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Yuasa Battery Europe GmbH
Battery Supplier Infuses Supply Chain with Visibility and Automation
Established in the United Kingdom in 1980, Yuasa Battery supplies and manufactures batteries for some of the largest automotive suppliers in the United Kingdom and major industrial manufacturing firms throughout Europe.
In 2003, the company established Yuasa Battery Europe as the centre of business operations for the company’s European subsidiaries. This network of five sales and one manufacturing company used distinct systems to manage their businesses.
In late 2006, Yuasa decided to implement Microsoft Dynamics AX because its focus had shifted away from high-volume traditional manufacturing towards an integrated sales and distribution business with a higher-value manufacturing facility.
One of the key challenges of the Yuasa supply chain stems from the volatility of the resource markets. The price and availability of the lead used to manufacture batteries can fluctuate widely, and these variations affect the cost and quantity of batteries from suppliers. As a result, suppliers ultimately dictate when orders become available and the amount of product included in each order. This impacts both the industrial and automotive sides of the business.
While lead times on orders for industrial batteries often stretch for many weeks, suppliers may communicate changes as little as one month before a scheduled delivery. Communicating these changes throughout the supply chain is critical to business – but under the current system, planners had to manually input changes and make modifications on several screens across the system.
Adding further complexity, the demand for batteries, particularly automotive orders, is seasonal; during a cold winter, demand may peak at more than six times what it was in the spring. However, suppliers have limited capacity and cannot change their volume in accordance with the seasons. Yuasa needed to level this demand on suppliers throughout the year.
Yuasa decided to replace its existing ERP system with Microsoft Dynamics AX. This highly adaptable solution would deliver the automation and visibility the company required to effectively manage its supply chain, at a lower cost than the existing system. “We chose Microsoft Dynamics AX for many reasons. It provides a low total cost of ownership, delivers an intuitive interface, and is a high-quality product with high-quality support,” explains John Cook, IT Manager, Yuasa Battery Europe. “But most importantly, with Microsoft Dynamics AX, we can easily make modifications to support all of our complex business processes.”
Microsoft Dynamics AX enables information to cascade throughout the organization in real time, providing everyone with access to the latest order information. eBECS modified this core ERP functionality to further automate, improve, and streamline the flow according to the nuances of business processes at Yuasa. “Essentially, there is one person pushing requirement demands down the order chain and one person confirming and updating the order chain against the accurate supply,” explains Cook. “The moment information is changed, such as a delivery date, it is replicated across the supply chain – from the supplier to the sales organization.”
To manage the fluctuating demands of the automotive industry, eBECS implemented custom logic that solves and automates monthly purchasing decisions. “A simple mechanism was put into place so that the virtual customer reserves the excess stock that is purchased each month,” says Martin Robinson, Senior Consultant at eBECS.
To further streamline and automate operations, eBECS developed an Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) interface that enables Microsoft Dynamics AX to accommodate electronic orders and invoicing. Customers use one interface to input orders while another interface supports outbound transactions, such as electronic invoices for customer billing. Yuasa further customized the solution so that customer account administrators can automatically allocate warehouse stock from a valid warehouse location to a customer order. Microsoft Dynamics AX rolls up critical data, generates reports, and automatically sends financial reports to executives through e-mail. Sales people also use these reports to analyze sales figures. “The table structure in Microsoft Dynamics AX is quite sensible, which makes it very easy to extract the data into reports,” says Cook.
EDI interface from eBECS, customer account representatives receive orders over the Internet and electronically reserve the stock from the warehouse through Microsoft Dynamics AX—a process that once took two to three days. This automation saves customer account representatives three to four hours a day. And, by implementing an electronic invoicing system, the company can quickly generate and send out customer invoices, resulting in timely payments and better cash flow. Yuasa now has complete visibility across the supply chain because data flows seamlessly through each step of the process. With easy access to information and real-time updates through Microsoft Dynamics AX, planners can forecast business demands and salespeople can provide better customer service.
“In Microsoft Dynamics AX, all of the information regarding orders is immediately available through a single, user-friendly interface. Customer service representatives can easily answer customer questions and everyone has access to the information they need to complete their jobs,” says Cook.
Please contact eBECS if you would like to know more.