The glass reinforced truck and trailer bodies manufactured by Heidelberg-based Icecold Bodies are a common sight on South African roads. The company has grown significantly over its 16 years of operation to the extent where it had little option but to move from its original SME accounting software to a SAP Business One ERP and financial software solution.
A pressing need for IceCold Bodies was greater control, tracking and information sharing for job costing and inventory, where the pressure of the company’s rapid growth and expansion was most felt.
Accounting administrator Anri Schipper says the company took on the new ERP and financial software system in September 2008 when 4most, a leading SAP Business One channel partner formed by the merger of Lorge Business One and Britton Solutions, was contracted to provide the SAP software and implement an appropriate ERP system at the Heidelberg head office and factory.
“We were introduced to Alex Viviers of 4most after our auditors recommended we seriously consider implementing SAP Business One. In the past we had been doing stock control manually with monthly stock counts. Now we know exactly what stock we have and where it is at any given time. We can also easily pick up errors such as double orders because all order numbers are automatically linked to specific items.”
Schipper adds that the manufacturing capability in the SAP software has resulted in far greater control of all steps from order placement to finished product. Stock loss had been significantly reduced.
“There were some initial reservations from the staff when the SAP system was implemented. However, this soon changed as people saw the benefits start to come through. The reporting functionality is a tremendous help as management can now see budgeted figures against actual figures, outstanding orders and work in progress and profitability through the entire process. We’re now able to tell customers exactly where their orders are in the production process at any time.”
The drawing department at Icecold Bodies has also benefited as the designs and component requirements of every body type can be entered into SAP and costed accurately. Schipper said a bill of materials that could be applied to 90% of orders placed was being looked at because the only variation in the remaining 10% is extras such as producing and fitting branding decals and conducting vehicle registration, among others.
“We also had to adapt to new reporting structures and invoicing procedures to meet banking requirements but with the functionality in SAP Business One we were able to pick this up and become proficient during the course of normal operations.
“As we gained in confidence using the SAP system we were able to introduce a quotation template that streamlines and standardises our job quotation procedures. A similar exercise was successfully carried out with our job cards.”
Many of the old Icecold Bodies master forms were taken into SAP, upgraded, standardised and automated, which, Schipper said, had improved productivity and minimised the margins for error by ensuring that everyone was "reading from the same page".
In a nutshell, Schipper said the change to SAP Business One had brought everything together. The forms, reports and production and accounting information needed by the business are resident in the system, ensuring that the management, production and financial teams have the data upon which to make the best decisions so that customers receive their orders on time.
The support and consultancy services received from 4most had also played an important role.
Eugene Olivier, MD of 4most, facilitated and oversaw the training process, ensuring that the key Icecold Bodies personnel received training within a fully structured methodology. Ongoing support and additional training when required for the seven-user fully networked SAP Business One solution is also provided.
“The solution and support enable Icecold Bodies to achieve a real time, fully integrated system that offers full financials, manufacturing, MRP (materials requirement planning), customer relationship management and sales opportunities functionality,” says Olivier.
The Icecold Bodies GRP (glass reinforced panel) body range includes ice-cream, chiller, freezer, carcass carrier and bakery variations and its own design of cattle carrier trailers is made as well as a semi-trailer and drawbar, interlink, skeletal and brick trailers. A skeletal tipper completes the range of products, all of which are SABS approved. Repairs to GRP bodies and trailers are also conducted.