HDM relies on Cegeka's expertise for its rapid expansion

Ann SchepersChief Financial Officer, HDM

Challenges

  • Adding Manufacturing to business processes
  • Outdated ERP-platform
  • Need for partner with industry knowledge
  • Aspiration to become 100% paperless

Results

  • Integration of customers and suppliers within own enterprise application
  • Digitized warehouse management
  • Able to take more data-driven decisions
"We decided to go for a new ERP that would also support the fledgling manufacturing department. Taking the leap from Navision to its successor Business Central was a logical decision"

HDM relies on Cegeka's expertise for its rapid expansion

What if you could start a production floor from scratch? How would you go about it? With this question, HDM called up Cegeka. The company has been wholesaling MDF and PVC-based wall and floor panels for more than 30 years, and is now starting a production site from scratch. How does Microsoft Business Central hold up as a standard for their processes? Let’s find out!

HDM’s activities have been steadily expanding since its inception 30 years ago. What started out as a wholesale venture for wall and floor panels, soon grew drastically. Not only geographically, as they are the market leader in the Benelux and active in all of Europe. Their activities broadened as well. Today, HDM is wholesaling and distributing all sorts of panels and PVC-based materials, both B2C and B2B (through different successful e-commerce platforms).

 

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From wholesaling to innovating

“For many years, we were part of the German HDM group”, explains Ann Schepers, HDM’s CFO. “The production was based in Germany, and the Belgian branch would distribute the products in Western Europe. After HDM Germany was acquired by an investment company, we decided to chart our own course and became an independent entity.”

 

“The next step? In 2014, we invented an innovative new product: a sustainable foil fused with a stone polymer composite base (SPC). It’s a non-woven foil for both inside and outside. We can customize the product by adding functionalities such as scratch resistance for flooring or UV protection for exterior panels.”

Both the SPC product and process are completely circular. “The production waste is completely reused in the process, and customer can return the panels to recycle them. This is our first self-developed and self-produced product, and there’s nothing similar on the market yet. Our first manufacturing machines will be put into use in November 2022”, says Ann.

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At the drawing board: upgrade + expand

Since HDM is starting a manufacturing process from scratch, it makes sense to start from a standard ERP process.

“We were working with Microsoft’s Navision in the past”, says Ruben Maas, Financial Controller at HDM. “It was very accessible and flexible, and we knew the system well. We’d already gone through two major upgrades, but the system had become a bit outdated. Given the plans to start production ourselves, we decided to go for a new ERP that would also support the fledgling manufacturing department. Taking the leap from Navision to its successor Business Central was a logical decision.”

"Cegeka was very honest and straightforward. They gave us the good, the bad and the ugly. We knew beforehand what would be possible and what was unrealistic."

- Ruben Maas, Financial Controller at HDM

Finding the right partner

“This also means we needed a good partner that has expertise in both the ERP system itself, and manufacturing best practices”, Ann explains. “We worked with a Dutch partner before, but we ran into difficulties with licenses and local specifics. So we knew we wanted a local partner.”

 

“The second requirement was that the partner had expertise in manufacturing”, Ruben continues. “Of all the consultants we talked to, Cegeka’s Bart Lemmens and Thibaut Heeren really impressed us. We had already done two upgrades, so we knew exactly what we wanted. The goals were clearly defined. Cegeka was very honest and straightforward. They gave us the good, the bad and the ugly. We knew beforehand what would be possible and what was unrealistic.”

 

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Upgrading to Business Central

“In the preliminary stage, we defined a two-pronged approach. One: upgrade Navision to Business Central. Two: prepare the manufacturing module”, says Ruben, who was the project coordinator for this upgrade.

 

“We sat down with Cegeka and drew a plan for what the new ERP – and specifically the production module – should look like. We looked at the procedures and scenarios. The question: which processes can we adapt to standard? The Cegeka consultants had a lot of experience with manufacturing, so they helped us define best practices to change our own processes.”

 

“Last year, we started with the upgrade, which was a huge success. Everything went smoothly, within scope and timing. Budget-wise we even landed below our projections. It was a dream project all the way through. We’ve finished the upgrade to Business Central, and are now preparing the production module.”

" The upgrade to Business Central was a huge success. Everything went smoothly, within scope and timing. Budget-wise we even landed under our projections."

- Ruben Maas, Financial Controller at HDM

Digitizing warehouse management

“In Navision, we were still doing too much paperwork for our standards, our goal is 100% paperless, so one logical step was to digitize our warehouse management”, Ann continues. “We’re now working with wireless scanners in the warehouse, for instance. This also prepares us for the logistically more complex production.”

 

“Another advantage of the Microsoft ecosystem, is the way it enables data. We’re hooking up Business Central to Power BI, for instance. This helps us visualize complex data clearly and take data-driven decisions. We’re always looking to take the next step, both in our products and processes. With Power Automate, we’re now automating as many processes as we can.”

" Another advantage of the Microsoft ecosystem is the way it enables data. We're hooking up Business Central to Power BI, for instance. This helps us visualize complex data clearly and take data-driven decisions."

- Ann Schepers, Chief Financial Officer at HDM

To efficient production - and beyond

Ann: “Cegeka and HDM share the same philosophy. We were truly working as one team. I think we were already working at a high level, and Cegeka took us to the next one. This is a solid foundation for a long-term cooperation. We’re looking at the next steps already. After the production site, we want to introduce a CRM, automate further and keep making our processes more efficient. With Cegeka as our partner, we’re confident that we’ll always have top-level support in our ambitions.”

 

 

Do you have a question about this customer story or are you wondering what Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central can bring your company?

Let us know. We are happy to think along with you.

 

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