Viceroy Homes Limited is a leading designer and manufacturer of pre-engineered housing – the largest Canadian exporter of housing technology to the world. Viceroy operates extensive flexible manufacturing facilities in Port Hope, Ontario, and Richmond, British Columbia. Kiln-dried lumber, glass, PVC resin and other raw materials enter the plants and leave as completed production orders – ready-to-assemble housing packed in containers bound for building sites anywhere on earth.
A vertically integrated manufacturer, Viceroy's products incorporate its proprietary truss and wall panel technology plus its energy efficient window and door components. Customers can choose from an almost infinite combination of options ranging from kitchen cabinets and counter tops, to the selection of siding and colors for PVC window frames.
Japan is Viceroy's single largest market, snapping up 70% of the company's total production. Discriminating Japanese consumers appreciate the superior fit-and-finish, value and dramatic style of Viceroy's products that feature plenty of exposed wood, cathedral ceilings and panoramic expanses of glass.
"Every housing package we sell is custom", emphasizes Paul Marrin, a certified management accountant and Viceroy's Project Leader, responsible for implementing the Baan system company-wide. "We selected Baan over the competition largely on the strength of its Product Configurator and we use that capability to the max to fulfill our orders."
Eighteen months ago when the relationship between Viceroy and Disus first began , Viceroy's management was beginning to have doubts. "We had reached the stuck-in-the-mud stage", Paul says. "We were live with Baan but no one was really happy as their practical needs were not being met and the standard Baan data flow was imposing a heavy overhead on our IT operations. We needed a catalyst to move us forward and make change happen."
The catalyst turned out to be a series of modest but high value projects that Disus engineered to address certain items on Viceroy's wish list. The first of these was Disus' integration of barcode technology with a customization of Baan Report Production Orders Complete. When the unique bar code on a Viceroy production order is scanned into the customized Baan session it tracks the order through to completion – task-by-task, then back flushes inventory and closes the order.
"The Disus customization rejuvenated our relationship with the Baan software", says Paul. "The 'super-session' condensed three Baan sessions into one bar code scan, making two out of the three tasks associated with the standard sessions unnecessary. The project paid for itself in reduced labor costs and optimized seat licenses."
"On the management side, it helped change our outlook". Under the constraints of the multiple Baan sessions, Viceroy had always tried to limit the number of production orders going through the factory at a given time. With the Disus super-session automatically tracking/reporting tasks and orders, management realized that they could safely maximize the number of production orders, increasing control, scheduling and control of the shop floor.
The first project was a model of cost effectiveness. Instead of purchasing hand held wireless terminals, Viceroy simply mounted existing PC's and wedge scanners in rolling wooden cabinets and equipped them with wireless cards and, where needed, external power supplies.
Intra Company Automation
A decentralized enterprise such as Viceroy that needs a flexible multi-company-multi-logistic structure faces a challenge implementing that structure in its Baan IV system. The desired exchange of goods between facilities requires separate, 'buy' and 'sell' transactions for each exchange. In Viceroy's case, components such as window assemblies can originate in Port Hope when the total house package is shipped from Richmond.
Disus wrote a program that identifies the generic items and customized configurations made in Port Hope and destined for Richmond. The Disus program streamlines intra-company transactions by creating sales orders, variants and other sales order lines. The program processes the variants, runs PRP, loads the data into Viceroy's custom packing list system and displays the corresponding order number on the sales header.
A complementary Disus program creates an intra-company sales order for the 'selling' site from the corresponding purchase order for the 'buying' site. Combined, the two programs have streamlined and automated the Baan transactions behind Viceroy's manufacturing operations, saving the company time and money, improving accuracy and performance, and reducing IT overhead.
Sales Order Data
With an almost infinite capacity to customize its products, Viceroy needed to ensure that order details were easily entered and accurately transferred into a Baan sales order. The company developed a Visual Basic utility that allows sales staff to use laptop PC's to enter a configured sales order without using a Baan session. Disus wrote a complimentary program that takes the downloaded Excel data and automatically converts it into a Baan sales order including variants for configurable items such as windows/doors. Providing an easy-to-use order entry utility eliminated reentry errors and has enhanced Viceroy's relationship with its independent distributors in the field.
Taking inventory is an activity dreaded by most manufacturers. Viceroy and Disus have pooled their talents to devise a much less painful approach. Disus wrote a program to scan item codes into Baan for taking partial or complete inventory. At inventory time, Paul Marrin rents several hand held wireless terminals for a day or two and every item gets scanned into Baan. The results are dramatically faster cycle-counts, manpower savings (no overtime, no paperwork), the elimination of transcription errors, and the Disus program sorts the inventoried items into multiple cycle count orders.
Eighteen months into the relationship and counting, Paul Marrin has these words of advice for fellow Baan project leaders and application specialists. "Get started. Start small. Grow quickly. Maintain momentum. You don't need to buy proprietary add-ons to benefit from bar code data in Baan. All you need are PC's, scanners, standard Baan reports printing bar codes, and an inexpensive program from Disus. A minimum investment gets you started on a process that could transform your enterprise and reassure management that, in Baan, they've discovered the tool to build success".
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