Airports worldwide have undergone significant changes in the past decade. Increasing travel and the need for greater security measures have fuelled a near-constant drive to upgrade airport facilities including baggage and cargo handling systems.
Those market forces have contributed to rapid growth at Glidepath Group of Auckland, New Zealand.
In business for 35 years, Glidepath deals with airport baggage handling systems, having completed more than 450 projects in over 58 countries around the world.
Projects range from small manual systems to large, fully automatic software-driven baggage sortation systems for some of the world's busy international airports including John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City, Auckland International Airport, and Lester B. Pearson International Airport in Toronto, which handles nearly 26 million people annually.
While focusing on optimising end results for clients, Glidepath also aims to deliver cost-effective solutions. In recent years, rising materials costs, such as steel, require that the company reduce other costs to stay competitive.
“We must be able to analyse manufacturing variances to tighten standards and costs continuously,” said Alan Proctor, manufacturing accountant at Glidepath.
Flexible ERP for manufacturing environments
As Glidepath grew, its enterprise resource planning (ERP) system did not keep pace. The system lacked important functionality like the ability to disclose manufacturing variances, and was no longer supported by the vendor.
While looking for options, the company discovered M1 ERP software by Bowen & Groves . As part of its due diligence, Glidepath viewed demos of M1 and another ERP system, as well as visited companies in Auckland using those software systems. M1 emerged as a flexible, user-friendly solution.
“We felt that M1 was far more flexible for our requirements and that, at the end of the day, would be a system that would be a tool for us rather than being our master,” Proctor said. “M1 seemed to have that advantage and it’s proved to be true.”
Tightening standards, reducing costs
After implementing M1 at the Auckland headquarters, Glidepath opened a second manufacturing facility in Dallas, Texas. From the start, that office began using M1 as well. Proctor handles accounting for both facilities, so he accesses M1 information at the Dallas office via a VPN connection at any time.
The company takes advantage of M1’s production modules, including purchasing, inventory, shipping, job management and more. True to expectations, Proctor finds M1 molds perfectly to the company’s specific needs.
“M1 is just about anything you want it to be,” he said. “It has all sorts of possibilities that allow you to tailor it to your specific requirements.”
Proctor has customised a number of reports easily with Crystal Report Writer. He finds he can slice and dice the data any way the company needs in order to understand certain business activities.
The valuable reports help Glidepath identify manufacturing variances to help factory managers and staff monitor the accuracy of bills of materials, which Proctor says is “terribly important to make sure that they are constantly improving methodologies and costs.”
“We have done quite a lot with reporting to tighten our standards, reduce our costs and improve our efficiency,” Proctor said.
Glidepath measures actual costs against standard, and then creates a snapshot of the result. For example, it looks at all jobs processed in a month, enabling engineers to identify the causes of variances and improve standards.
As a result of analysis with M1 reporting, Glidepath chose to move to turret punches, which greatly sped up its manufacturing process and reduced costs.
“In the past, we had no visibility with that sort of thing, and as a result, we saw gains in manufacturing stock reconciliations that we couldn’t put a finger on,” Proctor said. “Now, if there’s a major positive gain in a production order, we can tighten standards to reduce costs.”
Proctor can also create reports in New Zealand and send them to Dallas to use for their own reporting.
More informed purchasing
Pete Taylor, procurement manager at the Dallas location, finds that M1 enables more-informed buying decisions. He looks at historical materials usage to pinpoint buying patterns. Though not an IT person, he too can easily modify grids and fields to draw out relevant information.
“We can figure out our volumes with certain vendors, know what’s received or not, who’s on time, who’s overdue, and negotiate better pricing and terms,” Taylor said.
Beyond that, he appreciates the ease of M1’s daily use. M1 is simple to create and send orders, and send faxes or emails directly from the screen where he enters purchase orders. He quickly sets up parts, finds parts and organises parts into similar groups.
Consistently good support
Proctor also notes that Glidepath’s relationship with Bowen & Groves contributes significantly to the company’s satisfaction with M1 software.
When the Auckland office needs assistance with a custom report or other question, a Bowen & Groves Australia contact is continuously available by phone or email to answer any questions. Likewise, if Dallas needs help, a Bowen & Groves USA contact is available.
“Every time you ring up, you know you’re going to get an answer or support, and to me that is an enormous advantage,” Proctor said.
“The support systems are tops. The way they support users is really probably the best I’ve seen. I can’t speak highly enough of the staff and support we get. We know we will be taken care of.”