“You can do anything,
but not everything”
The Aura system implemented in Energylight's business handles over 70,000 inventory items: these can be locally supplied, imported or manufactured in-house. The system's ability to leverage specific business processes reduces office overhead in relatively mundane accounting tasks: for example, the allocation of costs such as externally-paid duty and freight to inventory items; or the management of complex outsourced work costs on bills of materials.
Energylight operates in a unique business space, being involved in importing, exporting, wholesale and distribution, standard and custom manufacture, and outsourced manufacturing. These can be combined with in-house assembly and testing. Using Aura, Energylight is able to leverage the power of all these separate workflows to increase efficiency and reduce lead time and inventory.
Some aspects of the Aura system are unique and system-specific, such as the ability to group, on the fly, parts of a lighting fixture; to manage a single tender to multiple customers; and to deliver product through a separate supply chain. This is linked to Energylight's Salesforce.com CRM application, which allows seamless integration and visibility between operations and the sales team.
The advent of Aura, a system on Jolly Good Software's platform, has changed all that. Building a software application to cover every possibility is not without its challenges; however, the ability to adapt quickly and manage any business process with a single system has important benefits.
A few years ago, a significant supplier of custom lighting systems to Energylight went into liquidation, leaving the company with a big hole to fill. With customer orders to satisfy, and no prospect of the supplier's financial recovery, Energylight embarked on a rapid product- and manufacturing-development program. As the product is custom made to order, no standard manufacturing applications or manufacturing software tools could possibly be used to plan, manage and deliver large quantities of custom- made product. The Aura system managed complex one-off bills of materials, coupled with sub-assembled systems and the delivery of additional kit components; Aura was able to streamline the manufacturing process.
A few years later, the same system philosophy and design is still being used, albeit with a number of improvements, to deliver ten times the product per month that was delivered in the first months of the system implementation.
Energylight came into existence in 2005 when Ralph and Nelson met over a beer or three at a lighting training course. The business began as an exclusive South Island agent for a number of lighting brands, and from there diversified into the industrial market, with the development of high performance fluorescent high bay lighting systems; these changed the New Zealand market over the following years.
In 2010 Energylight was included in the Deloitte Fast 50, and was awarded the accolade of "Third fastest-growing company in New Zealand". In a matter of a few years, the business had progressed from using a simple accounting system to deploying a semi-customised manufacturing and accounting system. However, the diverse nature of the business and constant change caused Energylight to expand beyond the limits of those systems.