Why Trans Tank International dumped its ERP for Business Central

Replaces MYOB ERP with Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central

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Trans Tank International water tank

The limitations of its existing enterprise resource planning (ERP) system and a subsequent period of extensive market research led Victorian manufacturer Trans Tank International (TTI) to migrate to Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central.

“We found that any enhancements or extra ability that we were trying to build into the system was all kind of stretching the boundaries of the capability of that system,” TTI general manager Ross Buchner told Computerworld.

“And we needed to move across to a new ERP that we could actually grow into, rather than constantly growing out of it.”

TTI is based in regional Victoria and manufacturers polyethylene tanks designed for a variety of agricultural and industrial applications.

Buchner said the previous MYOB system had reached its maximum capacity, and that TTI was also looking for a system could help future-proof its business.

It took the manufacturer two years of evaluating options before selecting Business Central. Buchner told Computerworld that TTI had first investigated the potential of building on the existing system.

The roll out of the new on-premises Microsoft system took nine months, from signing the deal to going live.

“As the business grows, we found that the silos within the business were getting less transparency into each other's departments, which in turn was creating unnecessary ‘hack work’ and legwork that needed to be done to find information across departments,” Buchner said.

“We definitely needed more transparency, which I think we've achieved with Business Central,” he added.

“We need that transparency for offsite users as well. We were relying heavily on paper-based processes, which we still have to a degree but we are working strongly towards becoming paperless now that we're in Business Central. And that means that offsite users have as many advantages as onsite users at head office.”

“A the end of the day we run a manufacturing business [and] we needed more control over our different manufacturing departments, which the previous system couldn't do,” Buchner said.

“With the use of the whole production order process in Business Central coupled with a Fenwick Gold [Graphic Production Scheduler] app, which is a visual production scheduler with some drag-and-drop functionality, we're able to get more accuracy in our production scheduling and more visibility across what is actually being put through the various manufacturing departments in the company.”

TTI counted on support from Microsoft partner Fenwick Software and has also deployed 13 of the company’s apps. The manufacturer is also about to start using Power BI to analyse data.

Buchner said that the greatest challenge for a partner like Fenwick is understanding the detail of a manufacturing process.

“I feel Fenwick did a good job of understanding our manufacturing process and channelling us into the Business Central way of doing things, but also accommodating a few tweaks along the way to support what we do here,” Buchner said.

One of the reasons TTI decided to go on-premises with Business Central are persistent bandwidth issues at the company’s headquarters in rural Victoria, in the town of Nathalia, northwest of Shepparton.

The company currently relies on multiple connections including Telstra, which Buchner told Computerworld is the only option in that region.

“But even the combination of those connections bonded together is insufficient for putting certain things in the cloud, Buchner said.

He said that any businesses in the area adopting a cloud-first strategy would face the same challenges.

“Where we are, we haven't even got NBN yet,” he said. “So that's the challenge that we face trying to run a progressive business: It can see the need for being in the cloud [but] that is challenging in a rural area.”

TTI has also ordered a dedicated fibre connection that can help facilitate a move to the cloud.

The new ERP has allowed the business to be “more granular” in its manufacturing and scheduling, and deliver more detailed information to customers and about the status of their order, Buchner said.

One example of the impact he cited was being able to get a tank out the door for a customer during the Christmas break, when the Victorian bushfires were at their height, which helped save a customer’s property and neighbouring homes in Gippsland.

Next stop for the manufacturer is updating its phone system —the company is considering rolling out Microsoft Teams — and going paperless.

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