Founded forty years ago by two entrepreneurs whose initials made up the company name, WEMO today employs almost 125 people and distributes its sheet-metal processing machines worldwide. The company’s equipment supports many manufacturing market segments, including building construction, domestic appliances, storage equipment, and the automotive industry. Built for resilience and reliability under heavy workloads, WEMO machines often have a very long lifespan of 25 years or even longer.
Evert-Jan Mulder, ICT Supervisor with accountability for the company’s infrastructure and applications, has been with WEMO since 1993. Early on, he built a software system to make it possible to report and analyze the costs and time going into equipment manufacturing. Over time, he advanced that tool to fit the company’s workflows and to make it possible to re-use existing information when in the development of new machines. As the company grew, won more customers with more complex requirements, and deployed a variety of applications to run its operations, WEMO decided to manage its business with a comprehensive software solution. The organization implemented its first ERP system in 2004—an integrated deployment of the most advanced versions of To-Increase Industrial Equipment Manufacturing and Microsoft Dynamics NAV available at the time.
Growing the Business on To-Increase and Microsoft Dynamics
Since then, WEMO has evolved the integrated ERP solution along with its business, moving through several upgrades. “We were very happy with what To-Increase provided us, and never considered replacing Industrial Equipment Manufacturing with a competitor’s product,” says Mulder. Today, the core of WEMO’s manufacturing activities runs largely on Industrial Equipment Manufacturing and Microsoft Dynamics NAV. Design engineers use the PTC Windchill 3D project lifecycle management (PLM) application to develop machines and their components. The PLM system integrates with the ERP infrastructure. WEMO found that the To-Increase technology fit with its requirements and processes in a standardized form with minimal customizations. The company uses most intensely the Advanced Job Management component of Industrial Equipment Manufacturing. Says Mulder, “The task structure in Advanced Job Management is an excellent fit for WEMO—it fully aligns with our processes.”
Recently, WEMO began exploiting its business management technology to realize an ambitious project: Reduce the lead times for delivering machines to customers by half. Instead of the average of about one year from order to delivery, the company aims to deliver within six months or sooner. “Our customers are used to receiving robust, long-lasting equipment and effective support from WEMO,” says Mulder. “However, to ensure that we retain their loyalty, meet their expectations with respect to delivery time, and achieve our growth goals by winning new business, we want to become more competitive. Slashing our lead time in half is a huge advantage in that regard. Achieving this means we stay ahead of market and industry trends and gain greater exposure in our industry.”
Creating a Project-Based Organization Supported by Project Applications
In pursuit of its critical goal, WEMO transformed the way it works and relies on the integrated To-Increase and Microsoft Dynamics infrastructure to facilitate the process. “We used to have separate departments with certain inefficiencies and redundancies in how teams did their jobs and managed manufacturing, delivery, and customer support,” says Mulder. “We reorganized the company into project teams to align everybody’s contributions behind delivering the best possible machinery in the shortest time. The project-based manufacturing capabilities in To-Increase Industrial Equipment Manufacturing are essential in this effort.” WEMO project teams include the functions of design engineering, manufacturing, assembly engineering, purchasing, and supply chain preparation. Sales take place outside of project teams, but sales professionals use the integrated ERP system to record and retrieve information, and to send order confirmations to customers. The customer care group also takes advantage of the data residing in the integrated ERP system to ease communications with customers who order spare parts or have other needs.
“With our new way of working and more direct communications, the company grew together more,” Mulder says. “People always understand how actions they take impact their colleagues and the project outcome.” WEMO engineers start new projects in the To-Increase solution’s project structure and rely extensively on its job-planning functionality. Contributors track their hours in the solution’s timesheet module. When engineers finish a bill-of-materials (BOM) in the PLM application, they can import it easily into the integrated ERP system, which automatically generates important process documents, including purchase and production orders. Once a job is in process in Industrial Equipment Manufacturing, WEMO uses the solution’s job planning functionality to periodically generate job forecasts with actuals and projections at a given moment, including hours estimated to completion. As Mulder explains, “To-Increase’s job planning provides us with timely, precise insight into the status of all of our projects at any time. In managing our projects to reduce lead times, that is a critical capability.”
Enabling Key Roles and Processes throughout the Company
To-Increase technology serves as a key enabler for WEMO, its project teams, and Mulder as well. “To-Increase supports our organizational goals most effectively, and I would absolutely recommend their technology and expertise to other companies with requirements similar to ours,” says Mulder. “Because Industrial Equipment Manufacturing reaches so far into all aspects of our operation, the solution’s flexibility to adapt to our processes is extremely valuable. My responsibilities include monitoring project details to control project times and costs, and our integrated ERP system makes this very efficient and reliable for me. I also appreciate that it is easy to fine-tune the solution when we adjust our processes and best practices. My internal clients and WEMO leadership are delighted with what To-Increase helps us accomplish.”
Mulder’s internal customers include Erik Onnekes, Supply Chain Manager at WEMO, who experiences the To-Increase difference in his area of responsibility. He comments, “With an integrated ERP platform on which we can build our business, the interactions between project teams and the supply chain have become more direct and productive because all of us understand project details.”
The integrated ERP business foundation can grow and extend to support any activity at WEMO in line with the company’s strategy to become more competitive and agile. Using flexible Microsoft programming tools, Mulder developed several capabilities and integrations to enhance the ERP system for WEMO’s specific processes. For example, engineers and project teams like to use Microsoft Excel to record equipment- and capacity-related calculations and projections; Mulder created integrations between the ERP system and Excel to ensure that processes are consistent and information accurate. Information from Industrial Equipment Manufacturing reflects in the company’s Primavera project management software through another integration.