Apresa PLP, Spain, has more than 10 years’ manufacturing experience using IFS Applications. Following its recent upgrade from IFS Applications 8 to IFS Applications 10, Francisco Muñoz, IT Manager, looks back on the commercial growth behind the upgrade decision and the new capability benefits seen with the latest IFS release.
Founded in 1960 in Sevilla, Spain, Apresa-PLP manufactures electrical components: we produce specialist overhead cables and wiring looms for aviation and rail applications, plus large aerials for the telecommunications sector. As a subsidiary of US-based Preformed Lined Products, together we operate 18 factories worldwide, manufacturing the same product inventory and adapting to different local markets.
Back in 2009 we needed a new ERP system to replace our legacy UNIX implementation. In the process, we were introduced to IFS, used by our US operation. On investigation, it soon became clear that IFS would also meet our own specific ERP requirements, and we purchased the solution. A six-month project to migrate all our data went smoothly, and we took IFS live on January 1, 2010. Almost immediately, the solution was well received, and we never looked back. We’ve now successfully undertaken two technical upgrades – first, to IFS Applications 8 in 2014, and most recently to the latest version, IFS Applications 10, in 2020.
There were several commercial reasons for the recent upgrade to IFS Applications 10. As well as company growth creating a need for more licenses, we also wanted additional functionality, for example, to create ground reports. Even in these challenging times, we know using an updated solution is more productive for everyone. Dealing with global disruption and rapid change has become the new normal, and we believe that having the latest version with all the functionalities is very important.
In terms of modifications, we’ve been able to achieve any unique custom functionalities required through configurations – developing modifications in parallel but always maintaining the same API standards. This ensures our data loads correctly, and there’s no risk of impacting other core functionality, processes or future updates. For example, we needed to implement smartphone capabilities to monitor and manage the movement of materials within our factories and warehouses.
As part of our IFS Applications 10 upgrade, there are three key modules we have included in version IFS Applications 10. These are interesting and offer a lot of information which previously we didn’t have or couldn’t access with ease.
In the past, we’d have to go through full reports and constantly consult with the IT department in order to access strategic information to make decisions. Firstly, thanks to Lobbies, the management team can now quickly access and review strategic information, allowing business-critical decisions to be made based on accurate data. Secondly, through the Wadaco module, we now have the ability to handle all our mobile devices – eliminating the need to develop mobile functionality capabilities ourselves.
Thirdly, the Shop Floor reporting module gives us the ability to get real-time production reports. Previously this wasn’t possible because our own API would only synchronize at intervals. We now no longer don’t need to rely on our own integration applications.
In terms of approach, we have always chosen a technical upgrade route for IFS Applications, retaining our existing data from the previous version. Our database is in good shape, so migration is easy.
The IFS versions are really worlds apart. From IFS Applications 8 and IFS Applications 9, many processes were increased and improved, for example, the introduction of Lobbies. Version 9 to version 10 provides a major leap, introducing more than 500 new functionalities that we can now apply across production control and planning, along with powerful visualization of actionable information.
We’re excited. This new functionality will make post-production and storage operations much easier, as well as streamlining packaging and anything related to shipments. It will really improve our storage control which until now has been overseen by the factories.
Global agility and compliance
The new localization and accounting capabilities, further enhanced and improved in Applications 10, are also important. IFS offers a true multi-company, or multi-business capability, including local languages, local currencies and local regulatory regimes.
Previously, fiscal commitments such as tax, financial address and logistics, were administered by each country’s location. Each market would study the requirements, draft the rules and develop and support them on their system. Since IFS is a global application, we can now use IFS Global Extension to automatically apply and administer all the different localizations. For example, if the Spanish Government introduces changes, we can rapidly analyze, develop and integrate them.
Flexibility through APIs
After working with IFS for the last 10 years, we feel we can integrate everything in a more natural way. The much wider library of APIs in the new version gives us the option to develop something new, should we wish. A good example is how we’ve been able to easily refine the applications we developed for both the warehouses and production, providing access via tablet and mobile, through the Aurena browser-based interface.
Finally, we successfully completed this upgrade despite the backdrop of the global pandemic. We had already made the decision to upgrade before Covid-19 and were more than confident in the commercial gains we would enjoy. We’re now all still working productively and sustaining the business. For me, that speaks volumes for the integrity of the IFS upgrade process.
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