Kent Brushes

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Kent Brushes

 

Business needs

In late 2015, Hemel Hempstead-based Kent Brushes—founded in 1777, and the world’s oldest hair brush manufacturer—made a strategic decision to re-shore its Chinese manufacturing operation back to the UK.

It was a move that would require significant investment in woodworking and brushmaking machinery, but which would dramatically shorten lead times, reduce inventories, and make available opportunities to enhance quality.

But equally, manufacturing efficiencies would become vitally important—as would EDI, better-integrated factory scheduling, and shop-floor data collection. Moreover, the company at that point lacked the ability to offer Internet-based sales—but with shorter lead times, this would become more practical.

The obvious stumbling block to all this: Kent Brushes’ existing ERP system, which was seen as dated, inflexible, and lacking in features. Something better was required.

Challenge

By early 2016, the search for a replacement ERP system was well advanced. A number of systems had been examined, and opinion within the company was focusing on Microsoft Dynamics NAV as the way forward, implemented by a partner specialising in Dynamics NAV.

At which point, explains Steve Davis, Kent Brushes’ technical manager, the search ran into trouble: despite the obvious attractions of Dynamics NAV, the partner in question couldn’t offer a shop-floor data collection solution for it—shop-floor data collection simply wasn’t a capability that they offered.

Not to be put off, Davis began an independent search for a shop-floor data collection capability, finding a suitable solution in NAVEKSA ShopFloor, a well-regarded Dynamics NAV add-on module from Denmark. Picking up the phone, he talked to NAVEKSA—and learned that NAVEKSA’s UK implementation partner was eBECS.

“Talking to eBECS was a revelation,” recalls Davis. “It was immediately clear that not only were eBECS experts in NAVEKSA, but that they knew a lot about manufacturing, and a lot about using Dynamics NAV in manufacturing environments—which was exactly what we wanted.”

And shortly thereafter, a team from eBECS arrived on-site to demonstrate not only NAVEKSA, but a range of other capabilities on Kent Brushes’ requirements list—some of which, such as the Netronic factory-floor scheduling solution, were clearly superior to the solutions suggested by the specialist Dynamics NAV partner with whom the company had previously been talking.

“It was an eye-opener, and we quickly decided to move forward with eBECS instead,” sums up Davis.

Why eBECS?

Ostensibly, Kent Brushes’ decision to select eBECS as a partner was predicated upon eBECS’ proven capabilities with NAVEKSA, says Davis. In fact, though, it went beyond that.

“Yes, eBECS had the relationship with NAVEKSA, and knew the NAVEKSA ShopFloor add-in well. But more importantly, eBECS knew manufacturing well, and understood the additional capabilities such as factory floor scheduling that we were looking for, and had the experience to recommend the right solutions for us.”

What’s more, he adds, eBECS could readily exploit its relationships in the sector to plug gaps—with Magento, Kent Brushes’ preferred choice of content management system, being a case in point.

“We’d had huge challenges integrating Magento with our previous ERP system—but eBECS worked with a firm that specialised in just such integration. Yet again, the overall effect was to remove a lot of risk and uncertainty from the migration between systems.”

Solution

The contract between Kent Brushes and eBECS was signed in August 2016, and work began almost immediately, relates Davis.

“To begin with, the focus was on data cleaning: a lot of our customer data was wrong, with fields being used for other purposes. With Dynamics NAV, that wasn’t going to be necessary, so it made a lot of sense to clean the customer records so as to put that right.”

Consequently, the implementation proper began early in 2017. The plan: go live with the core Dynamics NAV system and a core subset of the required additional capabilities, and then add the remainder of the additional capabilities over the next few months. The Netronic scheduling solution, for instance, would form part of this subsequent implementation.

The new system went live on August 1st 2017, exactly as planned.

“There were a few issues—but there always are, with any new system,” says Davis. “In any case, it was nothing compared to the issues that we faced when we went live with our previous system, back in the late 1990s.”

Benefits

Several months on from that initial go-live, the final bedding down was being completed, and the Netronic and NAVEKSA capabilities were being fine-tuned.

The contrast is “simply amazing,” enthuses Davis. Gone are all the add-ons and fixes that had been associated with the previous system, as well as all the re-keying of data that had been required.

“The move to Dynamics NAV has given us a much better system, and a much better integrated system, which is what we need if we are to deliver on the strategy,” he sums up. “We’re transforming the business, and we need a transformed back office system to put us into a better position to move the business forward.”

Solution overview

Founded in 1777, Kent Brushes are renowned for our outstanding reputation and remarkable title as the world's oldest hairbrush manufacturer.
eBECS
Microsoft Dynamics NAV
Manufacturing

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