For more than half a century, RBM Plastics has specialised in custom plastic profiles and extrusions. A privately owned family company, it’s become one of the largest plastic extrusion manufacturers in Australia. So when demand for their products and services tripled in recent years, leadership realised they needed to invest in technology – rather than more back-office staff – in order to meet growing needs. Here’s how Wild Tech worked to understand RBM Plastics’ unique operating environment, before sourcing and implementing the ideal software technology solution.
Data managed on disparate systems
Manual and slow processes
For three decades, simplicity was the name of the game for RBM Plastics’ operational processes. While initially it performed the necessary accounting functions for the business, it quickly became outdated and by the time Wild Tech arrived their software was essentially a legacy system holding back their progress.
This caused regular double-handling in the old system. And double input into databases meant wasted resources – both in time and money.
“In the past, our people were just trying to keep up,” says Alex McWilliam, General Manager at RBM Plastics. “There were always communication duplication issues in orders. For example, when a purchase order was raised in one system, that would then go off to admin staff for a second system input. Then if the stock arrived early and that wasn’t communicated properly, it would sit in the wrong place or accounting period. That ended up driving inefficiencies in cash flow and P&L forecasts, due to the stock coming in at the ‘wrong’ period.”
He says similar problems arose on the entry-order side – with two systems causing multiple inefficiencies.
“Every two days, the admin staff would have to spend 30 to 40 minutes catching up with the production coordinator to make sure the system accurately matched the database. While everyone seemed to manage the workload okay, it meant there was more work being done than was necessary.”
A software overhaul was long overdue, and RBM Plastics’ leadership knew this. But one of the biggest challenges to overhauling their systems was the cost factor.
“For us as a business, we like to spend money on machines. If I bring in a new extruder that creates new products, then we can see that return on investment visibly right away. But when it comes to a new software system, it’s not going to help us make more plastic – so there was a question around why we should even change things.”
Software technology won the day, and RBM Plastics began the search for a high-quality software solution that would not only eliminate vast inefficiencies built up over decades, but also help streamline their operations and deliver superior ROI.
End-to-End Operations Assessment
However, their route to Wild Tech was a circuitous one. Different providers offered ideas about what type of software might be suitable for their needs, often without really understanding the business’ end to end processes. Eventually however, Wild Tech came through and offered a complete operational assessment of the RBM Plastics facility and business.
“We had an initial conversation with Louwis Venter, Customer Engagement Executive, Wild Tech who said he could put together an analysis about which way we should go. To me, that was money well spent.”
This stage involved a comparison of market-leading platforms against each other to determine which would be the best fit for the unique needs of the business – in alignment with current processes and activities.
“After the initial proposal about how things might look, James Schwarz, Head of Solutions, Wild Tech put together an actual test-run. That showed us how the proposed product would work, with order entries, stock level control, raising purchase orders, and more. At that point, we were able to actually see how it came together; it allowed us to look at the system and see what we were missing out on.”
Seeing the before-and-after, old-versus-new systems flipped a switch with RBM Plastics. In fact, their Production Coordinator took one look and said the solution was a “no-brainer”. So it was settled that NetSuite would be the ideal product for RBM Plastics’ needs.
While the team were happy with the demonstrated benefits of the NetSuite solution, at the same time they were worried about how much of a disruption it would cause to their operations. As a team with limited time spread across a variety of tasks and existing systems, they didn’t have a lot of time to get up to speed on a new system.
“At the beginning it seemed like there was this huge ball of things to digest, but Ben Barton, NetSuite Functional Consultant, Wild Tech and David Howell, Head of Delivery, Wild Tech broke everything down into little pieces. We had the initial outset meeting, settled on when we wanted to go live, set target dates for when information would start going through and said, ‘Let’s work towards that.’”
With weekly catch-ups and round-the-clock support, implementation went far smoother than they anticipated. Importantly, the team are already seeing the fruits of their new NetSuite solution.
“Our Production Coordinator has bucketloads more time on his hands now. He has greater capacity to look closely at the margins on our jobs and better manage inventory levels than ever before. Fewer inefficiencies have also helped our administration team free up between three to four hours a day….each. They’re now finding more time to put into things like work health and safety.”
“Now that we have all the company profiles under the NetSuite system, we know we can run our finances and it will consolidate numbers across different divisions – that’s where we really see our growth over the next five to six years. We’ve grown organically, perhaps as much as we can, so this will now help with the bottom line to drive ROI and position ourselves to capitalise on further opportunities.”
Information accuracy across their production process and general operations mean one of the biggest impacts RBM Plastics has seen is an improvement in data-driven decision making. With all their processes now being managed in a transparent and uniform system, management teams have a single source of truth when making the big decisions around pricing optimisation, staff resourcing, and navigating supply chains for risk mitigation and efficiency.
The NetSuite implementation has come at a great time for RBM Plastics as they look ahead for growth and acquisition opportunities.
RBM Plastics has managed to streamline operations, increase it’s ability to manage supply chain risks, and enhance it’s general strategic decision making through improved insights.
With a rich and dynamic history as an outstanding example of Aussie manufacturing excellence, and rapid expansion over the last decade, the company has now positioned itself to navigate the global economy and experience further growth by leveraging best of breed cloud based ERP solutions.