The Company: About Stolle Machinery Designs
Stolle Machinery, which was founded in 1961, designs, engineers, and assembles complex production machinery. The company is the worldwide market leader in the can machinery industry, offering a complete line of equipment for manufacturing can ends and can bodies.
In addition, with its Didde web press product line, Stolle Machinery is a leader in the web offset printing industry, having the largest installed base in North America. Stolle Machinery has four manufacturing facilities in the United States: two in Ohio and two in Denver, where the company designs, manufactures, and distributes equipment for the metal container industry. This equipment is used by packaging giants like Rexam and Ball, and these Stolle customer supply beverage companies like Coca- Cola and Pepsi as well as companies that can major food products, including SPAM®.
The Situation: Unite Systems
In January 2004, when aluminum giant Alcoa divested from Centennial, Colorado-based Stolle Machinery, Stolle’s management had to make some fast decisions about its enterprise application platform. Prior to the divestiture, Stolle was preparing to implement business applications from Oracle. “Alcoa was going in the direction of Oracle,” Stolle Machinery ERP Project Manager Michael Kalkman said.
“When Alcoa decided to divest itself, and we were purchased by American Industrial Partners, our management team started another selection process, and we wound up choosing IFS Applications.” But the divestiture was only the first in a series of changes that Stolle’s IT system would have to accommodate. Stolle began implementing IFS’ supply chain management, financial, and workforce management applications in April 2004 and went live on the financials package in June of that year. But in November 2004, Stolle acquired one additional company, and the implementation had to be recalibrated to accommodate the new division.
The focus was no longer on simply replacing an outmoded system, but on using a standard ERP to unite three systems. “The old system we came off of was not as integrated as IFS Applications,” Kalkman said. “There were data integrity issues that accounting had to reconcile at the end of each month, and it was difficult to do any type of statistical analysis. But then, all of a sudden, we had five different divisions that we needed to bring under one company.” Stolle Machinery unites multiple divisions with IFS Applications™.
The Solution: IFS Applications 10 ERP
“Instead of acting like five $40 million companies, we wanted to start acting like a single $200 million company,” explains Kalkman. “Instead of treating our customers and supplier bases in different ways, we wanted to present that united front and adopt the same processes.”
Stolle Machinery took a break in the implementation process to reassess its plans and decided not only to more aggressively integrate the different divisions in its enterprise solution but also to upgrade to a more current version of IFS Applications. In March 2005, they started implementing the remaining modules and upgrading to IFS Applications. In IFS Applications 2004, they implemented as one company with multiple division sites, maintaining the integrity of their transactions behind the scenes. By July 2005, the implementation was completed in all of Stolle’s Colorado facilities. By March 2006, all of Stolle’s Ohio divisions were live on IFS Applications, bringing the total number of users to 240.
Kalkman, who prior to joining Stolle was an implementation consultant for an IT solution that competes with IFS, said that one strength of Stolle Machinery’s new enterprise platform is its ease of use. “This is a Windows®-based product, and other systems we came off of were not,” Kalkman said, referring to the DOS-based ProMan, MANMAN®, and MAPICS (now Infor) Syteline systems Stolle had employed previously. “The amount of work it took to support a DOS-based system was substantial, and there is a large learning curve compared to a Windows-based system. With this new enterprise platform, we can get new employees up to speed pretty quickly. And if you are doing any kind of analysis, it is nice to be able to export query screens to Excel®, Access, or something else. A Windows-based system allows for export to programs that run on Windows.”
The Results: IFS 10 ERP Implementation Benefits
The company has also extended its enterprise environment beyond its own walls to its customers and suppliers. Stolle Machinery now offers web portals that give customers real-time information on their orders and streamline supplier relationships. “We are getting great feedback,” Kalkman said. “We have only offered this to our key customers because this does require a collaborative license. And we are involving suppliers in the portal based on their capacity and technical capability.”
Customers can view the status of their new equipment order using the e‑commerce portal, but most use the system to proactively manage the purchase of spare parts, according to Kalkman. Stolle recently added IFS Spreadsheet Data Manager, which allows users to export data from IFS Applications and then re-import it through the IFS business logic, preventing the importation of corrupt data. The company also is adding IFS’ sales and marketing, business performance, and service management applications to its enterprise suite. In the future, Stolle plans to upgrade to the new generation of the platform, which refines some of the project-oriented functionality the company uses on the make-to-order side of its business.
“In IFS Applications 7.5, there is complete integration to finance out of the project module,” Kalkman said. “This lends itself very well to companies that do equipment building. When we do go to that next release, there will be the opportunity for us to enhance some of our process flows.”