Zircoa

“We have also increased our top-line revenue by 21% in the last five years by bringing new products to market with better data visibility. SYSPRO is helping us both to grow our top line and to become more efficient in the process.”

– Ravi Yenugu, Software Engineer, Zircoa 

The Company

Zircoa’s historic roots trace to an abandoned kiln of a former Cleveland Police Department horse barn, where the company fired and built its first product within the fledgling zirconium oxide industry. More than 60 years and multiple owner and name changes later, this specialty ceramics industry leader services a global market of end users needing one of its customizable products across three product categories: extrusion dies, specialty refractories, and granular sands and powders.

Headquartered today in Solon, OH, the company serves a wide variety of end-user markets including electronics, construction, furniture, and other industries requiring ceramic components.

The Mission

How do you respond economically to unexpected events while incorporating new efficiencies into a two-continent product set required by end users across the globe?

Since its founding in 1952 and with the various transitions that have required the company to remain responsive and resilient, Zircoa could be the poster child of manufacturing survival through significant change.

In 2010 Zircoa decided it needed a technology backbone that could adjust to whatever circumstances arose. Committing to an aggressive strategy with an end user market spread across multiple industries, Zircoa tied its operational future to nimble SYSPRO ERP and purchased a full suite of modules including financials, purchasing, sales, ordering/returns, QC, inventory, shipping, asset manager, and EDI.

The goal: To remain true to the company’s foundational values of innovation and quality. With a culture of employee collaboration, personal empowerment, opportunistic competitiveness, and a change-supporting technology infrastructure, the company is growing, efficient, and can adjust readily to changing market demands.

The Solution

Zircoa’s technical team says that SYSPRO’s product design is just what the company needs for supporting the wide variety of users on the system.

“I really appreciate that SYSPRO is a very clean product conceptually, and the modules and functionality are logically segregated and integrated,” says Ravi Yenugu, Software Engineer, Zircoa.

“Whether you are a user working within any module–say, the Work in Progress (WIP), purchasing or sales order modules–the interface is very customizable. Additionally, with the SQL database, SYSPRO is easy to query for reports, and if asked to quickly build out new features and functions, the VB scripting and e.NET platform make change support a breeze. I can design an entirely new feature within SYSPRO that suits our business within a short development cycle.”

Yenugu says it’s a major advantage for companies considering SYSPRO ERP to understand that even if you have no experience within an ERP solution, SYSPRO’s logical design, plus the deep support system that includes the SYSPRO InfoZone, the SYSPRO Learning Channel, tutorials, and a responsive help desk make all the difference. “Beyond the product strengths, which are many, the level of SYSPRO customer support is pretty amazing; we once had an urgent need when our service contact person was sick, and she still came through for us.”

Real-time Data Visibility, Multi-National Strengths

Zircoa has a critical requirement for multi-national support and has a sister company in Germany responsible for approximately 20% of the company’s business. “We are sourcing materials from suppliers in multiple countries like Russia and South Africa, and there are a combination of financial complexities and measurement conversions needed to do that,” Yenugu says. “With SYSPRO, it’s easy for all parties using the system to switch to different units of measures or costs–you simply check the appropriate box and data is converted automatically.”

Real-time data visibility also allows Zircoa to leverage new market opportunities, shift resources, adjust manufacturing schedules, and juggle inventory in ways that impact results. “I think SYSPRO is one of the most important tools this company has to be successful in what can be a very challenging workplace,” says Yenugu.

Equally important, Zircoa’s future technology and operational plans are well-supported by SYSPRO’s current offerings. Specifically, Zircoa has identified and is considering:

  • A move to the SYSPRO Cloud
  • Adopting Industry 4.0 capabilities
  • Integration to SYSPRO Alliance Partner tools for areas like engineering drawing
  • Internet of Things (IoT) predictive maintenance

“We really like that SYSPRO gives us a path to do all of these capabilities, as we are organizationally ready to adopt them,” Yenugu explains. “While my role is in IT, I am very involved with decision-making within the manufacturing systems group so that we can consider things like IoT that could significantly impact the product side of our business.”

The Outcome

Zircoa has weathered its share of business and personnel changes that have required Zircoa to rely on SYSPRO capabilities in unexpected ways, according to Yenugu. “A great example was about a year ago when we had an AP person leave the company and we had invoices to be paid. Using SYSPRO’s financial modules and easy ability to integrate seamlessly into an adjunct services, we completely changed our business processes here and area saving the company $40,000 annual to not need to replace the headcount.”

Another significant cost savings is resulting from Zircoa’s use of SYSPRO’s scheduling and reporting capabilities. The company’s 10 work centers were each spending one hour per day at a supervisor’s pay rate to manually create schedules and convey them via white boards.

Through the use of SYSPRO ERP, Zircoa has completely eliminated those manual processes and estimates a savings of $52,000 per year.

While Yenugu says that these are just two operational improvements that quickly came to mind regarding Zircoa’s SYSPRO installation, these savings alone total almost $100,000 annually–which over 10 years can deliver approximately $1 million in discovered bottom-line improvement.

“We have also increased our top-line revenue by 21% in the last five years by bringing new products to market with better data visibility. SYSPRO is helping us to both grow our top line and become more efficient in the process.”