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4 minute read

How KMF Group synchronised its data to enable efficiency improvement

Founded in 1971, KMF had already grown into one of the UK’s largest and most successful sheet metal manufacturing plants when it expanded operations with the acquisition of two additional engineering businesses in recent years. Now helmed under the newly formed KMF Group, the company consists of KMF Precision Sheet Metal and KMF Precision Engineering in Newcastle-under-Lyme, England, as well as the sister company to KMF Precision Sheet Metal in Slovakia.

Together, these organisations have combined to deliver fully integrated bespoke metal work and precision sheet metal fabrication solutions from three facilities totalling 110,000 sq. ft. of manufacturing and office space. This includes the design and production of sheet metal parts and other intricate components such as lighting and circuitry for use in everything from commercial coffee and car park machines to kiosks found across England.

“KMF has steadily evolved from a local provider of basic sheet metal products to a supplier of complex engineering services supporting hundreds of companies across Europe,” said Keith Nicholl, operations director, KMF Group. “Future plans call for exceeding $50 million in sales by 2021. The thorough understanding of customer needs combined with the ongoing investment in the finest technologies is expected to fuel our growth for the next decade and beyond.”

KMF Group embarked on a project to synchronise its data to enable further efficiency improvement / Picture: KMF

Rich reporting with Epicor ERP

This commitment was reinforced several years ago when KMF implemented the Epicor enterprise resource planning (ERP) system to manage processes, develop “rich performance reports” across departments, and automate communications both companywide and with customers. Other immediate benefits included the ability to instantaneously track jobs from order through delivery, while alerting KMF to issues that can be readily resolved before becoming problematic.

Uniting three independent operating systems

Most recently, the Epicor ERP solution proved integral to uniting the operating systems of all three KMF companies under the Group umbrella. Using the Epicor Data Management Tool (DMT), historical data from three separate databases was imported into Epicor, simplifying the future integration process should KMF decide to merge all three sites into one.

“Data is absolutely everything,” explained Nicholl. “The inability to absorb not only an entire organisation, but their detailed files into our system had stunted our growth for a long time. The language barriers and differing monetary and legacy systems were too much to overcome until we launched Epicor DMT. It literally took just four days to download the information from our latest acquisition into Epicor ERP. We turned off the old system on Thursday, did the transfer on Friday and began working with all the new, fresh data on Monday.”

Epicor DMT was developed to import, update, and delete application data safely and efficiently. Many companies implementing a new ERP system have vast amounts of information to transfer, and to enter this data manually would be far too time-consuming. Epicor DMT uses a template builder to help understand the customer entity and establish the required fields. The extracted data is then formatted into CSV, Excel® Microsoft®, or similar files for import into the Epicor ERP system.

Epicor DMT—the pipeline for mass data migration

“We needed a way to synchronise the information between all three companies to better understand each organisation’s customers and develop methods for selling companywide solutions rather than single jobs,” said Jeng Lim, systems analyst, KMF. “The chore was to migrate the data from multiple distinct systems. Epicor DMT provided the pipeline for verifying and validating these details on a cell-by-cell basis as well as cleansing the data for use in a user-friendly manner without gaps. Once the templates were set all you had to do was press ‘go.’ It was just that easy.”

“We’ve heard about systems that had to be shut down for weeks to transport and store this type of information,” added Nicholl. “Epicor DMT did the job in one weekend without duplicating efforts. With the ability to analyse complete customer histories in a single summary, we can now create solutions that wouldn’t have been possible beforehand. Plus, we’ve built checks into each new site that now alert us to various forms of errors. This alone has increased our bottom line by lowering shipping order mistakes at these locations from 10 percent to zero.”