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With VlexPlus ERP, MEC lays the foundation for further corporate growth

Considerable recent growth in turnover and staff has now convinced motorcycle exhaust manufacturer MEC (The Motorcycle Equipment Company, formerly known as KessTech) to change ERP software lanes.

The constantly growing stock and customer base and no options for new releases took the old system to its limits, reflected especially in reduced performance, workarounds and lack of transparency. The introduction of VlexPlus ERP, specialised in Web-based variant management, brought the company back on track not only in terms of process transparency and quality of master data.

Staff can once again rely on key system figures and smart features such as chains of documentation can, among other, offer genuine support in their daily business.

Thanks to consistent system variant logic, the second extension with its complex item database, working schedules and parts lists can also offer potentials for sustainable automation of handling operations.

The Obertheres, Lower Franconia, based motorcycle exhaust specialist KESSTECH is a market leader for electronically and mechanically adjustable exhaust systems for EC type approved motorcycles. With its valve exhaust systems predominantly aimed at the Harley-Davidson brands, KESSTECH has been firmly establishing itself on the biker scene for over 30 years. The KESSTECH exhaust systems with that distinctive sound, manufactured by highly specialised staff exclusively in in-house production facilities in Lower Franconia, represent “Made in Germany” technology and quality. The company also offers its customers comprehensive service and a Web configurator to customise their exhaust systems.

Initial situation

Legacy system ran out of steam

A boost in growth that tripled KESSTECH sales and staff over the past five years following a change in the management generation and new investments in plant not only brought with it many new exhaust models but also new challenges of manufacture and administration.

Within a year after expansion of the already comprehensive Harley-Davidson repertoire by BMW exhaust systems, the product base the system needed to administrate had virtually doubled. Not only was the legacy ERP system beyond updating, it could also no longer meet the new demands on performance. By the end of 2015 it was therefore decided that the legacy system needed to be replaced by a new, flexible and especially future proof system.

With the support of an external company consultant, the most important demands on a future system were first of all documented in specifications. Potential providers of solutions were thereafter contacted within the framework of tendering and selection and assessed following presentations of their software. “Since we are in the manufacturing trade, especially the representation, optimisation and control of orders and manufacturing is paramount to us. A certain degree of flexibility, such as the ability to accommodate individual customer demands, is as important”, states Pamela Kess, managing the company in the second generation, together with Managing Director Christian Schütte:

“Since the complexity of parts lists and working plans is increasing as the number of new exhaust models increases, a new solution is needed to offer a high degree of automated handling of item and order data – yet with no excessive efforts of data collection required. We last not least also assessed the solutions by their ergonomics, since ease of use and a pleasing interface are important prerequisites to keeping our staff interested.” The Kulmbach VLEXsoftware gmbh with its consistent chain of documentation and neat VlexPlus interface managed to engender a gut feel of satisfaction and reliability right from the start. “VlexPlus understood that the representation of processes required a considerable degree of necessary and optional information – both in terms of the management of master data and the capturing and processing of orders. Because our staff needed to work fast and productively; daily incoming orders during the main season demand efficiency and transparency in particular. We therefore decided on the VlexPlus ERP software in December 2015 and the new solution went live in May 2016 already”, continued Kess.

Application benefits

Increased data quality and information capability, reduced administrative efforts

VlexPlus has since then been introduced in virtually all sectors of the company including, among other, modules handling procurement, distribution, production, financial accounting and bookkeeping, scheduling, enterprise resource planning and stock. Whilst staff previously in their daily business had to contend with an ageing home grown ERP system and an analogue early warning system, KESSTECH staff can now follow all current tasks and processes via one consistent system. Since communication these days occurs predominantly via the system, efforts towards order coordination between departments are now clearly reduced.

“Documentation that had formerly been handled by a diversity of isolated solutions is now available to all those involved, directly via the system and in detail. This allows our staff to have the information at hand at all times – whether involved in the process as such or not. And, should a process in any way stall, the increased transparency will allow us to respond far more promptly”, explains Pamela Kess.

“Posting of materials was very cumbersome in the old system and traceability was thus limited, but we can now call up current material flows at the push of a button, so to speak. Our major advantage is the improved quality of the data: our staff know that data in the VlexPlus system will be completely reliable. The fact that the chain of documentation, material postings, reservations etc. are available at all times allows not only more controlled workflows, but also more efficient order and database administration.” 

Potential for further development

The new solution may in future be used externally to Obertheres headquarters also: the mobile Web browser may for instance grant field service staff in Sales access to dedicated cockpits, allowing them to peruse customer and order data in real time. Relevant order data may in the medium term also be made accessible to agents and customers via specific order screens, thereby simplifying ongoing coordination and communication. Further development phases may allow system variant logic to be permanently available and consolidation, via a product configurator, of previously separate ERP and Webshop systems into a single system and central database – VlexPlus offers all the prerequisites.

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