Sapa replaces its current ERP systems with Microsoft Dynamics AX from Pulse

With the integrated ERP system, it is able to respond quickly

In 2009, Sapa was established, the international group that specialises in developing, manufacturing and selling high-quality aluminium products, with an international roll-out of Microsoft Dynamics AX. The reason for this was the integration of international business processes, improved management reporting and standardisation of working practices. Following a pilot project in Portugal, Sapa teamed up with Pulse and Acando for the further implementation within the Sapa Building System. Erik van Drunen, IT Director of Sapa Shared Services explains the how and why.

The reasoning behind the group-wide ERP selection originated from the Sapa Building System. “We have a diversity of different ERP systems within Sapa Building System, but also within the group as a whole there were a number of companies that did not have a properly integrated ERP system. The worst thing was that we had a lack of standard data. In other words, no unambiguous product and customer data. In addition, it was very difficult to be able to respond rapidly to a changing market, by means of good management reporting.” Sapa missed the integration of information, but there was another reason, according to Van Drunen. “We also noticed within Sapa that we were unable to standardise and optimise our processes by means of “best practices” because several ERP systems were in use. That is where we thought there would be gains to be made for Sapa.” Sapa decided to first look at solutions being used within the company before doing the same externally. Van Drunen: “Before we researched the market to select a group-wide ERP system, we looked at the solutions that were already in use within the group. A number of companies were using Lawson Movex, and others Oracle EBS. It was soon clear that Oracle was not an option because of the complexity. We therefore searched the wider market for options. Because of our size and the large number of locations, we very soon found Microsoft Dynamics AX as an alternative.” Sapa decided to proceed with Lawson M3 and Dynamics AX and then a detailed comparison was made between the two solutions. “Following the detailed comparison, we arrived at the conclusion that Microsoft Dynamics AX is the right choice. The innovative nature, functionality, the Microsoft philosophy and the continuity of Microsoft resulted in us opting for Microsoft Dynamics AX”, says Van Drunen. How did Sapa then decide on which partner to use? “When deciding on a partner, the history was the main consideration. That is because we were looking for a partner who had a presence in the Sapa countries. We entered into the Request for Quotation process with three parties. In June 2009, we commenced a pilot at Sapa Portugal with the chosen party. The project went live in August 2010. Before we started the roll-out towards the end of 2010 at Sapa Belgium, as a hub with a large warehouse and sales office, it was prudent to resolve the dissatisfaction that had arisen about the role of the former partner. We were unable to resolve this and this gave rise to the Pulse-Acando consortium.” Van Drunen also saw advantages in Pulse’s philosophy. “In the form of AXtension solutions, Pulse has an advantage over partners of Microsoft Dynamics AX. For example, for scanning and matching purchase invoices, we purchased AXtension MatchPoint. Our warehouse is completely wireless, with Wireless Warehousing and unambiguous management reporting is facilitated with the BI cubes within Enterprise Intelligence. In addition, within Sapa Profiles, we look at the functionality of, for example, AXtension Advance Production for the scheduling and management of dies.” Through this project, Sapa’s ambition is to grow to 2,500 to 3,000 users worldwide. Sapa’s decision to choose Pulse confirms Pulse’s production specialism. Hiljon te Boome, Director of Operations at Pulse says: “Sapa’s motives to choose Pulse confirm that Pulse is the international party for discrete manufacturing. Our product knowledge and the industry solutions offer significant benefits to Sapa and from an international point of view, make the solution unique. We are therefore very confident about the success of this international implementation and roll-out of Microsoft Dynamics AX.”

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About Sapa Sapa is an international industrial group that develops, manufactures and markets value-added aluminium profiles, on profile-based components and systems, and heat exchanger strips in aluminium. The largest customer segments are construction, the automotive industry, the home and office furnishings sector and technical sectors. Sapa is now the world’s leading supplier of extruded aluminium profiles and is represented in more than 30 countries. The Sapa Group has a turnover of 2.7 billion euros and has more than 14,800 employees in companies in Europe, America and Asia. The Sapa Group has a presence in the Netherlands with three branches: Sapa Profiles in Drunen, Sapa Profiles in Harderwijk and Sapa Aluminium BV in Hoogezand.