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43 Wells Rd
Half Moon Bay
New Zealand

Ph: 027 483 5194

Phillips and Smith Ltd

Leading Manufacturer of Fire Safety Equipment Impressed by SYSPRO Functionality

About Philips & Smith

Phillips & Smith Ltd (PSL) is part of a New Zealand based group of companies, trading since 1913. The company’s main operation is the manufacture and supply of fire fighting hardware for numerous applications around the world. Distribution offices in Sydney and Auckland support exports to over 20 countries, and PSL imports and distributes various commodity fire, safety and security products to Australia, New Zealand and Asia.

Change in Business Drives Need for new ERP Solution

PSL is experiencing huge growth in commodity based products for the consumer market which are generally imported and distributed with limited local manufactured input. With significant growth in export opportunities, there was a need for a new and improved ERP solution that delivered strong sales and distribution functionality. Whilst the existing solution handled manufacturing well, the technology was outdated and was not effectively managing distribution and sales.

Mr Ian Phillips, General Manager for Phillips & Smith Ltd said, “This was one of the primary drivers in selecting our new ERP solution. Our traditional market is mature with little expected growth, however there is huge potential for export markets. Our Auckland manufacturing operation operates a mix of make-to-stock, make-to-order and jobbing environments, so the solution had to handle this with ease, as well as the growth in distribution.”

PSL’s manufacturing facility is also the cornerstone to its growth in exports over the next few years. With this in mind, SYSPRO was selected because of its flexibility and broad functionality. Phillips said, “The shift in the way we import and distribute many products made SYSPRO ideal - with strength across manufacturing, distribution and financials.” PSL don’t wish to compete with China on mass produced items like commodity fire fittings. What it can do, is excel at short run, extremely specialised, high quality, customised work. A great deal of PSL’s manufacturing will move away from long run stock-type items, to job shop and make-to-order products. SYSPRO is strong in this area and PSL felt it could handle the change in their business strategy with ease.


In addition to the highlighted inadequacies of the previous ERP solution, PSL also required improved visibility of information, and a modern system architecture to enable easy custom reporting and integration with web-based and sales force automation applications. Phillips said, “Our previous ERP software was typically American - focused on multiple suppliers and manufacturing processes, dealing with only one or two customers. This didn’t suit our business and we were dealing with top customers by gut feel which was scary!” PSL couldn’t even get a ‘TOP 10 Customer List’ - thus the reliance on ‘gut feel’ when dealing with customers.

The import costing process was lengthy and primarily manual, resulting in inaccurate costing of imported product being updated to inventory. PSL couldn’t drill down into detailed information, or quickly assess an overall picture of business performance. Many reports were custom written and difficult to distribute to users. Most staff performed additional, time-consuming Access and Excel-based analysis with information sourced from multiple areas. Also, the purchasing inspection process was completely manual and required many manhours to implement and manage.

Evaluation Lengthy and Involved

Over a two year period, 80+ solutions were evaluated, due to the complexity of the business requirements, and the changes PSL was experiencing. A solution was sought that would satisfy needs for the long term since the previous package only lasted for five years.

Phillips said, “We made it a complex process because we wanted to foresee future business changes and select a solution flexible enough to cope. A lot of what we evaluated fell well short of what we were after. SYSPRO may be overkill right now, but with our substantial growth targets, there is significant functionality we will bring in over the next two to five years. I knew it would pay dividends in the long run.” PSL loves the fact that SYSPRO is easy to use and can handle complex processes with ease. Previously, staff often had to access multiple screens for a single piece of information. SYSPRO is linked so it is easy to drill down to the source. Phillips said, “It is an incredibly powerful tool for customer service and sales people because they access the precise information they need there and then. With the old system, customer service people often had to take down a customer query manually and return the call later with the correct answer.”

Phillips is impressed that SYSPRO has helped PSL make huge leaps in customer service levels already.


PSL spent a significant amount of time with consulting group, Advanced ERP Consultants, using the SYSPRO S.T.A.R.S. methodology to identify business processes. The initial time spent minimised adverse challenges by identifying them well before implementation. It also ensured SYSPRO was specifically configured to suit PSL’s business. Phillips said, “I believe S.T.A.R.S. is one of the best Implementation Methodologies I have ever seen.”

Phillips can’t commend Advanced ERP Consultants enough for their part in the implementation. A significant amount of data was extracted from the old ERP system, saving considerable time, with the old system switched off on Friday and SYSPRO live first thing Monday morning.

The Benefits

SYSPRO was purchased in October 2006, and went live on 1st April, 2007. Modules implemented include General Ledger, Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, Cashbook, EFT, Assets, Contact Management, Report Writer, Inventory, Sales Orders, Sales Analysis, Purchase Orders, Landed Cost Tracking, Bill of Materials, Quotations, Work in Process, Factory Documentation, Requirements Planning, Office Automation and Business Analytics.

Users include staff from upper management through to factory and store people. Sales people use SYSPRO to access information and facilitate day-today decisions. Phillips said, “We are spoilt for choice with the standard sales reports available and easy development and distribution of many functionspecific reports using Report Writer. Our sales people are ‘bouncing off the walls’ with the SYSPRO reports available. Previously, it was difficult to analyse information and we had to wait until after month end. Now data is updated daily, so we view data as fresh as yesterday - and it’s available at the touch of a button.

“We are just 10 weeks into the implementation and I am astonished by where we are at. We’re already seeing substantial benefits in many areas, which we thought were two or three years away. It’s taken a huge workload off us already.” Whilst it is too early to quantify actual cost savings, Phillips said, “Anecdotally staff have expressed the view that SYSPRO is saving time in their day-to-day duties, especially in purchasing and inspection, which is critical to our business. Previously, there was much manual intervention with two different databases storing information and the Purchasing Officer manually recording when inspection was required. SYSPRO automates this process so we’re saving 40-50% of their time.”

What the Future Holds

With significant growth targets over the next 3-5 years, the tools and additional functionality SYSPRO provides will ensure this growth can be managed with little or no significant increase in overheads.

PSL’s focus is on exports, in particular producing high-quality fire fighting fittings on time, to help grow its manufacturing base. There is also the need to remain competitive in the sourcing of imported product to satisfy the growing domestic consumer products market. SYSPRO’s sales analysis, forecasting and landed cost tracking modules will be key drivers.

PSL is looking forward to seeing improved control over inventory, in particular timing the arrival of raw materials and sub components to match production needs. SYSPRO is already identifying gains in this area. Future developments include providing Sales Representatives with real-time access to information to improve customer service while on the road; real-time labour capture so PSL can monitor work order progress and costing; as well as identifying production bottlenecks faster.

Phillips said, “It’s great to see a software implementation come in on budget, and ahead of time. We have only just begun to explore the huge functionality in SYSPRO, yet have already seen savings in key areas. I have no doubt the investment has been a sound one for the company, and will continue to add value to our processes for many years to come.”