The nuts and bolts of powering growth through ERP
New World Technologies' electronic torque wrenches tighten large bolts on wind turbines to exacting standards
September 17, 2013— Abbotsford, British Columbia
When Dan Provost, founder and CEO of New World Technologies (NWT) left his secure job with a toolmaker to start his own company in 1998, he broke the mold for making extreme power tools. Realizing that customers in the mining and oil industries were demanding tools not on the market, he developed and patented custom solutions that met their needs—quickly becoming a top North American supplier of unique heavy-duty precision torque wrenches and gearboxes. From Abbotsford, British Columbia the 80-employee NWT now supplies a variety of markets and is a major international player in the wind industry.
Andrew McHugh, NWT’s production manager, reports that the company grew 35 per cent in the past year and added 25 employees. Along with this rapid growth came some overwhelming challenges, so NWT turned to the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP) for help. Industrial Technology Advisors (ITAs) Tony Edgar and John Greer worked closely with the company to identify needs in areas such as research, product development and production. Together, they discussed implementing Lean manufacturing to reduce waste and increase value to customers. They also introduced NWT to NRC-IRAP’s Digital Technology Adoption Pilot Program (DTAPP) when the company’s existing Excel-based information management system couldn’t keep up with the explosive growth.
Sudden growth: too much torque to handle
According to McHugh, sharply rising volumes led to computer crashes, lost work and shipping roadblocks. “One employee was spending at least a day a week trying to prevent Excel spreadsheets from crashing as well as re-entering and often duplicating data,” he says. “In addition, every department was working from its own information rather than a central database.” What finally galvanized NWT into looking for a better system was a seven-week backlog in orders.
“The ERP system has changed the way we do business. We spend less time looking for information, and have more information to make better decisions.”– Pat McFadden, operations manager, New World Technologies.
The key to moving forward was adopting a powerful enterprise resource planning (ERP) system—a centralized information management system that links all primary business processes. The system has led to higher productivity, lower inventory, shorter lead time, fewer errors and better customer service. “Now when a customer places an order, we know our inventory and how fast we can build a tool,” adds McHugh. Shipping time for the custom-assembled tools has dropped to three weeks from seven.
He also credits the success of NWT’s technology adoption to the methodical implementation plan that was developed with the guidance of their DTAPP ITAs. “We just wanted to get it going in a hurry,” he recalls. “DTAPP helped us evaluate our situation and needs, then develop a plan with milestones. John Greer checked our progress against those milestones and provided expertise and guidance along the way.” Greer adds that DTAPP funded the ERP implementation, customization and staff training—and that the process from evaluation to implementation took some 18 months.
Dynamic ERP: powering the future
The ERP system allows NWT to capture numbers on productivity, sales and other functions, and to develop standards. “In the Excel era, we were working on gut instinct and ‘best guess’ scenarios,” says McHugh. “We now have metrics on which to base our decisions, can track costs, identify areas for concern and manage our growth—but we haven’t come close to realizing the system’s full benefits.”
With the ERP system in place and NRC-IRAP at its side, NWT is confident it can handle a future of many more changes, innovative products and exciting ventures. In keeping with their goal to build everything at home, they have already taken steps to move to Canada the manufacturing of components purchased in Asia. In Europe, the company has established a distribution and service centre in one of its fastest growing markets.
“The ERP system has changed the way we do business,” concludes Pat McFadden, NWT operations manager. “We spend less time looking for information, and have more information to make better decisions.” DTAPP assistance has enabled NWT to:
- Realize a 15-per-cent improvement in productivity
- Reduce duplication of data entry by 10 per cent
- Improve customer response time to next day from two to five days
- Shorten production lead time by 20 per cent
- Reduce production costs by 10 to 15 per cent
- Move parts manufacturing to Canada from offshore
Report a problem or mistake on this page
- Date modified: