Automation equipment and production line design, manufacturing, and maintenance company AS Tech Group believe there is currently a great opportunity for growth through investment in organisational development. According to the company’s CEO, Martin Sutrop, the coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the deployment of automation solutions and robotics systems.
‘The pandemic certainly left its mark on us too last year, as many companies stopped investing in production lines. Some customers even put their product development projects on hold. But we still believe that the future is brimming with opportunities. The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the deployment of automation solutions and robotics systems: the less production depends on people, the better assured the provision of services to the customer. And this will continue to be true during future waves of COVID-19 as well as potential new pandemics,’ Sutrop said.
He added that Tech Group’s team also sees opportunities in the mechanical engineering business, since the pandemic has gotten many companies to think about how and with whose help they should be developing their products and where they should have them manufactured. We currently have several collaboration projects underway that should yield considerable growth in the near future. Automation and robotisation are gaining momentum on the back of what is an overall trend in industry. We see a lot of opportunities for growth, because of which we have also invested heavily in the development of our organisation. So far we’ve actually only seized a very small share of the market that we could be holding. We want to offer an increasingly complex product and service, develop our competencies, and train our employees – only this can put us one step ahead of our competitors.’
Over the years, Tech Group have already achieved significant growth, and next year the company are planning to further increase their production capacity and open a new plant. Competitiveness will be boosted through greater attention to digital development, in which ERP has a central role to play.
‘Our biggest challenges relate to supply chains. The smart machines and production lines we create are generally made up of thousands of unique components, and getting our hands on all of these components on time is currently a problem. The delivery times and terms we had become accustomed to have changed drastically over the past year and a half. This is quite taxing on our team, because the machines and lines still need to be delivered to our clients within the promised timeframe. In order to make sensible management decisions in a constantly changing environment, a modern ERP system is essential,’ the CEO explained.
SOFTWARE UPGRADES GOING EVER MORE SMOOTHLY EACH YEAR
Tech Group has been using the services of BCS Itera for a very long time: the first ERP system deployment had already been carried out in collaboration with the latter 15 years ago. ‘We have always received the support we need, and there have been some software upgrades within that period too. So far, our partnership has proceeded without a hitch, so I haven’t seen the need to change providers,’ Sutrop said. ‘As for software upgrades, I would say they are going ever more smoothly with each passing year. It is certainly mainly thanks to the improvement of the software itself that upgrades can be carried out much more painlessly. While our first upgrades more than ten years ago were much like deploying entirely new software, now it is a completely different matter.’
The first software solution that Tech Group chose more than 15 years ago was Navision. Since then, the company’s business needs have changed, and alternative solutions have actually been considered on multiple occasions. Eventually, though, they have still arrived at the conclusion that NAV is the best fit for Tech Group. The main factor in this has been the configurability of the software, which offers everything the company needs.
Introducing new solutions always triggers different reactions from different people. ‘Since we have quite a high number of employees, we have indeed seen a variety of reactions: some are very set in their old ways, while others are happy to seize new opportunities. The success of a deployment or upgrade project certainly hinges on how the solution is adopted in the company. If preparations have been carried out carefully, i.e. sufficient testing and training of users has been conducted before the solution goes live, adoption will undoubtedly be much smoother,’ Sutrop revealed. ‘In the end, the purpose of upgrades is always to make processes easier and to increase the extent of automation. If the project is executed professionally and users can see actual benefits, they will receive it well.’
The main expectation regarding upgrades is for employees to be able to devote more of their time to intelligent work and get things done with fewer clicks in the ERP system. Plus, of course, new software versions will have certain new functionalities that were not available in previous ones. In addition to the above, Tech Group has enjoyed the greater degree of integration of their upgraded software with other Microsoft products.
FREEDOM TO DO WORK THAT ONE IS PASSIONATE ABOUT
In early August, Tech Group hired its 100th employee. ‘We are still constantly recruiting motivated specialists in the fields of mechanical engineering, electricity, automation, and software,’ Sutrop stated, adding that the company’s management highly values the development of their employees. ‘We encourage them to keep aiming higher and offer them various development opportunities. We want to give our people the freedom to do the things they are actually passionate about. We develop smart automation solutions for factories and help companies bring new smart machines to market. Plus, we offer highly flexible working arrangements, with working hours agreed within teams and employees able to start their day anywhere between 5:30 and 9:00.’
Tech Group mainly operates in two areas: production automation and mechanical engineering. They offer turnkey automation and robotisation solutions to manufacturing companies. The company’s clients include large corporations who have extensive experience with automation and who know exactly what they need, but also businesses that are taking their very first steps in automation. Tech Group’s engineers provide complete solutions as well as maintenance and support services. In the field of mechanical engineering, Tech Group helps leading technology and machinery companies develop and manufacture new products. Around 95% of the company’s production output is exported, with the main target markets being Finland and Germany.
Tech Group’s overall vision is to make mechanical engineering and automation useful and profitable for everyone, so that clients could focus on what is really creating value for them.
The long-term client of BCS Itera recently deployed the latest Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central ERP software to cover their entire supply chain. In addition to finance, purchasing, sales, and warehousing functionalities, the company also uses the solution’s production module for project-based production and the Palk365 module for payroll management. Production and purchase planning are business-critical processes for the company in the area of production.