"We save time on all fronts, the risk of construction errors is minimal and there is room to innovate again"
Teksam Company develops and manufactures mobile mast systems for police, fire, defence and relief organisations worldwide in Genk, Belgium. Last year, the company switched to a new ERP system directly linked to Autodesk Vault Professional, a Product Data Management system (PDM) from Cadac Group. "We are saving time on all fronts, the risk of construction errors is minimal and there is room to innovate again."
The entire business upside down
The simultaneous implementation of an ERP and a PDM system - that's asking for trouble. Serge Do Ceu, financial director of Teksam Company and also responsible for ICT, smiles. "Yes, we put out the necessary fires," he says with the necessary sense of understatement. "Maybe I had also underestimated the impact a bit. Basically, you turn the entire operations upside down. From engineering to administration, production and dispatch, a different way of working is expected. All at once, paper drawings in the workshop are replaced by touchscreen screens.
Employees have to learn to deal with the new software and change is always difficult. 'Why does it have to? Surely it has always worked fine,' you will hear. 'Yes, but times change. You don't come to work by horse and cart any more,' I reply, 'but by car. You have to move with the times, otherwise you lose the battle. In the end, everyone moved with the process. Thankfully, the continuity of Teksam Company is secured and we are now ready to grow again. Thanks to the people at Cadac Group who supervised the PDM implementation very intensively."
It is still too early to translate profits into figures, but we are convinced that with these investments we have secured the longer-term future of this company.
Serge Do Ceu
Financial director - Teksam Company
It goes without saying, says Cadac Group's senior account manager. "Implementing a Product Data Management system requires a lot from everyone. An enormous amount of data has to be entered, everyone has to deal with different software. Especially on the work floor, this is drastic. It is important that everyone is convinced of the necessity. That starts with the management. Here at Teksam Company, that went very well. Although Serge is finance director, he brought everyone on board. We had regular meetings where everyone could put their bottlenecks on the table. We are very satisfied with the result."
Teksam Company is an originally British company that has been designing and manufacturing pneumatic and telescopic mast systems in Genk since 1974. Initially exclusively as bases for mobile aerial and transmitting equipment, since the 1980s also as carriers for lighting. Countless fire, police, ambulance and army vehicles are equipped with Teksam Company's telescopic masts. Army bases and relief camps worldwide are illuminated and monitored with systems resting on the lightning-fast aluminium masts.
"Roughly speaking, we supply two systems," Serge Do Ceu says as he gives a tour of the factory. "Extendable masts that can be operated pneumatically, with or without compressor, and telescopic masts whose parts you slide apart. With these, we serve a very broad market, in Europe, South America and Asia. After all, some masts remain in one place for months, for instance at an army base in Afghanistan. Others are used for an hour, for instance to provide light at the scene of a traffic accident.
Our masts also serve as a base for surveillance cameras, sensors and measuring equipment. They have to function in all weather conditions, from desert heat to icy polar cold."
Teksam Company is a pure manufacturing company that outsources almost nothing. Machining is done with CNC-controlled machines, sheet metal is laser-cut. Even aluminium and plastic casting is done in-house, as is spraying and painting. "Because, above all, we do a lot of custom work.
We have now designed and made hundreds of different masts, complete with internal cabling, compressors, controls and, of course, mounting points for radars, antennas and lighting. Our customers always come with new wishes. By doing everything ourselves, we can respond to them and remain competitive."
Fortunately, Teksam Company's continuity is secured and we are now ready to grow again.
Serge Do Ceu
Financial director - Teksam Company
A strong innovative manufacturing company, therefore, with growth potential and ambitions. "This requires an ICT system that is up-to-date," continues Serge Do Ceu. "Last year we therefore decided to purchase new servers on which we can also run the new ERP system of our regular partner Ridder. We then started discussions with Cadac, also a partner for many years, about a PDM system. After all, data management is just as crucial for a manufacturing company like ours as a well-functioning administrative system. We had different storage systems, different designs of the same masts or components were circulating. It was often unclear which drawing was the most recent and the wrong copy ended up in the production department. This resulted in production errors, delays, frustration and, of course, rising costs. We also saw that our engineers spent a lot of time designing, because they couldn't retrieve data properly. As a result, a lot of work was duplicated."
With the installation of Vault Professional, that is a thing of the past. "Building the library was a hell of a job, but all data and drawings are now instantly available to everyone in the company. Our engineers instantly find a previously designed mast or component and therefore spend significantly less time. A design error is not made a second time because the last revision can be found quickly, even outside the engineering department. Communication with the shop floor is improved, work can be planned more precisely. Operators always have the correct drawing at their disposal, in real time. Mistakes can no longer be made with the parts lists. After approval of the final design, the correct data on the articles and parts list go into the ERP system. Then the parts and operations to be made in-house can be scheduled. We now have 100 per cent visibility into the progress of an order."
Six months after implementation, Vault Professional is as good as established in day-to-day operations. "It is still too early to quantify the gains, but we are convinced that with these investments we have secured the long-term future of this company. First of all, there is now more room for innovations again. Customers are asking for solutions and our engineers have time for that again. We can also deliver faster. Decisive in competition. Customers are no longer willing to wait eight weeks for delivery. Another advantage: insight into and influence on costs. With the system, we can track exactly how much time an operation takes, which material is best to use. In the old situation, more waste was produced because, for example, the wrong pipe length was used. Now the system reports what is left in the house and which material can be processed most efficiently."
And there are even more gains in the pipeline. "The link with the ERP system indeed offers many more options. Quotations reach customers faster, we can make more accurate calculations and have more control over costs. And in the future, our sales staff will be able to work with a configurator. At the bottom line, this operation gives us more capacity and therefore growth opportunities. And that was ultimately the intention of Teksam Company."