Established in 2008, SIDDCO Plastics, a subsidiary of SIDDCO Group, is one of the largest high-density, polyethylene, bottle manufacturing facilities in the UAE. It has a production capacity of 80 million bottles per annum. Manufacturing blow moulded bottles, injection moulded products and composite plastic moulds, SIDDCO Plastics has several well-reputed customers in the lube oil, dairy and cosmetics markets.
Operating in an industry where the ability to offer high quality customised solutions delivered on time are critical success factors, right from the outset, the SIDDCO Plastics management team knew that having an enterprise resource planning system to serve as the backbone of their business would be a competitive advantage and essential to business growth. However, finding an ERP system that worked not just for SIDDCO Plastics but for SIDDCO Group as a whole, proved to be quite a challenge.
Saymaad Mansoor, Head of IT, SIDDCO Group explains, “The Group’s vision for IT is to create a corporate culture whereby business intelligence is driven through collaboration and standardisation of processes. When we decided to first invest in an ERP system, we tried two solutions. The first had very strong financial capabilities with powerful reporting as well as a user-friendly interface, but lacked the manufacturing capabilities we required. The second offered an extremely rich feature set and capabilities for manufacturing, however lacked most of the functionality which our finance and accounting teams needed.”
“At that time, we were essentially working on several disparate systems — we had one system for sales, one for manufacturing, another for accounting and finance and yet another for quality. The lack of visibility and transparency across all departments posed several challenges for our team.”
The lack of an integrated ERP system that provided a holistic view of the business was a particularly acute problem for the finance team. Faisal Memon, Finance Manager, SIDDCO Group explains, “My job is not just to present the financial numbers to the management team at the end of each month. I need to understand why the numbers are what they are. For example, we had months where there was significant variance in our cost of sales and margins. Short of reporting the numbers to the management team, I could not explain why we were seeing the variance. This meant that we could not find the root cause of the problem, which ultimately had an adverse impact on our bottom line.”
Although the SIDDCO team had sufficient business justification to warrant a change in their ERP system, it was their commitment to sustainability that finally triggered the change.
Zakee Siddiqi, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, SIDDCO Group, elaborates, “I firmly believe that while the goal of the business might be to grow the bottom line, we need to do it in a socially responsible way. A couple of years ago, we took a decision to invest in state of the art, fully automated, multi-layer, high-speed blow moulding machines that would allow us to manufacture environmentally responsible plastics. However, in addition to having the right machines for the job, for compliance purposes, we needed to ensure that on the back end, we had 100% traceability of every single component and material, from the minute it came in the door to the minute we shipped out a finished product. This would only be possible if we had a robust, unified ERP solution.”
“Having gone through a couple of iterations, we were very familiar with all the ERP solutions available in the market,” comments Saymaad. “With a large customer base, Epicor has an extremely good reputation in the manufacturing sector. So when it came to selecting a new ERP vendor, it was not so much a selection process as it was a conversation with Epicor to understand the capabilities of the solution and make sure that the solution would meet the extremely specific requirements of our business.”
While the reputation of Epicor in the market gave them the inside track, it was the ability to customise the solution, with relative ease that ultimately led SIDDCO Plastics to settle on the Epicor ERP solution.
Saymaad says, “For us, it was not enough that the Epicor ERP solution was tailored for manufacturing, we wanted it to be customised specifically for plastics manufacturing. So, in addition to leveraging some of the out-of-the-box capabilities, we made more than 350 additional customisations to the software to suit our specific needs. These include a specialised configurator that now allows us to identify and track any product by a 26-digit unique number, 60+ dashboards ensuring timely and real-time availability of actionable information enabling decision making as well as completion of feedback loop to promptly implement remediation actions, and over 100 business process management directives, validating and safeguarding data integrity and enabling role-based secure availability of information throughout the organisation.”
Change management was another big driver behind the decision to go with Epicor. Saymaad continues, “As per our business practice we carry out a yearly 360-degree information systems assessment and review our ERP system performance in four key areas: support functions and capabilities, training needs analysis, business processes, functionality. We believe that change management is fundamental to the successful adoption and implementation of new systems and technologies. After analysing the company-wide business processes focusing on individual areas of operations we concluded that Epicor can enhance the adoption of change in employees more swiftly.”
All said and done, the SIDDCO Plastics team spent six months customising the Epicor solution and then another eight months on testing the new system before going live.
With the entire company now operating on one uniform ERP system, 40 users across sales, purchasing, manufacturing, quality, logistics, finance and management have access to the information they need with just a few clicks. Coupled with the feature-rich, easily customisable and configurable reports and dashboards, SIDDCO Plastics associates now have the ability to make better, faster, real-time decisions that have a positive impact on the business.
“With the introduction of Epicor ERP to the business, we have not only achieved integration and consolidation of our previously disparate processes, but we have also gained better operational and real-time process control, asset integrity management, traceability and agility. Reporting has definitely been one of the biggest benefits of Epicor ERP. With our previous system, each time we wanted a new report, we had to work with the developer to set up the specific report and data definition. With Epicor ERP, not only do we have the ability to create certain key report templates that are accessible to the entire organisation but we have trained power users to set up their own customised report or dashboard without any assistance from the central IT team. As of today, we have over 50 reports and a 60+ key dashboards that we use daily to make critical business decisions,” says Saymaad.
For sales, visibility of production schedules and inventory levels means that associates can now manage customer expectations better. With the ability to analyse customer sales data as well as costs of every single component and raw material, the management team has recently rolled out a refined analytical benchmark called – conversion margin on resin, with which they can identify certain customer-product combinations that have low margins and then decide how to maximise profitability.
Implementing Epicor ERP has allowed SIDDCO Plastics to significantly reduce the element of human error in manufacturing. With over 4,000 stock keeping units prior to Epicor ERP, the onus was on the associates on the shop floor to make sure that they did not mix up jobs or manufacture the wrong product for the wrong customers. With Epicor ERP, the entire manufacturing process is automated with just a scan of the 26-digit barcode. Moreover, the system has been configured to flag a process and require a manual override if it believes there might be an issue.
Citing a couple of examples of how Epicor ERP has helped improve quality, Saymaad says, “Prior to Epicor, when we received a complaint about a product defect, it was very hard for our quality team to determine what exactly the problem was because there are so many variables that can affect the final product — everything from the batch of resin used to the temperature and humidity levels of the plant. With the rich reporting capabilities of Epicor ERP, our quality engineers can now analyse vast amounts of data on just about any parameter. This has allowed us to not only get to root cause and correct defects sooner, but more importantly, we have been able to put in several preventative measures that have significantly reduced material wastage and improved manufacturing processes and quality.”
The improved visibility and transparency has also given the finance department the ability to truly understand what is driving the numbers. “Epicor ERP allows me to translate non-financial parameters into financial parameters. With the integrated ERP system in place, I can dig in to the manufacturing numbers to understand the manufacturing cycle, and wastages. This gives me a true understanding of why the numbers are what they are, which can then trigger a feedback loop to initiate remediation measures that will positively affect our bottom line,” explains Faisal.
With access to data, comes the need for improved security — another feature of Epicor ERP. With the Epicor ERP system in place, Saymaad and his team have the ability to implement extremely granular user based access controls.
“For forms, we can not only restrict who has access to view the forms, but we can set controls on what they see in the forms and what they can modify in the forms. As an example, if we look at costs, our team in finance can see true costs of materials, but if a sales associate looks at these same costs, they will see a slightly padded number as we do not want them knowing our true costs. The same goes for our reports. I mentioned earlier that we have some centralised reports available across departments, however, depending on which department the associate is in, they will see information that is only relevant to them. So, if we take a sales report for example, the sales team will see customer names, quantities and sales price. However, if someone in logistics looks at the same report, they will not see customer names or price.”
“With every associate in the company, using Epicor ERP software, we now all speak the same language. Serving as the backbone of our business, the Epicor EPR solution has given us real-time process control, data integrity, traceability, security and agility which has allowed us to take better decisions, improve our operations and ultimately grow our business,” concludes Zakee.
- After analysing company-wide business processes focusing on individual areas of operations we concluded that Epicor can enhance adoption of change in employees more swiftly
- Although SIDDCO had business justification to warrant a change in their ERP system, it was their commitment to sustainability that finally triggered the change
- My job is not just to present financial numbers to management team at the end of each month, I need to understand why the numbers are what they are
- Previously, each time we wanted a new report, we had to work with the developer to set up the specific report and data definition
- Reporting has definitely been one of the biggest benefits of Epicor ERP
- We believe change management is fundamental to successful adoption and implementation of new systems and technologies
- We have over 50 reports and a 60+ key dashboards that we use daily to make critical business decisions
- We have trained power users to set up their own dashboard without any assistance from the central IT team
- We made more than 350 additional customisations to the software to suit specific needs
- While the reputation of Epicor in the market gave them the inside track, it was ability to customise with relative ease that ultimately led SIDDCO Plastics to settle on Epicor ERP
- With Epicor ERP, we have not only achieved integration and consolidation of previously disparate processes, but have also gained better real-time process control, asset integrity management, traceability and agility
- With Epicor ERP, we have the ability to create report templates that are accessible to the organisation
- One ERP system that could eventually be implemented across all SIDDCO Group companies: Plastic and Polymers, Bulk Liquid Terminals, Engineering and Fabrication, Trade and Marketing
- Eliminate development complexities and make ERP easier to use and acceptable to stake holders both collaboratively and responsively
- Strong reporting and analytics capabilities with the availability of data extraction tools such as dashboards and reports that would enable management to readily analyse the reports
- Easily customisable solution with rich feature set, security and personalisation options
- Improved visibility, integration and transparency across all departments within SIDDCO Plastics
- Better interconnectivity and communication between demand and supply chain
- Accurate and rapid tracking of products all the way from raw material procurement to manufacturing and eventually customer shipments
- Reduction in routine work undertaken by data operators and accountants
- Net decline in the cost of resources used, as well as in the cost of data management employed to make the company work
- Ability to set user access and visibility of data based on roles