APN Global Implements Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central as the Foundation for Its Industry 4.0 Strategy
About the Company
Established in 1970 in Quebec City, APN Global is a family-owned business whose mission includes designing and manufacturing high precision parts for industries such as aerospace and defence. To that end, the company runs one of the most productive machining plants in North America—supported by robots, that is.
Well known in the Quebec tech landscape, APN Global has been awarded several prizes including the 2019 Performance Québec award, the 2019 Innovation – Transformation numérique 4.0 award from ADRIQ, and the 2018 Gilles-Demers Grand Prix.
Having already achieved the feat of manufacturing certain products in a perpetual, sustainable manner, APN Global aims to reach a continuous production flow with as little human intervention as possible, and to produce 24/7. In doing so, the company will be able to leverage the skills of its workforce and to recognize its members’ true value. Naturally, high aspirations call for high technology, and that is what brought APN Global to undertake an ERP implementation project in 2021.
The software previously used by APN Global had reached its progression limits, and prevented the company from moving forward. As a matter of fact, each growth opportunity would put the business at risk because of the system becoming overloaded. They then decided to take action and to modernize their software in order to support their development.
What’s more, the industry in which APN Global operates is extremely demanding, and requires an unmatched level of precision. In order to meet such important quality standards, the automation of quality management becomes critical.
All these efforts integrate into a long-term vision for developing potential. In reality, competitiveness is a key aspect in APN Global’s business environment.
“Our competition is international. Not only should we do better than the company next door; we have to be the best in the world. ”
Yves Proteau, Cochairman, APN Global
Why Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central?
APN Global selected Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central since the solution met all the needs of the company.
Features of the platform:
- Flexibility and ease of use
- Cloud model
- Simple extension development process
- Reliable interface for the management of user roles and needs
- Supply chain improvement capabilities
- Management of intercompany transactions
It is also a viable solution from a financial standpoint since its user-based subscription model and license flexibility allow the company to control and reduce expenses.
Furthermore, given that the solution is part of the greater Microsoft ecosystem, the solution integrates seamlessly with other software such as SharePoint, Outlook and Excel.
The easy connection between Business Central and Liggo, a cloud-based manufacturing execution system (MES), was another determining factor in the choice of the solution. Liggo interconnects the users, systems and machines, stores practical knowledge, and helps in optimizing production and manufacturing performance.
Lastly, considering APN Global has employees who work in artificial intelligence from data made available in the organization, Microsoft was a very interesting option because of its multiple AI-related applications.
After APN Global looked at many companies and software, an important feature tipped the balance in favor of Createch: their spirit of cooperation and solidarity.
“We wanted a team that could support us. That’s what we found in Createch: the ability to work together, in a most collaborative way. ”
Yves Proteau, Cochairman, APN Global
Challenges and Achievements
This project, whose initial chances of success were estimated at 5%, proved very fruitful!
The implementation was done in a nearly record time with only five months having passed between the conclusion of the purchase order and the end of the project. After a month of work, recognizing the motivation and optimism of its employees, APN Global decided to accelerate the expected go live date by two months. This bold fast-tracking move proved successful since at that date, the company was already operating with the new software, and all systems were integrated to it.
The greatest challenge was to interface the solution with the existing systems. Indeed, the company’s ERP software is part of a greater ecosystem comprising machines, humans, programming systems, quality control systems, as well as a system developed in-house which encompasses all of the organization’s software.
Far from being passive, the approach used by both teams relied on performance and rapidity, namely by reducing the number of discussions and analyses. Rather, it was the validation workshops—always conducted in phases—that held an important place during the project, thus ensuring a rapid pace of progress.
The Keys to Success
The success of the project stemmed from a combination of factors. First, intensive management efforts including several tests have been deployed upstream by the team, which allowed them to assess the flexibility and ease of use of the system.
Adhering to the timetable throughout the whole project was a focus of concern, and each stakeholder was aware of the potential negative outcomes of delays, thus instilling a steady pace during deployment.
The ability of both teams to support and help each other has definitely been another key factor of success. Active listening and respect were driving the relationship, and achieving results was a major priority. Advices and questionings were stated and received without pretense or ego, with improvement being the ultimate goal.
Moreover, the upper management’s commitment in the ERP project was a true game changer. Their regular implication and responsiveness to compensate for functional shortcomings have had a mobilizing effect on the internal team.
And finally, the choice of resources assigned to the project was expertly made by involving experienced employees and taking advantage of in-depth knowledge. Consequently, since all stakeholders were speaking the same language, it was easy for them to communicate, share ideas, and adopt the new solution.
Today, well equipped in terms of information systems and industrial robotics, APN Global has all the means to achieve its ambitions!