Helical Products machined springs and flexible couplings are found almost everywhere – from long-range naval missiles to baseball pitching machines, from bone saws to oil wells. And those are just a few places they’re found here on Earth. Helical supplied critical parts to the International Space Station and others that went to Mars on the Mars Rover.
“Because of the important roll our products serve in these systems, whether they are purchasing 100 products or 1000 products, our customers depend on a high-quality product being delivered on-time and to the right place- every time,” explains Helical Vice President of Technology David Palmerston.
It wasn’t easy finding an ERP solution and implementation experts that Helical could count on – who could really dig in and understand the complex manufacturing needs of Helical. “We have a catalog of more than 28,000 parts,” Palmerston says. “Plus customers can customize orders by specifying different metals – anything from steel or titanium to some pretty exotic materials – and different specs. It wasn’t easy to find an ERP solution or consultants that could handle the variety and complexity of our manufacturing process. It was difficult.”
So who did Helical find to depend on? Palmerston and Helical have relied on e2b teknologies as their ERP solution provider for more than 10 years. “As a solution provider, e2b has been outstanding,” says Palmerston.
Over the years, e2b’s consulting services helped Helical to meet a number of steep business challenges. For instance, when Helical tasked e2b with helping them adapt their Sage 500 ERP system to meet new industrial standards, no one could’ve predicted how difficult the assignment would end up being. “We needed to upgrade our systems to support ISO 9000 compliance in tracking and reporting requirements, and the even more stringent AS 9100 (an aircraft specific-extension to ISO 9000). It represented the greatest change across the board than we had done in 10 years,” notes Palmerston. An IT veteran, Palmerston knew it was going to be a daunting task. But as it unfolded, circumstances conspired to make it even hairier than he’d been able to project. “We started working with e2b in February of 2010 to upgrade the system. ISO requirements changed in late June of 2010. We presented the changes to e2b in August, and by the end of August they completed the customizations and we went live on Labor Day,” Palmerston says. “e2b was able to execute these customizations within a very limited timeline, even as our needs were changing while we worked.”
Palmerston says that that extraordinary level of service is what makes working with the e2b team so valuable. “In addition to getting projects done right and on time, e2b has also done a great job in providing us with on-site and web-based training,” reports Palmerston. Instead of offering a standard, cookie-cutter approach to bringing his people up to speed, e2b puts thought and effort into building training tailored to Helical. For instance, e2b training commonly uses actual cases from Helical’s business and focuses on the issues that Helical has identified. Palmerston also appreciates that e2b creatively delivers the training online or in-person – whatever will be most efficient and effective for Helical.
“It’s nice to have them offer this kind of training – where we need it, when we need it, and on the subject of importance to our staff rather than a pre-scripted training manual. It’s all done within the context of what Helical needs. And that makes the experience more valuable, more understandable and helps us utilize the systems to their fullest which makes us a much more efficient operation.”
“As a solution provider – the thing I like best is that they know manufacturing and they understand how to make the technology work for a company like ours. Their solutions really work for us – they’re not overly complex.”Palmerston says that e2b understands that they don’t want to waste time and money on over-engineered customizations that add little value to Helical or its customers. “We’re not interested in reinventing the wheel. We’re fine with vanilla where vanilla will do. What they give us is a round peg when what we need is a perfect fit with a round hole.”
But Palmerston counts on e2b when vanilla won’t do, too. e2b software has implemented Sales Order customizations that allow Helical customers to choose from tens of thousands of custom and standard parts, providing value with thorough documentation, pricing information, quality assurance, order tracking, and part information.
Most recently Helical turned to e2b software to reduce the time and cost of collecting on invoices with Anytime Collect, a credit and collections management (CCM) solution developed by e2b teknologies, to work with their Sage 500 ERP.
“Anytime Collect is valuable to us because prior to its implementation, we had to call our customers to prompt them to pay overdue invoices,” explains Palmerston. And between misdirected calls, executive assistants, voice mail, time zone differences and other factors, phone calls are getting harder to successfully complete all the time. “The phone calls were becoming time-consuming; most of the time resulting in voice mail messages or not getting through to the right person. So then you had to schedule time for additional follow up – resulting in multiple calls.”
With Anytime Collect, Helical is now able to automate payment reminders. Generally, companies who automate their collections with products such as Anytime Collect are realizing substantial reductions in daily sales outstanding (DSO), about a 25% reduction in past due receivables, and significant reductions in bad debt reserves. And all of that adds up to real money – these savings can pay for the product in as little as 2 months and usually in no more than 6-9 months.
With the Anytime Collect system, Helical now sends email reminders, putting them in front of just the right person while furnishing all the pertinent documents right at the recipient’s fingertips. “We can specifically address an email to the authorized person who can take care of the bill. Through email we overcome time zone conflicts, availability, and the emotional aspects of requests for payment. We can provide the right information to the right person in a very efficient manner.”
“e2b understands Sage 500 ERP; and they understand us,” says Palmerston. “e2b are manufacturing system experts and know how to make technology work for a company like ours. We will continue to utilize their resources as an extension to our team and as strategic technology advisors. They are simply among the best at what they do.”