DAS Environmental Expert GmbH

Global mid-sized company finds the right ERP partner

Environmental protection is a global issue. Successful international high-tech companies that prevent environmental damage with their products and services must also meet international demands with their IT and select an appropriate Provider.

Company Profil

© DAS Environmental Expert GmbH

Established in 1991, DAS Environmental Expert GmbH in Dresden is a global provider of technology and equipment for process exhaust gas disposal. This technology is used primarily by international companies in the semiconductor, TFT, LED and electronics industries and in the solar industry. In its second business area the company has been developing biological process and system solutions for treating and processing industrial and municipal waste water since 2006. These solutions are used mainly in the food and beverage industry, the chemical and pharmaceutical industry, the agricultural sector and the tourism industry — for example, in hotels. The company also offers a global service team that is deployed as necessary. This service is included for the entire duration of the warranty period. Static teams are responsible for larger installations, such as Bosch in Reutlingen.

Currently exhaust gas treatment is still the company's key focus, representing almost 90 percent of operations. Tobias Baetke, authorised representative and head of the corporate business division, is confident: "Even with ten years of experience in water treatment, each project in this area is a new challenge. To the best of my knowledge it is a unique selling point that we offer solutions for waste water treatment and for exhaust gas treatment from a single source. This specialisation will help us continue to promote ourselves internationally." DAS customers include over 150 companies and research institutes from the semiconductor and electronics industry, the solar cell production industry and other sectors in Europe, Asia, the USA and South America. The only design and production site is in Dresden. The company has branches and partners in Taiwan, China, Korea, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, USA, Argentina and Russia. DAS employs over 250 staff worldwide including 135 at its headquarters in Dresden. In 2013 the company generated over EUR 30 million.

No confidence in the software

© DAS Environmental Expert GmbH

DAS used software by KHK until 2005, in conjunction with the AFPS PPS system by IBeeS. Over time, however, they had to adapt the PPS system again and again to the requirements of the DAS users. "This meant that the software, which originally worked well within certain limits, was modified contrary to commercial laws. At least from a controlling point of view there was no longer any confidence in the software," recalls Baetke. The complete parts list always had to be entered and exported into Excel, then the individual material costs painstakingly calculated at the various levels to finally determine the total price. Since the management no longer felt that KHK adequately supported its international business activities, it was clear that a new, modern software solution needed to be introduced that would guarantee the company investment security and that would, above all, be future proof.

Therefore DAS initially started using the Microsoft Dynamics NAV accounting package from a Leipzig provider on 1 January 2006. For the subsequent selection process they used, amongst other things, a neighbouring company's 200-point questionnaire that it had developed especially for ERP system providers. Together with further recommendations and the experiences of other companies the management was finally sure that Microsoft Dynamics NAV was the right software for a mid-sized company. "It is the internationality of this ERP support that was a definitive selection criterion," explains Baetke.

Right partner found

Unfortunately, the Microsoft partner who had implemented the accounting program specialised in trading companies and not in mechanical engineering and plant construction. So eventually they came to the COSMO CONSULT Group, a Microsoft partner specialising in the implementation and system management of industry and specialised solutions based on Microsoft Dynamics. Baetke was particularly impressed by the professional advice from the COSMO CONSULT branch in Dresden. While other providers promote comprehensive customisation tailored to the company, the CC experts instead recommended a solution close to the standard with the possible adaptation of smaller internal processes. "And if thousands of companies work according to these processes, we too should be able to adapt to the standard," Baetke affirms. The provider was also prepared to separate the analysis phase from the overall offer so that the total cost after the analysis and diagnostics would be on a realistic basis.

It took two months to generate a requirements specification, which even included the new processes that were still at the planning stage. The key users attended workshops demonstrating which processes the software supported so that they could decide whether the internal processes needed to be adapted accordingly. The new processes were then transferred to the requirements specification, although the old ones still continued in practice. The commission took place in September 2012, followed once again with a series of workshops, and then the implementation and training started at the beginning of 2013. The planned "going live" date was delayed because of the number of orders at the time and but then took place shortly afterwards in June 2013. There was no pilot or test phase; the old system was switched off completely beforehand.

New way of working

A large number of new functionalities that the users had previously encountered in the training courses were now in direct use. Baetke still recalls: "Introducing a system like this is always difficult and I find it one of the most complex business challenges. It always involves individual problems that may not have anything to do with the software. In view of the extent of the change and the risk potential I would describe the process as relatively painless." Consequently the company now has a sales tool that fulfils 90 percent of CRM requirements and, for now, uses one less CRM module. It can also be used to store reference systems so that, for instance, technical sales can be informed about comparable systems before an offer is submitted. These reference systems can also be useful for calculations.

After commissioning, the design department comes in. Their drawing is used to create a parts list that is imported into Dynamics NAV. In materials management, a purchasing tool determines the material requirements and automatically generates order proposals. The individual production steps are then determined in the special order production tool from COSMO CONSULT. This enables the sales representatives to use the order or article numbers to ascertain the system's current production step at any time, be it in assembly or finishing, or even at the commissioning stage. The next step is packaging and logistics. After dispatch the system is archived and goes to the service tool.

ERP for mid-sized companies

Another COSMO CONSULT module for project management is used for the DAS water projects. The cc|workflow module primarily involves ensuring process compliance and field security. Certain steps cannot be completed if all the required fields defined by DAS are not filled in. Moreover, a procedure is determined so that, for instance, a second person is automatically required to complete a process after a first person, otherwise the process cannot be finished. The implementation of this module in the second half of the year forms the next step towards master data security. While over 3000 orders were submitted for recurring parts at a very low price with the old system, these can now be handled much more efficiently thanks to the secure, automatic order proposals. "Each order takes about 18 minutes to post. It only takes basic arithmetic to realise that gradually switching to Dynamics NAV will bring a lot of savings potential," explains Baetke.

There is a whole range of new tools and functions that optimise the processes in the value chain and considerably simplify decision-making through new analysis options. In addition, Baetke emphasises the international distribution of Microsoft Dynamics NAV and the provider's experience: "We see ourselves as a typical mid-sized business, but also as a global player. We therefore decided to choose COSMO CONSULT because the Group has plenty of experience with customers that manufacture and work abroad, for example in China." Consequently DAS wants to continue the beneficial collaboration with its IT partner, starting with order tracking and quality management.

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