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Tru-Flex has conducted a complex migration to the new Epicor ERP version and simultaneous integration of independent system installations operating in two factories, significantly reducing risk and costs. The project was carried out from start to finish by an experienced team of Mindbox consultants.
American Tru-Flex is a manufacturer of, among other things, flexible exhaust system compensators, which are used, among others, in commercial vehicles with diesel engines of the largest automotive brands. They are often installed between turbochargers, between the turbocharger and the exhaust after-treatment system, and between the exhaust after-treatment system and the silencer or the exhaust pipe in the exhaust systems. It is worth noting that the demand for them constantly increases with the introduction of more and more restrictive exhaust emission standards.
The company’s products are also used in sectors focused on the storage, control, protection, and transportation of various materials, the production of chimneys, flexible pipes to protect less durable cables or electronics, and many others. The company often carries out customized projects offering customers technical and engineering support throughout the entire product or project life cycle, from initial design, production, or assembly to the support during the product life cycle and quality audits.
The production plant Tru Flex Spółka z o. o. located in the Katowice Special Economic Zone has been operating since 2015 and is currently employing 70 people.
For many years, Tru-Flex used Epicor ERP software to manage its corporate resources and production processes. Over some time, the old proven edition stopped to meet the current requirements of the organization, generating higher and higher maintenance costs – hence the decision was made to migrate to the latest version of the system.
The task, although it might seem relatively simple, was not so at all. First of all, due to the vast difference between the architecture of both versions – the old and the new one – a simple transfer of the so-called system customization was merely impossible. Therefore, the project’s biggest challenge was the necessity to prepare from scratch all add-ons introduced to the system over the years. Also, simultaneously to the upgrade, the integration of the Epicor ERP installation operating in the U.S. company acquired by Tru-Flex a little earlier was to be introduced.
Tru-Flex management knew that this challenging project was crucial for the business. The ERP system is an essential tool for monitoring revenues and managing margins, enabling the company to grow and compete in an increasingly challenging global market, so the company for a long time and without any haste searched for a reliable partner for this implementation.
The final choice was Mindbox, whose implementation team was responsible for the slightly earlier express implementation of Epicor ERP at the Tru-Flex manufacturing plant built in Poland. The excellent reputation of the Polish consultants decided to entrust them with this complex project.
“We needed top-class specialists. We cooperated with a team of Polish consultants during the project in our company in the Katowice SEZ. We also knew that Mindbox’s team of consultants had many projects completed abroad for international corporations and that the know-how and experience gathered during those projects will be used in designing our solution. An attractive project valuation was an additional bonus”. – says Joe Willis, IT Director, Truflex.
The whole project – from start to finish – was carried out by Mindbox consultants. Only a certain part of the work was done on-site in the USA. Most of the tasks were carried out by the team of consultants remotely.
The project started in a standard way, i.e. with a thorough analysis, which details the available migration and integration options. In particular, it was determined which of the customization of the old version of Epicor ERP must be programmed from scratch and which of the standard system functionality can be replaced after the upgrade.
The technological difference between the two versions was enormous. “The older one was based on the Progress database. The whole application code was written in this environment. Meanwhile, more modern Epicor ERP versions are based on Microsoft SQL Server technology, and the system code was rewritten and worked as a web application on a Microsoft IIS server. Data structures have changed. Therefore, none of the previous customizations could be transferred. They had to be translated from one language to another and thoroughly tested. Only in some cases could the standard features of the new Epicor ERP version be used. – explains Agnieszka Hermaniuk, Project Manager, Mindbox.
The available options for data connection that work, to some extent, independently within the Tru-Flex Group were also analyzed.
“Epicor ERP was to cover all companies, operating as a single organization, but taking into account their location-specificity. The four Tru-Flex factories work together by shipping parts to each other. Also, there is a separate unit responsible for packaging the finished products. All the entities work together logistically, send orders and product information,” says Piotr Krzysztoporski,Vice President Mindbox.
For example, the production of exhaust pipes for large trucks requires engraving and marking individual components, which extends the production process divided between the individual locations.
All proposed solutions were tested, errors were corrected, so the implementation itself went without any surprises.
The project of migration and integration of systems has been fully successful. Using a more advanced version of Epicor ERP, which meets modern business requirements and is based on modern technologies, Tru-Flex was able to reduce system maintenance costs.
“Maintaining an older version of the system usually generates higher costs. That’s why implementing the latest edition of Epicor ERP has already brought savings. It has also been beneficial to merge two independent installations operating at different Tru-Flex sites. This integration means lower administration and infrastructure costs,” says Joe Willis, IT Director, Truflex.
“We are particularly proud that during the Polish company Tru-Flex project, we have earned such a good reputation with its owner that he decided to hire us for a difficult project in his own country. And this despite being aware of cultural and legal differences, or even those concerning business and technical terminology in the field of ERP systems”. – says Piotr Krzysztoporski,Vice President Mindbox.
“At the same time, it is worth emphasizing that the price was not the sole criterion for winning. Even though our service was cheaper, savings were not the main reason for choosing Mindbox. The main reason for the decision was the confidence that we could complete this project correctly, on time, and within budget. We did not betray this trust. After completing the project, we continue to operate Epicor ERP installations providing maintenance services,” says Piotr Krzysztoporski,Vice President Mindbox.
The history of Mindbox’s team of consultants specializing in Epicor ERP implementations goes beyond the system integration and migration project for Tru-Flex in the USA. The cooperation started with Epicor ERP implementations for the Tru-Flex production plant in Zimna Wódka, Katowice SEZ, launched in 2015.
Tru-Flex was planning to launch a factory in Poland. The company had information that our team specializes in Epicor ERP implementations. However, representatives of the company, who met with us at the site selection stage, were unaware that a simple transfer of the U.S. factory system could not be successful. VAT, correcting invoices, taxes, reporting – all these are remarkable differences,” recalls Agnieszka Hermaniuk, Project Manager, Mindbox the first conversation with Tru-Flex representatives
However, the meeting was fruitful. The Americans got to know the specifics of the Polish tax system and realized that they would have to proceed with the implementation from scratches, but also understood that they are dealing with high-class specialists. Therefore, they quickly decided to entrust the team with this project.
The implementation of Epicor ERP was as spectacular as the entire Tru-Flex project. As early as May 2014, the company did not have a selected plot of land to build the factory, and in January 2015, it started production immediately. Within a few months, not only was the production hall built, the machines imported and installed, but the ERP system was also implemented.
“This is all the more impressive result when you consider that in the automotive industry, most orders are sent electronically via EDI. This was one of the basic requirements of Tru-Flex,” explains Agnieszka Hermaniuk, Project Manager, Mindbox.
“The project was completed at such a fast pace, among other things, because we had a great deal of support from the management and key users of the system from the USA, who was very involved in the project,”– says Piotr Krzysztoporski,Vice President Mindbox. .