Looking for a user-friendly and affordable manufacturing ERP system, the precision engineers of A Wrate Engineering managed to implement MRPeasy without any external help.
About A Wrate Engineering
A Wrate Engineering is a family-owned precision engineering company from the United Kingdom that specializes in manufacturing components to customers’ requirements. They work both with clients that are looking for one-off prototyping as well as those that need batch production. Serving customers from all over the UK, they do a lot of work for the aircraft and the renewable energy industries.
The company was founded in London in 1973 when Alan Wrate decided to turn his bedroom into a workshop. Over the years, the business has expanded and today, A Wrate Engineering provides work for 22 employees and brings in a revenue of £4 million a year.
Although the company has been formally handed over to the son and daughter of the original founder, Alan Wrate is still involved with the business on a consultancy basis. The day-to-day running of the business is now managed by Alan’s son Chris, and their Director of Operations, Lee Brien.
First things first: get a decent MRP system
Brien, coming from an aircraft engineering background, had previously worked with Javelin, a legacy system with a wide variety of functionalities and an impressive price tag to boot. He joined the company in January 2020 and immediately saw the need for a manufacturing ERP software. At that moment, they were still using Microsoft Access to manage all the data in the business.
“It was outdated, the system provided no traceability or routing, nor did it provide any linkage from one area to the other,” Brien remembers. “When I came to Wrate Engineering for an interview, I said there were two things that they had to do in the company: get a 5-axis machine and a decent MRP system. We have since managed both.”
The previous experience with an MRP system gave Brien both the knowledge of the benefits of using this kind of software, and the basic understanding of how to choose a good fit and to successfully implement it.
Surprised by the price of MRPeasy
At the beginning of the process, Brien looked at a number of ERP systems, but a lot of them were quite expensive and did not look very user-friendly.
“I had had a good experience with Javelin, but it was far too big for this company,” he says. “We were looking for something more affordable and easy to use as we are a relatively small company with no particularly IT-literate staff members.”
Coming across MRPeasy, Brien was positively surprised by its price, especially considering the amount of functionalities it promised to deliver. Another deciding factor was the software being cloud-based.
“So I did the trial version and was quite impressed,” he says. “We looked at five or six other providers and MRPeasy proved to be the best fit for us. It was user-friendly, cloud-based, very cost-effective, has great data presentation capabilities, plus now we were able to link drawings and files to parts, which has been a great aid.”
Gradual implementation with no external consultants
Already during his first month in the company, Brien took on the responsibility of spearheading the implementation process. He started by taking four weeks in order to put in the basic data for the parts, the Bills of Materials, and the production routings, and then rolled out the system slowly over the course of several months, finally going live in September 2020.
“We took our time, doing the whole thing gradually, by ourselves,” Brien explains. “As our team did not have previous experience with a proper MRP system, I think doing it all with a big bang would have meant banging my head against a brick wall for a period of time.”
Thanks to the user-friendly interface and the clear, logical way the software is built, MRPeasy has been able to produce a catalog of support materials – including instructional videos – that could be understood by even those with no previous ERP-related experience.
“I found the materials very helpful,” Brien agrees. “When I could not find the answers from the documentation, I went to see a video. The help materials explain everything in very simple terms, like the example they use of putting together a wooden table. I find this fantastic because it’s so easy to understand.”
1000% better than before
The company finally switched off the old data management system this January as the employees had grown used to the new software and all the necessary data had been transferred from the old database to the new one.
“The staff did well regarding the implementation process – much thanks to the ease-of-use of the system,” Brien says. “I do have to remind them once in a while that the software is an integrated whole, in the sense that deleting a file from one place can affect a bunch of other areas of the system. But all in all, they are doing alright,” he chuckles.
As to the effect of the new system on the business as a whole, Brien claims that things have improved substantially. The company is better organized and therefore operates in a much more efficient manner. The new system has eliminated the waste of time that was required before to find the necessary piece of information, as well as the need for paper management.
“It is 1000 percent better than what we were previously using. I love it,” he says. “We now have all the information in one place – we can see the part, when it’s due, what the costs are, everything. All you need to find is just one click away, which saves us a huge amount of time, and we have eliminated the horrendous paper trail we previously had.”
Capable of much more
Although A Wrate Engineering is using MRPeasy primarily for production control and purchasing, they can tell that the software is capable of much more.
“We are only using about 15 percent of what MRPeasy has to offer,” claims Brien. “Right now we just don’t need more, but it’s good to know there is room to grow.”
“I think one of the biggest values of MRPeasy is communicated in their name – compared to other systems, it is incredibly easy to master,” he says. “I would certainly recommend it to other manufacturers as it’s so cost-effective and easy to learn. The learning resources are great, but I’ve also asked a question from the support team about three or four times. And within 24 hours, the problems have all been sorted.”
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