Success Story: Cantium Scientific airs out its production management with manufacturing software

High-tech electronics manufacturer Cantium Scientific was among the first one hundred companies to choose MRPeasy as their preferred manufacturing ERP. Having used the software for almost six years, MD Stephen Plumridge says: “MRPeasy effectively runs our business for us, it’s the framework for how we manage things.”

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A long-standing UK-based electronics company

Originally founded as Foice Systems in 1992, the UK-based company has a long history of developing industrial air quality test systems. Their signature product, the MicroBio MB1 – a bioaerosol sampling device used for measuring microbiological load in air, was first developed and entered production in 1994. The company was incorporated under its current name Cantium Scientific in 2003 and today, the 4th generation of the MicroBio devices continue to make up the majority of sales with thousands of units sold worldwide.

Cantium Scientific’s microbial air samplers are used for sampling bacteria, fungal spores, and even viruses from the atmosphere. As air runs through the device, the sample is collected safely in a closed environment on a Petri Dish, where microbiological presence can be measured later to determine microbial load. The MicroBio samplers are most used in hospitals, sterile production facilities, food packaging, dairy processing, indoor air quality testing in offices and schools, etc.

As the company designs and develops all their electronic systems themselves, manufacturing was completely outsourced for a period, in order to focus on research and development. With supply-chain issues brought on by the global semiconductor shortage, however, the company has since brought production in-house and today sources most of its components from local specialist firms.

A niche product occupying a well-established position in a broad market has ensured long-standing success for the Kent-based company. Today, Cantium Scientific reports a quarter of a million in turnover and has 3 full-time employees.

Complex bills of materials necessitated a move towards MRP

Like many small businesses, Cantium Scientific’s manufacturing operation started out small. Early production and inventory management efforts were handled intuitively and on paper. As the company established a market foothold and scaled up operations, the team moved on to spreadsheets. Keeping these reliably up to date eventually turned into a data nightmare, however. The main reason behind this was that the Bills of Material for the company’s products were becoming more and more complex.

Having used Xero for accounting since 2010, one of the solutions Cantium Scientific tried next was to incorporate their inventory management efforts into the accounting software. Xero’s inventory management tool is very limited though, being only one layer deep. Xero thus turned out to be an insufficient solution for handling the company’s production efforts. As a result, the company set out to find an MRP system that could accommodate the intricacies of their specific use case.

Alongside a necessity for Xero integration as well as affordability, a key technical requirement for Cantium Scientific was the layered Bills of Materials functionality. Multi-level BOMs are usually available only in large-scale, costly manufacturing ERPs or as costly add-on modules for SME-oriented MRPs. Cantium Scientific was pleasantly surprised to find that MRPeasy had parametric and matrix BOM capability built into the software, starting from the Professional tier.

A unique selling point of MRPeasy since the product’s launch has been the combination of functionality, ease of use, open API access, and built-in integrations with key business applications at a very attractive price point. Though Cantium Scientific looked at a few other software providers in the discovery phase, MRPeasy turned out to be the best match, being simple to use, web-based, and effortlessly accommodating the company’s key requirements for an MRP system. Cantium Scientific decided to commit and started implementing in 2016, being among the first one hundred customers of the up-and-coming software at the time.

Implementation took a single month

Since MRPeasy was Cantium Scientific’s first go at implementing an MRP system, there were no complex integrations or bespoke systems that needed to be carried over besides Xero. With Xero integration already built into MRPeasy, however, streamlining the two systems went very smoothly. Managing Director Stephen Plumridge summarises: “The implementation went quite quickly, we got fully functional within a month! We sat down for several days and put everything in it, starting simple as the company was a lot less complex back then. We did a phased rollout with one product, putting the parts in, and then continued to add parts when new orders came in.”

A phased rollout is something Stephen suggests to others looking to implement a manufacturing ERP as well. “It is better to test with actual product data of the company instead of using dummy data,” he notes, as testing production planning with real data can give a much more accurate representation of the company’s workflow inside the MRP system. “I would recommend that anyone signs up for the MRPeasy free trial to see if it aligns with or could improve their workflow. Start with one of your simpler products and test it out,” he adds.

Due to a successful implementation phase and the subsequent increase in efficiency, productivity, and worker satisfaction, Cantium Scientific found a near-perfect match with MRPeasy early on. As the company and the software both matured, growing in complexity and functionality, the relationship has been reciprocal as well. “MRPeasy is very responsive in implementing new functionalities based on customer feedback,” says Stephen. “The tech support has also always been very good – you get a problem, and it gets sorted immediately.”

A perfect match for the electronics manufacturer

Today, Cantium Scientific has a six-year track record with MRPeasy and has found many intuitive ways to shape its production management through it. For example, the company has expanded on the excellent BOM capabilities of MRPeasy and is also using the functionality for Procurement, in addition to Production Planning. Return Merchandise Authorization is another function that has proved vital in managing the company’s QA. Stephen advised: “We use the RMA feature a lot, not for customer returns, but for doing calibration of equipment that we send out. We are using it for managing returns for calibration work which is quite useful.”

Being a digital company, Cantium Scientific has done away with physical paper documents altogether. As every component the company uses has drawings and datasheets attached to it, MRPeasy’s Dropbox integration has proven crucial in going paperless. All the documentation can simply be attached to POs, so machinists get instant access to them.

A satisfied customer for six years and counting, Stephen summarises his experience with MRPeasy: “We’ve grown with it, and it’s grown with us. Realizing what we can do with it, we’ve put more and more into MRPeasy and today everything’s linked with it from shipping to invoices. MRPeasy effectively runs our business for us. It’s the framework for how we manage things. With customers in 50 countries, it helps keeps us stay on track of everything.“

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