C&C Power Inc. manufactures, installs and services critical power supply for a complex portfolio of customers, including Fortune 100 companies, government agencies and global data centers. On top of its engineer-to-order and configure-to-order manufacturing facilities, the organization offers aftermarket services for front access, standard, rack mount and spares battery cabinets, along with landing boxes, commander plus controllers, battery monitoring, telecom and integrated distribution systems.
As a result, its own internal business processes must be regularly calibrated to ensure quick and accurate reliability.
Change Was Imminent
Since 2019, C&C Power has been working to reduce order turn time and complete battery replacements and other field service work with its internal team of technicians and external contractors. The company found itself outgrowing its enterprise resource planning (ERP) platform, which was supplemented by third-party report writing and quality management software.
Change was necessary, and so the company hired an independent software selection consultancy.
“As a very dynamic business, we had some strict requirements,” says John Materse, operations manager for C&C Power. “Our forecasts were limited and typically only project-based with configuration changes. Our low volume, high-mix, highly configured products are specific to each customer, yet customers still expect fast turn times, due in part to customer specification approvals, lean supply chains and expecting quick delivery. We needed an ERP system to help us better plan inventory, labor and was forgiving to accommodate customer changes — some that are very last minute.”
Centered around these needs, C&C Power shortlisted solutions by IFS AB, Microsoft Corp., Infor Inc. and Epicor Software Corp. IFS was chosen.
Before implementing, C&C Power heavily customized its systems to lower turn time for most orders from up to 60 days to within 14 days, with just less than half shipping within one week. The company’s standards were set high. C&C Power wanted to be able to provide excellent customer service, ship quality products and make sure its colleagues had uninterrupted access to the system — and the IFS materials requirements planning (MRP) functionality was up to the challenge.
“One thing we needed IFS to do was help us reduce and sustain a shorter lead time — without us breaking our backs trying to accommodate that,” Materse says.
The company needed real MRP capability in an ERP system to make quick decisions and simulate whether it had parts in stock. Only then could C&C Power really service the customer and provide instant answers instead of having to make out a bill of materials (BOM) to see what parts might be bottlenecks to completion.
After an accelerated six-month implementation, C&C Power gained much of the flexibility it was looking for, and is now in a position to better manage resources and get a detailed capacity plan for manufacturing.
Right away, C&C Power enjoyed improved visibility of inventory levels and how they squared with customer orders — advantages that its previous ERP system couldn’t sustain. For instance, when inventory was reserved for an existing customer project, the company’s legacy system did not reflect that, which consequently led to stockouts and delays of customer orders when the same inventory was sold twice.
Now, C&C Power’s ability to handle reservations of components is “greatly improved,” Materse says, and teams can rely on a functionality that actually works. The company has cut stockouts by 25% and expects this to increase as the system acquires more transaction history data.
The ERP solution is proving a good fit for C&C Power’s low volume, high-mix manufacturing environment, where the product and related BOM are built around customer requirements which can sometimes change midstream. Complex manufacturing operations can handle these changes to customer orders, but flexibility is a must, especially when it comes to the handling of product customizations.
Employees are able to open an order and add a part when a customer wants an additional configuration. These changes can be made until the orders are released for manufacturing without causing an issue. Even during the manufacturing process, the company can make changes to ensure it delivers on customer expectations.
“The ERP system has improved the process for us to make changes enough that we can sometimes lower our design costs for customers,” Materse says.
C&C Power does more than design and manufacture equipment for their customers — the company also provides aftermarket service and support for their uninterruptible power supplies, power equipment or batteries. The company is relying on the service management functionality in their ERP solution to increase technician utilization rate and improve the customer experience on annual maintenance contracts, warranty work, battery change-outs and break-fix repair.
“One of our biggest challenges is understanding our customer sites, the obstacles we have to deal with, and where our equipment is placed,” Materse says. Previously, the company relied on Microsoft Excel to store service information, such as site surveys and serial numbers — but this manual method presented challenges.
With IFS, “we can set up customer sites to reflect what equipment is in what room so it can be serviced more efficiently. We rent equipment, and now have the systems in place to recognize when it is rented, where it is located and when to invoice it,” Materse says.
The new system also allows C&C Power to be more effective while quoting, he says: “If we have to go through a security checkpoint that takes three hours, or the room is a mile into the building — we are now in a position to factor in that time.”
Sarah Nicastro is field service evangelist at IFS.
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