In business since 1986, the Dolphin Group specialises in the design and manufacture of high-performance industrial and automotive thermal products, and they are widely recognised as a leader in this industry in the Middle East.
With a corporate office in Ajman, United Arab Emirates (UAE), the group has established several branches in Sharjah, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Al Ain, Ras Al Khaimah, Fujairah and Oman.
Needing to improve production processes
Until as recently as 2014, Dolphin Group relied almost entirely on manual processes to run their business.
While they did have a very basic financial system all other processes – from the moment an order was accepted by an employee in sales to the time it was shipped to the customer- required employees across all departments to work in close concert with each other.
This had a severe impact on data accuracy, employee efficiency and their ability to make good day-to-day business decisions.
For a business that was rapidly expanding both its product offering and operations footprint, the lack of automation and digitalisation of processes- particularly in the production environment- was proving to be a major roadblock.
As Arshid Zab, IT manager at Dolphin Group, said: “Close to 90% of our product offering is built-to-order, and as such, our ability to deliver the highest quality product to our customers – on time, every time-hinges on having best-in-class manufacturing processes.
“Without an ERP system in place, we couldn’t plan our production schedule efficiently or deploy any best practices on the shop floor.
“There were several instances where we would accept orders and promise a delivery date, only to then realise that we didn’t have sufficient stock of a certain part, that there was a backlog on a certain machine, or that we hadn’t budgeted for the required manpower on the day.
“This translated into late deliveries and- in some cases- customers cancelling their orders altogether- both undesirable outcomes.”
He continued: “Also, like with any business, at the end of the day, it is all about the bottom line. Without an ERP system in place, we had very little visibility of our true costs- be those costs of material, manpower, or our assets – and we often relied on a combination of historical data and our experience to make pricing decisions.
“As we expanded our operations to include trading, after sales-services, and even a consumables division, having this insight in real time was going to be critical to our ability to make good decisions and execute on our growth strategy.”
A fitting solution for manufacturing
Tasked with finding an ERP solution that would allow the company to digitise and automate their production operations, provide visibility and transparency across departments, and improve day-to-day decision making, Arshid and his team began the process of compiling a request for proposal and vetting out vendors.
However, it took Arshid just a couple of preliminary discussions with each vendor to realise that Epicor would be the best fit for meeting all the business requirements and serve as a platform for Dolphin’s future growth.
Discussing the two deciding factors that led to the selection of Epicor, Arshid revealed: “Our number one priority was finding a vendor that offered an industry-specific solution with a strong track record of success in the region.
“This is what really sets Epicor apart from most other vendors in the market. Epicor ERP offers a rich feature set and robust functionality- out-of-the-box- to meet the unique requirements of discrete manufacturers like us.”
“The second reason we decided to partner with Epicor is their sales support and in-house professional services.
“Based on previous, less-than-ideal experiences with partners, it was essential that the vendor we chose was easy to work with and able to directly manage the entire engagement from pre-sales, to implementation, to after-sales support.”
After a thorough business process review – in which consultants from Epicor worked closely with Dolphin stakeholders from sales, finance, purchasing, and production to map out all requirements – as well as identify gaps for improvement- the team rolled out Epicor ERP across Dolphin’s seven companies and 11 facilities in the UAE.
Today, more than 200 Dolphin employees rely on Epicor ERP to conduct almost all their day-to-day tasks.
Positive impact on every department
Since the implementation of Epicor ERP, every department has realised significant improvements.
For example, access to real-time data and improved transparency and visibility across all departments means that sales can now review stock levels and production schedules before promising customers a delivery date.
Availability of true costs has also allowed the sales department to review all pricing, and they have identified over 100 ‘low-margin’ customers for price negotiation- something that is expected to have a significant positive impact on Dolphin’s bottom line.
The Epicor supplier relationship management module allows the team in purchasing to closely keep tabs on suppliers via a rating system based on a host of criteria- including on-time delivery (OTD), product quality and cost.
Since all seven Dolphin business units are now on one system, intercompany transactions have been streamlined and are as easy as a few clicks.
For finance and management, the rich reporting capabilities available as a standard offering in Epicor ERP allows them to easily generate real-time, customised dashboards and reports that give them a granular view of business health and aid in forecasting and decision making.
Finally, moving over to Epicor ERP from the legacy accounting system has allowed the team to close their books at the end of every month- as opposed to just once a year.
Arguably, however, no department has benefitted more than production. Modules such as planning and scheduling, production management, service management, warehouse management, and the manufacturing execution system (MES) have allowed Dolphin to deploy several industry best practices across the shop floor.
Arshid explained: “Most of what we manufacture is made-to-order, and prior to Epicor, each bill of materials (BOM) was generated manually. This process was not only extremely labour intensive, but it also meant there was greater chance of human error.
“The in-built product configurator in Epicor ERP has allowed us to completely automate this process. Now, all the operator has to do is put in a top-level part number and the system generates a detailed BOM within just a few seconds.
“The service management module- with its system-generated alerts -has allowed us to be more proactive than reactive in terms of maintenance schedules for all our machines.
“Also, with Epicor MES, we are now able to capture all manufacturing data accurately and in real time. The cumulative effect has been a marked improvement in product quality, employee efficiency, OTD and a substantial reduction in material waste and costs.”