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HLC (Wood Products) Ltd


Industry : Pallet and Wooden Case Manufacturing
Scenarios : Business Operations


Company Profile

A 20-year-old family business employing 60 staff, making 100,000 pallets per month and servicing a customer base of 300.


The company had experienced recent successful trading conditions and was keen to exploit a growing market for tailored and recycled pallets. As part of the growth strategy, the company had invested in a new building to house a fully automated production line together with a new office suite. This provided the potential to double the production capacity. However, the company’s IT systems were a serious obstacle to progress. They consisted of a mixture of automated and manual systems making it difficult to extract meaningful and timely management information.


The solution involved the deployment of the Navision business management system to manage many of the administrative tasks. The former accounting system was replaced by a Navision finance solution. The sales, purchasing and inventory systems were incorporated and a payroll and human resources facility added. This brought together many of the processes into one centralised solution.


HLC has significantly reduced their inventory and administration costs while improving the services provided to their clients.



Navision based financial management solution provides HLC with a significant return on investment 

Founded in 1981, HLC has over 20 years experience as a successful manufacturer of bespoke and recycled wooden pallets. The company established its reputation by using its expertise in helping hundreds of UK based clients in a variety of industries. 

HLC was keen to expand its market share and had made a significant investment in new manufacturing and office facilities. These new facilities provided the potential to more than double its manufacturing output. However, the major stumbling block was its outdated information management systems. These consisted of a mixture of manual and automated systems that made it difficult to detect meaningful trends in the business. The requirement was a solution that provided a flow of information across the company about what was really happening to their customers and inventory. The key was to ensure that the selected system supported all operations in ensuring timely deliveries of quality products. 

Working with Cambridge based Anglia Business Solutions the company deployed a state of the art system tailored specifically to meet the needs of the business. A totally integrated Navision solution provided the base for a powerful management information solution. It provided the company with improved access to up to date information and assisted in greatly reducing the stock levels. The system has helped to radically improve the company’s efficiency by reducing much of the previously unproductive administrative tasks while providing instant information on significant business trends.

Company background
HLC was established in 1981 and is a privately owned manufacturing organisation. The main activities of the company include the manufacturing and supply of wooden pallets and wooden boxes mainly to the paper, cardboard, agricultural, chemical and plastics industry. The company occupies a large site in Norfolk comprising storage yards, assembly and machine shops and offices. It employs 60 staff, produces over 100,000 pallets per month and services the needs of over 300 customers.

The company was aware of significant growth potential in its chosen markets and, due to its industry reputation, was well placed to harvest the opportunity created in its chosen sectors. As part of its expansion strategy, the company had invested in the development of new premises. These were aimed at doubling the manufacturing capability of the organisation. 

One cloud however, on the expansion plan was the HLC internal IT systems. These had been built up over the years across disparate solutions. They consisted of a combination of automated and manual systems and had become a liability in the quest for profitable expansion. 

As General Manager Ryan Lewis pointed out, “We had an old fashioned UNIX based accounting and payroll system, a separate contact management system, an EXCEL based production scheduler and various manual means of recording inventory levels. Pulling together the information to manage the business growth was becoming a nightmare. What we needed was one centralised source of information that we could rely on”.

The Selection Process

The company needed a flexible powerful modern company wide business management system capable of meeting its very specific requirements. Apart from the normal financial reporting requirements, the system also had to cater for a number of discrete manufacturing and inventory type applications specifically configured to how the company worked.

The company heard about Navision from a supplier in the timber trade, whom had previously worked with Anglia Business Solutions on a very successful deployment of the system. “Having seen Navision in action, we were most impressed with its versatility” explained Ryan. “However, it was outside of our planned budget for the replacement system. We spent a considerable length of time evaluating lower cost alternatives but none of them could provide us with the flexibility we needed. We could either spend our budget on a system that met some of our needs or extend the budget to acquire the ideal system to meet our growth objectives. We selected Navision and it was the right choice”.

The Business Solution

HLC selected the Navision ERP system as the platform of choice based on its combination of powerful functionality and integrated development facilities. As Ryan explained “We were very impressed with the functionality of the Navision product. As experienced IT users, we understood the design concepts of the system. However, it was the integrated development environment that really appealed. We needed a system that precisely matched our way of working. The development facilities were key to tailoring the solution to meet our very specific needs. Once this was delivered, we could focus on reducing our internal administration costs and inventory levels while providing us with unparalleled access to relevant management information”.

“Anglia Business Solutions worked well with us to produce a solution that was right for our business. The initial Solution Model mapped how the complete system would work for us. From this analysis, they developed working prototypes that we were able to test to ensure that our business objectives were met. The complete solution was fully tested using data transferred from our old system. Once we were satisfied that we had covered all of the requirements, we went live.

The transition was relatively painless and the support from Anglia has been excellent”. 

The new system enabled HLC to take advantage of new ways of working. It records unit volumes of all timber products based on bill of materials and unit weight. It also provided bills of materials for all pallets together with full manufacturing instructions. This enabled the analysis of all orders by width, length volume and weight. In addition, it facilitated the cutting of wood by size or weight for mixed packs. Wastage is also recorded as well as the control of pallet component usage designed to reduce overstocking. The system features include the ability to purchase timber in mixed length packs and in multiple units of measure. It also provides customised works order functionality as well as the ability to substitute bill of materials products.

Business Benefits
The new management reporting system has already provided HLC with significant advantages over the previous method of operation. It has greatly reduced the data duplication activities throughout the organisation, which has improved the accuracy of information. This has helped to reduce overall inventory levels held by over £50,000, giving a return on investment period of 7 months.

As Ryan Lewis explains “ Our previous variety of systems was a real stumbling block to our ambitious growth plans. It meant that we had great difficulty in ensuring that our inventory was at the right levels to meet our client delivery commitments. Working with Anglia Business Solutions in a partnership arrangement meant that we could explain what we wanted and they did the rest. The complete system was delivered to timescales and within budget. It has exceeded our expectations and is already proving to be a significant aid to our expansion plans. Apart from releasing a significant amount of working capital, the report writing features means that we now have access to an unparalleled level of accurate and timely information. This is proving vital in targeting our future growth opportunities”.

Hardware & Software
Navision Financials
Windows 2000
BackUp Exec.
HP Netserver
HP Workstations
HP Laserjet Printer

Services Required
Solution Model
Business Consultancy
Project Management
Navision Bespoke Design
Navision Programming & Testing
Navision Financials Integration & Testing


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