Project-Based Manufacturing in the Defence and Marine Industries


MacTaggart Scott & Co., a Scottish engineering and manufacturing firm first established in 1898, runs its project-driven business on IFS Applications. It does so because the enterprise system “supports our vision of a fully-integrated, project focused company, operating with a single version of the truth,” says Production Director Brian Shanks.

The MacTaggart Scott vision supported by IFS Applications includes continued growth into new geographic regions, improved asset management and field service provision, and further ongoing refinement of some of its most important business processes.

Defence industry products from MacTaggart Scott include aircraft elevators, arrestor gear and helicopter handling for surface ships, and periscope-raising equipment, retractable bow planes, hydraulic power plants and towed-array handling systems for submarines. In the civil sector, the company specialises in hydraulic systems, such as those used for bridge-raising equipment.

These systems are mission-critical and responsible for the security and safety of military and civilian personnel. Less critical perhaps, but still vitally important, is the fact that poorly specified equipment and cost or schedule overruns present a real danger to the MacTaggart Scott bottom line.

To best meet MacTaggart Scott’s needs, IFS furnished the company with project-based material requirements planning functionality that is today core to IFS Applications.

Prior to IFS Applications, MacTaggart Scott had a legacy system in place for ten years. “During that time ERP evolved to encompass additional functionality. The system we ran, which was more traditional material requirements planning, had some contract-related functionality,” Shanks says. “But we wanted a fully integrated system that gave us the discipline of ERP with more complete project management capability. IFS Applications was developed with that in mind.”

With the solution fully-integrated across the breadth of MacTaggart Scott’s engineering and manufacturing activities, schedules for engineering, procurement, manufacture, document delivery and installation are better co-ordinated by an efficient information flow among the different disciplines involved. Transparency and near real-time information allow managers to pro-actively address the risks that can impact schedules and budgets.

“The final as-designed bills of material (BOM) are held in the IFS system library,” Shanks says. “We create a product and project structure that drives the build schedule. BOMs are linked into that structure. From that point forward, all relevant information is in one system. IFS Document Management is one of the system’s major benefits.”

As the system of record, IFS Applications also eases the transition to installation and operations, with asset design and equipment data available from the start. This approach, Shanks says, ensures success in supporting installations through the entire asset lifecycle.

“What we needed, and what IFS gave us, was the ability to blend the discipline and benefits of more traditional MRP with full project management capabilities,”
Shanks says. “While each project may be unique, it may also include elements common to a number of products or projects. We can build a product structure from product elements unique to that project and blend this with common parts held in the product library. With the use of PMRP (Project MRP) the cost of manufacturing or procuring these items can be seen instantly – rather than waiting until the point of issue, which is the more traditional MRP approach.”

Today, IFS provides this type of functionality in core IFS Applications.

Project cost control features support the periodic review process, comparing the latest project forecast with budget and previous forecast. As stated, these features can be brought to bear at any level of the work or cost breakdown structure. In addition, earned value management is supported, with comprehensive projectaccounting and revenue-recognition features available.

“We have a fully-integrated manufacturing site,” Shanks says. “We control procurement and manufacturing of each and every component using IFS material requirements and balance our capacity management using the system. This maintains the integrity of our operations and activities, and ensures full alignment with the project plan.”

IFS Applications has an open architecture that promotes ease of use for business intelligence tools. “The best way to reduce risk is to have visibility into our programmes. We now base decision making on accurate information from a single source,” Shanks says. “Supply chain visibility gives us improved management and greater negotiating power with vendors.”

With a platform in place to support its vision, Shanks says the company is “turning back to the business and longer-term strategic planning.” Areas targeted for increased focus include improved customer relationship management, refinement of bid management and project-execution processes, and expansion of its capabilities in service management, including spares and repairs as a functionally independent operation.

“In a ‘design-to-order’ environment, flexibility in our facilities and our people are key factors to continued success,” Shanks says. “We have a very good relationship with IFS and are developing contacts with other IFS Applications users as well. We’re in a great position to optimise our business.”

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