With its origins dating back to 1924, West Coast Suspensions (WSC) is the largest manufacturer and supplier of automotive suspension equipment in Western Australia. The company’s specialities are recreational four-wheel drives and off-road vehicles, with the road transport and mining industry its primary market. WCS has grown steadily over the years and has developed an extensive supply network throughout Australia and overseas.
WCS has been a Jiwa customer since 2015. Prior to then WCS had been using a mid-range business management system to handle accounting and other basic functions, however as business demands grew performance issues began to emerge. Phil Anderson, Senior Manager at West Coast Suspensions, explains the challenge:
“As our company expanded we could see that our business software system was not keeping up. Its shipping and inventory control capabilities were limited and, because it was not Windows-based, it wasn’t compatible with some of our other applications. This created problems when it came to reporting because we couldn’t produce reports in the formats we preferred, for example PDF or Microsoft Word. What we clearly needed was an upgrade to a comprehensive Windows-based ERP solution.”
After evaluating a number of ERP systems on the market WCS decided on Jiwa. “We checked out a number of business management solutions but only Jiwa met our full list of criteria”, said Phil. “Jiwa has extensive reporting, inventory and purchasing functionality, is based on Windows and is relatively affordable, so in the end it was an easy choice for us.”
“The flexibility of Jiwa makes such customisations quite straightforward and we’re very much the beneficiary of that capability.”
Today the majority of WCS’s 16-person team use Jiwa for such tasks as accounting, sales, shipping and inventory management.
Before deploying Jiwa, WCS had a lot of difficulty working out on-costs for its product imports. With a number of factors to take into account – eg weight of items, freight, import duties – what WCS needed, but lacked, was software that could make accurate landed cost calculations.
“Around 90 percent of our suppliers are based overseas so it’s important that we get it right when it comes to calculating our on-costs for incoming inventory”, said Phil. “Our previous business solution couldn’t manage that but with Jiwa it’s all very easy. For example, from Canada we might import, in the one shipment, hundreds of flat washers that cost ten cents each and weigh 100 grams each, and a dozen suspension springs that each cost $350.00 and weigh 140 kilos. Before Jiwa dividing up those on-costs was quite difficult – we had to do it manually and the calculations weren’t always accurate. Also, our previous system could not distinguish between fulfilled stock and inventory that’s been back-ordered.
“With Jiwa’s landed cost functionality the whole process is automated. And an added plus is that we can divvy the inventory up by weight or cost-per-item or whatever other criteria we select. Jiwa has greatly streamlined and increased the accuracy of our purchasing and importing processes.”
For many importers the effective management of back orders is difficult. Without an inventory management system capable of handling the back ordering process an importer can run into all sorts of problems, including lost business because of unfulfilled orders and time wasted as staff try to sort out what orders are coming in and when they need to go out. WCS resolved its back ordering issues via the deployment of Jiwa. “Before Jiwa our management of back orders was messy and inefficient”, said Phil. “Using Jiwa we can print out an invoice that will itemise everything that’s been supplied and everything that’s on back order. When back-ordered goods come in the order fulfilment process is seamless, efficient and accurate. The end result is satisfied customers and lower operational costs for our business.”
Flexibility is frequently cited by Jiwa users as one of the system’s most appealing qualities. When a Jiwa customer wants functionality that is not provided out of the box, it often takes little more than a phone call to a Jiwa Solution Partner to provide the desired customisation. WCS has partnered with Professional Support Group (PSG) for the maintenance of its Jiwa solution, including the occasional tweak to the system.
“The reporting functionality in Jiwa is excellent, enabling us to set up and produce a number of reports to do with various areas within our business”, said Phil. “As well as using those report formats that are built in to Jiwa, we also called on PSG to create some custom-made reports that are unique to our business, both in terms of what they report on how they are formatted. We now have reporting that details which of our customers have purchased the most from us, which customers are buying which stock, our profits and losses for different product lines, and other reports focusing on special pricing. And they’re all formatted in a way that maximises their usefulness. The flexibility of Jiwa makes such customisations quite straightforward and we’re very much the beneficiary of that capability.”
Into the Future
Currently approximately nine of West Coast Suspensions’ 16 personnel use Jiwa, including sales representatives, management and admin staff. The company’s Jiwa solution provides complete visibility of all the key aspects of WCS’s operations, streamlining critical business processes and providing tight control of shipping and inventory. Looking to the immediate future, Phil is exploring further customisations to the system.
“As our business requirements expand so will our use of Jiwa”, he said. “I’m now looking to introduce some customisations to do with the management of product upsells, where we package up additional products on top of what the customer originally ordered. One thing I’ve learned about Jiwa is that if additional functionality is required it can almost certainly be created.”