Manufacturing AUTOMATION

Industrial abrasives maker creates real efficiencies with ERP software

November 13, 2013
By Odete Passingham

VSM Abrasives Canada Inc. is a subsidiary of VSM AG, a global leader in the abrasives market headquartered in Hannover, Germany. In Canada, the company manufactures more than a million abrasive belts a year and sells its product through a network of distributors to industrial end users, most of whom are in the metalworking market. The company also manufactures and sells woodworking abrasives.

Up until 1991, VSM products were sold in Canada through a partner. In 1991, VSM Abrasives Canada Inc. was established, first as a warehouse and then as a manufacturing presence, producing abrasive belts and rolls to customer specifications. Headquartered in Oakville, Ont., the company employs approximately 25 people.

In January 2013, VSM went live with Syspro ERP because it was in need of manufacturing software.

“Before Syspro,” says Richard Seibel, managing director of VSM Abrasives Canada Inc., “we were using a combination of ACCPAC for the financial side and MISys for manufacturing. It made sense to use ACCPAC when we were only running a warehouse, but as we ventured into manufacturing, we realized that we needed appropriate manufacturing software. Unfortunately, using ACCPAC and MYSis was not as harmonious as we had hoped, and when I began running VSM Canada in 2006, I quickly came to realize that we needed an integrated software solution.”


After appropriate due diligence, VSM Canada chose Syspro ERP.

“We had presentations from MS Dynamics, IQMS, Epicor, and a couple local companies with customized software. We were actually leaning towards another system, but when they came back for a last interview and demo, the question of three-dimensional calculations came up. They said that would be a problem, which was a huge deal breaker. I got on the phone to Syspro and asked: ‘Can Syspro do this?’ The answer was: ‘Absolutely!’ In the end, I was convinced by Syspro ‘s customizability, upgradability, and the fact that they had an office in Mississauga, only 15 minutes away.”

As a smaller company,” admits Seibel, “we’re not overly computer literate. Everyone just wants the programs they use to work for them. During the implementation we did all the data conversion, working closely with Syspro to enter it into the system. Our Go-Live was as you’d expect. There were some minor issues that had to be tweaked and a bit of a learning curve, but eight months down the road I don’t hear any complaints, and most of our employees like Syspro much better than the old system.”

VSM’s traditional business processes, says Seibel, were a good fit with Syspro ‘s inherent business logic.

“We wrapped Syspro around our business processes,” says Seibel. “In the past, we had two separate systems that weren’t totally integrated. That caused a lot of duplicated effort and processes, and lots of possibility for error. With Syspro, that was all eliminated. In shipping, for example, the staff used to make numerous manual, duplicated entries. Now, with Syspro, our shipper fills out the shipping quantity on the computer, and the office simply processes the invoice, emailing and faxing the customer copy. It works very well. We’ve eliminated a good deal of the duplication and possibility for error, and we didn’t have to modify our business procedures to create real efficiencies.”

Today, with Syspro up and running, VSM has integrated the software across the entire business.

“We bought all the basic Syspro modules,” says Seibel, “including inventory, purchase orders, bill of materials, etc. We still don’t know all that Syspro is capable of and we’re still working to integrate more of our business processes, but I’m already happy and comfortable with the system. It runs our daily business with no problems whatsoever. It probably needs one or two modifications over the next few months, and then it’ll be tickety-boo.”

The biggest current issue for VSM Canada is to integrate its complex quotation system into Syspro.

“Ninety-five percent of what we sell goes through distribution,” says Seibel, “but our sales people work at the end-user level. Imagine a distributor called XYZ, whom we grant special pricing on a specific abrasive belt, but only for an end user named ABC. That’s difficult to track, because somewhere in the quote we need to specify that the special pricing is only for ABC. Fortunately, the software is very flexible and customizable, and we’re working with Syspro right now to integrate ‘Special Price End User’ fields into the Quotations module. That will allow us to identify the end user and associate their name with that special price.”

When Seibel is asked if he would recommend Syspro, he replies emphatically: “Absolutely – I’ve already recommended it to my parent company. I told them that Syspro works in multiple languages, and that it has great flexibility for many different processes. It does all the things we want it to, and it works for small or large companies. What we do at VSM seems simple to us – we buy container loads of large jumbo rolls from our parent company, cut them down into different length belts, sheets and discs, and ship them to our customers all across Canada. It’s not that complicated, but we have to keep track of every detail down to the smallest scrap, and Syspro does that for us.”

Odete Passingham is marketing manager for Syspro Canada.

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