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ERP package aids active plastics growth

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ACTIVE Plastic Industries, a Melbourne-based injection moulding company, has recently invested in an ERP system in a bid to meet the demanding delivery requirements of the local car industry.

Located in a new industrial park adjacent to Ford Australia's Campbellfield assembly plant, the business was founded in 2002 by a consortium of toolmakers and automotive component manufacturers who were approached by Ford to quote on new business for their Ford Territory vehicle.

Ford was looking for a business prepared to set up close to their operations, deliver trim components in sequence to their line, and offer a technical advantage which other suppliers were not meeting.

With an investment of about $7m including nine high tech injection moulding machines, which range in capacity from 50t to 3,200t, a new building and business support systems, Active Plastics is currently working on a two shifts a day basis and employs 42 people.

Active Plastics is a supplier under Ford Australia's ESP (Externally Supplied Parts) plan, with its principal contribution being about 50 interior and trim products for the Ford Territory model.

With its proximity to the main Ford assembly plant Active receives orders for trim components based on the Territory models on the assembly line.

The process, known as 'sequencing', achieves a delivery to Ford every 24 minutes and is critical to the manufacturing and delivery process.

Another four deliveries are made each day under Ford's Kanban operating requirements.

Alain Desfray, supply and logistics manager at Active Plastics, said that after the company opened for business and started to gain momentum, there was a lot of debate amongst the company shareholders about the need for an ERP system.

"It was eventually decided that in order to meet Ford's exacting delivery requirements and meet our own growth expectations we needed a sophisticated business computer and tracking system.

"I began a review of the available options.

"We considered engaging a software developer to write a package to our own requirements, but this raised concerns about continuity and ongoing support, for instance, what would happen if our designer decided to go on a holiday or move overseas?

"So we drew up a list of four off the shelf ERP software packages and reviewed them each in detail.

"Several of these were from US based suppliers and were totally inflexible in their ability to be modified to meet our specific requirements.

"For instance support was another issue - we were offered on line support from a US East Coast based company, but this meant I would have to be in the office at 5am to access the time zone, without support during the day.

"Finally we selected the M1 ERP software from Bowen & Groves ," Desfray said

Desfray said he was impressed by the company’s understanding of the automotive components sector and the willingness of the development team to customise the software to provide Active Plastics with a fully integrated line sequencing and EDI module.

He added that Active recently achieved the highest possible rating under Ford's monthly performance indicators for delivery, quality and customer returns.

"We have recently been successful in winning the Holden HSV VE program which will represent a 20% increase in our production.

"We are also quoting Ford for further components for their model changes as well as for potential new customers outside the automotive sector.

"We confidently believe that our company can double its turnover in the next two years," Desfray said.

Bowen & Groves 03 9705 2244.

Active Plastics 03 9357 7121.

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