£400,000 technology investment gives historic engineering specialist the platform for growth
A major £400,000 investment in a new Enterprise Resource Programme (ERP) is set to help a leading engineering services and supplies specialist capitalise on growth across its business.
James Lister & Sons, which is nearing its 150th birthday in 2024, has completed an eighteen-month project that has seen it embed the K8 Kerridge Commercial System in its fluid power, consumable supplies and tube manipulation divisions.
The new technology will allow it to bring together the wide variety of processes it undertakes across its Headquarters in Smethwick and six branches in the West Midlands and South Wales, giving it real-time information, transparency and improved order tracking, merchanting, trade counter and production planning operations.
It also has the capability for customers to access their own portal for proof of delivery, send automated email acknowledgements for all orders and, importantly, provide a way for clients to place orders online.
Peter Davies, Chief Executive at Lister, said: “This has been a massive transformation project for our business, completed throughout the pandemic and in time for us to make the most of the bounce back we’re now seeing.
“The K8 Kerridge Commercial System will offer a host of operational and efficiency improvements due to improved planning capabilities and we now have a fully supported, disaster recovery safe system in place, giving our 5000-strong customer base complete peace of mind.”
He went on to add: “Investment in technology is already eliminating costs across our different business units and branches, not least in saving us four people by adding an automated accounts payable invoice matching module into the ERP. These individuals have been allocated to different roles, in order to help us cope with the demand from new orders.”
Lister, which is part of the Manufacturing Assembly Network (MAN), employs over 100 people and is best known for its fluid power business and engineering consumables division.
This includes supplying hand tools, cutting tools and lubricants, workwear, hygiene products, hydraulic/pneumatic components and assemblies and delivering specialist capabilities like laser etching, 3D printing and the manufacture of high-pressure valves and touring car air jacks.
The biggest growth area following the easing of lockdown has been its tube manipulation business, which is able to bend tube in sizes ranging from 4mm up to 75mm and in metals such as steel, copper and aluminium.
A 30% increase in orders over the last twelve months has been achieved, delivering a 7.5% rise on pre-pandemic levels.
Investment in a Unison Breeze machine has also paid dividends, providing the company with ‘left and right hand’ capacity to make components that can’t be produced via traditional bending.
Peter, who is also co-Chairman of the Manufacturing Assembly Network, continued: “There’s definitely a sense of optimism in UK manufacturing at the moment and the latest investment will give us the platform we need to achieve our target of £16m sales by the end of 2022.
“Our involvement in MAN has been really beneficial, especially during the unprecedented set of circumstances Covid-19 presented. Sharing best practice and lessons learned with the other seven MDs reduced that feeling of uncertainty and helped us remain operational throughout.
“The joint marketing efforts have also led to new opportunities for James Lister & Sons, and this will be our focus moving forward.”
Manufacturing Assembly Network (MAN) is a group of seven sub-contract manufacturers and a specialist engineering design agency.
Employing more than 1,700 people across 12 different factories, MAN can offer every engineering discipline imaginable, including aluminium casting, automation and control systems, forging, plastic injection moulding, precision machining, high-volume pressing, tube manipulation and welded assemblies.
Its membership includes Alucast, Barkley Plastics, Brandauer, Grove Design, James Lister & Sons, Kimbermills International, PP Control & Automation and Muller Holdings.