Chemical Contract Manufacturer Cuts Administrative Overhead with MRP Software
“We implemented MRPeasy to deal with small inefficiencies but little did we know that it would drastically reduce the time we spend on administrative tasks,” says Alece Piper, Vice President of Bernard Laboratories, a contract manufacturer of industrial chemicals from Cincinnati, Ohio.
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A 75-year-old family business looking to modernize
Bernard Laboratories is a family-owned contract manufacturing and packing company from Cincinnati, Ohio that produces and packages various chemical products according to customer specifications. Dealing mostly with industrial products such as greases, lubricants, sealants, and epoxies, they either use the formula provided by the customer to make the finished products from scratch or receive a large batch of the product from the client and package it in smaller containers such as bottles, tubes, cartridges, jars, etc.
Founded in 1948, its current owners are the 3rd generation of the family to manage the operation. While initially, the company produced perfumes and pharmaceuticals, due to the increasing stringency of the regulations within these industries, they decided to move into industrial chemicals instead. Today, Bernard Laboratories is a global company with 22 full-time employees.
When Covid hit, Bernard Labs had to find a way for a portion of the employees to work from home. Their on-premise legacy ERP system became an obstacle in this, with the company having to rely on emails and other manual methods to collaborate remotely.
“At that point, we realized that we were going to need a cloud-based system that could be accessed from anywhere,” says Alece Piper, Vice President of Bernard Laboratories.
A manufacturing software easy enough to implement on one’s own
Piper started looking into the solutions available on the market by reading reviews of cloud-based MRP and ERP systems on various software selection sites. After shortlisting a couple of options and making use of their free trials, Piper felt comfortable moving forward with MRPeasy.
“What I like about MRPeasy is how easy it is,” she says. “It didn’t feel overwhelming and seemed easy enough to learn on my own and pass the knowledge on to our other staff members. And the affordability of the software played a role in the final choice as well.”
Implementation commenced in October 2020 when Piper started migrating all of their business data from the old ERP system to the new one. This included a year’s worth of historical data from across the company. For the first few months, they ran the old system side by side with the new one just to make sure that everything worked and finally switched off the legacy software in October 2021.
Although the new software is easy to use, it is not easy to implement changes in a business with a long history, especially when there are employees that have worked in the company for decades and are deeply set in their ways. Instead of forcing the change on senior staff members, Bernard Laboratories decided to hire a new office administrator who became the primary user of the new software.
“As senior employees have retired and new ones have come in, resistance has become less of an issue,” Piper states.
Software aids in standardizing documentation and processes
The side of the business that took first priority during the implementation was purchasing. Previously, the two buyers created purchase orders manually by using spreadsheets. There was no PO standard nor was there any consistency in the purchasing process as a whole. The same applied to the quotes and invoices created by the sales department. MRPeasy brought about a quick standardization of those processes and documents.
“Now all of our orders and invoices look professional, which was not the case before,” Piper says.
Another core functionality that their previous ERP system failed to deliver was manufacturing order management, which the company is now using heavily. In addition, soon after implementing MRPeasy, Bernard Laboratories also adopted the accounting system QuickBooks, taking advantage of the native integration between the two systems.
“The QuickBooks integration is very important as it gives us confidence that the information flowing to finance is correct,” Piper says. “The combination acts as a system of checks and balances that we can trust.”
Administrative overhead reduced by two salaries
Piper is very happy with how everything is tracked and recorded in MRPeasy and how finding a piece of data is made very easy thanks to its search and filter functions. In addition, the software collects valuable data to generate various reports, graphs, and statistics that can be used to make informed business decisions.
“You can’t achieve this level of efficiency with spreadsheets,” she says. “Everything is linked together so you can find the piece of data you’re looking for by using various criteria.”
With the new software, the company was also able to significantly reduce its administrative overhead. Namely, when three senior office employees retired, instead of hiring three new staff to take their place, they only had to take on one as the new software made administrative processes that much more efficient. This was a large saving for a company their size and allowed them to divert resources to where they were needed more.
“We have definitely grown thanks to MRPeasy,” Piper states. “We are now able to fulfill more orders, generate more revenue, and have an accurate overview of everything.”
Although change can be daunting, Piper advises other small manufacturers that have not yet made the leap to MRP software to look at the options, try out a few products, and see for themselves how easy and effective it can actually be.
“We implemented MRPeasy to deal with small inefficiencies but little did we know that it would drastically reduce the time we spend on administrative tasks,” she says.
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