Reference Report – Frottana Textil GmbH & Co. KG
From historical computing generations to modern IT structures
From historical computing generations to modern IT structures
With the brand MÖVE, the saxonian company frottana Textil GmbH & Co. KG gained international reputation for high-quality terry goods, which are produced and finished at Großschönau. It emerged from numerous companies in the 60ies which formed first the “VEB frottana Großschönau” and finally the frottana GmbH. The current company originates in 1992 in the course of the privatization and is considered to be one of the most modern textile manufacturers.
“Since 1999 the entire production with state-of-the-art weaving and finishing technology is situated at Großschönau”, Lothar Schmidt, Head of IT department, explains. Due to many company acquisitions he was at the time confronted with numerous, historically grown IT-architectures. “frottana has always relied on modern technologies in all areas and therefore it was predictable that we would change the IT-infrastructure”.
For historical reasons the company still worked with the no longer existing Siemens ERP system “ALX Komet”, which had been taken over by Baan in 1997. The system was in charge of the data processing for the departments of sales, purchasing, financials and human resources. When in the end of 2002 the support for this solution was cancelled and also the former production system “ITF” for weaving reached its limits, the company was forced to look for an alternative.
With soft pressure to new solutions
„You can, of course carry on using a software which is not supported by the provider anymore“, Lothar Schmidt states, who alongside with his function as Head of IT department is also in charge of organisation and human ressources. “However, for compliance reasons we had to find a new solution in particular for the human ressources department quickly.”
Therefore it was not the primary target to find a comprehensive solution for all areas, but rather select several best-of-breed solutions, meeting the individual requirements and suitable for integration. Nevertheless frottana also evaluated a few full-service providers like SAP and Baan. However, after the first consultations it was decided to address the ERP-issue isolated from solutions for financial accounting and human ressources.
The decision for the human ressources solution was taken in favor of Navision, who also presented themselves as a full-service provider for ERP-tasks. Frottana however decided against this option. The requirements profile, which had meanwhile been elaborated with the focus on textile, could not be met by Navision satisfyingly and therefore frottana requested for offers from several providers.
„Some providers appeared untrustworthy, holding out the prospect of only a few days of implementation time”, Lothar Schmidt reports. After the first project meetings it was clear to him, that the actual effort would be to explain the manufacturing and process steps. “Our production starts with the warping and you should know how a weave works. Since software providers do normally not have such an expert knowledge, many explanations and briefings are indispensable. I have heard of companies who engaged specialized staff or seconded them full-time for that purpose”, Lothar Schmidt reports. “I definitely had to avoid that expense for frottana”.
Industry Competence is crucial
In contrast to other providers update texware could not only score with an industry-specific solution but also with personal expertise. Convincing reasons for frottana to decide for the comprehensive ERP-solution texware/CS instantly.
„Even during the implementation, update texware won us over“ as Lothar Schmidt explained. “At times it was the update project engineer who provided useful advice for critical issues, we had not thought of.”
Starting from 2004 texware/CS had been the IT solution for purchasing, inventory management, planning and sales, and from 2005 also for all areas of our production, from warping to weaving, finishing and manufacturing. The migration of the departments was conducted step by step with the integration of the production as final step – the former ITF-solution just kept on running in the meantime.
The production data acquisition system (PDA) texware/Monitoring, installed in the follow-up for the purpose of collecting machine data and utilization was successfully migrated to the new web technology last year.
In the course of the migration to texware/CS also the new solution for financial accounting was implemented, an area that texware/CS does not cover. In close consultation with update texware, frottana looked for a suitable provider and decided for the financial accounting package of the ERP solution ProALPHA. Like texware/CS this solution is based on the database system Progress and thus allowed a fairly simple integration into a comprehensive solution.
Safety of planning and more transparency
„Today we have a remarkably better overview over the complete production process and have since been able to evaluate individual workflow steps and integrate them into our calculation”, Lothar Schmidt sums up. “As soon as we receive a customers request to manufacture a particular variation, for example, we can at any time tell exactly how long the finished production would take and which expense would have to be calculated. Formerly this was only possible with an enormous effort and now allows a better planning and an optimized utilization of all resources.”
The target was comprehensive transparency and traceability of all processes on all levels – frottana expected to generate several advantages: apart from an increase in productivity, an improvement in customer relationship through better quotations and more accurate commitments for delivery, as well as more efficiency in purchasing and all planning processes. This target was achieved and will not be lost out of sight by Lothar Schmidt: “Constant changes are inevitable, but in cooperation with texware I face new challenges calmly. To us update texware is not only a software provider, but also a reliable and competent partner, we enjoy working with.”
Regular User Meetings Provide Dialogue
Lothar Schmidt is regular attendant of the annual user meetings of update texware and thus profits from first-hand information and news regarding new updates and enhancements of functionalities. “These are positive experiences throughout, since you meet industry colleagues, take note of their problems and their proposals for improvement”, Lothar Schmidt states. These proposals are being taken seriously by update texware and in parts implemented in future releases. “Before texware/CS I was always very cautious to run updates – somtimes it took several days before everything ran smoothly again“, Lothar Schmidt tells. „With texware/CS this worked with hardly any problems. „Moreover, even if a problem occured, due for example to our special adaptions, a specialized person in charge at update texware would mostly solve the problem within one day.“