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Thomas Swan Scientific Equipment Ltd (TSSEL)

Industry :    Manufacturing
Scenarios :  Expansion of existing Microsoft Business Solutions-Navision (Financials) system to include manufacturing & inventory control
Return on Investment : £1m in first 6 months.
Thomas Swan Scientific is involved in the manufacture and resale of systems to manufacture LED wafers. Annual turnover for the company is £20-30m. The company’s headquarters and manufacturing facility is in Swavesey, in Cambridgeshire, employing over 80 staff.

The company needed to urgently expand their existing Microsoft Navision Financials systems to also include manufacturing and inventory management. The existing manufacturing system was proving inadequate for running the business.

Current systems in use within Thomas Swan included a mixture of financial and office systems, accepting both manual and computerised data entry. Time consuming manual procedures were used to independently input data into both the Microsoft Navision and manufacturing systems. The constraints of the existing manufacturing system include limited functionality for purchasing operations, inadequate reporting capabilities and an inability to be configured to meet the needs of the business. The new system needed to 'go-live' within 3 months, and the company approached Anglia Business Solutions, as the existing supplier of the Microsoft Navision Financials System, to undertake the project.

Thomas Swan Scientific had specified that the extension to the existing Microsoft Navision systems should, as a minimum, cover; sales and purchase order processing, stock control and manufacturing planning and production. A key requirement was for a single company-wide information system accessible throughout the organisation. The company wanted to significantly reduce manual procedures and paperwork, and effortlessly produce the management information required to run the business. The new system needed to have the capacity to expand as the business dictates.

The existing Microsoft Navision Financials system was upgraded to Microsoft Navision V3.60 and at the same time the planning, manufacturing and inventory modules were implemented in a single-phase operation.

The manufacturing module replaced a combination of manual procedures and hard copy spreadsheet schedules used by the planners and buyers to raise purchase and production orders. The lead-time for a top-level system is as long as 5 months and the admin-intensive procedures were heavily dependent on the accuracy and job knowledge of the personnel involved.

The full Inventory functionality is used with some additional enhancements developed by Anglia Business Solutions, to fully support the desired way of working.
Changes included the following:
  • The addition of an ‘Issue Number’ on items to aid engineering change control
  • An ‘Inspection Required’ indicator that both provided information of the inspection level and provided for a different routing on receipt of the item.
  • Automatic checking on receipt to indicate if the item was an overdue requirement on Production/Sales
  • Orders
  • A ‘Status’ field to allow for monitoring the completion of data against the item
In order to support the company’s current procedures separate Design and Production Bill of Material (BOM) tables were provided with the facility to copy the Design BOM to the Production BOM table. This allows the design team freedom to create and amend a BOM without any risk of impact on production until it was chosen to release the change.

Further support for existing procedures was incorporated with provision for multi-level BOM reporting that shows the full costing based on both standard cost and last direct cost. Standard Microsoft Navision MRP provided all the necessary functionality and no changes were necessary.

Document Creation
All documentation is produced and controlled from within Microsoft Navision, designed to conform to SITPRO standard. This eliminated the need to use restrictive pre-printed formats. Facilities are provided to allow additional information to be entered on any documentation, and a sub-form created for the entry of packing details on the Packing List Document.

Functionality was enhanced to enable the automatic calculation and posting of Advance Payment schedules. All transactions are fully integrated with the existing Microsoft Navision Financial modules.

Training & Data Transfer
Full user training on the new system functionality was provided by Anglia Business Solutions to enable the smooth transition from the old systems to the new. Data transfer was facilitated by the creation of specific data ports. This also allowed the user training to take place using data and scenarios that were both relevant and familiar to the users.

“Our old manufacturing control system was creaking at the seams and we urgently needed to take action” comments Charles Russell, Thomas Swan’s Director of Finance & Administration. “Anglia Business Solutions’ knowledge of manufacturing processes was a key element in the transition to the new environment”.

Russell continues, “In summary, the implementation went brilliantly. It worked right first time. The system is already meeting the needs of the business and is being accepted as a vast improvement by most users. Even purchasing now have access to more information than they realised they would have. It has freed up the purchasing staff from routine administration tasks allowing them to focus on negotiation."

"In one transaction, £130,000 was saved on previous prices paid for the same items. In the six months since the installation of the upgraded Microsoft Navision system, we have made cost savings totalling £1m. This has allowed us to reap back our investment to date, of £80k, more than twelve times over.”
“A further business benefit of the new system has been in the area of Materials Requirements Planning. With the previous system, the MRP procedure took 13 hours. With Microsoft Navision, the run is completed in 30 minutes. This allows us to quickly replan our work schedule as circumstances change. It will greatly assist us in providing better customer service by reducing product lead times.”
Russell concludes, “We are 100% reliant on the system and are already planning future developments. These will be based on new business needs such as CRM and remote system access where we can see future significant business benefits.”

Software & Hardware
Microsoft Business Solutions-Navision
New Modules: Inventory
Warehouse Mgmt
Services Required
Solution Model
Project Management
Upgrade to Microsoft Navision v3.60
Data Transfer
Bespoke Microsoft Navision Development
User Training


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