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Business needs

In 2012, senior management at Evansville, Indiana-based Anchor Industries—a manufacturer of tents, pool covers and awnings—recognized that the company’s legacy JD Edwards ERP platform was approaching end-of-life, and would soon be no longer supported.

Adding to the challenge: already several years into an implementation of lean manufacturing, Anchor’s choice of a replacement ERP system could have important implications for the business’s future lean journey.


Beginning an evaluation of the ERP marketplace, Anchor management quickly became aware how poorly many ERP providers supported lean manufacturing, either in terms of the lean functionality that they offered, or possessing salespeople who were familiar with lean concepts and requirements.

Conducting preliminary research into Microsoft Dynamics AX, Anchor management soon came across the lean manufacturing capabilities that had been developed for Dynamics AX by eBECS, and a meeting shortly ensued.

It was a meeting that was to transform Anchor’s evaluation process, relates Anchor CFO Dave Conner: here were people who really understood lean manufacturing, and who ‘spoke’ and ‘thought’ in terms of lean principles.

“To be honest, in the beginning we really connected more with the eBECS people than we did with the Microsoft Dynamics AX product,” he recalls. “But usefully, it gave us a benchmark to compare other vendors against—and it was clear, right from the outset, that Dynamics AX could probably meet our lean manufacturing requirements.”

And eventually, relates Conner, as Anchor’s selection process intensified, a clear choice emerged: should Anchor upgrade its existing version of the JD Edwards ERP system to a more current version, or migrate to a different ERP solution entirely—namely Microsoft Dynamics AX?

“It really was a fork in the road, and no one now at Anchor had ever made a decision like that—the existing system had been decided on in 1995,” explains Gary Stoll, Anchor’s enterprise systems architect. “Eventually, we got everyone together in a conference room, talked through all the issues and options, and voted. The unanimous decision: Microsoft Dynamics AX.”

Why eBECS?
eBECS’ lean manufacturing capabilities played an important part in the decision, stresses Conner. Not only had eBECS undertaken the development of Microsoft Dynamics AX’ core lean capabilities, but the firm had extensive experience of implementing the solution.

“The lean dimension can’t be over-emphasized enough,” he stresses. “The eBECS people really understood lean, and understood what we were trying to accomplish. Other vendors just didn’t have the same depth of understanding—often, we’d find ourselves explaining lean concepts to them, and in fairly basic terms.”


Right from the outset, explains Stoll, Anchor’s management had been aware of the risks of implementing an ERP system, and were acutely aware that it had been 13 years since the company had last approached the task.

Moreover, adds Conner, several members of Anchor’s board of directors had seen other companies walk away from failed ERP projects, having spent significant sums of money.

The approach to implementation, then, was thorough, but pragmatic—an initially aggressive choice of a ‘go live’ date was twice delayed in order to make sure that preparations were complete, and that Anchor’s upcoming financial year end would not be affected.

“We had a good implementation methodology, we had assigned good people to the project, we had a good team from eBECS, and we had truly excellent support from senior management,” says Stoll. “Apart from a couple of small glitches in the first week of operation, everything went smoothly—and we came in close to budget.”


Turn the clock forward to today, he explains, and it’s clear that Microsoft Dynamics AX has become deeply embedded in the fabric of Anchor’s business.

Anchor now has an industry-leading ERP solution, for instance—and one with a clear upgrade path, avoiding future end-of-life issues. Moreover, that solution has been further refined, with eBECS suggesting and implementing configuration changes, optimizations, and system enhancements so as to better meet Anchor’s evolving requirements.

“The relationship with eBECS was already good, and since we went live it’s only got better,” he sums up. “We look to eBECS for creative solutions that will help us to improve our business, as well as providing us with excellent day-to-day support as we use the system. Plus, eBECS has been good at flexibly adapting its offering to suit how a business like ours wants to consume it—and that’s important, too.”

Solution overview

300 employees
Our frame and fabric products improve the quality of life for end-users in commercial, residential and government markets who live, work and play outdoors by delivering an experience that is more comfortable, more enjoyable, more pleasant and more productive. Imitated but never duplicated, Anchor products are engineered and manufactured by expert craftsmen who collaborate with our exceptional sales and service professionals to deliver value in the industries we serve.
Microsoft Dynamics AX
Lean Manufacturing

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