specializes in sheet-metal processing, including series and make-to-order production, ranging from simple casing through to complete protection covers for special machines.
2020 has been their best year ever in terms of sales revenue, despite the crisis. Deschberger now require a reliable ERP system to promote their further development. And they decided on our solution. We have talked to technical engineer Manuel Lughofer, Head of Sales & Purchasing at Deschberger, about the reasons behind the decision and the challenges faced during the selection process.
"We have to look ahead and find a partner that provides the software and helps us reach our goals."
Ing. Manuel Lughofer, Head of Sales & Purchasing
- You used our new Website chat to get in touch with us. But we are curious: Where did you hear about us?
We first had to decide on where we wanted to go and what we actually wanted. And then we checked who would be able to meet our requirements. For the selection process, we contacted several ERP providers. We invited proALPHA upon the recommendation of a colleague whose father was already familiar with the solution from his company.
My colleague then got in touch with you via the web portal. We already had a first online presentation in fall and then another one in January. In the end, we considered the pros and cons and decided on proALPHA. Of course, we also looked at the price, but the main focus was on finding the ERP system that would fit us best.
- So you already had a clear idea of what the new ERP system should offer. What were your main reasons for replacing your previous ERP system?
We previously worked with the ERP system Emasos IQ. It didn't give us the option to plan our production, though. There was no production planning and no overview of the current utilization. This might be okay for trading companies but not for production companies like us, which offer just-in-time deliveries and must be capable of evaluating whether new orders can still be accepted or not.
- In what aspects were we able to convince you or which were the crucial aspects that made us stand out from the competition?
After the already mentioned production planning, the second most important advantage is request processing using proALPHA workflows. You need to know who is processing which request, what quote is in progress, whether an employee is authorized to submit a quote or whether it needs to be approved first. proALPHA offers a great graphical design and workflows that let me see the exact status of a quote until it is finally submitted. We really liked that and it has massively influenced our decision.
Another aspect are the analysis options by means of the integrated tools and the BI cockpits based on Qlik Sense. They show which order has eventually – meaning upon the completion notice from production – earned a profit and which order has led to a loss. And then you have to check whether the costing was correct or whether an actual costing must be performed. Was the material too expensive or did a certain step in production take too much time? We've got a lot of catching up to do since rework requires a lot of effort and cannot be managed manually anymore for a company of our size. You will only be able to better calculate and schedule the utilization if you know the time required for each order.
- What were the special challenges your company faced in the ERP selection process?
The biggest challenge by far is to map production precisely, for example, by means of planning tables and Gantt charts. When you accept an order, you must know the schedule. Can you move some orders? Where can you schedule or squeeze in a more important order? When is the deadline? It's important to stay on top of things here and to be able to reliably evaluate which order was profitable at the end.
Of course, we expect our new ERP system to have the same standard functions as our previous system, like posting raw material and adding lots to orders. Sometimes we have trouble staying on top of the utilization, which makes it harder to decide on whether or not we should accept an order.
As a contract manufacturer, we can't just say "This is our product and this is how much it costs". We make an offer but our customers determine the price. And then we have to see whether we can even make this price. We therefore need a good preliminary costing which shows us how far below the price we will be. Later, the actual costing shows whether the reality has met the expectation.
- What do you think which areas will benefit most from the new ERP solution?
I expect changes in foresighted planning and production, preliminary and actual costing, request processing, and order time tracking in production. The production employees shall then start the time tracking directly with the order and the program shall track the time so that it we can immediately see how long it took to process the order and when it was completed. This also helps to quickly identify the profit gained with an order. We're currently still struggling to get this information in case an employee doesn't enter the times accurately.
We're well aware that it will take some time until the new system is successfully implemented and everything works, but we're planning on going live at the beginning of next year.
- What is your overall impression of proALPHA?
We really liked the presentation. I think that if we work together everything will work out just fine. The proALPHA standard version already covers many of our requirements. Therefore, we are a good fit. There's need for some customizations, of course, but I'm sure we will successfully implement them.
We also want to approach the topic of Industry 4.0, for which proALPHA is the first step and the foundation. We have to look ahead and find a partner that provides the software and helps us reach our goals. Without having to change ERP systems again in five years.
The number of employees at Deschberger has doubled over the last three years. The previous ERP system worked well enough for 10-15 employees, but it has reached its limits with the now 30 employees. By choosing our ERP solution, Deschberger has taken the first step to get a grasp on Industry 4.0 projects in the future.