Customer SuccessWHEELABRATOR

Global industrial equipment manufacturing enterprise restructures operations for growth and efficiency with To-Increase and Microsoft Dynamics AX

Leading industrial equipment manufacturing company, Wheelabrator, manages growth with flexible ERP system

‘The Wheelabrator core model built on Microsoft Dynamics AX for Industrial Equipment Manufacturing is the key to restructuring our global operations to be more efficient and responsive to customers.”

Phillip Hawthorne, CIO, Wheelabrator Group

Wheelabrator Group specializes in designing and manufacturing custom surface preparation and finishing solutions for a range of industries. As Wheelabrator grew rapidly, executives sought to standardize IT infrastructure and centralize global operations. After evaluating several enterprise resource planning systems, the company selected Microsoft Dynamics AX. Wheelabrator worked with Microsoft Gold Certified Partner Columbus IT and industry specialists from Microsoft Gold Certified Partner To-Increase to tailor a deployment template for Microsoft Dynamics AX for Industrial Equipment Manufacturing. The team deployed the solution at six Wheelabrator facilities in the United Kingdom before rolling it out internationally. Now, Wheelabrator gains increased efficiency and improved visibility into operations and benefits from greater capacity for growth.

  • Company: Wheelabrator
  • Number of Employees: 1,250
  • Website:
  • Country or Region: United Kingdom
  • Industry: Manufacturing – Industrial equipment manufacturing
Software and Services
  • To-Increase Industrial Equipment Manufacturing
  • Microsoft Dynamics AX
Customer Profile
With 1,250 employees across 17 countries worldwide, Wheelabrator Group is a leading manufacturer of industrial equipment, specializing in providing custom surface preparation and finishing solutions to meet the unique needs of customers.
Business Situation
As Wheelabrator grew rapidly, executives sought to standardize IT infrastructure and centralize global operations.
Wheelabrator worked with Microsoft Gold Certified Partner Columbus IT and industry specialists from Microsoft Gold Certified Partner To-Increase to tailor a deployment template for Microsoft Dynamics AX for Industrial Equipment Manufacturing.

Download the Wheelabrator case study


The To-Increase solutions helps Wheelabrator resolve issues and reach their goals

“Enterprise Asset Management supports us in offering high-end maintenance and support services, which is a key competitive advantage for Ampelmann in our industry.”

Jannes Snel, IT Manager, Ampelmann

Ampelmann uses innovative, powerful software solutions and other technology to design and manufacture ground-breaking products and deliver them in a business model that makes the company truly one of a kind.
Founded in 2007 as a spin-off of the Delft University of Technology, Ampelmann’s key objective was to provide safe, efficient access in industrial offshore locations. The engineers who started the company felt that the current state of the art left much room for improvement in terms of costs, operational ease, and safety. They developed a new concept for motion-compensated gangways or access systems that could be placed on vessels and facilitate people’s passage to various offshore locations. Having realized and proved the concept, Ampelmann found strong resonance in its target markets of independent oil companies, vessel owners, offshore wind farms, and comparable operations. The company’s customers are on all continents, served by employees working out of six globally distributed offices.
Unique, service-focused organization
Ampelmann’s main business follows a servitization model: Customers contract for a service that delivers the benefit of the product. That service includes delivery, deployment, and project management, as well as maintenance to keep the access systems running without unplanned downtime. Currently, over 50 Ampelmann systems are in use around the globe. In its service history so far, Ampelmann has realized more than three million safe transfers of people, with an average technical uptime above 99 percent, and cargo transfers of
more than one million kilograms.
Ampelmann rapidly outgrew its initial technology tools. Jannes Snel, IT Manager at Ampelmann, says, “We needed a proper asset management tool, instead of the spreadsheets we used, to ensure timely, efficient maintenance and support of our global fleet of machines. We decided to implement an asset management solution together with our new ERP system, which replaced more basic business management tools.”

Fast deployment of ERP and CMMS solutions
Ampelmann contracted with Columbus, the global consulting organization, to implement Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 as its ERP solution. The Columbus team members made Ampelmann aware of Enterprise Asset Management, a component of the To-Increase Advanced Discrete Manufacturing suite. “With most of the capabilities we looked for, To-Increase Enterprise Asset Management had the best fit with our requirements,” says Snel. Columbus performed a speedy deployment, taking Enterprise Asset Management and Microsoft Dynamics AX
live for Ampelmann within seven months.

End-to-end management of maintenance activities
“With Enterprise Asset Management, we have for the first time an effective system for scheduling and managing work orders that enables us to handle upgrades and modifications as well as maintenance assignments,” says Simon van Benten, Team Lead, Reliability Engineering. Maintenance teams in Ampelmann’s global regions and a group of employees at the operational control center in Delft rely on the solution’s standardized workflows to manage failure reporting, forecasting and planning, resource management, and all other aspects of maintenance and support for the company’s offshore access systems. Within Enterprise Asset Management, where these systems are represented as functional locations in hierarchies with four subsystems, descriptions and process steps are as detailed and consistent as Ampelmann’s service delivery requires. Van Benten comments, “By using such features as the check lists and workflows in Enterprise Asset Management, we can make sure our people take all the right actions that improve the reliability of our systems.”
Process consistency, ease of use, and uncomplicated customization
Early on, Ampelmann team leaders felt they might have to adjust some of their processes to deploy a CMMS like Enterprise Asset Management. However, during the solution’s implementation, it turned out that the need for such changes was minimal. Van Benten says, “Enterprise Asset Management is much simpler to use and adjust than similar solutions I have worked with. The solution standard is already very powerful, and configuring it to meet our requirements was easy and did not lead to any complications.” Once Ampelmann maintenance teams and managers familiarized themselves with Enterprise Asset Management, their feedback on the solution was positive. Van Benten states, “Our users are mostly satisfied with what they can accomplish in Enterprise Asset Management and how the solution helps them do their jobs. We mapped every process out in a minimal number of steps that are easy to understand, and achieved a
good balance between the complexity of doing maintenance on innovative access systems and our intention to keep things simple and consistent.”

CMMS enables the company’s key competitive differentiation
The technology change aligns with Ampelmann’s unique servitization business model. Snel says, “Enterprise Asset Management supports us in offering high-end maintenance and support services, which is a key competitive advantage for Ampelmann in our industry.” Detailed reports created through Enterprise Asset Management help Ampelmann engineers determine whether
a breakdown is the result of a unique event that is part of the challenging environmental conditions on the world’s oceans or whether there is an opportunity to improve the access systems’ design.

“In discussions with customers and among our engineering teams, we use evidence from Enterprise Asset Management to decide and plan upgrades and innovations in our technology,” explains van Benten. “The solution helps us maintain a steady feedback loop that fosters continuous improvement.” In customer conversations, the reporting capabilities in Enterprise Asset Management also make it easy to explain what their services entail. “We can always show customers what we did, how much time we spent, what parts we used, and what the costs were,” he says. “The reporting in Enterprise Asset Management lets us review costs from many different angles and have a productive discussion.”

Plans for mobility and enhanced application security
In upcoming technology projects, Ampelmann expects to implement Mobile Service, another solution in the Advanced Discrete Manufacturing suite, to give onshore and offshore maintenance workers better access to detailed work order and other information and register status updates on their assignments. The company also plans on using To-Increase Dynamic Security Management to review software licenses and access rights. “Dynamic Security Management will be a vital tool in improving the security of our software systems, evaluating and optimizing current roles and privileges, and setting up new ones,” says Snel. Ampelmann project owners enjoy discussing their ideas and plans with members of the To-Increase team who know the company well. “It’s usually very satisfying to receive input and guidance from To-Increase,” says Van Benten. “They know their discipline very well and tend to respond quickly.”