Managing the challenges of growth through acquisition with radius solutions

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SS_Multi-Color Corporation


Realize the potential of acquired operations, mitigate risk and comply with regulations. 


Integrate operations across 8 facilities with Progress® OpenEdge® -based PECAS Vision from Radius Solutions, a fully integrated, industry-leading ERP/MIS solution for packaging. 


Streamlined business operations, from estimating through to delivery; increased visibility across the production process, enabling accurate performance measurement and facilitating executive decision making. 

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Multi-Color Corporation (NASDAQ:LABL) is a premier global resource of packaging services and decorating solutions. From graphics to product placement on the shelf, Multi-Color Corporation helps consumer product companies, national retailers, and container manufacturers sell their finest packages worldwide. The $222 million (fiscal year 2007) company provides innovative decorating solutions to many of the world’s largest consumer goods companies. Its customers include the leading producers of health and beauty, food and beverage, personal care, automotive and household consumer brands.

Multi-Color Corporation has grown through a series of mergers and acquisitions and, consequently, faced the challenges associated with managing five different plants running on disparate and, in some cases, manual systems. In 2004, the organization implemented the PECAS Vision Solution for Packaging, developed by Radius Solutions, a Progress® Application Partner, to standardize operations across all of its plants in order to maximize efficiencies and gain visibility across the entire production process.

As part of the company’s continued growth strategy, Multi-Color Corporation acquired NorthStar Print Group, Inc., in 2005. According to Greg Myers, Vice President, Information Technology, for Multi-Color Corporation, for the organization to realize the full potential of its acquisition, it was imperative that they integrate the three NorthStar plants to enable transactions and visibility across all eight plants.

“Generally speaking, we were trying to standardize on a single ERP/MIS solution and embrace best practices across all facilities, in order to leverage the skill set and information we already had in place. This included common reporting from all plants in order to gain insight into the acquired plants’ operations and to enable us to better utilize all available capacity for optimized performance,” explains Myers.

“We were also driven by the need to mitigate our risk. The existing systems within the NorthStar plants were relatively old and had little support. We needed to eliminate systems where the risk of failure with a difficult recovery process was a real possibility.”

“Finally, compliance is very important to our organization,” continues Myers. “We are a publicly traded company and are mandated to meet Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) and other financial requirements. It is crucial that we have control over and visibility into our processes and information.”


Leveraging PECAS Vision to integrate the three additional plants with the existing five was a logical step, according to Myers. Based on the Progress platform, PECAS Vision has been specifically designed to be a fully integrated, industry-leading ERP/MIS solution supporting best practices for packaging: flexibles, labels and folding cartons. Multi-Color Corporation is leveraging the entire PECAS suite, which consists of Estimating, Order Handling, Production Scheduling, Shop Floor Data Collection, Material Purchasing and Inventory Control, and Job Costing.

“We wanted a fully integrated solution within each plant that allowed us to standardize; gain some efficiencies within our production processes; run things all the way from estimation, through sales order, production scheduling, production, shop floor data collection and shipping; and, of course, provide visibility into the data across all of those processes.”

By leveraging one system across multiple plants the company would benefit from having visibility into capacity and materials at any given plant and gain the agility to modify processes or move materials from plant to plant in order to maximize production efficiencies. “We knew this level of integration would help us to make better use of the capacity available to us, regardless of location. We would also benefit by gaining visibility into some of the critical key performance indicators (KPI) around our production processes at a given plant. These metrics can help drive some of our lean initiatives because we can leverage that knowledge to introduce those best practices and standardize on processes across all plants.”


Benefits of an Industry-specific ERP Solution

According to Myers and Linnevers, PECAS Vision was able to successfully support their multiplant rollout initiative due in large part because it was developed specifically for the printing industry. “The terminology that is used, the processes that are supported out-of-the-box, they all fit the nature of our business,” says Myers. “For example, the solution offers modules for estimating and scheduling that fit the business of printing labels. You aren’t trying to force-fit the terminology of a generic industry or another industry onto the business people here.  It makes sense to the users, and that is critical for success.”

Flexibility Is a Competitive Advantage

According to Linnevers, the solution also offers the flexibility the business needs to support customer demands and business change. “PECAS Vision is flexible enough to handle several different types of printing technology that we use to produce our labels. For example, there are different ways you can apply ink to a substrate, different types of presses and finishing operations. The system is flexible enough in its design to easily support those differences  in production.”

This flexibility has translated into a competitive advantage for Multi-Color Corporation. “We are one of the few companies in our industry that runs the gamut with regards to the technologies of the products we deliver,” explains Linnevers. “That is true on two fronts. One, in regards to the printing technology itself, we make sure we are using the print technology that best fits the customer’s needs, whether it be flexo, litho, rotogravure, digital, and so forth. Two, with regards to the product technology itself and the type of label that is delivered, we are one of the few in the industry that can offer our customers a solution on in-mold labels, heat transfer labels, cut and stack labels, pressure-sensitive labels, or shrink sleeve labels. So we cover just about every technology across the board. It is imperative that our ERP solution is able to support all of our various production processes, and PECAS Vision does just that. It is a competitive advantage to be able to quickly and easily do what we need to do and provide customers with the kind of service they are looking for. That is what it is all about in the end.”

Improved Efficiencies through Streamlined Business Operations

With PECAS Vision integrated across all eight plants, Multi-Color Corporation has streamlined business operations from estimating and ordering through to delivery. For example, prior to the implementation, scheduling was done manually in the smaller plants. “With PECAS in place, we have been able to realize efficiencies from the online scheduling system. We can react much more quickly in moving jobs around and making the most effective use of our capacity”, says Myers.

Increased Visibility Across the Entire Production Process

Multi-Color Corporation has also achieved visibility across its multiple plants. “Prior to the implementation of PECAS Vision in the additional facilities, we had limited visibility into the NorthStar plants. They were independent, and we were not comparing apples to apples when we looked at some of the metrics across all plants,” says Myers. “Today we can run standard reports, such as the waste report, for each plant; break things into standard categories; and allow an even comparison of the performance at each facility.” Myers also notes that they have significantly reduced the use of Excel in tracking and passing data. “Prior to the implementation, there was a lot done offline in Excel that required somebody to do something manually and send it off to the next person to do something manually; you lose control that way. We lacked visibility into the information we needed to make decisions in a timely manner.”

Maintaining a Focus on What Really Matters—Delivering Value to the Customer

Multi-Color Corporation is now able to support PECAS Vision across eight facilities with a minimal number of people. “If you look at it from an IT perspective, the fact we can leverage the skill sets we have on one technology, allows us to be more cost-effective in delivering solutions that really matter to the customer,” says Myers. “This allows us to focus on that value stream rather than numerous different technologies or managing skill sets on different systems.”

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