“In partnering with Sentis we found that we benefited from their personal hands on approach to achieve a seamless integration.”
Established in 1986, Alltube Engineering has a proud heritage of manufacturing high-quality tube and pipe products, from one-off components to long-standing production runs for major automotive manufacturers. Since the company was founded, customer expectations have become more demanding leading the company to adopt modern technologies to maintain its high standards and loyal customer base.
This meant not only investment in new machinery and technical capabilities on the shop floor, but also in technology for the supporting business functions. Philip Houghton, Commercial Director of Alltube Engineering explains:
“Although we’re a reasonably small manufacturer, we have some unique capabilities. Our most recent investment is the latest technology in bending machines. It’s got a full CNC multi-stack, which is a technical way of saying it can have three sets of tooling permanently fixed to the machine, drastically reducing set up time.
“What that offers is the ability to switch jobs at any time. As fast as we can input new instructions, we can be up and running on a different job. We do a lot of pre-production development so speed is a huge advantage, making us more flexible and able to respond very quickly.”
Away from the shop floor, the company is equally reliant on technology to stay ahead of the curve. Philip continues:
“A lot of our work is as a subcontractor, and the lead times we work to can be very short. We can quote in the morning, receive an order in the afternoon and have to deliver the day after. In terms of administration, that requires very robust systems to keep everything in line.”
To meet the back office demands of the business, Alltube have employed SYSPRO ERP for a number of years and as Philip points out, it simply needs to work.
In terms of running the business, from ordering and maintaining stock of raw materials to order management and invoicing, the whole process is run by SYSPRO. “We genuinely couldn’t operate without it, at least not without ten times more people in the office.
“It’s not just in the office either, our MD is very much hands on and he needs visibility of what’s happening day to day. He’s often out on customer sites but still needs to be up to speed with what’s happening back at base. We have mobile access to SYSPRO so he can access live information on the go.”
As an SME which is dependent on robust IT support and infrastructure, it was vital for Philip to choose an IT Support Partner that Alltube could rely on.
“We’re engineers, not IT Specialists and we don’t have the time to understand a lot of what is going on in the background. What’s important is that if we have an issue, our IT Support understand the business, understand the impact that issue has and they know what to do to fix it.”
Prior to engaging Sentis, Alltube had had a long standing relationship with another provider. “We’d been with our incumbent provider for many years but recently we had one or two issues that prompted us to look for an alternative supplier.
“When we started talking to Sentis about how they would manage our IT requirements, it was very clear that they weren’t just another provider. They made a huge effort to understand our business so they could offer the right service and make recommendations that are appropriate for Alltube. That honesty and ’tell it like it is’ approach is what we really bought into.”
Having opted to move supplier, all that was left was to manage the switchover and Philip was conscious that should any issue arise, Alltube could be left without critical services.
“In the context of our business, we’re totally reliant on our systems so it was a brave move to go from one supplier to another. In the event, the change-over was managed spot on. It was absolutely seamless. Ultimately, if I didn’t have confidence in Sentis, we wouldn’t have done it.”
In addition to managing the infrastructure required to run SYSPRO, Sentis also provide front line support to Alltube and manage their cloud-hosted email platform. “If something does go wrong, we’ve got a single number to call and it doesn’t matter who we speak to, we get the same level of commitment and service for our business. Everyone at Sentis gives us the same fast, friendly and expert service. It’s great to know we have support of a whole team. I can’t fault them.”