Crescent Parts & Equipment (CPE), a wholesale distributor of heating and air conditioning components, has successfully grown its business without the need to hire any new accounts payable, IT or warehouse staff. Upgrading the company’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution has played an instrumental role in this accomplishment by eliminating manual processes and enabling connectivity between locations and users.
CPE has successfully managed and grown operations with its existing ERP solution for more than 20 years. However, as the company’s growth accelerated, decision-makers felt that more expanded functionality and capabilities were needed to address increasing customer demands. They also recognized the need for a web-based user interface and felt that the latest in industry-specific options would help to create a reliable technology foundation for the future.
After carefully examining multiple solutions, CPE felt the best option was to upgrade its existing Infor Distribution SX.e system. Infor’s in-depth understanding of both the distribution market and CPE’s needs were important factors in the decision. The company’s goals for the upgrade project were to utilize the solution right out of the box, without modifications, to maintain simplicity in the way users interact with the system. They also planned to optimize inventory management and automate accounts payable processes to transition departments away from paper-based tasks.
“It was critical that we select a solution equipped with industry-specific capabilities that we would not have to alter,” said Andrew Weith, chief information officer, CPE. “This would allow us to use the system to its fullest capacity and prepare the company for future growth, as we would be able to easily expand our number of users or deploy it at a new branch without fear of breaking a customized path.”
The Path to Connectivity
CPE began the selection process in October 2013 and reached go-live with the upgraded version of Infor SX.e in May 2014. The solution provided the necessary flexibility and agility required to work within the established procedures; allowing CPE to forgo alterations to existing processes as part of the project. As a result, users experienced a smooth transition, and CPE was able to avoid potentially costly downtime.
Prior to the upgrade, the company had limited visibility into inventory across all locations simultaneously. This made it challenging to plan for and purchase new items because the new product would be available at some branches while existing inventory remained at others; meaning that the company was constantly playing catch-up to move its own stock. Following this project, CPE users have visibility into inventory across all locations in real-time. When entering an order, they can immediately determine if older inventory is available, which branch is storing it and if there is a “do not reorder” request on that particular item. This allows employees to sell the existing inventory first and prevents users from back-ordering unnecessary stock, helping to generate savings for CPE.
“With numerous branches and a central distribution center, we are constantly moving products around between locations. Previously, certain users could only view inventory for their particular site,” said Weith. “Upgrading our SX.e application gave us the necessary connectivity to facilitate collaboration between users and create an enterprise-wide view of inventory levels. This helps employees make better decisions about which products they enter for orders and ultimately decreases our costs by reducing the amount of outdated inventory in stock.”
Accomplishing More Goals
As a result of this project, CPE is well positioned to accomplish its objective to transition the accounts payable department into a completely paperless environment, with anticipated completion in approximately six months. With easy access to purchase order, receiving and vendor invoice information stored in the system, automation will help employees to process vendor invoices quickly and efficiently. This will not only save time, but it also reduces the possibility of errors by allowing users to focus on other value-add tasks for the organization.
Additionally, CPE will now rely on an Infor module called Storeroom to enhance service to its contractor customers by managing their service truck inventories. Contractor service trucks are designated as managed warehouses within the system, and users can then monitor the movement and quantity of inventory, as if the warehouse belonged to CPE itself. With first-person insight into the customer’s business, this module allows CPE to help clients optimize stock levels and guarantee availability of necessary inventory.
The company is also considering expanding its use of Infor’s Total Warehouse Logistics (TWL) solution to enable barcode scanning of products at each location. Currently utilized at the main distribution center, barcoding would automate and speed inventory processing at each of CPE’s locations, helping to reduce errors and expenses previously attributed to manual entry.
“This project has facilitated significant time and monetary savings for our organization across several different divisions, and we anticipate more as we continue to expand our use of SX.e,” said Weith. “We now have the necessary tools to manage our inventory and accounts payable more effectively, provide enhanced services to our customers and make better-informed business decisions that are based on real-time knowledge of our company.”
With the time and cost savings experienced through this project, CPE is free to invest resources in other areas such as marketing that will have a direct impact on the company’s future.
CPE is a wholesale distributor of heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration (HVACR) components. Headquartered in St. Louis, CPE has 15 locations across both Missouri and Illinois and has provided best-in-class products and services to its customers for more than seven decades.